Should your sports organisation be on TikTok?

27 November 2019
By Jess Reus

Read time: 7 minutes

REDTORCH conducted its 2019 #SportOnSocial Survey to gather insights on the way International Federations (IFs) use social media – their strengths, challenges and areas of growth.

Several IFs had a specific question which revolved around a specific platform…

Should we be on TikTok, and how do we make the most of it?

A few facts:

You should definitely be using TikTok if one of your target markets is Gen Z or Gen Y as 66% of its users are under the age of 30. It’s not completely straightforward, of course: to launch on any platform and develop a new digital strategy is never an easy decision or a simple task.

What is TikTok?

In November 2017, a Chinese tech company called ByteDance acquired the popular platform and rebranded it to TikTok in August 2018.

TikTok is a free social media app that lets you watch, create, and share videos.

TechCrunch describes it as ‘the Instagram for the mobile video age’ – the new Vine, made purely of short-form user-generated video content (UGC).

The game changer is TikTok’s unique algorithm. The app revolves less around who you follow, and more around introducing users to new people and content.

The ‘For You’ feed presents content it thinks users will like and alters it over time depending on their behaviour. This helps new brands get discovered by users who might not usually follow them.

Is TikTok the right social media platform for you?

Here are some key insights to help you decide (including a case study from NFL, one of the latest sporting giants to join TikTok).

As with every platform, consider the pros and cons of TikTok before creating an account.


Content can be created in real time or pre-recorded
This allows you to capture behind-the-scenes ad-hoc moments AND pre-planned content.

Cheap, quick, easy
You don’t have to spend money for your content to be seen (although it is an option). With a clear idea of what you want to create, the process is pretty quick and painless.

Limitless creativity
There is an endless choice of creative content, all with a multitude of filters and effects available.

Constantly evolving trends
The ‘For You’ feed constantly supplies new ideas. Gen Z are the main demographic on the app: these young hipsters are always creating trends you can jump on.

Campaign hashtags
TikTok hosts a ‘Discover’ page where you can search for specific hashtags and/or content relating to hashtags. If your organisation creates its own campaign hashtags, users can be a part of this or you can climb onto other trending hashtags.

Cross-platform connectivity
Your content does not have to live only on TikTok; you can connect and share it on other channels such as Instagram and Facebook.


All content is UGC
Thought and time must be put into every post: a simple re-post is not an option. TikTok has a ‘Duet’ feature for fellow creators to join forces in a video (this does require some creative input).

Trends rule TikTok
Be as creative as you like, but jumping on hashtags and trends will gain the highest engagements and views. Unless you create a viral trend of your own, or a hashtag for users to follow, your content may get lost.

Constant athlete access required
Your content is your athletes. Rights holders who only connect with their athletes a few times a year during competition time may struggle.

Privacy issues
TikTok has had issues regarding sensitive footage and privacy settings – this is something to consider when creating content and working with influencers.

Too much choice?
Without a clear idea of what you want to create, the numerous filter/effect options might be overwhelming.

Needs a dedicated person/team
With so much choice, we would recommend that you have person (or team) dedicated to TikTok.

Initially time consuming
TikTok is a unique platform. It takes a bit of time to get your head around all the content choices and how to record the content.


NFL’s #WeReady Challenge

The multi-year partnership between NFL and TikTok launched in early September 2019 ahead of the League’s 100th season. It includes the sharing of exclusive highlights, side-line moments, and behind-the-scenes footage.

NFL’s first move? Joining the hashtag challenge trend.

The result? An impressive 828 million+ views as thousands of fans showed off their football skills.

NFL programming and hashtag challenges are a perfect way to kick off the NFL’s 100th season – with fun, new content to entertain fans and invite them to celebrate and experience their NFL fandom in a way that’s authentic to the unique TikTok experience.

Blake Stuchin, Vice President, Digital Media Business Development , NFL

Final Thoughts

TikTok is a relatively new platform which serves those prepared to put in the time and effort really well.

But consider your decision carefully. Do you and your team have the time and resources?

If your target audience is Gen Z and/or Gen Y, or you’re looking to launch a UGC/hashtag campaign, TikTok is a no-brainer.

Photo credit: Reuters via Nikkei Asian Review


#SportOnSocial Survey

Social media enables IFs to tell inspiring stories and build valuable relationships with global audiences.

Enter REDTORCH’s 2019 #SportOnSocial Survey Report – results and analysis from the world’s most comprehensive survey benchmarking IF social media practice.


Alongside IGTV, TikTok is the top platform IFs plan to launch on in the next 12 months.

CLICK HERE for more insights