Businesses that know the ins and outs of social platforms are probably familiar with Instagram Live, the app’s livestream tool where creators host events, Q&As, and more.
But many brands don’t know that TikTok, the trending new video platform with over 1 billion users, lets them host the same types of broadcasts through its TikTok LIVE feature.
TikTok LIVE is a livestream tool that looks a lot like Instagram Live, but the key difference is its discoverability. Whereas an Instagram Live only surfaces to your followers or to people who navigate to your account, TikTok live streams can appear on the For You pages of people who don’t follow you. A livestream on TikTok, in other words, has a lot more viral potential.
For businesses, TikTok has two separate livestream tools.
TikTok says that one way to make sure your livestream reaches as many people as possible is to post a video in advance of the stream. That’s because TikTok adds a “Live” icon to the avatar of any user who is currently live. That way, when people watch your regular video post on their For You page, they can also see in your profile that you’re livestreaming, and they know they can click over to your page to watch more.
Although TikTok does not have any limits to how long a Live can last—in theory, you can stream for as many hours as you want—it says the sweet spot is somewhere around 30 minutes.
TikTok has an array of features open to people who choose to livestream on the app, including a “Live Events” tool that lets you pick a slot to host your stream well in advance. Once you schedule your event, the time and date of the stream will appear on your profile, and anyone who visits your page in the meantime can register to attend. People who register will receive a notification shortly before you go live. The Live Events feature also makes it easy for your followers to add your event to their digital calendars.
Much like Instagram, TikTok makes it easy for your viewers to interact with you on each stream. Its Live Q&A feature, for instance, lets audiences pose written questions to the streamer. Those questions pop up in a list on your screen, so you can more easily answer them live on air.
If you don’t know what to record for your TikTok LIVE, you might take a lesson from the soap brand Dr. Squatch, which has made a habit of posting behind-the-scenes tours of its soapmaking process on TikTok. A great livestream, for instance, could involve a walkthrough of your manufacturing facility to showcase how your product is made. That would not only give the stream some narrative cohesion, but it would also build in places for your viewers to ask questions. Or if your manufacturing process isn’t the most visually appealing, there are other types of demos that might work well for TikTok: a cooking tutorial might be a good fit for TikTok LIVE, and so might an in-depth makeup tutorial.
Crystal sellers based in China have been one of the first demographics to take full advantage of TikTok’s livestream feature. These sellers operate by showcasing all of their products on camera, against a makeshift backdrop. You can buy a “lucky scoop” of crystals, and watch as the seller chooses them for you. Selling live on air like this doesn’t work for every type of product, but that element of randomness—you don’t know which product you will get in the scoop—adds some drama to each livestream.
If you don’t have a huge following of your own and you’re worried about getting enough people to tune in, you might consider working with an influencer with a more established following. Since 2021, TikTok has let two people participate in a livestream at the same time, in a split screen, through its Go Live Together feature. The ability to livestream split-screen not only allows you to introduce a number of new formats to your videos, including hosting Q&A with someone who isn’t physically present in the room with you, but it also means you can bring some more famous people to your livestreams in order to encourage people to tune in.
During the stream, customers are inevitably going to take to the comments to ask questions about how to customize your products, what your return policy is, and more. While the livestream host might be able to field some of these questions, it’s also important to have a dedicated customer service agent who can answer questions in the comments. Chatdesk Teams hires Superfans who are real fans of your product to address inquiries on TikTok in both the comments and the DMs.