TikTok for Libraries

It is shocking how few libraries are on TikTok. It’s not exactly new, but it’s definitely *the* up-and-coming social media platform. I’ve written about social media for libraries on HLS before (here and here). In my professional opinion, TikTok will become the dominant way that brands, including libraries, communicate with younger people.  Move over, Instagram and Facebook, there’s a new kid in town. 

 Here, just take a look at these impressive stats:

TikTok’s momentum is irresistible, so even though I was hesitant to learn a whole new app, I decided to make a TikTok account for my library.

I haven’t been here long, but I can say from my experience with Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook that this is the most creative and dynamic platform yet. I’m going to talk about the lessons I’ve learned so far.

BUT, before I do that, I have to acknowledge the myriad of controversies surrounding TikTok. From the spread of misinformation to privacy concerns, you should not create a library (or individual) TikTok account unless you are well–informed of the risks. It is a personal choice.  

Lessons

  1. Hook ‘em

Everyone scrolls. And if we don’t like something instantly, we’re going to keep moving. With that said, TikToks should grab the viewer in the very beginning. Our most popular video was a Law & Order parody that started with the famous “DUN DUN.” It immediately tells people what to expect but makes them curious for more.

  1. Keep it short

Ever pull up a video and be like, “ugh it’s like two whole minutes, do I even want to watch all that?” This is me daily. I know, I know, two minutes is not a long time, but it feels like forever on the internet. Most people won’t watch longer than 30 seconds of a video, so save yourself the trouble and keep it short. 

  1. The algorithm is mysterious

Basically TikTok will show your video to people it thinks will be interested. How this is determined, we’re not entirely sure. My guess is that it works off the ratio of viewers to engagement, and the higher that gets, the more people it will show your video to. Factors such as captions, hashtags, and sounds may also have an effect. You could follow all the conventional advice about how to go viral on TikTok and still your video might flop. Get ready to scratch your head at the enigma that is the algorithm.  

  1. You shouldn’t be polished about it

One of the things I like most about TikTok is its authenticity. Admittedly, there is a LOT of staged stuff on there, but it doesn’t have the unrealistic sheen of Instagram. Kitsch is popular and rewarded, so don’t feel like you have to have elite video skills to make a TikTok. Get creative and weird. 

Some Examples

Finally, I want to leave you with a couple of accounts that, in my opinion, are doing a great job both promoting their library and taking advantage of the unique features that TikTok has to offer. In case you want to start your own ~market research~.

Next month, I’ll talk about some of the fun tricks you can use on TikTok that are especially suitable for libraries. 

Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash

Melissa Grasso lives in Boston and is in her second year at Simmons University. She works as a library assistant where she specializes in course reserves, copy cataloging, and social media management. You can find her on Twitter @grassbro or LinkedIn.

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