TikTok Managers for Brands Describe What Their Jobs Are Really Like – Business Insider

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In early September, a trend emerged on TikTok of users posting videos claiming they’d stolen items from their schools.
The meme, dubbed “devious licks,” infuriated administrators who watched as items like paper towel dispensers and soap were removed from school bathrooms.
As it was picking up steam on TikTok, one social-media manager, who runs a brand account with hundreds of thousands of fans, pitched the idea of joining the trend to their bosses. They were quickly shut down.
“Basically, I feel like I’m either always on the line or up against the line on TikTok,” they told Insider, conceding that after they made the pitch, they realized it was too prickly a trend for a brand.
This is a common gripe of social-media managers, who are often balancing the reputations and brands of legacy companies with the new — and very particular — style of TikTok posts.
Insider spoke with eight social-media professionals who run brand accounts on TikTok across a variety of industries, from travel and sports to food and beverages, to learn what the job is really like. The managers, whose identities are known to Insider, shared their experiences anonymously so they would be able to speak more freely.
Some described the difficulty they faced explaining their edgier tone to higher-ups, or pushing communications teams to allow for more casual language and imagery, like using lower case letters to start sentences, uploading grainy video clips, or adding emojis to video captions.
“The more polished our video is — the more curated — it’s not going to hit as hard as just an iPhone clip that’s super pixelated,” a second social-media manager said.
In order to avoid this friction, some TikTok brand managers said they posted videos without much oversight. It would simply be too difficult to try to get approval or explain each TikTok trend.
“Unless you’re a TikTok user, it’s very hard to explain in a formal memo why the ‘Berries and Cream’ trend exists and why you should approach it,” a third social-media manager said. “There’s nothing worse than a committee getting together to decide what’s a funny TikTok.”
But this can lead to questions, especially when it comes to commenting.
“They’re like, ‘What is this?’ or ‘Why did you have such a troll-kind of reply to this comment when that’s not our brand,'” the first social-media manager said of responses from company superiors.
But replies have become a big part of the job, and sometimes a snarky comment may perform better than a friendly one.
“We brainstorm replies sometimes as long as we brainstorm content itself,” the third brand manager said. “There’s always people criticizing the brand in the comments.”
And it’s not as simple as finding the right words.
“I comment on a ton of videos, but I do my best to go through before I comment on a video and make sure the second to last video from that person isn’t something that is super political, racist, or against any normal brand guidelines,” a fourth social-media manager said.
It’s not only bosses who can limit creativity.
Some cited TikTok’s rules that restrict the sounds company accounts are allowed to use as a hindrance, particularly when it comes to participating in memes.
“Specifically on TikTok, not having music rights is such a setback,” a fifth social-media manager said. “We can’t participate in so many great trends.” 
To get around the rule, brands have to either start their own trends, like a dance challenge, or collaborate with creators who don’t have music restrictions.
TikTok’s rules affect more than just music and sounds. Some brand managers who post videos TikTok deems sensitive — a category that includes everything from violent movie clips to extreme sports — get hit with a warning label.
“We get a lot of warning labels on our content,” the second social-media manager said. “We have to battle a lot with them and say, ‘Nothing bad is happening in this video.'”
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