📸 How to use TikTok Stories

Spoilers... not sure anyone knows how?

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I’m riding an electric skateboard to work again. It’s summer, it’s the same speed as the subway, it gets me some sunshine, and I get great stares as people watch a 6’7” skater magically move uphill without lifting my feet.

Goofiness aside, let’s talk about social things like

  • How no one knows how to TikTok Story

  • Why TikTokers are suddenly becoming newsletterists

  • A bunch of brand TikTok examples

How To Use TikTok Stories… except… no one kind of knows…

Instagram Stories, Snapchat Stories, Twitter Stories (err, Fleets) (RIP), LinkedIn Stories (LOL) (also RIP)—every platform under the sun has at one point offered users the ability to post casual, day-in-the-life content. While several versions have failed to have the impact of IG Stories, TikTok’s Story feature is still alive and kicking… even though there still doesn’t seem to be clear strategies as to how a brand or creator should use ‘em.

Take a look at these tweets from Dave Jorgenson, the brilliant mind behind the Washington Post’s award-winning TikTok account😀 

Note that these tweets are from 2022, but again… it feels like much hasn’t changed. And I googled a bit, and the how-to-use-TikTok-Stories articles are… rough. One said to use AI, which, no.

Confusion aside, I actually do think TikTok Stories could play an important role in turning lurkers into casual creators.

Let’s get back to basics.

First off, we’ll do the good ol’ “what even are TikTok Stories?” refresher.

  • Content-wise: The creation process looks a whole lot like Instagram. Vertical, up to 15 seconds.

  • Consumption-wise: Again, similar to Instagram, when someone’s posted a Story, a blue ring appears around their avatar both on the content stream and their profile. Stories also surface within the For You page now, a recent change.

  • Here’s TikTok’s official explanation of Stories.

Should your brand make TikTok Stories?

Probably. The unofficial rule of social network features: Platforms give preference to accounts that use the multiple features. Instagram’s especially guilty of this, between Reels and Carousels. Good luck getting any engagement nowadays with a regular ol’ photo or video. So, yeah, brands should probably all give TikTok Stories a go.

What kinda TikTok Stories should your brand make?

Good question. For creators, it’s worth mimicking your Instagram Stories strategy. Use Stories as a way to be more candid with your audience away from your primary content.

For brands, it’s a little trickier. As the Washington Post’s Jorgenson established, no true best practice has emerged. Not one of the first-page Google results for “TikTok Stories strategy” returns anything helpful. Welcome to the most fun part of Future Social: when we go full Joan Callamezzo and speculate wildly.

The most common consumption journey seems to be:

  1. User sees your TikTok in their FYP or Following feed.

  2. User notices that pretty blue ring around your picture.

  3. User clicks that pretty blue ring to see your most recent Story.

That supports Jorgenson’s “making of” strategy: You watch a Washington Post TikTok, then click through to see bloopers of the same TikTok. That’s a natural flow that makes sense, especially for their audience.

Stories do seem to reach the For You page, but it feels pretty rare, and mostly directed toward an account’s followers instead of the wider TikTok world. Thinking back to the above consumption journey, TikTok Stories do present an interesting opportunity for you to keep your viewers interested in you before they thumb to the next TikTok.

Here’s a few ways in:

  • Post-credits scene: In the same manner that Marvel tosses in reveals after movies end, what Story could you post that’s an intriguing “post-credits scene” to your most recent TikTok?

  • On the next episode: Use TikTok Stories to share what’s coming up in your TikTok calendar, Arrested Development style.

  • Develop a brand personality: Want to dive into creating a parasocial personality for your brand? You could soft launch by introducing a real face via Stories, be it your community manager or star talent.

  • A Stories-only series: If you want to go all in, build a content series that’s only on Stories. Give people a reason to keep coming back, be it a narrative or a specific style of content.

  • Stories-exclusive promos: Lightning deals expire soon. What better place to feature them than in expiring content streams.

As always, there’s no one answer to social, we should all experiment. And, if you’re experimenting, reply to this email with what you’re trying. I’d love to feature some successful examples here in Future Social.

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Social Cues

You may know I’m an elder emo, but I love me some pop music. These 25-slide show of social data on Sabrina Carpenter, Charli XCX, & Chappell Roan is a fun read.

The creator-to-newsletter pipeline becomes stronger every day as influencers worry about whether they own their audiences. I tend to think people underestimate what it takes to write a great newsletter, but more writing is always better.

Best way to learn social’s to consume social. Here’s a bunch of new content!

Wanna partner up for Future Social?

I’m always looking for new partners for the newsletter, whether that’s a creative execution, branded content, or anything else!

You can reply directly to this email—would love to chat.