Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past several months, you’ve likely heard of TikTok. It’s not all just empty buzz either. This social media or video-sharing social network app currently has more than 800 million monthly active users. And it has been downloaded more than 1.5 billion times.
It’s especially popular among young people. But it’s quickly growing a wide base of users. So businesses that want to create viral video content and connect with consumers online may want to consider it as a marketing platform. Here’s what you need to know before using TikTok for marketing.
What are TikTok Videos?
TikTok videos are 15-second videos that can follow nearly any format. However, many include lip-syncing and/or dancing to a popular song, or follow recognizable meme formats.
What is TikTok for Business?
TikTok for Business is a division of the platform that enables businesses to promote themselves. The social media platform offers various solutions for companies to increase engagement, like interactive polls and hashtag challenges. Businesses can also utilize advertising options to increase reach.
How do Businesses use TikTok?
Businesses can use TikTok’s ad platform or they can just create video content that attracts attention organically. TikTok ads appear in between videos on the app and are often creative and look similar in format to regular TikTok videos. However, there are other formats as well. Regardless of what option you choose, you likely need to create unique, short content to get noticed on the platform. Many companies may even use a combination of organic video posts and advertisements.
TikTok Content Ideas
TikTok is a naturally engaging video social media platform that can be used to attract the audience you want to turn into customers. Here are some ideas:
1. Hashtag Challenge
There are tons of hashtag challenges already circulating on TikTok. These occur when a user challenges others to make and post a specific type of content and then tag them using a dedicated hashtag. A lot of current challenges have to do with dance routines or lip-syncing. Brands can participate in existing challenges or create their own.
2. How-To Videos
Saru Saadeh, Founder & CEO of marketing technology company Iron Roots said in a phone interview with Small Business Trends, “A lot of brands offer tutorials or how to’s that are related to what they offer in some way. This provides value upfront and keeps users engaged.”
For example, a company that sells fabric or craft supplies could create a visual DIY using their products. Or a food company could showcase a recipe.
3. Song Parodies
Music centric videos are popular on TikTok. You can create videos that are purely for entertainment. Or you might change the words to make them relevant to your brand.
4. Team Introductions
Saadeh says, “We’ve worked with a client on a series of ‘day in the life of’ content. They simply went around to different people from the team and showed what they did during the day to day small business operations. It really brings the company to a human level.”
5. Product Demonstrations
Show customers how your product works. For example, a company that sells furniture could demonstrate how easy it is to put together. Or a gaming company could show their product in action.
6. Case Studies
Saadeh explains, “Say you’re a service-based business like a marketing firm. You can say ‘here’s what we’ve done for the company’ and offer a case study style success story.”
7. Before and After Videos
This type of video would showcase a transformation based on your product or service. For example, a makeup company could showcase a quick makeover using their products.
8. Process Videos
Saadeh suggests, “Show the process of what goes on behind the scenes. What does your company do to produce the great products or services you offer?”
9. Calming Videos
TikTok videos don’t all have to be funny or ironic. Some people like to watch relaxing scenes to slow down a bit. For example, an artist could show a close up of them mixing colors or up-close shots of their brush on canvas.
10. Unique Stories
TikTok is the perfect place for you to share any quick facts or stories that set your brand apart.
Saadeh adds, “It can even be as simple as saying ‘here’s the office dog’ or ‘here’s the team doing highway cleanup’ to show your commitment to your community. What it comes down to is simply telling micro-stories.”
TikTok Advertising Options
Creating new content doesn’t work or is not something you want to do, then you can advertise as well. Here are your options:
1. Hashtag Challenge Ad
For this type of ad, you can create a hashtag challenge as mentioned above. Then you can pay to have it featured on the TikTok discover page so users are more likely to encounter it and then participate.
2. In-Feed Native Ad
Native ads look like regular TikTok videos and appear in users’ feeds. These are similar to ads on other platforms and provide a cohesive experience.
3. Brand Takeovers Ad
For those that want to really call attention to a campaign, Brand takeovers ads may be of interest. These are graphics that appear right when users open their TikTok app. They appear to targeted individuals for a few seconds and then can direct users to a custom landing page.
4. TopView Ad
TopView ads are similar to Brand Takeover ads in that they display full-screen graphics and can direct to a landing page. However, they appear at the top of the For You page instead of right when the app is opened.
5. Branded Effect Ad
TikTok includes effects that users can include on their posts, like stickers, lenses, and AR filters. A brand can turn these into advertisements by adding their own branded images to these packs. For example, other users could have the option to use a sticker with a logo of your brand or a new line.
Read about the TikTok Back to Business Program that offers free ad credits to small businesses.
Working with TikTok influencers gives you a combined approach to your marketing strategy for your brand. You pay for influencers. But the TikTok ad content is organic.
Brian Freeman, CEO of influencer marketing platform Heartbeat said in an email to Small Business Trends, “The first thing to know about content creators on TikTok is they are not the same as Instagram creators. TikTok creators have a different suite of tools that Instagram creators do not as TikTok is one of the most innovative mobile editing software on the planet. For example, your everyday Instagram influencer is creating high-resolution, beautiful imagery that matches a brand aesthetic. On the other hand, a TikTok creator will tell a story about a product and translate that experience to their community through videos. TikTok creators will spend hours editing the video with transitions, music, background effects, etc. to make it a great piece of content.”
Basically, you approach influencers who are relevant to your target audience. You discuss ideas. But then you leave the actual production for those users to create. You get to reach that person’s audience and get access to their unique ideas, which you of course compensate them for.
What should a business know about TikTok users?
TikTok’s user base is mostly made of young people. So as a business, you cannot miss on cultural and generational references and respect. If you are not sincere or use their language and memes, you will not be successful in your marketing effort.
Saadeh says, “It’s important to not just create commercials. Remember that it is social media. So the content you create should be relevant and maintain the culture that brought so many users to it in the first place.”
How do I use TikTok?
You can use TikTok to reach an audience using short-form video content, ads, and influencer marketing. Businesses are finding new ways to use the platform all the time. And those that jump in early have a good chance of finding success since it’s not yet completely saturated with many brand marketing.
However, it’s essential to interact authentically on the platform. Remember that it’s social media. So the most important thing is to make connections and create new content that is useful, entertaining, or inspiring.
Ultimately, the goal is to get content that goes viral. You can’t always control this. But there’s a good chance that even accounts with small followings can get some attention if they create genuinely interesting videos.
Hope Horner, CEO of video production service Lemonlight said in an email to Small Business Trends, “TikTok’s content delivery algorithm is unique in that new accounts (or accounts with very few followers) can go viral. Anyone can do it with the right piece of content, which incentivizes brands to try it out for an opportunity to generate engagement with a massive audience.”
Who created TikTok?
TikTok is owned by Chinese company ByteDance. The company’s founder is software developer Zhang Yiming. He founded ByteDance back in 2012. And the company eventually launched TikTok in China in 2016. The U.S. TikTok apps for Apple and Android devices launched in 2017. ByteDance is currently in talks to sell the TikTok arm of the business.