Time to go viral

TikTok is one of the fastest-growing media outlets in the world based on short videos that typically last around 15 to 30 seconds and food and drink is one of its users’ favourite subjects.

Popular with a younger social media audience, there are an estimated 7.5 million TikTok users in Australia, most between 16-25 years old. Many spend over an hour looking at short videos every day. Global lockdowns pushed users up, with many getting pleasure from watching other people make and eat food. In 2021, dishes that trended on TikTok included crispy garlic and parmesan potatoes, vodka pasta, pesto eggs, and toast slathered in ricotta and berries.

TikTok is young, fun, cheeky, quick and not the place to be serious. The videos that work best are the ones that can have fun but at the same time be on brand. Popular TikToks are fast, fun, quirky and engaging. Netherlands food trends website www.foodyard.nl highlights restaurants with videos where the chef ‘dresses’ in mixing bowls and hits the metal with a soup ladle in time to the music.

Another depicts a well-dressed woman standing by an Amsterdam canal making panini, after panini, after panini – each slightly different. It’s quirky but riveting. Another has one member of staff lip-syncing to customers talking about the menu. It is almost absurd but it is incredibly engaging. Other videos have chefs making dishes in fast motion, going shopping for ingredients and breaking down elaborate dishes into a series of simple techniques. It is all riveting and generally no longer than half a minute.

Using TikTok is incredibly easy. You download the app, edit videos and add effects within the TikTok app. Some great TikTok instructional videos on YouTube show you how to post videos. The use of popular music boosts viewership, and videos cut to the beat are extremely effective. Whatever the case, the best videos portray a single idea in a simple manner. TikTok is basic storytelling in its simplest form.

Another way of using TikTok is to piggyback onto a local TikTok influencer. Some have thousands, some millions of followers and it can be a cost-effective and low-risk way of getting associated with good content. You can find local identities once you’re on the app and some will swap posts for meals. But if you don’t have time a local PR agency can help identify an influencer who shares your values.

There are some security concerns about TikTok and the ways its Chinese-owned parent company can gain access to data on the user’s smartphone. Other short video formats include Triller, Dubsmash, Instagram reels, Byte and YouTube shorts but none have gained the market share that TikTok has.

TikTok 101 for hospo

Use the medium to take TikTok viewers behind the scenes and get to know the kitchen and FOH crew out of service.

Make hashtag challenges, they are like competitions – and reward other TikTok users for posting material about your venue.

Use TikTok to showcase new products, drinks and dishes. Users will feel like they are in on a secret, part of the crew.

Showcase specials and bonus offers to your followers. They will feel like they are being rewarded for following you.

Share customers’ special moments – birthdays, proposals etc (with their permission, of course). TikTok users love seeing unscripted moments of joy.

Encourage customers to make their own video in your venue. Ask them to use a specific filter or sticker on their photos and then share it with a hashtag that’s currently trending.

Once you’ve collected over 1,000 followers on TikTok, you can start hosting live events on the platform. Have the bar staff show off their mixology skills or perhaps chefs could share their BBQ secrets.

Use the camera to show off your amazing tools of the trade. Put a funky soundtrack behind a mirepoix being stick blended and you have a hit. TikTok baking bread in fast-mo to a great soundtrack and it is mesmerising!

As seen in Spring 2022

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