How to use TikTok for business effectively and grow your audience
With over 1 billion monthly active users, TikTok has quickly become one of the largest social media platforms in the world.
What started as a fun video streaming app for Gen Zers has taken the marketing and advertising world by storm, completely changing the way brands create and share content.
In this article, we’ll show you why TikTok should be an essential part of your social media marketing strategy. And we’ll outline how to best promote your products, connect with customers and grow your business on TikTok.
Let’s get started.
Why should businesses consider using TikTok?
You may think that TikTok is all about challenges, pranks and dance videos. While that’s not entirely false, there’s also a ton of opportunity in the entertainment content for brands to connect with their audience on a personal level.
Moreover, 47.4% of US TikTok users are below the age of 30, and over half of those users are teenagers. For brands targeting younger audiences, TikTok is a gold mine.
But even if your business is not targeting Gen Z customers, you can still benefit from establishing a presence on the platform.
Depending on your industry and niche, these young users will eventually grow up to become your target audience, with TikTok heavily influencing their desires, aspirations and even purchase decisions. Plus, let’s not forget the fact that over 50% of TikTok users are still aged 30+, meaning there’s a potential untapped audience for your business on the platform now.
That said, here are some top benefits of using TikTok for business:
- Increase brand awareness: TikTok offers multiple ways to spread the word about your brand. You can work with influencers, run various types of ads and use features like hashtags and branded stickers to put your brand in the spotlight. Also, if you create entertaining and unique content, your videos have a high potential to go viral.
- Promote products: The best thing about TikTok marketing is it doesn’t feel like marketing. There are plenty of ways to promote your products without coming across as pushy, such as by partnering with influencers that your audience trusts, creating genuinely helpful and entertaining videos, and more.
- Enlarge your audience: TikTok has millions of users distributed across 140+ countries. It’s one of the best platforms to reach an international audience and grow your customer base. Plus, there’s always the added benefit of reaching exclusive TikTok users who don’t actively use any other social platforms.
- Attract new customers: TikTok is all about creating authentic, engaging content that feels human and personal. This helps you build strong relationships with your audience and increases the chances of them turning into customers. Plus, if you hop on the right trend at the right time (or even better, start a trend) you may end up acquiring a lot of new customers.
Now that we’ve covered why you need to take your business on TikTok, let’s look at the different ways you can use the platform to its maximum potential.
8 ways to use TikTok for business
It’s not enough to just be present on TikTok — or on any social platform for that matter. It’s how you take advantage of the app’s creative tools and features that can get your business noticed by millions of users worldwide.
Let’s explore how you can use TikTok as part of your marketing strategy.
1. Create unique and relevant content
The first thing you notice when you open the app and scroll through the feed is the seemingly endless amount of video content on the platform.
To stand out in this sea of content, your videos need to be unique, attention-grabbing and relevant to both your audience and your brand. Below are some tips to keep in mind.
- Consider the audience and nature of the platform. TikTok is a place for fun, playful and entertaining content — you need to learn how to adapt to this ‘culture’ without compromising your own brand voice and values.
- Avoid creating overly formal and scripted videos. The more authentic you are, the better you’ll do on TikTok. Don’t overthink that you need a fancy video setup either. You can easily shoot videos with your phone as long a your ideas (and lighting) are good. Our guide to remote video production is a great starting point for social media video, wherever you plan to record.
- Show the human side of your business. Take your audience behind-the-scenes at your office. Have your employees show off their desks or what they do in a day. Do you have an office pet? Have them say hello to the camera! Here’s an example of how eSports brand Fnatic shows users around their HQ:
- Hop on trends and challenges. The beauty of TikTok is you never run out of ideas for new videos. Simply look up trending hashtags, music and videos, and join in. Remember to put your own twist on TikTok hashtags to make your brand stand out. Here’s how Burger King used a trending audio clip to create a fun video of their own:
2. Add music and effects to your videos
TikTok is all about taking your social videos to the next level and getting noticed with the help of catchy, trending music and creative effects.
Simply tap on Add Sound at the top of your recording screen, and browse a huge library of audio clips in categories like trending, recommended and genres. You can save sounds you like to the Favorites tab to use later.
You can add a sound before or after recording your video, and also to previously recorded videos. Along with adding sounds to your videos, you can also access a bunch of video editing features from the recording screen.
Here’s a quick rundown of these features.
- Video length: Choose from 15 seconds, 60 seconds or 3 minutes.
- Flip: Switch between your phone’s front and back cameras.
- Speed: Adjust the frame speed of your videos to speed them up or slow them down.
- Filters: Apply color or contrast filters to make your videos look more attractive.
- Beautify: Access an array of beauty filters to modify facial features.
- Timer: Stop recording automatically after a set period of time.
- Reply: Respond to comments on your own or any other videos.
- Flash: Enable or disable flash on your phone’s camera.
- Effects: Add overlays, face transformation effects, background changers, voice changers, interactive effects and more.
- Templates: Drag and drop your photos and/or videos into these pre-made templates to quickly create eye-catching content. You can always edit the sounds, effects and text later.
Other video editing features include trimming your videos, joining several videos together, applying effects and filters after, and more.
Note: You can also develop your own branded filters, effects and 3D objects, similar to Instagram and Snapchat. TikTok users can then use these elements in their own videos and spread the word about your business.
3. Leverage TikTok’s content publishing features
TikTok makes it just as easy to share, optimize and organize your videos as it is to record and edit them. Here are some ways you can leverage the platform’s content publishing tools to make sure your videos get the attention they deserve.
- Write a description: Your TikTok descriptions are limited to 150 characters, so keep them short, meaningful and interesting. They may also be helpful for visually or hearing impaired audiences to understand the context of your videos.
- Include hashtags: Adding the right hashtags can help your videos show up in front of the right people. Pay attention to trending hashtags, and make yours as specific as possible to attract targeted users who are actually interested in your content.
- Tag friends: If you’re collaborating with another brand, content creator or influencer, you can tag them in your description using the “@” symbol. This is also useful if you’re reposting user-generated content and you want to give credit to the original creators.
- Add links: If you have a TikTok Business account, you can add a link in your bio by editing your profile and adding a URL to the Website field. In your videos, you can then ask users to sign up, browse products or make a purchase via the link in your bio.
- Adjust privacy: Make your videos visible to only yourself, friends or followers who you follow back, or everyone.
- Enable duet/stitch: Allow users to use your videos to create duets or stitch your videos with their own to create unique or response content.
4. Decide when and how often to post on TikTok
One of the most important strategies for any social media platform — not just TikTok — is to pay close attention to the usage behavior of your audience. What times are they online? Which days of the week do they use TikTok the most?
If you post late at night when most of your customers are snoozing, for example, you might not get as much engagement as you’d have hoped for in the first few hours. And without that initial buzz, your videos might not get a boost from TikTok’s algorithm.
It’s crucial to constantly monitor and analyze these metrics to post your videos at the best times. You can access TikTok’s built-in analytics by switching to a Business account for free. Head over to your app settings, and click on Manage Account to switch.
5. Share user-generated content on TikTok
It’s no secret that brands love user-generated content (UGC). For some industries, like B2C, it’s the easiest (and sometimes least expensive) way to acquire and share high-performing content.
UGC is content that users create for your brand. You can share or repost this content on your own social media profiles in different ways, with permission of course. Here’s how fashion brand Stradivarius encourages user-generated content with a branded hashtag:
Sharing user-generated content is a great way to feed three birds with one scone:
- Consistently filling your TikTok feed with engaging videos
- Delighting existing customers by offering them recognition
- Acquiring new customers by leveraging social proof
You can encourage UGC on TikTok in several ways, such as by collaborating with an influencer to kickstart a trend, creating a branded hashtag or starting a challenge. This takes us to the next point.
6. Create a TikTok challenge
Challenges are the bread-and-butter of TikTok. They have extreme viral potential, everyone wants to try them and are highly entertaining videos.
Prada, for example, recently launched the #PradaBucketChallenge on TikTok to encourage people to make videos showing how a Prada bucket hat can make a difference in their wardrobes.
To promote this challenge, Prada enlisted the help of several top influencer accounts with millions of followers, including Bella Poarch, Michael Le and Lexi Rivera. At the time of writing this article, the hashtag has received over 6 billion views.
Before you start a challenge, know why you’re doing it in the first place. What are your goals?
- Do you want to increase brand awareness?
- Are you looking to drive sales for a new product?
- Do you want to promote an upcoming event?
Once you’ve defined your objective, you have several ways to kickstart and promote your brand new TikTok challenge:
- Work with TikTok to promote your challenge. The cost of running a sponsored hashtag challenge is around $150,000 for 6 days. During this time, your challenge will appear in your audience’s feed as they explore the app.
- Launch a social media contest to encourage participation. Turn your challenge into a competition by awarding a prize to the best participant. You can also set more rules for entry, such as making it mandatory to follow your accounts on Instagram and TikTok.
- Partner with influencers to spread the word. While people may participate in the challenges sporadically, if they see their favorite influencer participate, they’ll probably jump at the chance. Reach out to select influencers on TikTok in your niche and ask them to participate in your challenge while using the hashtag. Keep in mind that working with influencers may be a financial investment that could be worth the ROI.
Alternatively, brands can also choose to participate in existing challenges and ride the waves. Starting your own challenge can be highly rewarding, especially if it goes viral. However, it can also be costly, depending on how you choose to promote it.
7. Advertise on TikTok
Even though TikTok does not focus heavily on monetization, businesses can still run ads that blend in seamlessly with the rest of the content on the platform to grow their following. There are a few kinds of ads you can run on TikTok.
- In-feed ads: These are native ads that show up as full-screen videos between a user’s scrolling activity. In-feed ads can only be up to 60 seconds, and can link to landing pages or app store listings. You can also create engaging ads using Interactive Card, Voting Card and Display Card formats.
- Brand takeovers: These are ads that show up as soon as users open the TikTok app. Brand takeover ads can be 3 second photos or 3.5 second videos, and are more expensive than in-feed ads. Only one advertiser can run a brand takeover ad per day per interest, taking over the entire share of voice for that category and also comes with a hefty price tag.
- TopVew ads: These ads are enhanced versions of brand takeovers, and are naturally more expensive. These videos can be 5-60 seconds long, and users can engage with them by liking, commenting and sharing.
8. Collaborate with TikTok influencers
Last but not least, TikTok is a haven for brands looking into influencer marketing. There are countless influencers of all levels on the platform — from mega influencers with millions of followers to nano influencers with a few thousand fans.
For instance, nutrition brand Tropeaka partners with lifestyle influencers like Lauren Bullen (@gypsealust) who help create video content for the brand in unique ways. Here’s an example:
Working with influencers can help you attract new audiences and build a credible brand image by reaching out through someone they trust. Below are some tips for maximizing your TikTok influencer marketing campaigns:
- Find the right influencers to work with. Look for influencers that align with your brand voice. Also, consider whether to pursue large influencers or smaller ones. Larger influencers offer more reach but are expensive. Smaller influencers are more affordable, and while they offer less reach, they often have a loyal, highly engaged following. Depending on your goals, the influencers you engage may differ, which brings us to the next point.
- Have clear goals in mind. Partnering with influencers without clear objectives can be a waste of resources for both parties. You need to know exactly what you hope to achieve out of this collaboration and communicate it to the influencer so they know what to do. Is it brand awareness? Is it an increase in followers or a certain number of sales?
- Don’t be too controlling. Once you’ve communicated the end goal to the influencer, don’t try to take over every aspect of the campaign. Outline points you want them to cover but let them have their creative freedom and do things “their way.” Not only will this improve your relationship with the influencer, it will also make your brand look more credible and authentic.
- Measure and analyze results. Track the performance of your influencer marketing campaigns both during and after the execution phase. Know whether your outlined goals and objectives have been met, or whether you need to pivot in any way.
If done right, influencer collaborations on TikTok can be highly rewarding for your brand. Make sure to work with your chosen influencers during the planning and strategizing phases.
Don’t forget — they are experts at what they do, and might be able to bring a lot of great ideas or valid concerns to the table that you’d have otherwise missed.
Reach new audiences and grow your business with TikTok
TikTok is here to stay and will continue to grow. If you’re still not using it for your business, you’re missing out on tons of potential brand awareness, revenue and engagement.
If you’re ready to take your marketing strategy to the next level, here are six lessons to learn from TikTok trends that you can apply across any social media platform.