Think TikTok is just for kids? Think again.

Screenshots from Turner Classic Movies' TikTok page, from left: Natalie Wood in Sex and the Single Girl in a white dress and white gloves, says 'Hello?' into a white telephone, Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver looks into the camera and asks 'You talkin' to me?' and Dustin Hoffman, framed by Anne Bancroft's knee in The Graduate states 'Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me.'

by Teagan Chevrier, Video Editor, Innovate By Day

There is a misconception by non-TikTok users that it is a platform for children to post their dance moves and lip-syncs to the latest trendy audio tracks, and while that’s maybe how the platform was started, TikTok has had quite the transformation.  

While there’s some truth to this misconception (early in TikTok’s life cycle it merged with, a social media platform where users created short lip-sync and comedy videos) as TikTok’s user base has grown (it was the most downloaded app on the Apple App Store in both 2018 and 2019) the type of content that performs well has changed.

Sure, there’s still a dance trend that seems to come around every month or so: right now it’s Gen-Zs freestyling to Disco hits like the absolutesnacc remix of Let's Groove by Earth, Wind, and Fire. But there are now so many micro-communities present throughout the app that any sort of content has the potential to do well.

@menanadoswas really hoping nobody would walk in on me during this lmaooo @nickanthonyy♬ Let's Groove - absolutesnacc

One area that interests us at Innovate By Day is the way the film and television industry is putting this growing platform to use.

If we take a look at an account like Turner Classic Movies, an established brand whose demographic would not be the main user base of TikTok, they have really mastered how to use TikTok to promote their channel. They’ve carved out a space for themselves in the TikTok sphere (they currently have over 275K followers) and the secret of their success is actually quite simple. 

TCM’s most successful Tik Toks tend to fall into two categories. One is capitalizing on viral trends; the other is pairing movie scenes with modern Gen-Z-friendly captions. 

For instance, when Alabama sorority candidates were sharing their outfits during  #BamaRush (and somehow taking over the app), TCM came out with this fashion clip from Singin' in the Rain. Or when the signs of the Zodiac were a popular trend tearing through TikTok, TCM put together this video that shares what the signs are as classic movie scenes and actors.  

The second category is posting a seemingly random scene but shared with a caption that is straight from the keyboard of the most TikTok literate Gen-Z. Eve Arden was the original girlboss in 1947’s The Unfaithful, posted here with the caption “POV: You married a man. 🤢 #oldhollywood #women #girlboss”-- the perfect amount of irony, sass and in-jokes to appeal to the younger generations using the app. In another example,  this clip of Natalie Wood in Sex and the Single Girl (1964) was posted with the caption “Hot Girl Summer started here. 🔥”. 


POV: You married a man. 🤢 #oldhollywood #women #girlboss

♬ original sound - Turner Classic Movies

Both of these techniques only work because TCM clearly understands TikTok’s user base and can properly speak the “language” of the app.  Every post has comments either asking how to watch the movies or congratulating TCM for posting funny, non-cringey, content. This just goes to show that even though you might not think your demographic exists on social media, you can reach an entirely new demographic if you learn the language.

Teagan Chevrier is a video editor at Innovate By Day and is the co-host and producer of the podcast Our Golden 20s

Need help navigating a new social media platform? Reach out to our team at Innovate By Day, and we’ll help you find your way.

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