It has been a while since TikTok went from being just a lip-sync platform for teenagers to becoming a social media giant with skyrocketing numbers.
That success has not gone unnoticed by businesses, which have joined the fast-growing platform in increasing numbers. Now a growing number of media companies is catching up with the trend as they search for new methods to attract audiences.
Each media is taking a somewhat different approach to TikTok. The Fix spent a few fascinating days watching TikTok videos and prepared a list of five cases of European and American news organizations that have already achieved impressive results.
#1 – The Washington Post (USA)
- Followers: >715k
- Likes: >26.5 mln
- On TikTok since: May 2019
As one of the first big media on TikTok, The Washington Post picked quite a creative approach to the development of their account. They started to post on the platform regularly in May 2019 and aimed at TikTok’s core audience – teenagers.
They tried out various challenges and trending formats. For example, #SummerInternOlympics videos were recorded in collaboration with dozens of interns of the Washington Post. The idea was to show in a humorous way what kind of “sports” people can do while staying at home during the quarantine.
The account is run by Dave Jorgenson, aka “The Washington Post Tik Tok Guy”. In fact, it’s his blog about journalism from the inside, with a mix of amusing sketches and of course news presented in a creative manner.
Dave’s ability to interact with the young audience sparked a great interest among followers not only at The Washington Post, but also in journalism overall. The most popular videos get more than several million views.
In the first 3 months the company managed to amass almost 80k followers on Tik Tok and now the growth is far more rapid – 80k new followers appeared in the time this article was being written.
#2 – The Daily Mail (UK)
- Followers: >1.2 mln
- Likes: >31.5 mln
- On TikTok since: October 2019
Unlike The Washington Post, the Daily Mail doesn’t run its Tik Tok account in the form of a journalist blog. This news organization focuses on a (cost-effective and engaging) citizen journalism-based strategy. An overwhelming majority of their videos are recorded by ordinary people, supposedly readers of the Daily Mail.
Their TikTok account does not have much in terms of informative news – mostly just amusing videos with cute animals, funny children, popular celebrities and whatever might grab the audience’s attention.
This is an easier path than that taken by The Washington Post and appears to be vindicated by the numbers. This suggests the main goal may be direct monetization via TikTok once full functionality becomes available at a later date rather than, for example, capturing new (younger) audiences. Some of their most popular videos were viewed more than 5 million times.
#3 – Radio Svaboda\ Radio Liberty (Belarus)
- Followers: >77k
- Likes: >1.2mln
- On Tik Tok since: April 2019
Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty broadcasts in more than 20 countries (primarily in the post-Soviet space), but only a few affiliates have given TikTok a try. Radio Svaboda (Radio Liberty in Belarusian) is arguably the biggest success, although that success was born out of unfortunate circumstances.
Their account has been dedicated solely to informative news from the very beginning and all captions are written in Belarusian. At first Radio Svaboda TikTok wasn’t really popular as accounts on the platform go – their videos would get a few dozen thousand views at most.
After protests against a rigged presidential election started on August 9 this year, news consumption went up on all the platforms. Trustworthy media witnessed especially rapid audience growth – meaning Radio Svaboda’s TikTok numbers went up as well.
It should be no surprise that the most popular videos are those featuring the ruling strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka (one reached over 1.4 mln views). The history of Radio Svaboda’s TikTok is unique and while such a “strategy” is not likely to work for most news organizations, it nonetheless showcases the breadth of opportunities provided by the platform. Radio Svaboda doesn’t run challenges or funny sketches – it just posts news and that seems more than enough for the Belarusian people.
#4 – The BBC (UK)
- Followers: >30k
- Likes: >350k
- On TikTok since: September 2020
The BBC created a TikTok account only recently, which in itself is solid evidence that media companies are still in the process of discovering the platform. As a newly created account, it presents an interesting case-study and a very different growth strategy – their TikTok content is mostly composed of fragments of their own TV shows, at least for the time being.
Even though they now have only around 30k followers, some videos already have several hundred thousand views. The BBC makes some videos in collaboration with Little Mix, the girl band. Members of the band are involved in one of their TV shows and have their own popular TikTok account (almost 2 mln followers).
Besides short clips from this reality music show, there are also excerpts from “This Country”, a mockumentary sitcom, and news show “BBC Breakfast”. However effective such a “TV shows strategy” may be, it does not seem that BBC plans to depend solely on it in the future. In one of their recent videos they introduced a popular voice actor and started picking up on TikTok trends.
#5 – La Nación (Spain)
- Followers: >90k
- Likes: >900k
- On TikTok since: October 2019
Although the majority of media appearing on TikTok are American ones, the trend is definitely not limited to English-speaking countries. La Nación is a shining example from Western Europe. The account is run in Spanish.
At first the account was managed by several journalists. The videos were not regular and primarily covered the journalists’ routine. But it wasn’t just some dull routine.The editorial staff added some humour to their work by shooting videos on different topics such as office life hacks, ways to cheer oneself up at work, yoga classes, or the correct way to wash one’s hands during the pandemic.
The rapid growth of La Nación TikTok began in July 2020 as Sofía Altuna joined the team. Altuna has her own TikTok account with around 350k followers which, of course, assists in the development of the La Nación TikTok.
As a blogger who knows how to interact with young people, Altuna chose a corresponding strategy. She picks interesting news articles and explains them to viewers in her unique energetic manner – such news presentation videos have grown to dominate the media’s TikTok content. The most popular reach around 500k views.