TikTok offers fertile ground to build a media brand.
Ten weeks after launching on TikTok, fashion-focused media brand Rag Report is posting twice a day and seeing its audience grow 200% each week.
The Wednesday I scheduled the interview, it had 170,000 followers. But by the time we spoke, the numbers were already out of date: “We’ll cross 200,000 followers by the weekend,” said James Cadwallader, co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Gen Z-focused Kyra. Prior to Rag Report, Kyra focused on creating branded content on social media and representing social media stars.
On TikTok, Cadwallader spotted an opportunity to branch out – and took it. Rag Report’s 212,000 followers (post-weekend) are proving out his thesis that it's possible to build a TikTok-first media brand.
But there is no secret sauce behind that growth, Cadwallader said, other than posting quality content consistently.
What resonates as great content on TikTok, however, is oceans apart from good content on Instagram, Facebook or YouTube.
For example, many TikTok videos subtly loop such that the video’s opening is also its conclusion. (Rag Report, often has videos that end with “and that’s why…,”). People re-watch these videos because their narrative structure is clever and subtle, and takes a while to pick up on.
On TikTok, audio also matters. “From Instagram, we had a whole decade where everything was audio off. We’ve almost lost our sense of hearing as creators,” Cadwallader said. Rag Report spends a lot of time on its audio quality, with voiceover artists supplying the audio. And pacing is paramount.
Yet, an “overproduced” look doesn’t fly on TikTok. “At the beginning of our journey, we were guilty of ‘overproducing,’ Cadwallader said. “We came from a YouTube background where you are used to creating things off platform and then uploading.”
Using TikTok’s endemic title cards and features makes videos feel more authentic. Plus, TikTok’s algorithm favors content that’s native to the platform, Cadwallader said.
Rag Report is also developing different styles of videos. One is a “mini-doc,” that explains, for instance, why pearls are so cheap. It’s also doing fan “stylings” of Gen Z stars like Lil Nas X or Vhackerr.
TikTok videos often collect views slowly. While “viral” videos often burn out in a few days, TikTok’s algorithm will show popular videos to larger and larger groups of people until it reaches a maximum audience, Cadwallader said. So videos will often surprise the team by accruing views days after publication.
Reaching Gen Z is not new for Kyra, but creating a media brand is a first for the company. Until now, Kyra played in social media by running a talent management firm specializing in social media stars and creating content for brands. Most major fashion brands had already collaborated with Kyra, according to Cadwallader.
So moving into TikTok – with an editorial emphasis on fashion, where it could eventually monetize its audience via its connections to big fashion brands – made sense. It created a dedicated team of three people, plus freelance help, to incubate its idea.
The next logical step is adding brand advertising: “We are taking Rag Report out to a select handful of our key fashion clients, and there is a lot of excitement and conversation.” Brand integrations would be the equivalent of sponsored content – like series featuring a brand and hosted on the platform.
In the meantime, Cadwallader is watching the uptick in followers on TikTok. “We’re really playing around with the platform now,” he said. “Because we aren’t constrained by legacy, it’s allowing us to have a very fresh take on the platform.”