In last month’s column, a spokesperson at Sotheby’s revealed that the auction house has been working with an in-house team at TikTok to improve its content and grow its reach. Such a service was news to me—despite the fact that I’m constantly buried in the worlds of art and social media. I needed to know more.
It is hard to find information online about the “lifestyle and education content operations team” that runs this side of TikTok’s business, but a job listing describes it as being “dedicated to empowering content creators and publishers within specialised niches”. Luckily, the team at TikTok were responsive to questions (unlike certain other social media companies, ahem). “TikTok is a place to spread creativity and joy and celebrate cultural expression,” says Lina Renzina, TikTok’s lifestyle and education media partnerships lead for North America. “Culture lives and grows on TikTok, and cultural institutions—including museums, galleries, theatres, botanical gardens, libraries and opera houses—are the epicentres of culture in their respective cities. TikTok works directly with these organisations to elevate and unlock the unique perspectives and educational content they bring to the TikTok community.”
TikTok also confirmed that it does not charge for this service—but why would it offer it for free? There are five billion views on videos marked #art, 586 million views on #MuseumTok and 904 million views on #GetCultured: a hashtag aimed at engaging the TikTok community with cultural institutions on the platform and shining a light on educational arts and culture content. These numbers suggest that there is already huge interest in the visual arts on TikTok that could grow even further with better insights and strategy.
TikTok has been stepping up support for cultural institutions. The North American lifestyle and education team recently launched “Culture Starts on TikTok”, an in-person workshop programme focused on educating cultural professionals around the US and Canada on how to build their presence and audience. Participants learned about the different types of educational content that perform well and content creation best practices, as well as product feature updates.
Here are three top tips that the team shared:
- Educational content drives engagement. #LearnOnTikTok has more than 771.5 billion views. And who best to provide educational content than institutions that are experts in their space? Demonstrate what makes you unique. Have your experts share a mind-blowing story or stat. Show a behind-the-scenes look that no one else has access to.
- Stop the scroll and lead with your hook. The first three seconds of your video are critical to hook the viewer in. Optimise for watch time and finish rate by leading with your most engaging sound bite or visual and take the viewer on a journey as you teach them something new.
- Show up as your authentic self. Three-quarters of users feel a deeper connection to brands on TikTok than other sites. Engage with followers in the comments, use engagement tools and even invite creators in your doors to build your online community. Comments are the modern-day autograph! That said, skip any branding or elements that might make your video feel like an ad.