TikTok was once best known for short videos showing people miming to their favourite song.
But the platform now has a far wider range of content beyond miming videos. This has seen TikTok's popularity grow markedly in recent years, especially among young people.
At its current rate of growth TikTok is expected to attract 16.8m UK users by 2024, an increase of 7m on 2020’s figures.
According to Ofcom TikTok is now used by 7% of adults for news, a significant increase in 1% in 2020, and underlying the breadth of content on the platform. Half of its news followers are aged between 16 and 24, adds the media regulator.
The platform’s broader appeal also provides opportunities for charities to use TikTok to attract new supporters, especially among young people.
Charities can also turn support and interest in their mission into funding through adding TikTok donation badges to allow in-app fundraising. Sometimes the platform itself will pledge funding to good causes.
RNLI’s instant popularity
Engaging content is vital to charities success on TikTok, something that RNLI has excelled at since launching in July.
To underline the power of the medium for charities, the RNLI became the second biggest charity on TikTok, attracting more than 102,000 followers and over 321,000 likes within days of its launch.
This has been achieved through producing highly visual, exciting content, showing RNLI lifeboat crews and lifeguards carrying out their day-to-day work protecting people at sea.
As a result the RNLI has become a sensation on the medium, showing viewers the impact of its work and the commitment of volunteers.
It’s first post on July 13 showing its crews battling rough seas is a great example of this engaging content. The video alone has attracted more than 2.6m views.
@rnli We've offically launched...our tiktok channel 🙌 #fyp #tiktok #rnli ♬ original sound - rapidsongs
Other posts include the rescue of a young woman by lifeboat crews at Weston-Super-Mare, videos of the different type of lifeboats used and a behind the scenes look at a floating boathouse in Poole.
“Our TikTok launch was meant to be a low-profile affair to allow us the opportunity to test and learn so its immediate popularity took us all a little by surprise,” says RNLI strategic social media manager Athar Abidi.
“TikTok gives us the chance to reach and resonate with a new audience, so over the coming weeks we will be posting content that reflects the diversity of our work, our volunteers and our supporters to inform our ongoing content strategy.”
RNLI content offering advice on staying safe ahead of the school summer holidays is among its most recent content and has been viewed 12,000 times.
Abidi adds: “This new channel will help us save lives at sea by reaching a new
generation of supporters by delivering key safety advice to an organic audience that
now tops the one million mark who can help spread our message even further through
their extended networks.”
British Red Cross’s wide variety of advice
While RNLI is the second biggest charity on TikTok, the first is the British Red Cross. Its channel has 436.3k followers and has garnered 7.3m likes, since launching on the platform last year.
The charity’s videos offer a raft of engaging content around health and international aid issues, giving advice on coping with extreme heat as well as information around Covid, vaccines and the plight of refugees.
Among the most popular of this wide variety of content has been a video around refugee inventors. Another reveals facts around Covid.
@britishredcross Are you ready for your mind to be blown?! 🤯😱 #refugees #EveryRefugeeMatters #covid @Google ♬ original sound - lanasmonkeys
It is also using its channel to teach people first aid skills, which is proving another interesting source of content.
During the first Covid pandemic lockdowns in 2020 the charities content showing handwashing dance routines perfectly blended the medium’s sense of fun with important messaging from the charity.
Blue Cross benefits from animal loving viewers
Animal welfare chrity Blue Cross is among not for profits to link up with TikTok for an engaging campaign that focuses on viewers' love of their pets.
@jojotheragdollcat Do you like our singing skills? 😹 #dubbchallenge #dubbingchallenge #petchallange #cats #petbff #ukcomedy #fyp ♬ Bad Romance Remix Chipmunk - Tik Toker
Using the # PetBFF hashtag the platform encourages users to share their videos of their best friends – their pets. The platform donates money to animal charities for every video shared.
During Blue Cross’s involvement £1 was donated for every video made by users. So far the #PetBFF has received four billion views and in 2022 is currently raising money for pets in the US through the charity ASPCA.
Movember entertains and educates
Charities are advised to look at their mission and the work they do and see how it can engage audiences in a highly visual way. Men’s health charity Movember does this well through encouraging TikTok users to post videos of their attempts to grow a moustache to raise money for the charity.
The charity has also produced videos starring celebrities, including Stephen Merchant and Tan France, to further engage users on the platform and spread messages about men’s health.
@movember Stephen Merchant shares some 100% true and verified facts about everyone's favourite facial hair, the #moustache #movember ♬ original sound - Movember
The charity’s videos, and those from users using the #Movember hashtag, have attracted 1.5billion views as of summer 2022, showing the wide appeal of its content.
As well as encouraging support and donations among viewers, TikTok itself has got involved, by donating £10,000 to the charity in 2019 due to the “inspiring video content” the charity has attracted.