With its simplified approach to content creation and fast-learning algorithm for feed recommendation, TikTok has become a favorite social video app for over 1 billion users worldwide. But its unstoppable growth has also appealed to businesses, giving rise to TikTok marketing.
What is TikTok, exactly, and why should you include it in your marketing strategy? Launched in 2017, TikTok is a social platform that lets users create, share and consume their own bite-sized social media video content. It also allows them to build on videos made by other users and hop on hashtag challenges.
Alyssa Tear, Thrive’s resident social media expert and senior manager (organic), says, “TikTok’s current user base is interested in interacting with the content they consume, whether that is saving a video, commenting or even dueting.”
This low barrier to entry sets TikTok apart from the curated image of Instagram and the professional feel of YouTube. And for many people looking for an accessible and authentic way to connect, it’s where all the fun begins.
It’s also where you should either start or take your video marketing next. All the features we mentioned above can help you reach your target market while localizing your targeting efforts. Then there’s TikTok advertising, which remains low-cost and less competitive since not every other small business is on it yet. Further, when it came to consumer spending last year, TikTok ranked second – next only to Tinder.
This is your chance to earn impressions, engagement and revenue on one of the most viable mobile apps globally.
If you want to grab the opportunity, this blog will show you how to use TikTok for business without missing a beat so that you can maximize your profile, content and connection on the platform. Let’s get rolling.
Marketing on TikTok 101: Demographics
Before we show you how to use TikTok for business, let’s get to know the dominant demographic groups on the social media video platform.
Gen Z and Millennials
Out of TikTok’s 80 million monthly active users in the United States, 26 percent are between the ages 25 and 44, comprising mostly millennials. Of note is how the millennial generation has surpassed Baby Boomers in numbers and has been known for their growing purchasing power.
But at a whopping 60 percent, Generation Z or Gen Z (16 to 24) is the biggest audience on TikTok. This younger generation may still be living with their parents, but studies say its members can influence family buying decisions. Gen Z-ers also have great ad recall, which is good news for brands employing TikTok ads.
TikTok data shows that 60 percent of users are female while 40 percent are male. In terms of usage frequency, Statista shares that almost a third are heavy users (use TikTok for ⅔ of a month) and another third are light users (use TikTok for ⅓ of a month).
How To Use TikTok for Business
Now, it’s time to create your TikTok small business, medium enterprise or large company account. No matter your company size, you will be setting up a TikTok Business Account.
Here are the steps to build a TikTok profile:
2. Sign up for an individual account using a designated company email address for good measure. But you can also try Single Sign-On (SSO) options, such as your company’s Facebook or Twitter.
3. Enter your preferred username, choose interests (to get better feed recommendations) and use the Discover tool to follow TikTok trends and accounts. Pro-tip from social media marketing experts: If your competitors have a TikTok Business Account, follow them to keep an eye on what they’re up to.
4. Once you get a lay of the land, you can switch to a TikTok Business Account. Just click Me on the bottom dashboard, which will take you to Settings and privacy. Under Account, tap Manage Account and then choose Switch to Business Account.
5. Once you’ve switched, you can choose your TikTok profile category.
Then, make sure to edit and optimize your profile, including your bio, website and, if any, other video marketing profiles on Instagram, YouTube and Twitter. In the next section, we’ll get more into optimization and other ways to become visible on TikTok.
Optimization is a mid-term to long-term effort, so consider partnering with a TikTok marketing company to ramp up your profile effectively.
Four Ways To Promote Your TikTok Profile
Even when you exist as a big brand or small business TikTok account on the social video app, you have to think like your target audience. Thrive’s social media expert, Tear, recommends leveraging TikTok’s interest-based algorithm, which “learns from a user’s behavior and actions to present interest-based content.”
At the same time, Tear says you can create TikTok ads or organic videos and still accomplish the following objectives:
• Build a meaningful connection with customers
• Offer insight within your industry
• Position yourself as an industry leader
Here are four practical ways to promote your TikTok small business or mid-sized/big company profile:
1. Join Hashtag Challenges
What is TikTok without its hashtag challenges?
You’ll miss out if you don’t jump on the bandwagon. So whether it’s just you taking the reins or you’re hiring a TikTok marketing agency to create your videos, make sure they align with relevant hashtag challenges to boost your brand awareness, reach and discoverability.
A hashtag challenge features actions executed with specific sounds. It can be branded or organic, with the opportunity to be seen by all the users following that hashtag challenge.
A social media marketing company recommended the branded hashtag challenge to Mucinex, a cold and flu medicine brand. This TikTok advertising solution sparked #BeatTheZombieFunk among Gen Z targets and raked in 60.4 percent lift in ad recall for the brand.
2. Create Trending Videos
Are you a niche or small business TikTok page? Then be encouraged because the TikTok trends and viral posts are within your reach. Prioritize crafting quality content for your target audience, research applicable hashtags and post consistently.
While amateur social media videos are a norm on the app, social media marketing experts suggest you invest in a good microphone. Bad audio can take away from the experience of your followers and would-be followers.
Here’s a couple of viral TikTok small business and individual brand owners to inspire you:
@jenonajetplaneRental car problems? Catch a ride instead ##amtrak ##summertravel ##usatravel ##traintravel ##amtraktrain
@vanaderGo slow. Learn. Earn. Then go for passive income! ##investmentjoy ##passiveincome ##vanader ##DADMOVES
Since TikTok uses interest-based feed recommendation, it gives you ample opportunities to position yourself in front of your target audience. Thrive’s Tear says social media marketing experts and client creators on TikTok “have a high confidence that their content is being shared with individuals interested in their topic and industry.”
3. Tap Into TikTok Influencer Marketing
If your brand has been managed by a social media marketing agency before, you probably have an idea about working with influencers. Finding and reaching out to leading content creators on the platform is still an essential part of TikTok influencer marketing. However, you can also include developing content for hashtag challenges and TikTok trends, aiming to catch influencers’ attention and have them duet with you.
Your TikTok influencer marketing strategy depends on your objectives and the TikTok marketing services you or your TikTok marketing company considers a priority.
4. Maximize Advertising on TikTok
Marketing on TikTok involves TikTok advertising. User-generated content (UGC) through hashtags, trends and other TikTok marketing services is free advertising on TikTok. But you can also leverage branded solutions to drive results through the social video app.
• TopView: full-screen videos that can last up to 60 seconds, offering premium placement
• Brand Takeover: full-screen static or dynamic visuals
• In-Feed Ads: videos that appear in the For You feed, which can last up to 60 seconds and receive engagement such as likes, comments and shares
• Branded Hashtag Challenge: brand-specific hashtags that invite everyone to create UGC, boosting engagement rate by 8.5 percent on average
• Branded Effects: Custom effects like stickers and filters that people can add to their visual content.
Aside from choosing the right format for your TikTok ads, consider how a social media marketing agency can aid you in strategy and execution – from goal and budget setting to campaign management and monitoring.
Video Marketing Mistakes To Avoid on TikTok
As a TikTok marketing company, we’ve come across companies that make mistakes on social platforms and have helped them correct those. Specific to TikTok client creators are the following:
Not Creating Vertical Videos
The app has made vertical videos highly popular – to the point that it has caused major rivals Instagram and Snapchat to take notes. While landscape videos make sense in general, think about TikTok’s mobile-first users and adjust to their behavior.
Leaving Out the Call to Action (CTA)
This is definitely a mistake you shouldn’t be making in your TikTok ads in 2021. On top of that, some brands and businesses may use a vague or broad CTA. Our advice is to always make CTAs clear, specific and goal-oriented.
Challenges for Small Business TikTok Marketing
If you are a small to medium-size business, you may be facing the following challenges on TikTok:
Building Your Reach and Followers
Raising brand awareness entails optimizing your posts, and generating more revenue requires growing your followers. So what is TikTok thinking when its policy restricts profiles from doing certain actions? For instance, you cannot add a clickable website link in your bio or go live until you have 1,000 followers. It looks like you’ll be missing opportunities here to bolster your visibility and drive leads to your business.
But TikTok has enforced these restrictions to prevent bad actors from gaming the system. So it will probably take a partnership with a social media marketing agency to tackle these challenges creatively.
Maximizing Short-Form Videos
Adaptability is a quality desired in a social media marketing expert. Those who have it will find – or have already found – a way to work within TikTok’s short-form video format. Still, even as the original 15 seconds have been expanded to 60 seconds and then three minutes*, it doesn’t mean you always have to extend your content to the maximum length.
*In June 2021, TikTok said it would be increasing video length up to three minutes. This move allows creators to create more cohesive content to showcase their expertise. It can be tricky, though, as the social media video app moves into YouTube-like territory.
If you’re thinking about whether you need a social media marketing company to take care of video production, make sure to check the strategy development capabilities of a TikTok marketing agency first. It’s a plus if it specializes in both organic and paid advertising.
That’s a Wrap
This guide has shown you that TikTok is not just a platform to watch out for in 2021. It should be a major consideration for ramping up social media marketing results.
If you’re interested in marketing on TikTok to drive brand awareness, engage your target audience and generate conversions, you may have downloaded and installed it as instructed. But calculating the time, effort and cost it takes to manage it may set you back.
Thrive understands your dilemma. Many of our clients turn to our social media marketing company because they lack the bandwidth and experience to roll out platform-specific or multi-platform campaigns. But investing in the right solutions – such as marketing and advertising on TikTok – allows them to achieve their business goals with moderate risks and high rewards.
Our TikTok marketing agency strategists cannot wait for you to become a top brand in your industry through this platform. Talk to us about how we can customize our TikTok marketing services to align with your urgent and long-term marketing needs.