HOW TO: Finding your niche: Halifax content creator helps navigate wading into the fray of TikTok and other social medial platforms | SaltWire


On social media platforms like TikTok, trends change very quickly and spread like wildfire.

It’s easy for a user to get inundated with a trending sound, dance or meme very quickly as everyone jumps on the trend.

Trends can also burn out quickly, though, explained Cailin O’Neil, an influencer from Halifax.

O’Neil is an expert in social media platforms and online marketing. She started her first travel site 14 years ago, and then officially launched her main site, NovaScotiaExplorer.com in 2020. Her aim is to share the very best that Nova Scotia and the Maritimes has to offer, from the best places to dine and the best things to eat, to where to stay, the best glamping spots, festivals, farmers markets, events, things to do and more.

O’Neil has been blogging since the main social media platform to connect on was just Twitter — well before Instagram even.

“There have been a lot of changes but one of the biggest things was that people have always been saying ‘video is the next big thing.’ Finally, with the rise of TikTok and competition with other apps, I believe that has finally become true,” she said.

But why all the fuss about current social media trends and keeping up to date with the latest platforms?

According to O’Neil, doing so is important for any small business owner or community members who might be organizing an event.

Video is becoming a more powerful tool than ever for getting your message across. It is also a more effortless way for the user to consume content, she explained. Creating video content is a way to access another type of viewer and can help you better get your message across as people can see and hear about your business or event.

Halifax’s Cailin O’Neil suggests just diving in and giving TikTok a try. In the end, if it’s not for you, that’s ok. Contributed photo
Halifax’s Cailin O’Neil suggests just diving in and giving TikTok a try. In the end, if it’s not for you, that’s ok. Contributed photo

 

Reels and Stories

One of the best ways to get the message out across Instagram is to use something called reels or stories. Reels are usually entertaining, immersive videos where people can share their stories or messages, educate their audience and maybe get discovered by a new audience.

An Instagram story, which can be a photograph or a short video, only lives for 24 hours and users can access it in the feed at the top of Instagram or under a profile’s user image. On the other hand, an Instagram reel lives forever and can be in your reel feed, as well as it showing up as a post on your main Instagram feed.

An Instagram reel is essentially a more edited and polished story, clarified O’Neil.

Reels are primarily found on Instagram, she noted, but if you connect your Facebook account, they can be pushed to there as well. You can also create reels directly on your Facebook page if you want.

How to Create a Reel

You can currently create reels in app on Instagram; however, O’Neil said the editing tools aren’t the best. People looking for a great app to edit Instagram reels should try Adobe Premiere Rush, recommended O’Neil. It is a great app that is easier to use, it creates vertical videos seamlessly and you can edit your video both on your phone and computer as the program syncs the projects on each device. Also, if you already have the Adobe Studio, then this is included for you to use already.

With TikTok, you can film in the app or just on your phone and then upload the video clips afterwards. You can post a video up to three minutes long, which is longer than Instagram reels that are only 90 seconds.


Be sure to use three to four hashtags and a good description of your post before you upload it as search engine optimization (SEO) is becoming important on TikTok now in order to get content seen.


The editing tools in TikTok are really great, said O’Neil. You can trim each clip individually and move them around easily in your timeline. There is also a voiceover option and the closed captions and text to speech functions are great.

When creating a Tiktok, be sure to create a good thumbnail and use text on your thumbnail, suggested O’Neil, so people know what your video is about when looking at your profile. This can all be done easily in the app, she pointed out.

Finally, be sure to use three to four hashtags and a good description of your post before you upload it as search engine optimization (SEO) is becoming important on TikTok now in order to get content seen.

Cailin O’Neil of Halifax creates social media content by showing off the best places to eat, visit or things to do throughout the Maritimes. Contributed photo
Cailin O’Neil of Halifax creates social media content by showing off the best places to eat, visit or things to do throughout the Maritimes. Contributed photo

 

Top Tips for Creating an Instagram Reel or TikTok Video

O’Neil offered several tips for creating effective Instagram reels:

1. Make sure you have good lighting.

2. Make sure you have good audio. Don’t film in a noisy place where people can’t hear you. Or don’t choose music that is inappropriate with explicit lyrics or that might be copyrighted.

3. Try to keep your reels between 15 to 30 seconds long. Not too short and not too long.

4. Get to the point quickly. The first three seconds are important for capturing your viewer and having them stay to watch the entire video.

5. Keep the camera steady and have fun with it!

6. You don’t have to create content for every trend. But if you do, you want to make the trend work for you.

For example, there was a trend where people look like they just got out of bed and then they wipe their bathroom mirror and bam, they look fabulous. O’Neil did this trend, but made it work for her brand and went from her regular-looking self to looking like a Bluenoser fisherman/stereotypical Nova Scotian.

7. Remember that many users often watch social videos without the audio on. This means you need to make your content as accessible as possible to all people.

Using closed captions is key, said O’Neil. TikTok has great built-in closed captions, she added, but it doesn’t always get what you are saying 100 per cent perfectly, so be sure to go in and edit them to make them correct.

Other Video Options

Another video option is the Facebook live option, where the individual records the video to a live audience, instead of pre-recording it.

O’Neil said these tend to be a bit clunkier and don’t seem to be a popular trend these days. TikTok are quite popular, but creating them isn’t for everyone. Facebook lives are saved to the page you create them on; however, TikTok lives disappear once you stop filming.

If you do decide to do a live video, O’Neil said to make sure you promote it a few days in advance and that you do it at an opportune time when most of your viewers would be online.

Creating Content

Many people struggle with putting videos on their social media pages because they do not want to have their face on screen.

O’Neil says that tonnes of creators make content without their faces in it and even without their voice in it. Some apps can now even create text to speech dialogue for you, so you don’t even need to do your own narration anymore. People do, however, like to see your face and connect with you personally, depending on your content.

When deciding what to record, O’Neil advised finding your niche. TikTok has the best algorithm of any other social media platform out there. The best way to benefit from this is to watch a lot of content by others and then think about a niche that you could create content about. But don’t pick a niche that already seems to be over-saturated, she cautioned.

For example, O’Neil creates local food review videos that do well, along with some travel content. Once, however, she made a video about a bookstore that has kittens in it that went viral.

“It going viral tells me that, if I create a lot of book and cat content, that is a popular niche that could do very well,” she said.

An expert in social media platforms and online marketing, Cailin O’Neil’s content can be viewed on her website, NovaScotiaExplorer.com. Contributed photo
An expert in social media platforms and online marketing, Cailin O’Neil’s content can be viewed on her website, NovaScotiaExplorer.com. Contributed photo

 

Do I have to be on TikTok?

No one needs to be on TikTok, said O’Neil. If it’s not for you, it’s not for you. However, TikTok is now the No. 1 website in the world and now outranks Google, which held that title for a very, very long time.

TikTok is not just for teens making dance and lip sync videos. There are now people of all ages, from all walks of life with all kinds of different interests on the app. The majority of O’Neil’s followers are 75 per cent female, 70 per cent Canadian and between the ages of 25 to 44.

At the very least, it can’t hurt to give it a try and see how it works for you, she said.

“Honestly, the best way to get a feel for TikTok is to just dive in and spend some time on the app watching other creators and searching for things that interest you or relate to your business,” she added.





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