- Ben Nordman
TikTokMFG: Using the latest trends to connect
Updated: Jan 20
While slightly controversial, TikTok is the gate to connecting skilled trades to the younger generations.
Over 3 billion downloads. Over 1 billion active monthly users. Used by over 20% of the world’s active internet users. The numbers are staggering. The growth is unmatched. The content is everywhere. TikTok has taken over.
Following trends and at the very least staying in step with them is one of the best ways to successfully market a brand or company. The rise of different social media platforms, how customers interact with businesses, and the way information is presented to potential customers has all changed within the last 5-10 years and those that keep up with the latest trends are more likely to not only survive but thrive.
At Obsidian Manufacturing Industries, Inc., a small manufacturing company in Rockford, IL, we have taken a step forward in our digital marketing strategy by keeping with those trends and adopting TikTok as one of our most used platforms and have found a unique way to grapple with pain points of the future of manufacturing: the skilled trades gap.
What is TikTok?
For those less familiar with TikTok, the app allows users to record, splice, and recreate video content to share across the world. As one of the fastest growing channels to reach people, utilizing it as a source to inform and entertain is becoming a vital part of marketing strategies.
While the list of social media channels is long and ever growing, the unrivaled growth of TikTok provides companies with an avenue to reach potential customers as well as a unique way to reach new talent.
Skilled Trades Gap
We, at Obsidian, have often spoken about the skilled trades and the direction the workforce is heading.
In a study done by the The Manufacturing Institute in 2019, 97% of respondents are aware of the gap in skilled trades, with 78% saying they are somewhat or very worried about the growing gap.
This data is backed up by the 2021 Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey done by the U.S. Census Bureau of Labor Statistics, putting the median age of manufacturing workers at 44.2, compared to 42.2 for all labor in the United States. The same survey also puts 48.1% of manufacturing workers over 45 years of age.
It is widely believed that this is one of the top challenges facing the manufacturing industry, if not, the top issue. As the industry continues to develop solutions in their company function of product development, the issue of educating the younger generation about the trades is forming a larger problem for the future of many companies.
Why should manufacturers be worried about the skilled trades gap? According to another study done by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute in 2021, manufacturing could face 2.1 million job openings by 2030 due the skilled trades gap, which could cost $1 trillion in 2030 alone. The skilled trades gap gives many companies a reality check into the future of their operation.
This is where TikTok comes in and provides a different way of easing that gap. Going to where the younger generation spends their time as digital natives is key to informing them of the opportunities that are available to them in manufacturing.
While TikTok is not the end all, be all of the solution, it is a great start to fixing the age gap paired with such things as partnering with trade schools, high schools, and giving younger people a chance at trying their hand at manufacturing by developing internships and apprenticeships.
While not all companies, especially smaller in size, are able to support those solutions due to various factors, TikTok and social media in general provide a free outlet that requires as much time as a company wants to put into it to get in front of the same individuals, just in a digital sense. With the potential of losing $1 trillion in 2030, any effort is worth it.
Why TikTok though and not the other social media platforms? With the large growth seen since its launch, there are now more Gen Z users on the app than there are on Instagram. While Instagram is still the preferred source of online social usage by the younger generation, the growth rate of TikTok shows how it is the social media platform of the future for many Gen Zers.
Another reason is the ability to reach a massive amount of people with a little bit of content. An example comes from our own experiences.
As we developed our TikTok channel in April 2022, it was a completely new venture for us. As we got the hang of it, though, we gained followers and improved our content. In October 2022, one of our videos went viral to the tune of over 9 million views and our account has grown from around 500 followers at the time to 15,000 now.
Going to where the younger generation is and showing them what it is really like to work in manufacturing is paramount to developing the workforce of the future. Read below on how to get started on your TikTok journey.
How to get started
Getting started on TikTok as a professional brand or company is easier than one thinks. While a time investment is needed, the app is free to use.
Typically, users that are on TikTok are looking for funny or entertaining content with educational content coming in right behind them. Humanizing your brand and giving light-hearted spins on daily happenings at work are the perfect way to show what working for a company is like.
Pairing that with educational content about what the work is that a company does, short how-tos, hopping on the latest trends with your own little spin will keep the audience engaged with content while opening the door to what working in manufacturing is.
The typical factory worker of old has gone by the wayside but the stigma of being a manufacturing worker remains that of working in a grungy, dark shop with back breaking work all day long. While that work may still be out there in places, it’s time to change that thought with the next generation of workers preparing to enter the workforce and create a career for themselves.
So whether it be getting your company’s president in on the latest TikTok dance or doing a rendition of the Friends intro with your coworkers, getting on TikTok will greatly benefit you in attracting and acquiring the next generation of talent while also providing exposure to a company's brand.
Obsidian Manufacturing Industries, Inc. is a Rockford, Ill. manufacturing company and is the OEM for Magna-Lock USA workholding, MagnaLift & Power-Grip lift magnets, and Arter Precision Grinding Machines as well providing surface grinding services. They are located at 5015 28th Ave. in Rockford, Ill. with a phone number of 815-962-8700. Check out more at obsidianmfg.com/brands.