While Instagram and Facebook are considered social media mainstays and great promotional tools for your brand, the hottest platform right now is undoubtedly TikTok. With over 800 million monthly users, TikTok produces some of the most-watched content online, from dance videos to comedy sketches to ridiculous pranks.
But the app is more than just dance challenges and funny skits. In fact, it’s fast becoming a key marketing tool for major brands looking to connect with a younger audience and optimize their online presence.
As an entrepreneur, you might be wondering how you can tap into the growing audience on TikTok and promote your brand or business in an engaging, creative way. We’ve created a comprehensive guide to promoting your brand or business on TikTok, from how to actually use the platform to tips on how to elevate your brand on the app and appeal to your audience.
Let’s dive in.
What is TikTok?
Before TikTok, there was Musical.ly, an app where users could lip sync to music and record themselves for 15 seconds to one minute. Within two years of its launch, Musical.ly had over 90 million users. Then in 2018, the app was acquired by ByteDance Ltd., a Chinese-based tech company, and they re-launched it as TikTok.
Some of the Musical.ly-style content is still popular on TikTok, where users lip sync to top 40 songs, however, many TikTok users make original content, which has helped them become influencers on the platform, with millions of views on their videos and counting. From comedians to dancers to pranksters to fashion lovers and makeup buffs, the breadth of content on the platform is broad and creative, appealing to audiences around the world.
Most TikTok videos are 15 seconds long, though you can share 60-second videos through the app’s Stories feature. The app also has features you can add to your videos, like filters, music, and editing tools.
All TikTokers on the app have a profile page that users can access to view their video content but unlike other social media platforms, users do not need to follow any particular TikTok accounts to stay engaged. They can simply open up the app and scroll through videos, clicking on ones that seem interesting or worth watching.
Over time, users may end up subscribing to certain TikTok channels or create their own content to reflect a hashtag challenge or new trend on the app. They can also share content made by a TikTok user, further boosting that account’s profile on the app.
Who is the Primary Audience on TikTok?
According to Wallaroo Media’s estimates, TikTok’s audience falls in the tween to teen range, focused primarily on 13-24-year-olds. 66% of its users are under 30, and a high percentage of users are female. The audience on TikTok is strikingly international, with a big chunk of its user downloads coming from the US, India, and China.
Though there are a lot of young people creating original content on the app for fun and becoming influencers in the process, the user base has grown to include celebrities, artists, and brands looking to reach new audiences.
How Do I Set Up my Brand’s TikTok Account?
TikTok is designed to be user-friendly and ready-to-access in mere minutes. Following is how you can get started on the platform.
Download TikTok & Choose Your Video Interests
Search for the app in the App Store on your smartphone. Then, download it to your phone and open it up for instant access to TikTok. When you download the app, it will ask you to choose your interests to personalize your video recommendations. Select from options like comedy, beauty & style, food, fitness & health, talent, oddly satisfying, and arts & crafts.
Go for interests that relate to your brand or business, so you see these types of videos first. For example, if your brand is a handmade soap company, you might choose interests like beauty & style, arts & crafts, and learning. You can always edit your video interests later as you get more familiar with the app.
Once you’ve chosen your video interests, browse through the content on the home page of the app to get a sense of the content. You can also access the Discover icon to search for content using popular hashtags. Both pages are available to access without signing up for a TikTok account. Swipe up to move from video to video, and take notice of the most popular videos on the platform.
Create Your Brand’s TikTok Account
The next step is to make an account for your brand or business. You can use your business email, phone number, or other social media platforms to sign up.
TikTok will automatically generate a username for you, but you can change it easily by opening up the settings in the bottom right corner of the app. Choose the Edit Profile button to change your username, and add a bio and link to your other social media accounts.
Go for a username that represents your brand or business, such as your business name or a fun play on your brand name. Keep in mind that your audience may be more inclined to engage if your username and profile feels less formal and branded overall.
Browse Your TikTok Feeds
At the top of your home page (via the Home icon), you will see two different sections at the top of the screen: Following and For You. The Following page is where you will see videos from the accounts you follow. The For You page is where TikTok will display videos they think you may enjoy, based on your selected interests and your activity on the app.
Take a browse through both feeds to see what type of content is popular on the app, and adjust your selected interests for your profile if the For You videos aren’t quite what you’re looking for. Keep in mind that the more you use TikTok, the better it will be able to display videos in your For You feed that are appealing and relevant to your brand.
Follow Relevant TikTok Accounts
On TikTok, you can share, like, and comment on other user’s videos, just like you would on other social media apps. If you see any accounts that you feel are relevant to your brand or business, give them a follow to encourage them to follow you back. To search for accounts and videos, use the Discover tab (the magnifying glass icon) at the bottom of the screen. You can filter your search using usernames, hashtags, video titles, and top viewed.
You can also go to the Me tab and tap the icon in the top left corner to add contacts on TikTok from the contacts on your phone, as well as from Facebook. This can be a great way to add relevant contacts from your other profiles first to get started.
Another way you can connect with users is through your TikCode. Go to the three dots next to your profile name in the top right corner of the screen to open your settings and privacy. Scroll until you see TikCode. You can then save the TikCode to your device to share with others via Messenger and other social media apps to encourage them to look at your TikTok account and follow you.
Post a TikTok
Once you’ve done some browsing and followed a few accounts, it’s time to post content to your brand’s TikTok. Posting great content can raise your profile on the platform and connect you to users who may be interested in your brand.
Tap on the plus sign icon at the bottom of your screen, and allow TikTok to have access to your phone’s camera and your microphone. Then, swipe between the 60s and 15s options for the video to set the length of the video.
Play around with features and filters to add personality to your video. These options are listed on the far right side of the screen and include:
- A Flip feature to turn the camera around, so it faces you
- A Speed feature to speed up or slow down the video
- A Beauty feature to remove any blemishes or marks in the video
- A Filters section where you can choose a ton of different filters to apply to the video, adjusting the color, saturation, and tone of the images
- A Timer option so you can set a specific time limit for the video
- A Flash option to help you capture content in darker environments or settings
There are also features on either side of the red record button on the screen, including an Effects feature where you can add different stickers and graphics to the background of the video, as well as an option to upload a photo from your phone to use as the video background.
After you have recorded your TikTok video and added in any features or filters, upload it to the platform, so it goes live. It will then be added to your channel for other users to view, share, and comment.
How Can I Market My Brand on TikTok?
Now that you’ve mastered the basics of creating a TikTok account and posting content, you’re ready to elevate your TikTok to promote your brand or business. On average, users spend 52 minutes on the platform per day and open the app eight times per day. Multiply that by 80 million monthly users on average, and that’s a lot of potential views on your content!
As more marketing consultants are realizing that TikTok is a great place for promotion, they are also becoming aware that brand presence on TikTok requires more than just posting videos and following accounts. Here are a few effective ways to promote your brand on TikTok:
Highlight Your Brand in a Fun & Engaging Way
On TikTok, a stuffy, boring advertisement just isn’t going to cut it. In fact, it’s a surefire way to turn off users and discourage them from engaging with your brand. Instead, brands are most successful on TikTok when they imitate the style and tone of the most popular videos on the platform: Fun, silly, and a little irrelevant. Most of the content on TikTok is lighthearted and low-fi, with less of an emphasis on lighting or high production value and more of a focus on personality and originality.
Think about ways you can promote your brand in a way that is funny, revealing, and light, where the focus is not necessarily on selling a product but appealing to your audience and their attention span. Your brand’s original content should prioritize entertainment and fun to encourage users to pay attention to you.
For example, the NBA does a great job of promoting their brand on their TikTok by creating original content that is lighthearted and entertaining to their 6.5 million followers. This includes highlight reels of mascots doing trick shots or slam dunks to fun, upbeat music, as well as videos of funny moments during halftime shows. They also produce original content that humanizes athletes so fans feel a more intimate connection with them and get a sense of their journey in the NBA.
Encourage User-Generated Content
The audience on TikTok likes to be fully involved in the experience of the platform, responding more to a brand that asks them to share, connect, and engage. One way you can tap into TikTok audiences’ expectations is to ask users to generate content for your brand. You can do this by encouraging users to share videos of themselves using your products or interacting with your brand in some way.
For example, you may ask users to show themselves using your beauty products at home or having fun with your products in a DIY way. You might also encourage them to rate your product or comment on your brand in their videos to help generate content that will raise your profile on the platform.
Mixing user-generated content with original content you create yourself on TikTok will help to expand your audience and stay connected to users.
Start a Hashtag Challenge
Hashtag challenges, such as #tumbleweedchallenge or #inmyfeelingschallenge, prompt users to make and upload videos to reflect the challenge. The hashtag names are often memorable and easy to find, so potentially a lot of users can join in and create content for the challenge.
Brands have found ways to successfully market their products through a hashtag challenge, such as Guess’ branded #inmydreams challenge where users were asked to show off their Guess denim and use the hashtag. This hashtag challenge was only on for six days, but it resulted in 5.5k user-generated videos, 10.5M video views, and over 12k additional followers for Guess’ TikTok account.
Similarly, Chipotle’s #ChipotleLidFlip challenge—launched to promote free delivery—was a great success on the platform. This challenge had users try to flip the lid of their takeout container from Chipotle without using their hands, a smart approach because it asked users to do something fun and challenging in their videos when using the hashtag. It also required users to buy Chipotle takeout in order to participate in the challenge, a double win for the marketing strategy.
Major brands with a strong presence on TikTok often have positive results with hashtag challenges. However, if you are a smaller brand or new to the platform, you may want to contact TikTok influencers to help you kickstart your hashtag challenge. Once influencers begin participating, the hashtag will start to trend on TikTok, encouraging other users to join in.
Try Influencer Marketing & Collaboration
TikTok influencers have a large number of followers and often help to set the trends on the platform. Influencer marketing can be effective if you connect with influencers who complement the look and mission of your brand. The influencer can be a regular TikTok user with a large following or a celebrity with a high profile on TikTok. This type of marketing only works if you really consider how the influencer fits with your brand.
For example, Crocs launched a successful influencer marketing collaboration with rapper and Tiktoker Post Malone. Using lyrics from one of his songs about “million-dollar Crocs,” the brand launched a collaborative product with Post Malone that sold out in minutes. They also tied the influencer marketing campaign with a hashtag challenge, #MillionDollarCrocs. This campaign was effective because it highlighted how the influencer interacts with the brand and leveraged that relationship in the campaign.
As a new brand on TikTok, you may not have the same kind of pull as Crocs to land a high-profile influencer but as you build up your following and your profile on the platform, take note of any TikTok influencers who might be a good fit for a marketing campaign further down the line.
Run Paid Advertising on TikTok
Paid advertising on TikTok—through TikTok Business—can be an effective way to boost your brand’s profile on the platform, however, the best strategy for paid advertising is to do a little at a time to avoid turning off users or overwhelming them with ads on their feed.
Some of the possible ad types available through TikTok are brand takeovers and branded hashtag challenges. You can also pay for in-feed ad videos, which appear as sponsored content on the For You feed, and come with calls-to-action like “Learn More,” “Download Now,” and “Shop Now.”
Ready to Promote Your Brand on TikTok?
We hope our comprehensive guide to promoting your brand on TikTok is useful, and you’re feeling prepared to tap into the advertising potential of this platform. As you build your brand’s TikTok account, try to take risks and pull from the many different ways to advertise, with a focus on creating content that is engaging and, most importantly, fun for users.