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TikTok Strategies for Building Materials Manufacturers

One of the most talked about social media platforms today is TikTok. It’s where a ton of online trends start, and in this episode, we bring back Venveo’s own Ashley Stevenson to help us understand which building materials brands should be on the platform and how they can be successful.

Photo of Zach Williams
Photo of Beth PopNikolov
by Zach Williams and Beth PopNikolov
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More About This Episode

The Smarter Building Materials Marketing podcast helps industry professionals find better ways to grow leads, sales and outperform the competition. It’s designed to give insights on how to create a results-driven digital marketing strategy for companies of any size.

In a recent episode of the show, we talked about the ROI of social media in building materials, and it quickly became the most commented-on podcast we've done to date. So this time, we’re taking a deep dive into the wildly popular platform of TikTok.

Who Should Bother With TikTok?

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Venveo’s internal team is talking about it regularly. And it’s one of the most common questions we’re seeing from B2B brands today: Should I be on TikTok?

“So TikTok's been around since 2016. It has over a billion users currently globally,” explains Ashley Stevenson, Social Media Manager at Venveo.

If you have teenagers (or don’t live under a rock), you’ve probably heard of TikTok — it’s a video-based app, most widely known for the dances. “That's actually what it's probably really popular for, all of the different dance trends and audios that are there,” says Ashley.

For brands who want to reach a wider audience (and younger crowd), it’s the place to be. Yes, even if you’re a building materials brand.

“If you're really smart about it, you can really use it for an opportunity to showcase, celebrate and even give information about products and services that are supplied by your company or from an individual perspective,” Ashley explains.

There are a few building materials brands that have been able to harness the power of today’s hottest app, but it takes some strategy and experimenting.

All About TikTok

If you’re already on Instagram, TikTok might look similar to the videos and reels featured there. We had Ashley break things down for us about what makes TikTok different from other social media apps.

“TikTok is a place really for entertainment and for information in video spaces. And they're all less than a minute long or right at 60 seconds, but they can also be in 15-second intervals,” Ashley explains.

“Instagram has feed posts, they have stories, they have reels, they have IGTV, they have guides. There are multiple layers to the platform for different users to engage, curate, collaborate, even be inspired,” says Ashley.

TikTok has the same potential as Instagram for that kind of engagement, but all of the content is in a video format. “So, you're getting very specific information in video form only. You do have text overlay that's added to it,” Ashley explains.

“Some people may be ... a bit apprehensive about TikTok because they're just not sure if they have the video editing skills to really make a good jump into the platform,” says Ashley.

You really don’t have to be an expert (or a teenager) to use TikTok.

Where To Start With TikTok

Ashley talked more about how new users should approach the platform. (You can download it first by going here.)

Start by looking up brands and topics in the building materials industry. “I absolutely encourage you to search for specific hashtags in your category ... you'll see examples of products, brand pages, users that are doing it, what hashtags [they’re] using,” Ashley explains.

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“And you can see immediately the views that are there, all of the comments that are there. I mean, real-time, you can see how objective they are and then how they're doing from an engagement perspective,” Ashley explained.

You’ll note that in the building materials communities on TikTok, there aren’t many dance trends. “Focus on what your business actually does. If your business does not have a dance team, don't do a dance,” emphasizes Ashley.

“One of my favorite creators on TikTok is a building inspector. And if he did a TikTok dance, it would be weird and creepy and I'm not interested. But he gets, I mean, tens of thousands of views and engagement and interaction, that is B2B, in real life. People are super interested in those things, but it's about setting precedent and knowing your audience, just like any other platform.”

So if you’re not dancing, but you want to reach an audience of architects, builders and homeowners on TikTok, what kind of content can you create? Ashley offers a few ideas.

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Behind the Scenes

If you have a production facility or an assembly process, there are tons of content opportunities. “If it's assembly line, if it's a roofing company and you're showing someone apply different types of roofing tiles or shingles, or you're really zooming in and answering questions and showing them why you do things a certain way,” Ashley explains, “you're giving an opportunity for someone to learn about your business, understand your brand, and then be an advocate for your brand and then continue to share it.”

Play With Pop Culture

Maybe dancing isn’t your thing, but there are some current events and trends that might inspire some playful content. “So, for example, the Met Gala, something very popular, it's covered on TV, on social media, everybody watches it, everyone wants to look at the outfits,” says Ashley. “There was a faucet and fixtures company that is based in California and they literally just have faucets and plumbing fixtures. And they created an entire TikTok video comparing the faucets and fixtures to Met Gala outfits.”

Before + After

“A lot of times, when we're in this B2B space or we're doing building projects and we're talking about products, the average person and end-user doesn't know how they all work together. They see them as individual components and pieces and they become overwhelmed,” explains Ashley. “So, showing them the example of this is where we started and then this is where we're ending, and we placed all of these together in this beautiful way.”

But what if you’re a one-person marketing team and aren’t a videographer? Ashley and Beth point out that seeing something highly polished on the app isn’t expected, and in fact: “We don't want it to look like it could be an ad on a Super Bowl. It needs to look like it's organically happening inside the platform and someone uploaded it for consumption versus promotion,” says Ashley.

In fact, the more unpolished, the better. “It's just taking your cell phone and walking through a door of a project that you did or taking your phone and recording the assembly line in the manufacturing facility,” Ashley explains.

Okay, But Should I Be On TikTok?

TikTok can offer a ton of opportunities to brands looking to build an online audience — but not all manufacturers need to be on the app.

Ashley emphasizes that building materials brands should only spend time on TikTok if they have the resources to create videos. But if you don’t have access to a manufacturing facility or “boots on the ground to take some of those images and that footage, then I'd say you might have an issue in actually being able to share those components and those pieces of your business,” she says.

She suggests making a list of the resources that you do have available. “What do you have immediately today that you could talk about? What is on your website that could be expanded on? What are your frequently asked questions? You could just do an entire series of frequently asked questions,” she suggests.

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In other words, you need a strategy — and a purpose. “Is the purpose for this TikTok channel to speak to someone who's going to buy it, or are you trying to get more dealers, are you trying to get more builders? What is the purpose?” Ashley explains. “So, if you can identify who you're speaking to, what you'd want to show them and then do a series of how frequently you'd like to share them, what they would consist of, then I think you've really got a good TikTok strategy plan, but it is really putting those all down onto paper and figuring the timeline.”

Manufacturers can also start building an audience on TikTok by reaching out to their preferred partners or builders — anyone who might specify or use the product regularly. Ashley points out that this kind of outreach benefits your brand in a few ways.

“While you're working and building towards the resources, you are strengthening your relationship with your customers who do use your products that you're asking for installation photos from, you're asking for completed project images,” says Ashley.

“You're just strengthening that relationship.”

Want Even More Insight?

The building materials industry is packed with TikTok content opportunities, and Ashley points out that the goal isn’t to get it 100% right.

“I don't think we necessarily need to focus on only doing a video when you have a perfect project to show. Perfection, I think, is achieved by practice,” she says.

For more great tips and insights on TikTok, listen to the full episode!

Be sure to reach out to us at Venveo with your questions and comments. You can email us at [email protected].

Show Notes

Brands on TikTok We Love:

Video Ideas:

  • Assembly time-lapse or manufacturing process
  • Unboxing tools and talking about how to use them
  • Before and after transformations
  • Product announcements
  • Project announcements
  • Team culture and day-to-day
  • Videos showcasing craftsmanship and installation skills
  • Q&A series using your FAQs