Maybe it's time...
If your destination marketing organization (DMO) thought or hoped that TikTok was just a fad and didn’t need to be part of your social media content strategy, it’s time to admit: TikTok is more than just a fad. Half of Americans between the ages of 18-29 are on the platform, which has over 100 million monthly active users in the U.S, so it’s safe to say that TikTok is here to stay.
This doesn’t mean your DMO needs to produce content for it, but since hundreds of millions view content on the platform’s top travel accounts, you probably should, too — if for no other reason than to see what it’s all about.
This article is about inching your way into TikTok. Some of our client DMOs are already all-in, and maybe a year from now, you will be, too. For those DMOs still in the thinking-about-it stage, here are five reasons you might want to inch your way in:
1. TikTok makes destinations come alive by showing a place’s sights, sounds, and spirit more effectively than still photos ever could.
Everyone loves a good destination web page, and articles on your DMO website will always have their place. There’s no way that TikTok, with its short-form videos, can provide all the information travelers need when planning trips. But they can inspire, often far more effectively than a static image on a web page.
See for yourself. Which seems livelier, this version of Lake Como?
Or this one?
Photo source: lakecomotravel.com
See a difference? Feel a difference?
Wonderful photography and informational articles on your DMO website will always have their place, but TikTok makes your destination come alive. It shows the sights, sounds, and spirit of a place more effectively than still photos ever could.
2. Even if your DMO isn't on TikTok, your destination is. Shouldn't you know how it’s being presented and perceived … and are there perhaps opportunities to help shape the perception?
Let's use the National Park Service as an example. It's not a DMO in the usual sense, but the same principle applies. Even though the National Park Service doesn’t have an official TikTok, people visit the parks and create content about them, which helps shape others’ perceptions of what it might be like for them to visit, too.
Combined, those two videos were 66 seconds long. Over four million people have watched “Yellowstone in 7 Seconds,” while “Girls Trip to Yellowstone” has 1.2 million views. Neither cost anything to make, so the return on investment if a DMO had made them is ... infinite?
Visit Corpus Christi does a great job presenting a curated view of its destination and expanding its reach by inviting influencers to create videos, as you'll see below. Natalie Rose has 2.5 million followers.
3. We tend to see things through our particular lens, so even though you know your destination well, it’s good to know how others experience it, too.
Visit Sedona has just one video posted on its official TikTok account, but because it has an account, the DMO can keep an eye on what travelers to the destination are seeing, saying, eating, and highlighting. Here are two examples of Sedona through the eyes of visitors, one of the sort that a DMO would likely showcase and one that might never occur to it:
This is the type of TikTok you’d expect to see, highlighting the area’s incredible red rock hiking trails:
Now for the other one. People find it really interesting that the McDonald’s in Sedona is the only one in the entire world that has turquoise arches. You could watch TikToks about this all day long. Some videos have over a million views! If your DMO is not on TikTok, you might underestimate how exciting certain things are to travelers and overestimate others.
4. Your partners will benefit from any TikTok attention you give them, and they’ll thank you for it.
We all know how busy small business owners are. We know how short-staffed many of them are, too. With tiny (and sometimes non-existent) marketing budgets, they can use all the help they can get. Simpleview clients who are on TikTok report that their local businesses are thrilled by any attention the DMO pays them on the platform because it definitely drives business.
Visit Dublin, Ohio
Visit York County, SC
5. Sometimes TikTok is the perfect medium for a particular message that enables you to showcase your destination’s authentic heart, soul, and pride (and sometimes sketches and sea turtles!).
TikTok is great at capturing the everyday, so you'll see great examples of everyday kindness and everyday community. Both of the examples below make the viewer feel something and experience the moment right along with the people actually involved. One exemplifies the kindness of strangers, while the other demonstrates a local commitment to respect and protect a community treasure. As a DMO, what values could you communicate with your TikToks?
New York City
Are you convinced yet?
Put simply, TikTok is one more way your DMO can share your destination’s story. No matter the content you create, the opportunity to reach millions of potential visitors is at your fingertips — literally!