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A quick guide to TikTok for nonprofit professionals on a budget 

| | 3 mins.
Written By: Kelsey Thompson | Posted On: 04/04/2022

When you think of TikTok, do teenagers performing viral dance trends come to mind? If so, it’s time to update your impressions of the wildly popular video sharing platform. 

With over 1 billion monthly active users of all ages and with every interest under the sun, TikTok’s algorithm builds hyper-engaged communities around all kinds of topics, from the popular #BookTok and #PlantTok to more niche content like roller skating and theater kids. Any of these niches would be interested in relevant charitable causes. Plus, TikTok offers resources and case studies to help nonprofits learn how to use TikTok to spur awareness and action through their TikTok for Good program. 

While many accounts and campaigns highlighted by TikTok for Good and other outlets have a high production quality and, most likely, a correspondingly high budget, you don’t need to have a lot of resources at your disposal to be successful on the platform. Below are eleven tips, best practices and ideas to build a TikTok presence on a budget. 

1. If you’re not already on TikTok, start out by watching videos first to get a feel for common styles, topics and trends. It can take a little while for the algorithm to figure out your interests, so stick with it. Full disclosure: you may get some weird videos at first – that’s normal and will change the more you use and watch.

2. TikTok viewers prefer to connect with a real person. Prior to posting, decide on the persona of your account and whether it will be a real person or persons, like The Washington Post account, or perhaps a character like the Duolingo and Ryanair accounts.

3. To start, keep it simple. Film on a phone. Once you get more comfortable, experiment with TikTok’s features like transitions and video effects, which can all be done from a phone as well. 

4. Experiment with both short and long-form content. Videos can be as short as six seconds and as long as three minutes, though the platform is now experimenting with videos as long as ten minutes for some users.

5. Incorporate trends and popular sounds when possible but first, read up on the restrictions on music and sound use for brands. Don’t plan out your content too far in advance, as trends come and go quickly. 

6. Use three to four hashtags in your captions. Use one or two that are relevant to your work and the topic of the video and one or two that are currently trending or promoted. Find trending and promoted hashtags in the “Discover” tab in the app and keep an eye on what hashtags others are using.

7. To really build up a following, and for a better chance at going viral, it’s best to post as much as six to seven videos per day. If that feels like a lot, that’s because it is. To avoid overwhelming your marketing team, evaluate the team’s capacity and determine how many videos per day you can commit to making. Then stick to that number and post consistently.

8. Comment on other videos in your niches. Commenting is a great way to reach new people and help TikTok deliver your videos to the right audiences. It also helps to see what users respond to and where there are content gaps to fill.

9. Be authentic. This is a common tip for any social media platform but it’s especially important on TikTok. Users do not respond well to inauthenticity and will call you out. Let your marketing person or team’s personality shine through and avoid mimicking the styles of other organizations – build your own voice. 

10. That being said, following other nonprofits on the platform can be a great way to get inspiration and spark new ideas. Check out these socially conscious creators who do a great job:

Audubon Society, @audubonsociety

GivingTuesday, @givingtuesday

Caenhill Countryside Center, @caenhillcc

Girls Who Code, @girlswhocode

Schuler Books, @schulerbooks

Geo Rutherford – artist, teacher and non-profit co-chair, @geodesaurus

Shani MS, @theshaniproject

11. At a loss for how to get started? Here are a few ideas to kickstart your team’s brainstorming process.

Share facts and stats about your cause, especially relatively unknown ones.

If you work locally, share relatable videos about what it’s like to live there.

Showcase your company culture.

Share fundraising and advocacy tips for aspiring activists. 

If humor makes sense for your organization and cause, try out some jokes.

Consider starting a series, such as sharing thoughts or tips in the morning over coffee or creating a TikTok “mascot.”