Or: How to pop and lock your way to better book sales.

Do you remember Vine? The short-form video platform that filled the internet with the wonderful/terrible Harlem Shake. For a month or so, that song was everywhere. Then, it vanished. Vine had its moment, but Twitter decided that Vine wasn’t worth the server space, so they killed it.

Worldwide viewership instantly, and they killed it. Imagine the publicity if that could have been harnessed for your book. Too bad that ship has sailed.

Or has it?

You know where this is going.


Tik Tok is the newest and fastest-growing social media of the year. If trends continue, it may begin to compete with Instagram for the fifth-most popular social media platform. With a Year over Year growth of 275%, 500 million active users, and consistent active user time of 52 minutes, Tik Tok is the #1 growing social media application to watch for 2020.

Growing out of the acquisition of Musica.ly by the Chinese company Bytedance, Tik Tok is the better realized and globally implemented successor to Vine.

Users, or Creators as they are called within the Tik Tok community, can create short videos of up to 15 seconds, or string smaller videos together into a compilation running up to 60 seconds. But, the really revolutionary thing is that creators have access to a wide variety of music curated by the app itself, in addition to being able to create sound of their own.

How can this help me sell more books?

This is why you’re here. The burning question that motivates you to navigate the endless mires of social media engagement.

The answer is very simple: Authentic visual engagement.

Writers and readers alike complain that we are becoming a visual culture, unable to look away from the flashy videos and pictures all around us. No attention for the quiet, contemplative, pursuit of books. But, here’s a secret: we’re all visual. it might not be the first way we understand the world, but we are all visual. We love to see visuals that engage us. Like the wide range of Tik Tok Cosplayers who put painstaking effort into creating a visual of our favorite book characters. We love seeing reenactments of great moments in quick succession.

There are a wide variety of methods a creator can use their downtime to create a greater authentic connection with their readers and potential readers. Most of which can be captured in the hashtags that are also fully implemented in the site:
#relatable #howto #Booktalks ect. But, remember those song trends from before? These trends are something like ready-made templates for fun engagement. If you do yours better, or funnier, or more visually impressive, you’re going to gain followers.

I know what you’re thinking: But, I don’t have the budget to compete with stunning visuals. Here’s another secret: You don’t need to. The app is designed with a variety of professional quality visual effects that can be added to a video for free. Even companies that use Tik Tok for advertising do better by deeply engaging with the community rather than spend a lot of money.

Brand Engagement, or how to make them like me.

You’re a writer, true. But, if you’re smart about what you do, you’re also a brand. You craft an image of yourself as The Author. Crafting a specific mystique around the mind that is the font of your books.

But, you know that selling books is as much art as business. So how does the business succeed on Tik Tok? Remember that, so long as your social network is fully connected, every follower on one platform can become a sale of your books But, there are more direct ways to engage.

  1. Create an author account and engage as an author. There are three formats to do this effectively: Expertise, relatable, and validation.
    • Expertise: Engage with your followers in ways that you are a uniquely authoritative voice. If you’re a nonfiction author, or have a job with a specific expertise: Make videos showing your expertise in action. How-tos, break downs, sights only you get to see, ect. If you pen fiction, talk about your books. Character interactions, theories, and book-related announcements (This should be the smallest share of your videos)
    • Relatable: Show parts of your daily life (Curated by your author brand) The more relatable, the more affection your audience will have for you.
    • Validation: People crave attention. Interact with them to get more followers. You can always follow, like, and comment as with most social medias. But Tik Tok offers another method of engagement: The duets. Basically: two creators collaborate on one video that will be posted to both accounts, allowing for visibility for both parties.
  2. Signal boosting. Every social media has influencers, but the advantage to Tik Tok is that the platform is still young. The status of influencer is still up for grabs. If you can get a duet with an influencer, or get them to use your book as the source material for their videos (even if it’s mildly satirically) you’ll experience a boost in followers and sales.
    • There is also the option of creating a challenge, with a hashtag, that can bring your brand prestige and greater followers. The challenge of the challenge (See what I did there?) is that it has to be something legitimately fun, engaging, intended to be captured on video, and actually related to you and your brand.
  3. Use Tik Tok’s paid campaigns. This option may yet be a bit premature, as the platform is still growing, but if you have the money you can cheaply create a video for your ad and use the in-app linking to direct users directly to your merchandise.

Who does Tik Tok reach?

Currently, Tik Tok’s primary demographics trend toward the younger crowd: Gen z and the Millenials. But there is a growing sector of Gen X mothers surging onto the site lately. The attitude is, generally a bit silly and very friendly. Encouraging also has a large part of the overall community attitude, but politics have recently begun to make forays. Especially with the trend “Democrats, don’t make me vote for Joe Biden.” that has taken off in recent weeks.

Remember that every social media is a piece of the puzzle, and success using it will depend on your ability to authentically engage with the platform. But don’t forget to have fun with it.

Give Tik Tok a try. You might enjoy driving your book sales.

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