The TikTok Audio Trap: Build A More Sustainable Short-Form Video Process


Short-form video platforms like TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts are audience-building opportunities. With their emphasis on bite-sized, visually engaging content, these platforms offer a unique opportunity for brands to connect with younger audiences and stay relevant in an ever-changing digital landscape. 

But there’s a catch: when it comes to audio, many brands are at a disadvantage.

When brands create business accounts on these platforms, they’re restricted from using commercial audio and most of the popular music that thrives on social video channels. Trending audio is a great tool for driving engagement, yet brands cannot use the best trending audio.

We have a whole TikTok audio cheatsheet on how to use Sounds as a Business Account. But today, I’d like you to start with a different strategy. Let’s zoom out.

Pretend It’s A Show

Social media is tougher than it’s ever been for brands. There are more platforms than ever, more competition, and less organic engagement out of the gate. 

It can also feel like you’re starting from scratch every time platforms make a change, add a feature, or tweak their algorithms. It’s like trying to cook dinner without knowing what temperature the oven will be that day. But what if you could approach social media like you’re creating a show?

Brand media platforms like podcasts, newsletters, and video series help solve these challenges. The podcast, the newsletter, the video series — that’s the show. Creating a show means you no longer have to rely solely on your social channels to build an audience. 

These are owned media platforms.

Instead, you now have a larger media platform you’re building that allows you to capture an audience more sustainably. It’s a permission-based marketing mindset. When your audience opts into your show, they’re expecting your content. They’re invested in your brand story and looking out for it. They’re coming to you rather than the other way around.

Your social channels become an extension of your show. You can share highlights, excerpts, and behind-the-scenes glimpses and include your followers in show decisions. Creating a show gives your audience something to look forward to and a reason to keep coming back. This builds a deeper, more meaningful relationship between your brand and followers.

Video channels like TikTok and YouTube are especially strong fits. Some of the most successful TikTok and YouTube channels are set up as shows. They’re serial content templates that make production easier and creative content ideas more efficient. By creating a show on TikTok or YouTube, you can build a loyal following of viewers who are invested in your brand story and excited to see what you’ll create next. If you can’t build a show, you can use this strategy on social channels.

Treat TikTok as a business opportunity, unrealized by most of your competitors.

TikTok Was Founded On Audio

I’m not telling you never to use trending audio or ignore trends, hashtags, and effects in general. These are helpful tools and should not be ignored. Generally, understanding all the tools that native content creators use on a platform and learning from them is important. 

But when you rely solely on these tools, you’re putting yourself in an unsustainable loop of trying to keep up with constantly shifting trends.

Instead, focus on building a sustainable brand presence by creating content that doesn’t rely solely on trending audio and effects. 

Creating a show or multiple shows with clear formats and repeatable frameworks allows you to create content that your audience will love – regardless of the latest trends. When your audience learns what to expect from your brand, they’ll be more likely to stick around and engage with your content.

The TikTok audio trap can be a challenge for brands, it’s not insurmountable. By taking on the show-based mindset, you’re relying less on the whims of shifting social channels and starting to own your audience. 


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