How to build a standout TikTok campaign with Mariah Althoff
We recently chatted with Mariah Althoff, graphic design and freelancer coach, about her tips for building online campaigns that grab your audience’s attention. In this interview, Mariah shares her own story of transitioning from a freelance graphic designer to a career coach.
We were curious to learn the insights that Mariah shares with her clients around building campaigns and how she puts these best practices to work for growing her own business online. As with most conversations about the Internet these days, our chat veered towards the power, promise, and mystery that surrounds the social media channel TikTok. We learned a lot from our discussion with Mariah — and think that you will, too.
Adobe Express: Introduce yourself and describe what you do.
Mariah Althoff: My name’s Mariah Althoff. I’m a freelance and graphic design coach and mentor. I have online courses that teach the basics of graphic design, all the way up to one-on-one coaching. I help creatives build a business that they really love and can control with a sense of freedom that I’ve found in my career.
I started my career as a freelancer seven or eight years ago and within a few years, grew my business and hired a team. Now, I have my own agency which has provided me an incredible life that I love.
During this time, I started building up my own online following. Most of my followers wanted to do what I did in one way or another. That’s how I started creating online courses and services to help them out. It turns out that this really resonated with people, so I eventually wound down the agency part of my business and mostly just coach and teach other creatives.
Adobe Express: In the beginning, how did you go about growing a following for your business? What’s your current thinking on growing an online audience?
MA: When I started my own freelance business, I focused on Pinterest and building up my SEO so that people could easily find me on Google. From this work, I built an audience of almost 10,000 subscribers to my email list. Building a following on the internet is something that I've kind of unintentionally become good at over the years. Recently, I’ve started to have lots of luck building an audience on TikTok, which is super exciting.
Adobe Express: Tell me more about your TikTok audience strategy.
MA: TikTok is intimidating at first because it feels like the Wild West. But it’s actually been a great conversion tool for me once I got comfortable with the format. TikTok is good at building client leads. It’s so much faster than other social media platforms because users are able to binge my content and get to know me really quickly. They can learn from me and my expertise in small, quick takes.
Adobe Express: Why do you think TikTok has been such a successful place for you to grow your audience? How is it different than Instagram, which is also a shortform video platform?
MA: On Instagram, content creators are still really focused on beauty and aesthetics. You have to look good, sound good, put filters on everything. There’s an emphasis on perfection that I think puts a remove between the content creator and their audience.
On the other hand, TikTok creates a warmer relationship between the creator and their audience. I think it has to do with the fact that unfiltered, authentic content just does well on TikTok. It’s what users expect and want. The content helps accelerate the trust between me and my audience.
Also, TikTok’s algorithm is scary-accurate. It’s just so good at serving people what they’ll enjoy and be interested in. The combination of authentic content on TikTok — and the algorithm to distribute it — makes the platform super powerful for my business.
Adobe Express: People get intimidated by TikTok, even though they realize that a presence on the app is important. What do you tell your clients about building an audience on TikTok?
MA: It goes back to the off-the-cuff, humble aesthetic that’s so popular on the platform. Audiences there really want authentic, raw, unfiltered creators. I will literally just record a TikTok on a walk with my hair blowing in my face and nobody cares.
So for me it is just about showing up when I have something to say or when I feel like my audience needs to know about something. Try not to overthink it. I will roll out of bed and film a TikTok video that will get tens of thousands of likes, no problem.
It really is just about you being you. You don’t have to put on a show. Just be fun and goofy, if that is in your personality. Just show up. People just care about authentic, valuable content. Just post and see if it resonates. If not, try something else. The more you put out there, the more you show up, the more you act like yourself, the more likely you are to grow a meaningful audience.
Also, comments are a really great place to connect with your audience. People have discussions there, so don’t sleep on the comments.
Adobe Express: Specifically, what content has resonated with your audience on TikTok?
MA: People love inspirational content on TikTok. The most impactful content that I've made on TikTok has often been sharing my story. A lot of my followers really connect with my path. My story makes them feel like they can do it too — because they can. That’s the root of my message. They want to see that they can do this for themselves, so I try to give my audience that boost. It's just making them feel confident and capable and giving them pep talks.
Adobe Express: And what about TikTok trends?
MA: At first, participating in trends felt like too much. I didn’t understand them. But eventually, I got more comfortable and plugged into them. But I still don’t spend too much time working on trendy content. I’ll just sort of record something, pop off, and see how it does.
Trends can be a great way to hook people in and get new eyeballs on your content. Then, you can create a few follow-up videos and link to them in the comments of your trends post. It gives people more content on the subject, more learning opportunities, more of a reason to follow you. I use the trend to get attention, but then hook the followers with the follow-up content that’s not based on the trend but is more informative.
Adobe Express: How do you think of TikTok in terms of building a holistic campaign?
MA: I use it to get leads. TikTok is a channel that helps funnel people into my email list. I use it to foster community and then stay in touch with that community over more traditional email campaigns. TikTok has been huge for me in this regard. My first six months on TikTok, I doubled my email list.
It’s been a very important campaign tool to help build interest at the very top of my funnel. Once the contacts is in the funnel, I send them free workshops and other materials to keep them interested and hopefully convert them into paying clients.
You need to have an eager, interested audience for your campaign content to resonate. TikTok has helped me get this audience.
Visit Mariah’s website to learn more about her business and how she helps people build their careers as freelance designers.
Coming soon to Adobe Express: Greater video editing capabilities
Editing content within a social app can be very tedious. Plus, social content can start to look redundant given that millions of users are creating with the same limited editing capabilities. Adobe Express is a great solution for content creators to produce original videos that stand out in an audience’s feed that’s otherwise flooded with content sharing the same natively created look and feel.
Use your smartphone to edit videos that you can then upload to social media—including, of course, Mariah’s favorite channel TikTok. Upload a video to the Adobe Express app directly from your iPhone or Android video library. This way, you don’t have to rely on a social media platform’s native editing capabilities to customize your video.
Adobe Express offers three mobile video quick actions so that you can make instant edits to your existing video content. Tap the following links to try out these video quick actions for yourself:
Stay tuned for even greater video editing and customization coming soon — including new ways to create standout TikTok content.