TikTok for Business 101: How to Use TikTok for Marketing
In under five years, TikTok has grown to become a powerful marketing tool for brands, revolutionizing the way consumers receive media.
With its initial 15 seconds-video limit, to then 60-seconds, and now 3 minutes, TikTok has laid the foundation for the trend of short-form video content production. So much so, that even distinguished social media platforms such as Instagram and YouTube have had to come up with their own variation of short-form video creation, such as Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts, to compete directly with its pioneer – TikTok.
If you want to learn how to utilize TikTok as a digital marketing tool for your brand, keep reading this Bold x Collective guide, written by our expert Social Media Marketing team.
As a platform dominated by Gen Z and Millennials, content needs to be creative; this isn’t the platform for traditional marketing, sales tactics, or pushy advertising. Instead, reap the benefits of TikTok through brand awareness, often without even needing to invest, by keeping up with all the trending sounds and content that can easily be found on TikTok’s “Discover” page. Just as importantly, give your brand a personality through its content – whether it be educational/informative or fun/playful. As a rule of thumb, TikTok users want to be informed or entertained rather than persuaded.
Some fun ideas to introduce your brand to the platform include:
- Step-by-step time-lapsed video of how your product is made and/or packaged
- Give a behind-the-scenes tour of your office workplace
- Introduce yourself and your team in a fun way with trendy music or actions
- Explain the story behind your brand’s name
- A day in the life (employee edition)
For more TikTok ideas for small businesses, read this.
Examples of brands that have mastered their TikTok personality:
- Duolingo – 3.0m followers
- Lionsgate – 3.8m followers
- Ryanair – 1.5m followers
- The Washington Post – 1.2m followers
- Chipotle – 1.7m followers
Where Do I Begin?
While it might seem intimidating trying to grow your business on a new platform, TikTok is an experiential application, and you don’t need to be an expert to succeed. Begin with scoping competitors and the landscape. See how others in your industry are performing – what worked, what didn’t, and get inspired! Typically, your first video on TikTok is “boosted” and has an increased chance of having high impressions. As a result, make sure your first upload is of high quality and follows a trend or uses a popular sound to further increase your reach by catering to TikTok’s algorithm (and potentially grow followers right from the beginning). As the saying goes, content is king on TikTok. Even platforms with zero followers can achieve a million views.
Create Relatable & Fun Content
TikTok is all about authenticity. You don’t need to spend a lot of time or money on high production videos or photography because, unlike Instagram, the aesthetic of your profile doesn’t matter. Using TikTok’s “Discover” page, you can easily stay up to date with current trends and work to incorporate your brand into them in a playful way.
While Instagram is all about images and Twitter is all about text, TikTok is focused on sound and video. This gives your brand room to explore possibilities and experiment with various content without having to worry about how it matches and blends with the other videos on your profile. Ultimately, TikTok is a very informal platform thus its marketing is too. Personalize your brand, have fun, and be genuine to grow brand awareness and a following.
Engage for Engagement
As an interactive platform, don’t be afraid to engage with other creators’ content – relevant to your business or not – to increase your reach. This is a commonly done tactic by brands and organizations on TikTok to increase their exposure and has welcomed a lot of success for many (such as the previous brand examples). By commenting on other users’ content, those scrolling through the comments of that video will likely see your comment, your brand name, and your profile picture. If your comment is fun or informative, users might take the extra step to view your profile and go through your videos. This is where high-quality content comes to play, you’ve gained the visit to your profile but gaining a follower depends entirely on the quality and entertainment of your videos.
Collaborate with Influencers
Influencer marketing has expanded over the recent years and TikTok can largely be attributed to its development. With influencers on the platform reaching millions of followers and views, there’s no doubt that brand collaborations can result in great exposure for your brand.
However, you don’t need to partner with high-profile influencers to grow brand awareness. As mentioned previously, what makes TikTok so great for marketing as opposed to other platforms is that even with little to no followers, content can go viral. Try partnering with micro and/or niche influencers whose current content and following fit your brand and demographic.
This will make influencers more open to collaboration and their followers more likely to be interested in your products/services. While many influencer collaborations are paid, many micro-influencers are also open to simply receiving free products in order to test and honestly review a brand – you don’t have to loosen the purse strings in order to have an influencer marketing strategy on this platform.
While the content on your profile shouldn’t be focused on advertisements for your products or services (as that doesn’t resonate well with TikTok users), similarly to Instagram or Facebook, TikToks allows brands to run ads on its platform. There are multiple different types of ads on TikTok a brand can do, here’s the breakdown:
- In-feed Native Ad: An ad that plays in between user content. A downside to this form of advertising is that users can quickly scroll past it.
- Branded Lens: A filter designed by your brand for users to use when creating videos. When done successfully, this can be an engaging way for users to interact with the brand.
- Brand Takeover: Before seeing any user, content there is a (brand takeover) ad when the app is opened. This would be the very first thing a user sees when going on TikTok.
- Sponsored Hashtag Challenge: This is an engaging form of advertisement that allows brands to promote a specific hashtag challenge for users and then advertise it on TikTok’s “Discover” page. An example of this would be RBC’s #RBCPodiumPose and Toyota’s #ToyotaWave challenge. However, sponsoring a TikTok Hashtag Challenge can be very expensive for smaller businesses, but consider starting a hashtag challenge on your profile without sponsoring!
Advertising on TikTok is still in the early stages of development and isn’t incredibly popular among smaller brands. If your brand has a more limited budget, opt out of paid advertising and focus on your content, engagement, and influencer collaborations.
TikTok marketing is unlike marketing for any other social media platform. The most successful way brands have grown on TikTok is by being authentic, relatable, and relevant with their content, as well as engaging with other accounts, collaborating with influencers, and perhaps even running the occasional ad. Ultimately, TikTok is about authenticity, and its marketing is no exception.
If you’re in need of more guidance, the Bold x Collective team is always here to help. Contact us, and get started on your path to TikTok success! And for further information, check out our previous blogs: Everything You Need to Know About TikTok Marketing and How do I Start a TikTok for My Brand?