Just under 1/7 of the world’s population uses TikTok.
In September 2021, TikTok reported 1 billion monthly active users worldwide. That's 45% growth compared to their 689 million monthly active users in July 2020.
Creators have taken notice of the newest social media platform’s growth…and the varying interests of its users. People build large niche audiences on the platform for mixing paint, talking about freelancing, and teaching people how to make a living using social media.
And they're using TikTok to not only grow their brand, but strategically move their followers to their email list for a safe, long-term career.
Email lists create longevity for creators
Creators know a long-term career can’t come from rented platforms, for example, TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook. These are all platforms you don’t own, which means you lose control over the percentage of your audience that sees your content. Growing to 100,000 followers stings when only 5% of your audience saw your latest Reel.
With email, you get access to 100% of your audience. If you have 1,000 email subscribers, 1,000 people:
- Get your weekly newsletter
- Read about your new products
- Buy a ticket to your virtual concert this weekend
That’s the reason you see so many of your fellow creators promoting their email lists.
They’re being strategic…and you should be, too.
What is TikTok?
TikTok is a highly creative short-form app for creators passionate about telling their stories, sharing their experiences, and expressing themselves through video. If you’ve seen Instagram Reels, you’re familiar with TikTok content—think videos with lots of cuts, edits, and varying audio (from music to movie snippets).
If social media and a video editing app had a baby, it would look just like TikTok.
Unlike IGTV, or posting videos to Twitter, part of the allure of TikTok is creating videos in the app itself. Creators add text, filters, and audio to their videos without leaving the app. This has allowed creators to make fast-paced, creative videos that are so relatable, it’s hard to look away.
And that’s not an accident. TikTok is known for having an exceptional algorithm that shows content to the right people at the right time which leads to more followers and engagement. Creators have attracted millions of followers in less than a year by posting consistently, something that feels nearly impossible on Instagram.
The most followed person on TikTok is Charli D’Amelio. She reached 100 million followers in less than one year of being on the app. That’s great for Charli, but it doesn’t mean every creator needs millions of followers to live out their dreams.
Niche creators find fast success on TikTok in comparison to other social platforms which is why creators are strategically using this platform over others to grow their audience.
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Why creators are using TikTok to grow their audience
TikTok allows for, seemingly, the most organic growth of any social media platform right now. When was the last time you heard somebody say, “It’s so easy to grow on Instagram. All I have to do is post and I get 100 new followers!”. Most likely not since 2015. TikTok gives creators a chance to get in front of their ideal audience in a way that hasn’t been available for years and the TikTok algorithm has become infamous for helping even niche creators find their community.
Blogger Whimsy Soul got 10,000 followers overnight when one of her videos went viral on the app. With less than 5,000 followers, the TikTok algorithm helped her get 1.6 million views. Not so bad for a 15-second video, huh?
This rapid growth is great for TikTok followings, but it doesn’t create a stable business to rely on for an income. If TikTok decides to shut down (like Vine) or changes its algorithm to make it harder to reach your hard-earned audience (like Instagram), TikTok creators are stuck at the whim of the app.
But, the creators who turned their followers into email subscribers have safely stored their connection to their fanbase in a digital space that can’t be impacted by an app shut down or algorithm change.
From the very start of your TikTok journey, you want to tell your audience about your email list and the benefits of subscribing. You don’t want to be at the whim of the changing TikTok algorithm. You worked hard for your audience, and you want to be in control of reaching them.
4 ways to grow your email list with TikTok
Your email list is like your digital headquarters for your creator business. It’s an owned platform where you can be assured that your audience can’t be taken away by changing algorithms.
Instagram reach has drastically decreased over time, but your email reach can’t (unless your audience unsubscribes en masse, which is unlikely to happen). Every time you send an email to your subscribers, they’ll get that email.
Musician and band member of Throw The Fight Ryan Baustert says, “Email marketing is our #1 tool to stay in touch with our audience, sell merch (when we can’t tour), and promote our shows and releases. Your email list is data that you own and it’s the only reliable way to reach your audience.”
Send an email to 1,000 subscribers, and 1,000 people will hear a ping in their inbox. Post an Instagram video to 100,000 followers, and maybe 1,000 of your followers will see it. Instagram And other social media platforms are great platforms for reaching your audience. But, because you “rent” from these social media platforms, you want to bring your audience to a digital space you own.
#1: Add a Link page to your bio
Creators use Link pages to share several links with their audience at once. With just one click, their TikTok audience can choose between getting access to their latest blog post, following them on Instagram, or watching their most-recent YouTube video. Link pages help you promote your newsletter, products, and other social media platforms, but most importantly they help you grow your email list.
With Link pages, you’re not stuck to promoting just one thing (like your newsletter). It’s understandable that you want to grow your email list and your Instagram following, here’s how:
- Choose the links you want to make available to your audience
- Add them to your Link page
- Add the link to your Link page to your TikTok bio.
Brand coach Hollie Arnett uses a Link page on her social accounts to promote her email list, products, and latest creations, “The ConvertKit link pages are the BEST! Now, instead of connecting multiple, limiting platforms I can grow my email list, promote my offers, and share my work in one beautiful, on-brand, customizable page.”
Here’s what a Link page looks like on a desktop and on mobile:
#2: Connect social media profiles (and promote your newsletter on those platforms, too!)
Since TikTok is a rented platform, you want to diversify where you’re “housing” your audience. Having 1,000 TikTok followers is awesome, but having 1,000 followers on YouTube is even better. This not only helps you grow a wider audience since some people prefer YouTube videos to TikToks, but it also gives you more opportunity to promote your newsletter and email content.
This is why Chef Max La Manna promotes his YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook group in his TikTok bio. He’s also promoting his newsletter, Leftovers, “a monthly newsletter with recipes, stories, and adventures,” to his biggest fans who want to keep in touch via email.
If one of your followers watches a TikTok promoting your newsletter, then watches your YouTube video also promoting it, and then reads your Instagram caption promoting it, they’re a lot closer to subscribing than somebody who just saw you post about it one time.
This follower keeps getting the reminder that your email content is hitting inboxes…and they want to be part of the party.
#3: Use lead magnets to promote subscribing
You don’t need to be a marketing expert to get your TikTok followers to subscribe to your emails. You can keep being an expert at painting, music, writing, podcasting—while using this one marketing trick to help inspire people to subscribe to your email list.
Use lead magnets to get your TikTok audience to sign up to your email list. A lead magnet is something enticing your audience would love for free and are willing to give you their email address in return for it. It could be a free mini-guide to getting started with watercolors, a 40-minute pre-recorded video coaching session on learning the piano, or free access to the first chapter of your book.
Instead of promoting your newsletter, you’ll promote your lead magnet in your TikToks (and include a link for it on your Link page). This doesn’t always have to be a direct promotion, like “Get my ebook by clicking the link in my bio!”. You can add your lead magnet into your TikToks by saying things like, “In the first chapter of my book, the main character Genevieve finds out…”. Then, the end of your TikTok or your caption can explain where people can get free access to that first chapter (a.k.a your lead magnet).
#4: Go live
People like to experience content differently. Some people love watching TikToks and others want to connect with you in real-time (ahem, these are your most dedicated followers!). To get these dedicated followers to raise their hands and show you how interested they are in your content, you can go live on TikTok. Going live on TikTok gives your audience the opportunity to ask questions and have a more direct experience with you.
The key to lives is having a plan to promote your email content (or lead magnet). You don’t need a 40-minute script—you just need to be ready to take advantage of the opportunity to promote your emails. If one of your followers asks you a question that you answered in your last newsletter, let them know your subscribers got this information a while ago. And, if they want to subscribe, give them the direct link to your sign-up form or tell them to click the link in your bio.
The people who are willing to stop scrolling to watch you live on TikTok are some of your biggest fans. They’re the best audience to ask to subscribe to your newsletter or get your lead magnet because you know they’re interested. They want to see more from your brand—and this is your opportunity to move them from followers to subscribers.
To go live on TikTok, click the + button and tap Live. Name your Live and click “Go Live.”
How to know if you’re promoting your email list TOO much
You’ve experienced creators who promoted so much that it made you lose interest in their content. How do you avoid the same fate? The same rule applies to every platform you’re publishing content on (Instagram, TikTok, email).
Aim to have 80% of your content be organic and 20% be promotional. The 20% promotional content is for your newsletter, products, shows, podcast episodes, etc. It’s the content asking your audience to stop their scroll and click.
The other 80% of your content is filled with skits, performances, behind-the-scenes, and even you talking about your newsletter but not directly asking people to subscribe in the video (you can totally add instructions in your caption to click the link in bio, though).
This 80% organic and 20% promotional content will make sure you don’t exhaust your audience with promotions and continue to give them the content they subscribed to see.
Turn TikTok followers into email subscribers
Despite their niche, industry, or products, every creator needs to play the same long-term game. Turn their social media followers into email subscribers.
Email is the safest place to “house” the connection you have with your fans. When Instagram decreases your reach, in hopes you'll pay for ads, you won't have to worry. If you can no longer get on YouTube's homepage, it won't be detrimental to your career.
Growing your audience on social media and turning fans into email subscribers is the safest bet creators can make.
And it's easier to do than ever before (you don't need email experience to get started).
Keep your audience up-to-date with your latest products, offers, and creative ideas with ConvertKit.
Landing pages, forms, and link pages designed to help creators turn their social media audience into email subscribers give you instant access to the tools used by New York Times Bestselling authors Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, Ryan Holiday, and Tim Ferriss.