TikTok: get ahead of the employer branding curve

As TikTok continues to win fans, it’s only a matter of time before brands realise the app’s potential to capture the attention of top talent. Here’s our guide on how to use it to amplify your employer brand.

TikTok rose to fame for its signature short-form videos, between 15 and 60-seconds in length. Users jump on the back of hashtag challenges, lip-sync to music and audio clips and make use of filters and backgrounds to share everything from dancing and gymnastics to comedy sketches and‘how to’ tutorials.  

The increasingly influential platform is capturing the attention of audiences globally with its largely raw and authentic content.And whilst many brands are integrating TikTok into their marketing and advertising campaigns, few companies have ventured into the world of employer branding on social media’s fastest growing app.

So how can organisations start to leverage the app to showcase company culture? And why should they bother?

TikTok for the uninitiated

Makers of the app describe TikTok as ‘the leading destination for short-form mobile video’.

Available in over 150 countries and 75 languages, TikTok has been downloaded approximately 2 billion times worldwide and garners a jaw-dropping 800 million monthly active users. Last year, it was the second most downloaded app globally, beaten only by WhatsApp. This year, it’s on track to be number one.

Your target audience awaits

The chances are many of your target audience are either already on TikTok, or about to discover it.

Its audience currently skews on the younger side, with 27% of users aged 13-17 and 42% aged 18-24. Users aged 25 and over account for 31%, but TikTok’s audience is diversifying as the app grows in popularity and enters the mainstream.

So, not only is it inevitable that older audiences will start engaging with the app, but (bonus!) TikTok’s younger users today will be a pivotal part of the workforce of tomorrow.

Whether you’re looking to attract apprentices, graduates and entry-level talent now, or are building your pipeline for the future, investing time in TikTok means you’ll be best positioned to reap the rewards in the coming years.

Time or money?

If you are an employer branding pro or a gatekeeper of culture, with an investment of energy and resources you can leverage TikTok to your advantage.

Paid social does exist on the platform – but it can be costly. And given TikTok is relatively new and it may be hard to nail down quantifiable ROI, you might be hesitant to invest huge portions of your budget here.

The good news is, thanks to the organic reach made possible by the algorithm, you can start building your presence with a much smaller investment by creating awesome content that future talent will love.

As with all social platforms, TikTok does have its limitations and challenges. But when used as part of an integrated strategy, it could add some real firepower to your overall employer branding approach.

How TikTok hooks its users

So, what’s behind the app’s success? For starters, it’s built around a kickass algorithm. This is TikTok’s secret sauce and although it’s not yet fully understood by outsiders – this post does a great job of outlining what we know so far.

In brief, TikTok uses machine learning to assess which content a user is most interested in, based on how they engage with the app. For example, how long they will watch a video for, which videos they like, comment on and share, and which videos they watch more than once.

The app then serves up similar content on that user’s For You page which is designed to keep you coming back for more.

Why targeting your content matters  

Say, for example, you share a video showing a day in the life of an apprentice engineer in your company. Your target audience sees it and loves it, so choose to engage with your post.

TikTok will notice that your content is well received and will share it further with users it knows will be interested in it, based on what they’ve consumed and interacted with before.

By amplifying quality content, TikTok expands your reach and makes it more likely that your potential candidates will be shown your videos. This in turn helps to increase your brand awareness and improves your chances of attracting the right people to your company.

Here are some other ways TikTok can help boost your employer brand.

Level up your brand awareness

TikTok was built to be addictive. It’s why users spend an average of 52 minutes per day on the platform and open it on average eight times a day.

Beyond the user features that hold your attention span hostage, perhaps the most enticing thing about TikTok is that it’s a thriving community of creativity and endless entertainment.

Users visit to interact with content and share their own. And that includes your future employees. They’re a captive audience looking to engage with videos that appeal to their interests and preferences.

Just remember, to have real impact your content needs to be engaging and entertaining in equal measure. To cut through the noise you might need to shakeup how you communicate your brand story and employee value proposition.

Start by understanding what excites and motivates your target candidates and find a fun way to satisfy that craving with your videos. Which trends are they obsessed with? What brands are they following, and why? What knowledge could you share that they’ll find interesting?

For inspiration, check out companies who have already got a decent foothold onTikTok, like @WashingtonPost and @Chipotle, and consider how you too could pivot your content to suit the platform.

The trending hashtag #tiktoktutorial also offers a sneaky behind-the-scenes view of how creators make some of their viral videos.

Share your employer brand with hashtag challenges

Video is a great format for storytelling. It’s proven to be more engaging (and garners more actual online engagement) than words or images alone, and it also allows you to share a snapshot of your company in a way that’s hard to match with photos, captions or blog posts.

TikTok videos are often raw, with minimal editing skill required, allowing you to capture the authentic energy of your company.

Hashtag challenges are just one way to share your content and can help you to increase your reach and win followers. Trending challenges can be found on the Discover page, where users can watch and easily mimic the trend with their own video in just a few clicks.

You can leverage these challenges to share your content with your own company spin.For example, you could share the inside scoop on industry knowledge your candidates might find interesting for #learnontiktok, or you could shoot some videos in your offices and locations, like MTV UK did pre-lockdown (examples in this video and this video).

You can also start your own challenge, inviting users to take part and spread the word – although it’s worth keeping in mind that there’s no guarantee these will go viral and you may need to consider advertising your hashtag to give it a boost on launch.

Harness the power of the employee voice

76% of people say that they’re more likely to trust content shared by ‘normal’ people than content shared by brands – so advocacy matters. Asking your employees to share their own stories to bring your brand to life is a powerful tool.

83% of TikTok users have posted a video, so the chances are your employees are already on TikTok. Why not invite them to share their experiences of working for your company, too?

You can capitalise on employee-led content by creating a hashtag they can use to share these stories, and you should also repost employees’ videos from your brand account. Check out cosmetics company Lush who regularly feature colleagues in their stores.

As with all social media platforms, TikTok is not immune to employees venting or sharing their grievances on the platform. This will be the case whether you choose to communicate as a brand or not, so it’s worth working with your employees to ensure your brand shows up in the right way.

Being clear about your social policies and guidelines when inviting colleagues to share their experiences is a good starting point. You could also work with teams to co-create content as a first step in launching your employee voice campaign.

Start now and reap the rewards later

If you’re not yet convinced, then here’s the most exciting thing about TikTok – it’s not too late to become an early adopter in the employer branding space.

TikTok is still in its relative infancy so, despite the sheer volume of users, brands are still figuring out how best to use it. This is your chance to get ahead of the curve by leveraging the hottest platform on the planet to tell your company story and attract talent.

If TikTok follows a similar trajectory to the social channels that have come before it, then it’s very much here to stay.

Build your presence, shape your employer brand strategy and start capturing the attention of candidates today.

At United Culture, we’re constantly looking for new ways to help you tell your company story and inspire past, present and future talent. Find out more by dropping me an email at connie.berry@unitedcultureco.com.