A Guide to Marketing Your Business With TikTok

TikTok isn’t just a booming social media app — it’s also a largely untapped marketing channel that can help your business reach new customers and develop a sense of authenticity.
Headshot of author Przemek Chojecki
Przemek Chojecki
Expert Columnist
April 6, 2021
Updated: July 13, 2021
Headshot of author Przemek Chojecki
Przemek Chojecki
Expert Columnist
April 6, 2021
Updated: July 13, 2021

TikTok made its debut in 2018, but it didn’t become a zeitgeist-capturing juggernaut until about a year ago. Since then, a lot of people have built lucrative personal brands and entire businesses based on their TikTok popularity. The app has become a great way for people to get noticed in the attention economy.

Although TikTok’s user base might skew younger, it’s not exactly true that it’s designed strictly for Gen Z. In fact, you can use it to successfully promote your business in a direct, fun way.

The fun element is particularly important here — TikTok isn’t a place for formal, stilted promo videos. No one wants to see that here. Instead, TikTok gives you a chance to find creative ways to show your followers who you are. Your content for TikTok shouldn’t be just another presentation tailored for some marketing giant’s headquarters; you’re presenting a different version of your company directly to prospective customers.

TikTok gives creators two different time options: Videos can be either 15 or 60 seconds long. So, while TikTok is a great venue to promote your brand, you shouldn’t try to make a full pitch video out of your content. Even though you don’t have a lot of time to make an impression, you do have a bevy of possibilities to make your videos interesting and stand out from the crowd!

4 Ways Businesses Can Use TikTok

  1. Your authentic content.
  2. User-generated content.
  3. Influencers’ collaborations.
  4. Advertising on TikTok.

 

4 Ways Businesses Can Use TikTok

Here are four ways businesses can use TikTok in their operations.

1. Create Your Own, Authentic Content

The best way to use TikTok is to create your own content. The good news here is that the barrier to entry is low. You don’t need to worry about having high-quality, professional recording equipment. Most users don’t have professional cameras or microphones at all. They make videos with their phones and still rack up tons of views.

The single most important element of TikTok is authenticity. For a good example, look at Lush’s account. The company’s videos aren’t Hollywood-quality content. In fact, they’re mostly just a showcase of colorful Lush cosmetics with a soundtrack of recent pop songs. Still, they’re creative and exciting to watch. By cultivating a sense of fun and frivolity, they make viewers want to try the natural cosmetics featured in the videos.

2. User-Generated Content

To enrich your TikTok account and broaden your reach, you can also incorporate user-generated content by reposting the best videos that your fans create.

To get started with UGC, have users put your hashtag in the caption of their videos. They can even send them to you directly to post on your account. Doing this will add authenticity and give you some free advertising. People like seeing other real people rather than abstract brands or concepts.

For a good example, check out Gymshark. The company has done exactly this with creation of the hashtag #gymshark, regularly reposting user-generated content to achieve greater reach.

3. Influencer Collaborations

Another way to enhance your TikTok presence is through collaborating with an influencer. Choose your influencers wisely to ensure that their professional activity corresponds with yours. The best way to do that is to carefully review what kinds of content a particular influencer is posting and see how it might align with your brand. Also, be sure to check whether the influencer has attracted any controversy that might be damaging to you brand.

An endorsement from or collaboration with a well-known influencer will give your brand valuable visibility and obvious coolness; seeing them use your product will make others want to use it too.

The best way to get started here is to reach out directly to a couple of influencers (or their managers) and speak frankly about the terms you can offer. You might be surprised by how creative they can be. After all, they’ve probably been on the platform for some time and have managed to build a sizable audience. Partner with them to learn how to become a power user for TikTok.

4. Advertising on TikTok

Finally, you can take advantage of paid, in-app advertising on TikTok. The app offers multiple options to choose from.

  • Sponsored hashtag challenges. The idea here is simple: Create a unique hashtag and come up with a measurable challenge users can do with it. As users participate in the challenge, you award those who make the best user-generated content. If you manage to make your challenge go viral, it will show up on the app’s Discover page. Suddenly, millions of people will be able to see and participate in your challenge. This approach is a great way to promote a new product launched by your brand. What’s more, it’s a challenge, so there’s a gamification element, which makes it all the more exciting and engaging. At its best, a hashtag challenge generates a snowball effect because people will want to compete against their friends. For a good example, look at McDonald’s France, which often launches its own challenges and has built a good position on TikTok this way.
     
  • Native ads that show between users’ videos. These can last from nine to 15 seconds, so don’t forget to make the ad interesting right from the start. If it’s not, people will just swipe up to go to the next video. And no one wants an annoying ad popping up in between the primary content.
     
  • Brand takeovers that appear on the users’ main page before they see any other video. These takeovers contain a link to the advertiser’s page. Keep in mind, though, that a brand can only post one advertisement like this per day in a specific category.

More in MarketingA Crash Course in Brand Lift

 

Get Started With TikTok

All in all, TikTok is a great way to start promoting your brand, especially to Gen Z or Gen Z-minded audiences. Figuring out how to convey your brand image in 10 seconds may be a challenge, but it’s extremely gratifying when you manage to go viral.

From a business perspective, TikTok’s value is that it gives you much more organic reach than platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn. It’s a fun, fresh way to get your message in front of a new audience.

So, start thinking now about short pieces of content you can create to bring value to your audience. Sharing tips or fun facts about your company is a great place to start. Or, if you’re out of ideas, reach out directly to a popular influencer on the platform. They’re always looking for brand deals, and they’ll be more than happy to help you create something unique and engaging.

If you’re looking for a new channel to jump-start your marketing efforts, TikTok is definitely worth trying.

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