If you have been online at least once in 2020, you will have heard of TikTok. Created as Musical.ly in China back in 2014, the app was then purchased by the Chinese tech giant ByteDance in 2018, and TikTok was launched!
So, what is it? It’s essentially a short-form, video-sharing app that allows users to create and share 15-second videos, on any topic. Content varies widely, from lip-syncing songs to challenges but the main theme is that the posts are quirky and fun. It’s also the world’s fastest-growing social media platform, downloaded over 2.6 billion times worldwide with over 1.1 billion active users, more than Instagram but less than Facebook and YouTube…apps that have been around for much longer!
Why TikTok is important for travel and tourism companies
There are many reasons why TikTok is hugely relevant for our industry. First off, take a look at the app’s primary audience. 41% of TikTok users are aged between 16 and 24. Why does a travel or tourism company want to market to Gen Z-ers? Well, today’s teens are tomorrow’s travelers. Also, don’t forget that 75% of parents involve their children in the holiday decision-making process. More and more older users are joining, showing growing popularity amongst millennials who do have disposable income for travel right now.
The hashtag #TikTokTravel is one of the most popular on the platform, with a hugely impressive 20.8 billion views. Using this hashtag is a fantastic opportunity for tourism and travel companies to get started on TikTok and promote their destinations or activities.
Another great advantage is that by using TikTok for your brand, you will still be seen as an early-adopter. While other industries like fashion and FMCG have been present since TikTok’s inception in 2018, the platform is still unused by many travel and tourism organizations. Now is the moment to take advantage of this untapped new audience!
What’s more, TikTok is low cost. With marketing budgets across the world slashed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is a great option for those of us with limited paid media budgets as the possibilities to go viral are greater than on other platforms.
8 tips to use TikTok for tourism
1. Sign up but don’t post
You should sign up as soon as possible to secure your username. But then, we would advise you not to start creating content straight away. Instead, take your time to see what does and doesn’t work. Check out the most popular travel profiles and see what sort of videos they are releasing. Only start pushing out content once you feel confident with the platform, and of your messaging.
2. Consider challenge videos
Challenge videos are incredibly popular on TikTok! Do you remember Jimmy Fallon’s insanely popular Tumbleweed Challenge back in 2018? Well, challenge videos also work perfectly for the travel and tourism industry. How about asking people to share a video from a little-known hidden treasure using a hashtag that you create? Or encouraging funny videos from your tours? You can raise awareness and get some great user-generated content that you can use on your other marketing channels.
A great example of this was the campaign run by Wisma Geylang Serai, a cultural landmark in Singapore. Aiming to reach a younger audience, they launched a challenge campaign to encourage people to learn the steps to a traditional Malay dance, often performed on Ramadan. Their #TepukSepuluh hashtag was trending and they received over 1,300 video impressions, boosting awareness of their location on a global scale.
3. Focus on interactions
This is one of TikTok’s main distinguishing points with Instagram, and where many people go wrong. Don’t focus on your number of followers … interactions are the crucial metric to measure. Look at your views, as the TikTok algorithm favors posts that generate high levels of interactions in the first hour. So don’t be surprised if you see a famous brand with a small number of followers, check their posts and see how many likes and views they are getting…this is the real proof of success!
4. Create your own hashtags
Hashtags are incredibly important on TikTok, as with most social media platforms. One of the most popular hashtags for our industry is #TikTokTravel. You just incorporate this into your content as you will benefit from high visibility. You can also adapt it to your destination (for example TikTokBerlin). Be imaginative in creating your own hashtags, which you can share with your clients upon booking, and again on-site.
Tour operator Contiki wanted to find someone to help create their TikTok content. They launched a competition with their own hashtag #contikifindyourpeople, asking for people to share their best travel moments. Not only did they find a new member for their team, but they managed to get over 1.7 million views, boosting online awareness amongst their key demographics.
5. Choose your music wisely
Music is crucial to a video going viral on TikTok. By choosing popular songs in streaming charts, or fun local tracks from off-beat destinations, you can help your posts gain more traction.
The team at San Diego Zoo has perfected this skill. Yes, they have cute animals to feature in their videos which does help, but they also pick great tracks that match their videos perfectly! For a video of an owl jumping out of a hole, they used a remix of ‘What’s Poppin’, perfectly synced to the owls’ movements. This post received over 182,000 likes…so we certainly recommend checking out their account for some inspiration!
6. Don’t be afraid to repost other accounts
…as long as it fits with your branding. There will be amazing content out there that highlights your destinations or activities so share it! Booking.com currently don’t create their own content but share videos posted by other users that focus on booking travel and holidays. This can also be a great way to forge some new marketing partnerships that you might not have previously considered.
We would advise against reposting your own posts from other platforms here. TikTok is different from Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube, so your audience requires unique content. They are looking for relatable videos that haven’t been polished to perfection so don’t try and save time by posting the same content everywhere.
7. Involve your team
People love to see behind the scenes of a brand so consider featuring your employees in posts. Seeing the people behind the company allow your audience to relate with your brand on a more personal level, and TikTok is a great platform for this. Show what they get up to on a workday – or if something fun or interesting happens to them. Make sure it doesn’t look staged or forced but if you have strong personalities and/or proficient TikTokers in the office, let them shine!
8. Be consistent
In order to succeed on TikTok, you have to post regularly. It is a fast-moving platform (like all social media) and there is a constant stream of fun and unique content. You should have a posting calendar and schedule, but also be flexible enough to react to current trends as and when they are happening.
When you look at brands performing well on TikTok, they have one thing in common…they post unique content on a regular basis. Just look at Chipotle, their page is often cited as a top example of excellent TikTok marketing. They post at least 3 times a week, keeping their audience engaged and remaining top of mind.
We hope that you agree that TikTok is a fantastic opportunity for travel brands to draw in a new audience. Now is the perfect time to start, so that you will be top of mind once travel restrictions ease off and people start to book again.
What’s more, our industry is fun and visually appealing, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find videos that showcase your destinations. If you need any more tips, check out our blog post which will help you improve your content marketing!
One final word of advice? Have fun! TikTok is an extremely amusing platform so enjoy it!
You might also like:
- How to Use Social Media for Destination Marketing
- Tourism Marketing Strategies for 2021 and Beyond
- Four Ways to Promote Your Tours to an International Audience
- 10 Tourism Marketing Campaigns that Work Despite Difficult Times