The Beginner’s Guide to TikTok Marketing

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Table of Contents


What makes a powerful social media marketing strategy? Engaging content, eye-catching captions, and meaningful hashtags – these are all crucial elements of a robust social media marketing strategy. It’s equally crucial to identify the most effective social media platforms based on your target audience. However, one factor that significantly influences your success on social media is the adaptability of your strategy.

If you’re even remotely familiar with social media, you likely already know about its constantly changing landscape. New apps, trends, and challenges regularly emerge and take the internet by a storm. One such critical development is the rise of TikTok. While brands and marketers are slowly realizing its importance, the video-sharing app already has more than 800 million monthly active users.

If you’re a business owner or a digital marketer, it’s about time you start building your TikTok marketing strategy. In this blog, we’ll outline a few simple steps to kickstart TikTok marketing. However, let’s first delve deeper into TikTok and understand why it’s important.


TikTok & Its Rise: A Closer Look


TikTok is a social networking mobile app that lets users upload and share short videos. It is best known as the birthplace of viral challenges, trending dance moves, comedic skits, and lip-sync videos. While most TikTok videos have a duration of 15 seconds, users can collate multiple clips to create 60-second videos. 


Tracing TikTok’s Journey


ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, first launched the app in 2016 as Douyin in China. In 2017, it was released internationally as TikTok. In 2018, the company acquired Musical.ly, a popular social media platform that let users create and share lip-sync videos. This, in turn, let TikTok introduce a new range of features and tools and helped it break into the U.S. Gen Z market. Both TikTok and Douyin are operated as separate apps.

Fast-forward to 2020 and TikTok has already crossed 2 billion downloads, accumulating more than 314 million downloads in the first quarter of 2020. It has become one of the most downloaded apps on the App Store and Google Play. This, in turn, has compelled brands and digital marketers to harness its potential.

Image via SensorTower


How Does TikTok Work?


There isn’t much clarity when it comes to TikTok’s core algorithm. However, most content creators agree that you don’t need a plethora of followers to become popular on TikTok. This is because the algorithm individually assesses the performance of each video on your profile.

When you upload a new video, it’s first shown to a small group of users on their For You page. If your video garners traction among these users, it’ll likely make its way into more For You pages, ultimately becoming viral. Additionally, TikTok’s algorithm takes into account other factors such as likes, shares, comments, rewatches, etc.

It’s worth pointing out that unlike other social media platforms, you can go viral on TikTok with a handful of followers. The key is to regularly upload original, entertaining, and shareable content. We’ll take a closer look at TikTok content creation later in this blog.


Why You Need a TikTok Marketing Strategy


TikTok has often been dismissed as an app for the Gen Z. However, a recent AdWeek study indicates that the app is gaining popularity among millennials and older users as well. The share of Gen Z TikToks users 41.1% to 35.3% between January and April 2020. However, the percentage of 25- to 34-year-old TikTok users grew from 22.4% to 27.4% during the same period.

Moreover, the percentage of 35- to 44-year-old users grew from 13.9% to 17.1% during the same period. The app is also available in 39 languages across 141 countries. Whether you want to target young school students or middle-aged professionals, your audience likely already uses TikTok. You just have to create the right content to strike a chord with them.


• Immense Reach & Engagement


The biggest advantage of TikTok marketing is that it lets you increase brand awareness. TikTok users are often open to trying new challenges and trends. When you create a branded TikTok challenge and people start participating, it increases your brand’s online visibility.

Additionally, TikTok is a great platform for building a strong rapport with your audience. Collaborating with popular TikTokers lets you leverage their reputation and credibility to connect with their followers. This, in turn, helps you win their trust and further boosts your online reputation. It’s also worth mentioning that TikTok’s engagement rates per post are higher than those of Instagram and Twitter.

According to CloutMeter’s analysis of 10,000+ TikTok profiles, the average engagement rate on TikTok is 52.1%. It isn’t surprising considering that most TikTok users spend plenty of time on the app looking for entertaining content.

Image via CloutMeter


• First-Mover Advantage


Despite its immense potential, TikTok marketing hasn’t become the norm for brands. Many marketers are still analyzing its viability and exploring the possibilities. Therefore, if you start promoting your brand on TikTok now, you’ll likely face less competition. Moreover, by the time your competitors make their way to TikTok, you would’ve already found your footing.


• Low Barrier to Entry


TikTok users value creativity and originality more than production values. It means you don’t need a huge production budget or high-end gear to start making TikTok videos. This, in turn, makes TikTok marketing suitable for businesses of all sizes.

Even if you’re planning to work with influencers, it isn’t mandatory to select TikTokers who have millions of followers. Instead, you can focus on finding a TikToker who is relevant to your niche and aligns with your brand image. Thus, you don’t need a high marketing budget to start promoting your brand on TikTok.

It isn’t surprising that many established brands including Guess, Fenty Beauty, Nike, Chipotle, HP, Calvin Klien, etc. have been using TikTok marketing. However, it’s worth mentioning here that you shouldn’t perceive TikTok as an alternative to other social media platforms. Instead, it should be a part of your overall social media marketing strategy. The idea is to connect with your potential customers across multiple platforms including TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, etc. 

It’s now time for us to discuss the steps to build a powerful TikTok marketing strategy.


Getting Started with TikTok Marketing


If you’re a business owner or marketer, you can utilize TikTok in one of the following ways:

  • Create a TikTok profile for your brand and regularly upload engaging videos
  • Collaborate with a popular TikToker and ask them to promote your products or brand
  • Promote your brand using TikTok Ads

An effective TikTok marketing strategy is one that uses a balanced mix of the above techniques.


• Prerequisites of TikTok Marketing


Before you start outlining your TikTok marketing strategy, it’s crucial to identify your brand’s distinguishing factors. Analyze your products/services to understand what sets you apart from your competitors. It can go a long way to help you create one-of-its-kind TikTok videos.

It’s also essential to define your goals and analyze whether TikTok is the right fit. If you want to drive conversions and increase revenue, TikTok may not be the best platform. On the other hand, TikTok would be ideal for boosting your brand’s online presence and improving audience engagement.

Moreover, it’s recommended that you analyze whether TikTok is the right match for your brand and niche. While TikTok’s userbase is expanding, most people still use the app to consume fun and entertaining content. If you want to sell insurance policies or retirement plans, TikTok may not be the best platform to promote your products.

Let us now take a closer look at the process of TikTok marketing:


• Create Original Content


If you want to promote your products/services on TikTok, you need to create a TikTok profile for your brand. Make sure you provide a crisp and eye-catching bio and link it to your Instagram and YouTube profiles. Unfortunately, the “link in bio” option is only available to selected TikTok users.

Image via TikTok


The next step is to start creating attractive and shareable TikTok videos. Check out the Discover page of your TikTok account to identify popular challenges, trends, and hashtags. For instance, if you own a makeup brand, uploading makeup tutorials and hacks is a great idea.

Likewise, if you own a fashion brand, you can upload timelapse videos showcasing your latest collection. You can even upload step-by-step tutorial videos highlighting your product’s features. This can be particularly useful when your product requires assembly. Make sure all your videos are relevant to your niche and target audience. Also, ensure that you use the best cameras to ensure that the video quality is top-notch.

For instance, Gymshark, a U.K.-based activewear brand regularly uploaded workout videos and inspirations. The high-quality TikTok videos have helped the brand attract more than 1.4 million followers on the platform.

Image via Medium


It’s worth mentioning that TikTok users are particularly averse to promotional content. This is because they use the platform to entertain themselves and learn new skills. Therefore, you must avoid using in-your-face tactics to promote your products. Instead, you should focus on entertaining, inspiring, and educating your audience while subtly featuring your products when appropriate.

Moreover, you shouldn’t be afraid to experiment with different styles and formats to find your voice. While harnessing trends is an integral part of TikTok marketing, it shouldn’t come at the cost of your originality. Make sure you include a short and compelling caption with each video.

For instance, The Washington Post upload TikTok videos showcasing light-hearted behind-the-scenes snippets of their newsroom. The engaging videos give their viewers a glimpse of the process of news gathering and publishing. This, in turn, has helped the publication attract more than 560,000 followers and strike a chord with younger audiences.

Image via The Wrap


• Leverage Trends & Hashtags


It’s also crucial to add relevant hashtags to your captions. Hashtags can be instrumental in getting your videos delivered to the right audience and increasing your reach. Apart from popular hashtags such as #fpy, #ForYou, #ForYouPage, etc., you should use specialized hashtags that are relevant to your niche. You can even create a branded hashtag to increase awareness and recognition. 

Music is another crucial aspect of TikTok videos. Identify popular songs from your Discover page and use them in your videos whenever relevant. Additionally, you should use the latest filters, effects, and sounds provided by the app. Make sure you include a suitable call-to-action (CTA) in every video asking users to follow your TikTok profile or visit your Instagram/YouTube profile.

It’s also essential to maintain consistency and regularity. You must continue to upload engaging videos, even after you get your first viral hit. The more videos you upload, the higher your chances of making it to your target audience’s For You page.


• Participate in Popular TikTok Challenges


TikTok is the breeding ground for new and innovative social media challenges. From fitness and dance to food and fashion – you’ll find a plethora of TikTok challenges in every niche. While some challenges are introduced by brands and influencers, others come to life organically. Some of the most popular TikTok challenges include the #LevelUp challenge, #DJAtHome challenge, #OwnTheCurve challenge, etc.

Image via Later


You can either participate in relevant and trending challenges or create your branded TikTok challenge. The first tactic is particularly useful when you’re new to the platform and are looking to build an audience. Participating in a TikTok challenge increases your visibility and helps you reach a wide audience.

Take a look at your For You page to identify any trending challenges. Alternatively, you can check the Discover page. Before you participate in a challenge, make sure it’s relevant to your niche and brand. It’s recommended that you add your unique spin to the challenge and try to feature your product/brand. Don’t forget to include the challenge’s hashtag in the caption before uploading your video.


• Create Your Own Challenge


If you want to harness TikTok’s immense potential, you must start a branded challenge. It can be instrumental in boosting awareness, reach, and engagement. Moreover, you get access to a treasure trove of user-generated content. You can share this content on your TikTok profile to further increase traction.

The first step of starting a TikTok challenge is to select a task that is easy, straightforward, accessible, and inclusive. If it involves numerous complicated steps, it’ll drive potential participants away. Next, craft a unique, simple, and meaningful hashtag for your challenge. The hashtag also represents the name of the challenge and helps you track the entries.

The final step is to create awareness about the challenge by collaborating with popular TikTokers. You can also create branded hashtag challenges using TikTok Ads. Monitor the entries and share the best ones on your profile to generate more awareness. You can even offer a reward or incentive to the best entries.

Chipotle’s #GuacDance challenge is one of the most successful TikTok challenges. It encouraged users to create avocado-themed dance moves based on the “Guacamole Song” by Dr. Jean. It received more than 250,000 video entries and 430 million video starts within the first six days.

Image via Business 2 Community


• Collaborate with Popular TikTokers


TikTok is flooded with a multitude of engaging videos. Therefore, finding traction with original content can be difficult, especially if you’re promoting a new brand or product. An effective alternative is to collaborate with relevant and popular TikTokers in your niche and get them to promote your brand.

Head to the For You page and check out click any hashtag that’s relevant to your niche. Check out the first few videos and visit the creators’ profiles. These users are likely to create popular content that’s relevant to your niche. Take a closer look at their videos and analyze their style to determine whether it resonates with your brand image.

It’s worth mentioning that you should prioritize relevance over reach. Even if a TikToker has only a few thousand followers, you can partner with them as long as their audience fits your brand. Once you’ve identified a TikToker you want to collaborate with, the next step is to engage with their content. Build a rapport before you approach them for a collaboration.

Instead of getting a TikToker to directly promote your brand, you can ask them to share their honest review of your products. Alternatively, you can host a giveaway or ask them to participate in a challenge you’ve created. You can also use TikTok Creator Marketplace to kickstart your influencer marketing campaign.

Image via TikTok


Fenty Beauty, the luxury makeup brand, is the first to create its own creator house on TikTok. The brand has collaborated with beauty content creators and makeup artists on TikTok as part of its #FentyBeautyHouse.

Image via LA-Story


• Leverage TikTok Ads


If you want to skyrocket your reach on TikTok within a short time, you can use TikTok Ads. The app has introduced a range of creation and tracking tools for advertisers. Typically, you can choose from the following ad formats:

  • Brand Takeover
  • In-feed Native Video
  • Branded Hashtag Challenge
  • TopView
  • Branded Effects

You can define your target audience using various parameters such as age group, location, gender, interests, etc. The #InMyDenim campaign by Guess is one of the most successful examples of TikTok Ads. 

Image via TikTok


Conclusion


The landscape of social media marketing is constantly evolving. If you want to increase brand awareness or target a new demographic, it’s high time you build a TikTok marketing strategy. You can upload unique, entertaining, and inspiring videos or create your own challenge. You can also collaborate with popular TikTokers and use TikTok Ads to further expand your reach.

Do you have any other TikTok marketing tips for beginners? Share your views in the comments section below.

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