5 tips for TikTok brand engagement

The head of social media at Dropbox explains why authenticity is crucial to engagement on the platform.

Having a brand social video strategy around TikTok is a crucial part of connecting with audiences today.

Dropbox’s head of social media, Susan Chang, has been with the software company since 2014, two years longer than TikTok has been in existence. During her time there, she’s had the chance to craft the social media strategy around the short-form video app from its inception.

“It was just undeniable that TikTok was becoming such a popular way to consume content that we couldn’t not be on it anymore,” said Chang, who occasionally guest stars on her brand’s channel. Dropbox joined just two years ago with a cheeky “let’s go” post. Today, the channel regularly pulls in millions of views on individual videos.

Part of Chang’s strategy was to create videos that felt like they belonged on that platform. “As a team, we needed to be smart about understanding the channel and the audience that was there.”

Ahead of her session at Ragan and PR Daily’s Social Media Conference, Chang shared her best advice for TikTok, including how to be authentic, the evolving role of user generated content and ways to engage beyond videos.


Create videos specifically for the platform

It’s important to understand the audience on TikTok. “You might feel that there are some similarities between [TikTok and other short-form video platforms],” said Chang, “however, the audience is different from the audience that’s on Reels.”

Specifically, TikTok videos need to be tuned into the app’s own unique, self-referential culture. “So much of TikTok is responding to what else is happening on TikTok,” said Chang. “You have to react quickly to the new thing that day.”

When videos are recycled across platforms, they feel inauthentic. “When brands do that, it’s very obvious and people (notice).”

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Don’t ignore the comments section

“The comments section is very special,” said Chang. “Sometimes it’s more interesting and entertaining than the actual video.”

TikTok thrives on engagement between video creators, including through the stitch and duet tools. But the comments section is where engagement can thrive. “You can’t just post (and) leave,” said Chang. “Look at what people are saying, how are people reacting to you. Could you be reacting to their reactions?”

Dropbox’s strategy for the TikTok channel now includes best practices around the comments section and is part of their larger community engagement strategy.

“It’s another way for us to interact with our customers. You’ll see other brands pop up [in the comments] on popular TikTok all the time.”

Build a UGC strategy

UGC has become a critical part of Dropbox’s strategy.

“TikTok is a channel where people love to see someone talking to you and having a conversation with you,” said Chang. With that thought in mind, her team vetted micro influencers who had been previously posting content that felt on brand for Dropbox.

“These (were) real customers using Dropbox, in their actual daily lives, talking about how to use it and why they like it,” said Chang. “Having them say that on our behalf (was) more effective than the Dropbox brand saying (the same thing). When you see an actual customer saying something, it feels much more authentic and it helps you see yourself in that customer.”

As an added bonus, it’s allowed the channel to post more regularly.

“It’s been a great way for us to feature customers (and) also create video content at a much more efficient rate than we previously had been.”

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Followers aren’t everything

“Your executives probably ask you ‘How many followers do you have?’” acknowledged Chang. “It’s one of those key metrics that a lot of brands will track. (But) I don’t feel like followers (are) that important to a channel. Discoverability has nothing to do with number of followers on TikTok.”

TikTok’s discoverability model allows relevant videos to appear on viewer’s For You tab even if a user isn’t following the account — which means any video can go viral.

“We want to know that content we’re publishing is doing well with our audience and that people are watching it,” said Chang. Her key metrics include engagement, as well as ROI on video creation.

“With UGC content, our costs to make each video have come down. That’s also something that we track as a business to make sure that we’re investing (correctly).”


Have fun

The short-form video platform turns 8 years old this September and now boasts over 1 billion monthly active users. A trend Chang has noticed is that increased audience means that more and more public figures or celebrities have joined the platform in earnest. (President Biden’s social team just joined in early February.)

“(The audience on TikTok) love to see the authentic sides of people,” said Chang. “You have to be aware of the beats on the platform on the daily.”

Whether those celebrities can adapt to that platform will be something she’s curious to watch. “You (can’t) only post beautifully produced videos or things (that feel) brand approved.“

Remember: in the end, sometimes you just have to give the audience what they want.

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Join Chang at Ragan and PR Daily’s Social Media Conference on March 27-29. Chang will speak alongside communications leaders from Alaska Airlines, Hyatt, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Intel, AARP, Wendy’s and more.




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