What comes to your mind when you think about TikTok? In early 2020, it might have been silly dances and videos created by Gen Zers. But over the course of last year, while billions of people around the world found ways to occupy themselves during the pandemic, TikTok’s usage skyrocketed.
In August 2020, TikTok shared that its monthly active users have grown nearly 800% since Jan. 2018. More than 100 million Americans are monthly active users today, half of whom use the app on a daily basis. Plus, earlier that year, the platform announced TikTok For Business, a self-service home to marketing solutions for brands.
In addition to dance trends and prank videos, people are using TikTok for engaging storytelling on every topic imaginable -- including their jobs.
So the big question on many recruiting professionals minds: Is it worth my time to learn to use TikTok for recruitment? Let’s dig in to find an answer.
How is TikTok Different from Traditional Social Media?
The key differentiator with TikTok is that its primary goal is entertainment. Where most social media is about information sharing, whether personal or otherwise, TikTok is a new frontier.
Content on TikTok is not heavily branded or exceptionally "professional." Instead, users on TikTok are looking to connect by creating shared experiences. These experiences can be silly, fun, education, active, or something else entirely.
“It’s about inventing characters, dressing up as someone else and acting out jokes. It’s not about privacy and friends, but strutting on the world stage. And it’s not about originality,” says Josh Constine, tech writer at TechCrunch. “TikTok is about remixing culture — taking the audio from someone else’s clip and reimagining the gag in a new context by layering it atop a video you record.”
TikTok is also incredibly collaborative. Creators build on each others’ contributions to continue reinventing content in new and exciting ways. This is where the social network goes from passive video watching to an active and engaged community.
One other feature that makes TikTok unique is its “For You” feed. The feed uses a unique algorithm to learn the types of content you typically engage with and consistently show you new content from new users. Unlike other social media where your feed is composed of people you follow, the “For You” feed allows almost anyone to go viral with just one engaging video.
According to TikTok, the algorithm is based on a number of factors such as liking or sharing, accounts you follow, comments you post, and content you create. It looks at video information like captions, sounds, and hashtags to find similar content.
For example, as a recruitment marketer, I spend a lot of time watching marketing-focused videos. The more I find on my own, the more TikTok shows me marketing tips and marketing memes on my “For You” page.
Employees Are Already Using TikTok
With 100 million Americans actively using TikTok, it is clear that your employees are part of that user base. They’re creating content that talks about their jobs and your company culture. They’re sharing tips and advice with other folks in their industries. They’re creating fun dance videos with coworkers to bond with each other.
From teachers to nurses, and delivery drivers to marketers, so many industries are represented on TikTok. Understanding exactly how your employees are using the app is the first step in understanding how to use TikTok for recruitment. Try searching the app for your industry or company name to find some examples.
A great way to see how much activity there is in your industry is to search with relevant hashtags. Here are some examples:
Do some digging to find the hashtags your employees are using. It might help you find job seekers in your industry, whether that’s healthcare, education, retail, restaurant, law, or entertainment. The list is endless.
How to Use TikTok for Recruitment
Knowing the wide array of workers and job seekers represented on TikTok, there are many possibilities for its use in recruiting. Let’s explore some options for your team:
1. Recruiter Engagement
Encourage your recruiters to get active on TikTok, especially if they specialize in hiring for entry-level roles. They don’t have to know how to use all of the fancy video editing magic to create engaging content. All they need is a camera and their expertise to share with job seekers.
Aside from recruiters, your recruitment marketing team can also benefit from a presence on TikTok. Knowing that your employees are already posting content, you can create a company profile to reshare their content.
To take it a step further, you can create your own hashtag and promote it internally for your employees. Encourage them to use it when they share workplace content on TikTok. If your hashtag catches on, this will make it even easier for you to source content and create a community on TikTok.
One of the most popular trends on TikTok is to create a challenge that inspires other users to create new content. Often these challenges includes a dance with audio you create or some other activity that encourages participation. You can use this tactic to reach new job seekers by creating a challenge with a branded hashtag.
If you have the budget, you can leverage TikTok’s paid ad options to boost a video from your own account where you announce the challenge. Create a target audience that reflects the talent you’re hoping to attract to your company.
Additionally, a great organic way to get your challenge to catch on is to ask your employees to participate. The more who join in, the more people from their extended networks will see the challenge. Similar to a general work-life hashtag, you can promote the challenge internally. If your employees need some extra encouragement to participate, you can offer prizes and randomly select winners from those who posted videos.
With either of these tactics, there’s never a promise you’ll go viral, but you’ll at least reach a wider group of users in your target audience. At the end of the day, it’s all about reaching new talent.
Like any other social media platform, TikTok has its influencers. You can leverage their audiences in a few ways.
One idea might be to reach out to a TikTok influencer whose audience and values align with your company’s. Then, you can invite them to work at your company for a day and post about the experience.
On the flip side, you can also enable your employees to become influencers for your brand. For example, The Washington Post employee who runs their company TikTok account, Dave Jorgenson, has become an influencer in his own right after creating engaging content for the company. If you have an employee who can take the reins of your brand account, they can create content that feels more authentic and engaging than typical corporate content might.
TikTok Ads Manager, like most other social platforms, offers easy-to-use tools to create and manage ads on TikTok. You can use the platform to create branded recruitment ads for your business. The platform allows you to select the campaign objective you want to achieve with your ads and they will optimize your campaign for you for brand awareness or conversions. TikTok helps you create custom audiences, create your ads, and measure results all within their Ads Manager.
One of the unique targeting capabilities of TikTok is that you can target users based on their recent engagement on specific content categories. For example, if you’re hiring teachers, you can target users who engaged with education content in the past 14 days. This feature uniquely allows you to target active users who may be interested in your company.
No matter if you use TikTok organically or paid, there are many methods to get you started. It’s all about what works best for your team, your budget, and your culture. As TikTok continues to grow in popularity, we’ll likely see recruitment teams expand the ways they engage with the platform. Even if you’re not ready to jump onboard, it’s a platform to watch.