Should marketers be using TikTok for business?

It’s a big question, but the short answer is yes - these 15-60 second long videos aren’t just another trend picking up steam temporarily!

In fact, content manager at G2 and TikTok influencer, Lauren Pope, who grew her following to 40,000 in only seven months further confirms what’s on our minds:

“the right time to start with TikTok was six months ago. And, the second best time to start is right now.”

So, what are you waiting for?

In this article, we’ll cover what TikTok is, the content that performs best on the platform, the types of videos you can create and how to make your first TikTok video. This way you can decide if TikTok is the right platform for you as an agency or a marketer.

Let’s dive in!

What is TikTok?

TikTok is a video making app where you can create bite-sized video clips. Think videos that you post to your Instagram stories - authentic and creative. But here’s the cracker: TikTok videos are evergreen. They’ll stay in your feed unlike most social stories that disappear within 24 hours.

The app’s user base is steadily growing, with the number of US adults on the platform increasing 5.5 times from 2017 to 2019 to almost fifteen million users. So, TikTok is becoming as much an app for adults as it is for teens.

From a marketers standpoint, one of the best things about TikTok videos is that they are easily shareable to other networks, which explains why you’re frequently seeing videos on other social channels:

All you have to do is choose the ‘share’ button on the bottom right when you play videos. You can directly share the video to other social channels from there, download TikTok videos or get their links to share them elsewhere.

The easy share option makes one thing crystal clear: you can easily cross-promote the content you create here on other channels.

Tiktok also offers an extensive library of filters, effects and pre-licensed music that’s ready to use.

If you’ve added music to your marketing videos before, you'll know how challenging it can be to find the right tune that you’re allowed to use. TikTok offers a commercial music library for businesses to sort this issue, so you get a vast range of music to pick from without worrying about permits and licenses.

Another plus point of TikTok for business? You can reap a lot from TikTok organically. The app isn’t anywhere near commercialisation (yet) and its engagement rate is great. In fact, it has the highest follower engagement rates across 100,000 user profiles:

tiktok engagementSource

 

What’s more, TikTok users spend a good 52 minutes on average on the app. That’s plenty of time to get your target audience’s attention.

But here’s the thing: your TikTok videos have to be super creative to catch your viewers’ attention. How so? Let’s look at that next.

 

What sort of content performs best on TikTok?

Broadly, your focus should be on either of the two content types:

Chipotle is a great example of a product-based business doing well on TikTok. Their TikTok marketing focuses on making funny videos that feature the items on their menu, and they produce tonnes of entertaining content:

@chipotle

You 🆆🅸🅻🅳 for this one mom @theskorys ##chipotle ##comedy ##fyp

♬ original sound - chipotle

Note that both businesses use a non-salesy approach to their TikTok videos. Why? Because that’s the right way to market yourself on TikTok.

This makes one thing clear right off the bat: TikTok isn’t for sales. It’s more a platform for brand awareness. Sure, you can navigate viewers to your product page with a link in bio, but the app doesn’t offer a ’shop now’ button, yet.

So, the content you create for TikTok should be light-hearted and fun. This stands true even if you’re a serious brand. Hard to swallow? Watch this TikTok video from The Washington Post:

@washingtonpost

When Jordan-Marie calls a source ##newspaper

♬ Hello - Adele

 

 

Ideas for TikTok video content 

If you’re already creating video content for other social channels, this won’t be challenging. You only need to add your brand’s unique spin to what’s trending on TikTok.

Here are some ideas to get your creative gears moving:

Bloopers

Bloopers are fun clips of mistakes that occur as you shoot videos. Normally, you’d delete them, but if you find something funny, you can always share it with your audience to give your TikTok channel a more authentic feel:

@gymshark

Unseen BTS with @davidlaid_ 🤣 ##gymshark ##behindthescenes

♬ original sound - gymshark

Behind-the-scenes (BTS) content

This kind of content shows your audience how your brand works or how your team does something. Here, Chipotle shows its audience how they make their signature guacamole:

@chipotle

Come back for chips part 2 ##foryou ##guac ##chipotle

♬ Pump - Valentino Khan

Questions

Once you have an established audience, you can try asking your viewers questions to engage them. For instance, you could ask them to pick two of your products as their favourite and comment on your post, just like ColourPop does here:

@colourpopco

Our 3 pastel tie dye palettes are back in stock! Which one is your favorite? 🌈 ##colourpop ##makeup

♬ original sound - colourpopco

How-to tutorials

Finally, you can educate people. This TikTok post from the Lomile Shop shows what I’m talking about. The video, which shows how to organise your closet has received over 1.9 million hearts and 6,800 comments – proving the potential of good how-to TikTok content:

@lomile_shop_aliexpress

 

♬ original sound - lomile_shop_aliexpress

>>Pro Tip>>You can take any approach you’d like to creating TikTok content, but try to incorporateauthentic brand storytelling.

 

How to make the most of TikTok

You’ve two options moving forward: either you grow your TikTok organically or you pair your organic efforts with ads. Let’s look at the organic and ad-based options you have at your disposal.

Keep an eye on the trends and create content based on them

Start off with creating content around trends on TikTok. It could be either a sound-based trend or a challenge-based trend. Either way, making TikTok videos based on trends is a “great way to jump on to something that’s already getting a lot of viewership,” in Tik Tok influencer Lauren Pope’s words.

Find these trends from the Discover option at the bottom of your screen:

tiktok discover

Join or create a hashtag challenge

A hashtag challenge gives video making challenges to users – they make their version of the challenge (the more creative the better) and tag it with the specific hashtag. This way the video is discoverable.

Here’s an example of the user generated content (UGC) from the #SpeakYourMind challenge hosted by mental health charity, Mind:

@blue.phelix

I’ll never stop fighting 🏳️‍🌈 ##gay ##lgbt ##speakyourmind ##whatmattersmost

♬ Banana (feat. Shaggy) - DJ FLe - Minisiren Remix - Conkarah

As you jump start your TikTok marketing efforts, it’s a good idea to get involved in the hashtag challenges that others create. However, as you grow and your account gains traction, you could think about starting your own hashtag challenge too.

One thing’s for sure, getting involved in hashtag challenges brings engagement. Mercedes-Benz introduced the #MBStarChallenge, asking its audience to re-envision their logo. The challenge got 1.64 million page views in the UK alone, resulting in lots of new user generated content and 30,000 new followers for Mercedes-Benz.

tiktok mercedes benz

Create duet TikTok videos

Adding your reaction to others’ videos or mixing your video with someone else’s can provide great entertainment for your audience.

The duet format is a great way to add more faces to your videos that aren’t from your brand or agency.

See how social media influencer, QPark gets creative with a duet video:

@qpark

This was my biggest TikTok of the year. Thank you guys so much for all the love and support. I appreciate yall so much. LOVE YOU GUYS!!

♬ Señorita - Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello

You can also create duet videos where you sample another user’s TikTok video and include your brand in the video. This way you put your brand side by side with another user.

As your audience base grows, you can also go live. For instance, you could do a live Q&A session.

Collaborate with influencers

This works pretty much in the same way as influencer marketing on other social channels. As a rule of thumb, aim to work with influencers who are relevant to your target demographic and who have a consistently engaged presence on TikTok, just like clothing brand Aerie does here, with influencer Iskra Laurence:

@aerie

Share what you’re doing to stay positive right now by tagging @Aerie and ##AerieRealPositivity. We’re donating to American’s Food Fund!

♬ original sound - aerie

Run ads on TikTok

If you’re looking to accelerate your TikTok marketing, you can explore this with the following advertising types:

Native videos ads or in-feed videos

These ads run between 9-15 seconds and support multiple CTAs. As the name suggests, TikTok shows in-feed videos in between user videos. Users are free to skip these video ads.

For inspiration, look to French dessert company Danette, who used in-feed ads with other ad types to drive traffic to their hashtag challenge page:

tiktok In feed ads example

Brand takeovers

These ads can be in the form of still images, GIFs as well as videos. They appear in users’ feeds before any UGC appears. The ad links to the business’s landing page or hashtag challenge within the app.

A good example of brand takeover ads is their use by makeup brand Too Faced for driving awareness and direct sales:

tiktok branded takeover ads

TopView ads

Unlike native videos, TopView ads fill the entire screen space. However, like brand takeover ad types, these launch first thing in a user’s feed before any other content displays.

A case in point here is Balenciaga, who used TopView ads in combination with brand takeovers to raise awareness of their brand:

tiktok topview ads example

Branded lenses

Lastly, you have the option to create your own filter to promote your brand. Colgate ran this ad type by creating an effect with exploding hearts:

tiktok marketing colgate ad

Interested in trying any of these ads on TikTok? Here’s a quick look at the pricing for each ad type - keep in mind that advertising on TikTok is expensive, and might not be suitable for smaller businesses:

tiktok ads costSource

 

How to get started with TikTok for business

As with any social media platform, it’s best to get started with a plan on TikTok. Set up your profile - we’ll get to that part in a bit - and start looking at what others are doing.

Lauren Pope’s journey on TikTok began much the same way. She observed the type of content brands were creating for about two weeks before she posted her first TikTok video.

Work on your TikTok marketing plan. Start with deciding your niche and the type of content you’d create for this platform. Would it be educational? Or, would you like to keep things light-hearted and humorous?

Work out how you’d showcase your product or service. If you’d like to create some BTS content, hold a brainstorming session to figure out a few initial ideas.

Simply download TikTok and sign up either with your phone number or email. Alternatively, you can continue with your Facebook, Google or Apple ID:

tiktok signup screen

Once done, click on the ‘Me’ icon on the bottom right of your screen and press ‘Edit profile’ to add your details including your bio:

tiktok edit your profile

How to create your first TikTok video

Get started with creating your first video by clicking the + option in the centre of your screen:

tiktok recording

Choose your video duration and press the red button to start recording. From there, you can add sound, effects, text and stickers from the options laid out for you at the bottom of the recorded video clip:

tiktok editing options

You can also change the filters and apply voice effects to your original audio and recordings where you aren’t using sounds.

Save your videos with a tick mark on the bottom right and press ‘Next’ when you’re done editing them. This will give you the option to tag other accounts and add hashtags. As you type out your hashtag, you’ll get a view of other hashtags and the views on each. This way you can select the hashtags with the most views, increasing your odds of being found by the right people.

Click ‘Post’ when you’re ready to publish your video. See, wasn’t that easy?

 

Bonus tips for success on TikTok

Finally, before we wrap this up, TikTok influencer Lauren Pope gives us some additional tips for brands aiming to grow on TikTok:

Be consistent

This is the universal rule for success on any social network, not just TikTok. Your TikTok videos will pick up steam only if you show up daily - that’s how Lauren built 40,000 followers organically.

Finding it hard to dedicate daily time to video shooting? Take a page from Lauren’s book and batch video creation. She uses a note app to jot down her ideas and then creates about ten videos in one sitting. This way, anyone can have ready-to-post videos in their draft that they can post any time.

Engage with your audience

This one’s another no-brainer - something you need to do on all social channels to grow. With TikTok though, everything is organic for now, so you can easily increase your chances of growth if you engage.

Lauren emphasises that the algorithm is smart. She says:

It can see who posts daily, who comments on other people’s stuff, who’s engaging, who’s creating content for the community and it prioritises the people who are putting the effort in.”

Shoot more content than you need

For every video that you make, film more video clips than you need. Why?

Because once you get into the editing part of the app, you might find that you need more filler shots. You might find that a certain video angle doesn’t look quite as good as you thought. So, always shoot more than you need.”

Tying it altogether

Ultimately, your success with TikTok for business boils down to how creative you get with your videos. Start with building an organic following by creating funny or educational content. If you’d like to pick up the pace, run some ads and see how TikTok benefits you.

It’s time to start experimenting - good luck!

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Masooma Memon

Masooma Memon

Masooma is a freelance writer for SaaS and marketing brands, lover of to-do lists, and a novel nerd at heart.

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