Did TikTok make you read it?
The BookTok hashtag has surpassed 90B views on TikTok, proving niche communities on the app are a force to be reckoned with.
But what is BookTok — and what can be learned from “bookish” creators taking the platform (and publishing industry) by storm?
We did a deep dive into this TikTok community and we're breaking down our findings, below.
What is BookTok?
BookTok is a community of TikTok users who (you guessed it) engage in all things books.
From reviews to virtual live book clubs, BookTok is as collaborative and entertaining as it is influential.
Think: breathing life back into old favorites and providing a launching pad for up-and-coming authors.
Plus, you know you’re legit when your hashtag has its own TikTok-branded cover image.
Who Are BookTok Creators?
BookTok is predominantly led by teenagers and young women who share book reviews, rankings, and recommendations with their audience.
In a typical BookTok, creators discuss what they’ve read, act out novel plots, or participate in challenges.
And they’ve mastered the art of reacting in video form (instead of traditional written reviews):
Authors have also found interesting ways to promote their work and engage with the community.
And when a book goes viral, the real-world results can be impressive.
The Power of BookTok: How It’s Changed an Entire Industry
BookTok recommendations have the potential to become instant bestsellers — and many already have.
According to BookNet Canada, sales for trending BookTok books increased up to 1,047% overall from July 2019 to June 2022.
In fact, the niche online community is so influential to book sales that book retailers have joined the conversation too.
Some are even on BookTok themselves — like Barnes & Noble, whose account is run by young readers:
While others, like Penguin Random House, have partnered with TikTok to implement BookTok-specific features:
Aka, BookTok has the entire industry fighting for a chapter in its story.
Popular BookTok Books
Whether it’s an earth shattering romance or a twisted sci-fi fantasy, there’s a trending theme among BookTok favorites — Adult Fiction and YA Fiction are paperback gold.
According to BookNet Canada, here are the top three trending titles with the greatest increase in Canadian sales thanks to BookTok:
“Cain’s Jawbone” by Edward Powys Mathers, 1939 (up 235,600% from October 2019 to June 2022)
“It Ends with Us” by Colleen Hoover, 2016 (up 42,133% from November 2019 to June 2022)
“Shadow and Bone” by Leigh Bardugo, 2012 (up 6,769% from September 2019 to May 2021)
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4 Things Creators & Brands Can Learn from BookTok
BookTokers have led to the resurgence of an entire industry.
Here are four things you can learn from BookTok creators:
It’s Okay To Keep It Casual
The First Three Seconds Are Everything
Nurture Your Niche
Learning #1: Leverage UGC
In a nutshell, user-generated content (UGC) is the social media equivalent of a word-of-mouth recommendation — making it a marketing powerhouse.
And the proof is in the pudding with BookTok, where creators organically share book recommendations and tips to their thousands of followers.
Creators can leverage UGC to form relationships with brands they genuinely enjoy and to build their media kit.
On the flip side, brands can re-post UGC to build a level of trust with their followers that doesn’t translate in a traditional paid marketing campaign.
Plus, there’s a growing UGC creators trend that benefits both creators and brands.
Ready to learn more about how UGC can benefit your social media strategy? Check out these Later blog posts:
Learning #2: It’s Okay To Keep It Casual
BookTok truly mimics the feeling of snuggling up with a good book.
Translation: You don’t need expensive equipment or the perfect aesthetic to connect with your TikTok audience.
For example, see how BookTok creator Kendra chats through recent reads in her bedroom:
And need not forget brands like Indigo who post simple, laid-back content from their stores and offices:
Casual videos are encouraged on TikTok — the closer your audience feels to FaceTiming you, the better.
It’s time to build your lasting presence on TikTok. Get the inside scoop: Later Just Hit 50K Followers on TikTok. Here's How We Did It.
Learning #3: The First Three Seconds Are Everything
The first three seconds of video content is pivotal to grab your audience's attention, and BookTokers have cracked the code.
See how creator Amy’s BookShelf uses on-screen text to introduce her TikTok:
This video alone managed to score Amy over 400K likes and 2K comments.
With over 1M TikToks viewed everyday, people want to be entertained immediately or they’re on to the next.
By making the first three seconds of your video engaging, you’ll keep their attention for longer, and reach more eyes too.
Learning #4: Nurture Your Niche
The more you regularly post content catered to your niche, the more the TikTok algorithm will recognize your content and serve it to the right audience.
Take for example creator Ayman who exclusively posts “bookish” content on her TikTok:
Since Ayman is consistent, it’s likely her content will show up when people search BookTok.
The takeaway? Follow suit with BookTok creators and stay true to your niche.
TIP: To make your content even more discoverable, check out TikTok SEO: 4 Tips To Boost Your Reach.
While the future of BookTok is uncertain, one thing’s for sure — creators and brands can learn quite a few things from its success.
Whether it’s investing in UGC or nailing down a niche, these TikTok tactics are one for the books.