This 40 Something Joined TikTok and this is What I Learned...


Joined TikTok

By Natasha Hatherall-Shawe


It’s a bit of a joke that I’m too old for TikTok. I even wrote an article about just that, debating if I was too old and concluding that I likely was, and wishing all the Gen Z youngsters all the best enjoying it.

I’m the 40 something #WerkMum now after all, so surely, I have no place lip-syncing and gyrating to whatever is the trending audio of the week for all the world to see and (heaven forbid) going viral for it. Likely not for the right reasons either. I mean, what would my mother say!?


Then a few things happened at work. Some quite fundamental things and as a business owner who works in media, and who really loves what I do, I realized that standing on the sidelines professing what a great thing TikTok was when I had no idea really how it worked was just not going to cut it. So, I gave in and I joined TikTok and it’s now joined the 26 (mild exaggeration) other social media channels I juggle to manage on top of all else in my life.


I had no idea what I was doing. None of it made sense and there were so many options, selections, and steps, I very nearly stopped before I started. Rather than panic, I told myself to take the pressure off myself and just observe for a few days or a week to understand this crazy TikTok world and that is what I did and this is what I learned just one week in.


You can look rough on TikTok and it’s ok!

Now I’d been told that raw rough content works best on TikTok and far better than professionally shot “perfect” videos which people can see on your website, instore etc. This is what we tell clients, stressing the importance of not overthinking it and just “being”. One week in I can totally testify this is very much the case as I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many messy buns and make-up-free faces anywhere, let alone on social media. Ok, there are some exceptions, but I’d say 70% of the content is real, raw, and refreshingly normal. I felt relieved and I felt heard. I could totally buy into this as most days I struggle to wash my hair, let alone be fully made up with a blow dry.


The way it curates your feed and what you see

When you join TikTok and have no history, it gives you a feed of content based on geography, along with what’s trending. So, for me, I was served up loads of content from Dubai and the wider GCC. This mainly comprised of Arabic videos I could not understand and a lot of Filipino TikTokers singing. Most of my Filipino friends love to sing and they’d be the first ones up at Karaoke, so it makes sense! On night one I listened to a lot of singing – it was a bit like the X Factor auditions, so variable. I also watched a lot of content that was variations of the same, so I soon learned this must be the stuff that’s trending and I need to pay attention to. As it learns you, you follow people and choose hashtags etc, then it will start to develop your feed accordingly. Until then you’re left with a real mixed bag. I managed to find about 100 people I know and I followed them, so quickly my feed starts changing a little with their content and also that of people like them or on topics I seem to like. I found some global TikTok pages which gave marketing tips, TikTok tips, and those for entrepreneurship and wellness, as that is what I’d like to see more of and so in a few days I was enjoying my curated feed a lot more. TikTok does like to keep it fresh and throw lots of randoms in too. It’s part of the ride.


Deciding what to post

After I felt more comfortable with what people were posting I decided to have a go myself. I felt like I was having a little identity crisis – who am I on TikTok even? Am I an entrepreneur, or a PR expert, maybe a crazy cat lady as cats always trend don’t they or maybe I’ll just live out my other passion and post interior stuff and my new home make-over? I still don’t know, but I’ve been experimenting with a bit of everything. Home make-over stuff did well – yes people are nosy. Quotes and abstract – not really. Anything with me in personally did really well. PR and business tips – super well. I guess that tells me what I need to know. I don’t have a style, I haven’t found my vibe, but I’m having fun trying and that is ok. I’ll get there one day soon.


TikTok is your friend and wants your content to be seen (well for now!)

A lot of people are fed up with Instagram and FB let’s be honest. Neither is anyone’s friends these days and it’s a whole lot of work and investment to create content for them to not get anything back. The great thing about TikTok and why people are jumping on is that it’s so much easier to gain followers and get your content seen by such a wide audience across the globe as your content can appear in anyone’s stream if you fit with what they’re interested in, following for etc. With only a handful of followers myself, I posted a few things and they were getting 300-500 views – from who, I have no idea, but I was being seen. It felt good.


Trends is where it’s at

My friend told me that trends appear on TikTok roughly 2 weeks before we see them on Instagram, so in my industry, I need to be in on these things early – hence my need to be on TikTok. A few days in, I’m already realizing what is trending because you see a version of the same thing 40 times, you hear the same trending music all the time and it’s clear where everything is going. I shared with my team something I’d seen that made me laugh and how we should do it as a team – they all laughed for about 10 minutes – at me and not with me, not just because I was on TikTok finally, but because I was telling them about trends and who would have thought. I haven’t jumped on a trend yet myself. I’m sure I will soon. Mainly because I’m a bit embarrassed with my 38 followers. My socially useless husband has more than I do. I need to get more followers than him so if I need to suck it up and lip sync one day soon then I will.


It's been a week since I gave in and moved into TikTok land. Do I have a clue what I’m doing – not really. Do I feel comfortable giving it a go – yes I do. To me, TikTok feels accessible and less judgy than other platforms. It’s raw, real, and honest. Better still I laughed out loud more times than I can remember and well I’m all for that as we all need to laugh more as it’s good for our soul. I didn’t need another social channel, far from it as screen time is one of the biggest causes of tension between my husband and I, but I’m here now and proving that maybe we 40 somethings can be kind of “down with the kids”.