Things happen fast in the digital world. Just when you’re getting the hang of one platform, another comes along that your kids make you try. That’s how it happened for Michael Craine, owner of Craine Painting in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. In addition to the “traditional” social media platforms — Facebook, Instagram and YouTube — Craine now uses TikTok, where he posts videos.
Craine, whose business focuses on premium cabinet refinishing, has been using Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram for his business for years and by studying the analytics knows which platforms work for him. “We get quite a bit of work from Facebook,” he says, where he posts “photos of job sites, before and after images, goofy memes and funny things.” He uses YouTube for tutorial videos such as a six-part, two-and-a-half hour series on how his company refinishes kitchen cabinets. Instagram, he says is for “brand awareness, but all the platforms allow me to connect with painters across the country.”
But TikTok, if you believe the hype, is something different. Started in China in about 2016 with the merger of a music app and a video app, TikTok allows users to create short videos — about 15 seconds long — set to music. There’s even a way to grab a 15-second music clip so users don’t get nabbed by copyright laws. There’s a lot of goofing around, people changing clothes, putting on makeup, dancing, comedy, fashion shows. There’s no news and no advertising (at least not yet). As of last July, TikTok hit 500 million global monthly users; by the end of 2018 the app had surpassed 6 million downloads in the United States.
The videos are vertical, like those on your phone, and you move through them by scrolling up and down (not swiping). There are filters — animal faces, slo-mo, emojis, crazy faces. You can insert yourself into other videos and engage with other users. The TikTok feed constantly learns from users and offers up things they might be interested in.
Craine likes it, he says, because “people’s attention spans are small. On TikTok, I can put out a short, eye catching video that also has music. If I want to put ‘Great Balls of Fire’ on a video I won’t be breaking any laws. Unlike on Facebook, which will shut you down if there’s a song playing in the background.” Sometimes he takes longer videos, cuts them down and posts them on TikTok. Craine says he sees lots of woodworkers on TikTok as well as other tradespeople. “Spray painting videos are popular.” In fact, he says, he has a half million views of this spray painting video set to “Can I Kick It?” by a Tribe Called Quest.
“This isn’t where you’re going to get clients,” Craine admits. “It’s all for brand awareness and then you can share the videos easily with other platforms.” Plus, you get a little cool cred with your kids — at least until the next big thing comes along.