TikTok is one of the most widely talked about social platforms today. Since its launch in 2017, the app has experienced an explosion of worldwide growth, now offered in 75 languages across 155 countries.
Even if your business relies only on online searches, take into account that Tiktok is becoming the preferred place for users to do searches, especially for Gen Z.
TikTok users scroll through an open “For You” feed based on their interests, unlike other social platforms where users mostly scroll through people they follow. As a business user, this is one of the main advantages of TikTok.
You can reach a wider audience of people that may not follow you but have interests similar to what your brand stands for.
“Our user interface is optimized for discovery and prioritizes good content over all else” - TikTok
1. TikTok by the Numbers
TikTok videos’ primary goal may be to entertain, but it is undeniable the power that videos about products have on the users of this platform.
67% of users say TikTok inspired them to shop even when they weren’t looking to do so.
There’s even the self-coined term “infinite loop” to describe the retail path to purchase with TikTok.
This term is used to represent the TikTok phenomenon where, after a user buys a product because of TikTok they share a video, which then catches the attention of their friends and family, which in turn may buy the product, create a video after, and continue the cycle “indefinitely”.
TikTok is a global phenomenon and has been the most installed app in the last few years consistently. The top 10 countries with the biggest amount Tiktok users are:
- The United States of America with 140.6 million active TikTok users aged 18 and above;
- Indonesia with 106.9 million active TikTok users aged 18 and above;
- Brazil with 74.0 million active TikTok users aged 18 and above;
- The Russian Federation with 56.3 million active TikTok users aged 18 and above;
- Mexico with 51.3 million active TikTok users aged 18 and above;
- Vietnam with 49.6 million active TikTok users aged 18 and above;
- The Philippines with 42.7 million active TikTok users aged 18 and above;
- Thailand with 39.5 million active TikTok users aged 18 and above;
- Turkey with 30.8 million active TikTok users aged 18 and above;
- Saudi Arabia with 25.2 million active TikTok users aged 18 and above.
For an exhaustive list of the number of users in every single country, you can check Statista.
Although Tiktok is mostly associated with Gen Z, there’s a growing trend towards a much broader audience.
In 2023, the user age distribution is very balanced up to the age group of 50-year-olds and above.
This means that, unless you are looking to target that last group, TikTok may hold the key to a lot of potential customers for your brand.
The top categories on TikTok by total views currently are:
- Entertainment - 443 billion total views
- Dance - 150 billion views
- Pranks — 54 billion views
- Fitness — 43 billion views
- DIY — 29 billion views
- Beauty and Skincare — 22 billion views
- Fashion — 18 billion views
- Recipes — 13 billion views
- Life hacks — 8.3 billion views
- Pets — 8 billion views
- Outdoors — 1 billion views
These can serve as inspiration for the category/type of video you could do since there’s a good probability a user would be interested in seeing it.
2. Difference between Instagram and TikTok
On Instagram there’s a much lower chance you’ll reach new audiences without paying for ads since almost all the content users see are from the people they follow.
On the other hand, as we’ve mentioned before, on TikTok the default tab (“For You”) shows content from profiles you’ve never seen before and usually don’t have that many followers in the first place (over 96% of all views on TikTok are from the “For You” tab, so less then 4% views come from the “Followed” tab).
The odds of you reaching a large audience organically through TikTok are much higher. All you have to do is pay attention to the trends, and create genuine quality content without outright trying to sell your products, and the algorithm will do the rest.
Regarding the engagement rates for brand posts, you may have noticed that brands with big followings on other platforms rarely get good engagement ratios. TikTok surpasses Instagram by a large margin in that area with an average engagement rate of 5.96% vs. 0,83% of Instagram.
3. TikTok Business Mentality
Unlike other social media channels, TikTok is a platform for authentic and entertaining engagement. Even if your business appears serious and professional, TikTok empowers brands to show a more human, playful, and creative side to their business.
Although the most popular videos on the platform feature humor, animals, and young people, you can still create educational videos that focus on your store/product while including any of these themes. That way you leverage the virality of these categories while keeping your marketing goals in focus.
Avoid the creation of formulaic and overly scripted videos, the more authentic the better on TikTok. You can even record the videos from your phone, no need to have a studio and a professional video setup (this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t worry about having good lighting and trying to keep the recording as stable as possible).
4. Content Plan for TikTok
Before you dive into the world of TikTok creation you should first come up with a business plan to guide you through as you begin making decisions.
This plan will help you keep everything you do on TikTok in line with your vision, without dispersing your efforts.
Setting Up a Main Objective
Start by defining the objective of your communication on TikTok. One example would be to inform and educate your target audience regarding your products so that they feel more invested and interested in trying your products. Or it could also be that you are trying to engage with your current customers to cultivate long-term loyalty.
Defining a Target Audience
The audience you choose will impact the content you’ll create since different groups of people have different interests, beliefs, and perceptions.
The target audience can be defined by age, gender, geographic location, and interests.
You can even create buyer personas to more easily visualize the type of person you are targeting.
If you have a dog food business you could choose to target younger or older dog owners; female or male dog owners; friends of dog owners, etc.
To young dog owners, you could create a video showing “the top 10 dogs to take outside and run with”, to friends of dog owners it could be about “the best gifts to offer to a dog owner” for example.
You can also take advantage of TikTok insights to help you make decisions about your audience.
Researching Trends to Take Advantage of
Trending content can greatly improve your chances of success if you can incorporate the concept into your communication strategy, since there’s proven interest in similar content.
One of the best ways to identify and get a detailed view of the current trends in the past few days/months is TikTok Creative Center.
There, you’ll see the trending hashtags and sounds by country, and industry. You can even click on them to see what other creators are doing so you can get some inspiration for your own video.
You can also check the “Discover” tab on your TikTok app to see a more simplified version of it.
Hashtag challenges can also be a fruitful content strategy for any business. With hashtag challenges, you can create your own challenges and respond to others. Doing so initiates conversation and engagement between users and your brand.
Once you’ve set a trend that you would like to take part in, make sure you fully understand its concept, or else you risk not gaining any traction because users didn’t deem it as following the trend correctly.
Also, take into consideration the goals and target audiences you’ve set when deciding on a trend to follow. A certain trend might be fun or interesting to you but if you can’t adapt it to your communication needs then it’s not worth it.
Incorporating your Brand Voice into the Trend
You may be tempted to follow what other people are doing with the trend, but your main objective is to insert your brand message in an original manner so that your video is highlighted among the crowd.
Even if your brand is associated with a more somber and serious posture, it can be a refreshing surprise to have a more lighthearted approach on TikTok (44% of TikTok users prefer branded content that is fun and entertaining).
Defining Metrics and Goals
In order to measure the performance of your videos, you need to set a list of metrics and goals to track and evaluate if you are being successful or not. Make sure they follow the SMART framework (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely).
A few examples could be:
- Reach 1000 views on one video by January 1st, year 20XX;
- Get an engagement of over 5% in your first 10 videos;
- Get 100 visits on your website from a video educating users on how to use your product till February 1st, year 20XY.
Other good metrics:
- Growth rate;
- Trending videos;
- Average watch time.
Creating a Schedule
After having created the content you would like to post on TikTok, you can plan the frequency, day, and time of the week and the specific day for each one.
You could take advantage of a special holiday/time of the year, like Christmas, and only post around that time; post very frequently to rapidly gain an audience, or only once a month so that it doesn’t take too much of your time away from running your business.
These types of decisions shouldn’t be final, as you start gaining insights from your videos, you can adjust everything to optimize the reach and engagement of TikTok users.
To find the best time to post and other insights, you must switch to a TikTok Pro Account. To do that, on your TikTok account go to your Profile Page > click on the “…” > “Manage my account” > “Switch to a Pro Account” > Select your business category and click “done”.
Now you can go to the analytics section to see the gender of your followers, the top territories, and the days and hours when your followers are more active.
With that schedule in mind, you can use platforms like Later to publish your videos in advance at the day and hour of your choice.
5. TikTok Ads
The app has the top average time spent per day, even above Youtube, with 95 minutes per day. This means that there’s a much higher chance your audience will see your ads in a single day than on any other platform.
Do take into account that the minimum daily budget for an individual ad is $50 USD, and the minimum daily budget for an ad group is $20 USD.
Similar to what you did for your normal videos, you should also create a content plan for your ads. In fact, we recommend that you integrate both normal videos and paid ads on the same business plan if you plan on having both working towards the same goals.
TikTok’s Ads Manager Platform allows businesses to coordinate their ads, monitor traffic, and understand conversion analytics.
Types of Segmentation
TikTok segmentation has been improving substantially in the last few years. Now you can segment by:
- Type of audience - list of users you already have, people that interacted with your website, submitted a form, etc.;
- Demographics - location, gender, age, and language (of the platform on their device);
- Interests - based on behaviors of users and analysis made by the TikTok algorithm dictating their preferences for content;
- Behavior - based on a user’s in-app behavior and interactions with content such as a like on a sports post within the last 7 days;
- Creators - based on which “creator” a user has followed or viewed the profile of, within a predefined list of categories such as DIY, comedy, etc.;
- Device - based on the operating system and version as well as device model (down to an iPhone 4s), connection type, carrier, and device price.
The solutions that TikTok has to offer include:
In-feed Ads (Optimized for Conversions)
If you’re looking for seamless integration of your brand into your users’ TikTok “For You” feeds, in-feed ads are perfect. These 5 - 60 second ads allow any business to get started marketing quickly (the ideal duration is 15 seconds).
The reason why they are optimized for Conversion is that they can have a custom text button (like “Shop Now” or “Learn More”) that redirects the user to a page on your website, or choose any of these other button options:
Voting Cards - This gives the option to add two different landing pages that users can choose from, giving feedback to the brand in the process.
Display Cards - Gives the option to add a customized image to your ad that will work as a CTA (call-to-action) button that redirects users to your website.
Interactive cards - Gives you the option to choose from a variety of add-ons to include on your ad and drive more engagement. For example, you can add a countdown sticker to it.
In-Feed Video — One Day Max
These are five to 15 seconds long video ads shown in-feeds for one day only. The ad is the fourth in-feed video shown to users.
In-feed Video — Brand Premium
Unlike the other in-feed video format, this one is randomly placed among the first 130 in-feed videos someone watches on the app.
Similar to In-feed Ads, Topview ads appear on your feed as an almost regular video, the main difference is that it is shown as the first video people see when they open the app.
For TopView and TopView Lite campaigns, the user interface is designed for full-screen take-over and it can last up to 60 seconds. These are great for getting your target audience to focus on your brand.
Branded Hashtag Challenge
Branded Hashtag Challenges offer an interactive approach to increase your company’s brand engagement over a three to six-day marketing campaign. After sponsoring a hashtag challenge, your content will be displayed on the Discover Page to be seen by millions of users.
Branded Hashtag Challenges have a median engagement rate of 17.5%.
Users can click on your customized banner to see video demonstrations of your challenge, which they can recreate using your hashtag, and further promote your brand through user-generated content (UGC).
Branded Hashtag Challenge Plus
Similar to the Branded Hashtag Challenge, the Plus option enables you to make sales from the campaign through the Explore tab linked to your hashtag landing page.
TikTok also allows companies to create branded 2D, 3D, and AR effects that can be triggered by unique gestures. Once the campaign is activated, your filter will be included in the Top 10 Trending list, and users can apply these effects and filters to their own videos, creating more brand awareness through UGC.
1 in 5 live streaming users watch TikTok LIVE, and within that group 62% watch it every day. This gives brands the opportunity to engage with their communities in real-time on a daily basis.
With over 50% of TikTok users having bought something after watching LIVE, there’s a big potential for companies to capitalize on this tool.
The top types of lives TikTok users are interested in are:
- How-to/tutorials (80%);
- Product releases (78%);
- In-depth product reviews (77%);
- Q&As (74%);
- Product sales (72%);
- Live events (72%).
You can boost the number of users that watch your live shopping stream by using Live Shopping Ads.
Sponsored Content with Influencers
Sponsored ads with Influencers are also a great way to get more exposure. Especially if you take into consideration that it’s the influencers with the smallest following that get the biggest engagement rate, which means you don’t have to spend a lot with a big influencer since the ones with fewer followers can give you better results for your money.
Users also seem to be interested in the products and brands creators show them: 35% of them say that they discover products and brands from creators, and 65% enjoy when creators post about products and brands.
Businesses can browse the Creator Marketplace to find a creator or influencer best suited to your brand and campaign strategy.
When searching for a brand influencer, it’s important to take into consideration their demographics and reach, as well as ensure their values are aligned with your brand.
In addition to these solutions, TikTok provides further business support to improve your marketing strategy through partnerships and funding. It is now possible to work with marketing partners that focus on four categories: Campaign Management, Measurement, Creative, and Effects.
These partners have industry expertise in these areas and work with TikTok’s Marketing API to achieve the best success rate for your campaign.
6. Successful Case Studies
As Nike is such a large, well-known brand, they have the advantage of being able to support a feed populated by UGC. With so many users on TikTok creating content using Nike products and the Nike hashtag, Nike receives free advertising. In addition to their wealth of UGC, branded hashtag challenges such as #TheReplay have been very popular with athletes and fitness, athleisure, and sports audiences.
If you want to follow in the footsteps of Nike and you have certain branded items, try getting your audience to post about them through incentives and influencer marketing.
While they are known for their news reporting on politics, business, and the world, the newspaper’s TikTok feed shows a very different side to the company.
Using their main spokesperson, Dave, the Washington Post shares silly, down-to-earth videos that are somewhat related to current news but take an incredibly humorous approach.
Some of the videos that gained a lot of views and engagement reference popular scenes from movies such as The Titanic and The Notebook, the latter of which also participated in a hashtag challenge.
Often partnering with actors from shows on Netflix, these partnership videos are a mixture of everyday home videos, short Q&As, and challenge responses, opening a more personal conversation with their audiences.
Netflix also shares funny clips from programs and films on their platform, sometimes creating meme videos from these clips.
A solid example of how businesses are being creative and remaining representative of their brand is the online video game Fortnite, by Epic Games.
Featuring animated characters, their feed is populated with videos of trending dances, challenge responses, and memes inside the game. They have also created challenges like #emoteroyalecontest, with the winning user rewarded by having their dance moves featured in the actual game.
Ralph Lauren engaged actress Diana Silvers to boost their TikTok engagement. In addition, they timed their marketing to perfectly coincide with the US Open Tennis Championship. At the time, the US Open hashtag had received over 8 million views.
With this partnership, Ralph Lauren reached two audiences: followers of Diana Silvers and people searching for ‘US Open’.
Ralph Lauren even created their own custom hashtag to promote the co-branding marketing: #winningRL. By tying the hashtag to a challenge, 100,000 people liked the videos co-branding Ralph Lauren, Diana Silvers, and the US Open. The custom hashtag garnered over 600 million views.
However, you do not need to be a massive brand to benefit from these strategies on TikTok. By creating timely marketing, custom hashtags, and branded challenges, you too can capitalize on the popularity of this platform.
Walmart’s case study goes to show that TikTok can benefit all businesses, even those with primary markets in brick-and-mortar commerce.
Walmart devised a hashtag #DealDropDance to actively engage in TikTok influencer marketing. Six influencers collaborated with Walmart to encourage followers to show how good Black Friday savings made them feel.
These videos were extremely well-received, and led to higher engagement on their TikTok. The posts from just six influencers reached over 17 million people. Walmart also tied in a giveaway: rewarding shoppers with a $100 gift card for their best dance moves in a Walmart aisle.
There are many ways to think outside the box with TikTok, and a loyalty program for a brick-and-mortar store is just one way to use the platform to drive real ROI for your brand.
7. How to Install TikTok Pixel in Your Store
Now that you’ve already planned the content you want to share on TikTok, it’s time to configure the TikTok Pixel.
With this pixel, you can easily track all the information from your campaigns and find out which campaigns are more successful at generating conversions on your website, which ones are bringing more traffic, and which ones need to be improved or deleted altogether.
Learn how you can install it in our guide.
8. Best Practices
TikTok is all about the creative side, however, there are a few things you can do to substantially increase your chances of success, or else your videos might feel a bit out of place with the platform’s style of content.
Here’s a list of the main ones:
- Record videos in portrait mode, TikTok was made to be used in portrait mode, unlike youtube videos.
- Add captions to your videos and center them, this allows users that are browsing the app without sound to also be able to enjoy your content.
- Keep videos between 9 and 15 seconds for ads, unless they’re a Newsfeed Ad, then use the whole 60 seconds.
- Incorporate effects into your videos. This allows you not only to take advantage of the creative possibilities of TikTok, but also to better blend with the rest of the videos users usually see.
- Engage with your viewers by replying to the comments. You can make new videos based on those comments and encourage this engagement by asking your followers for their opinions in the description of your video. This can boost your reach as the algorithm will notice the engagement you are having.
9. Things To Consider
As innovative and entertaining as TikTok is, there has been some controversy and concerns around the app’s security, privacy, and online safety in several countries across the world.
The app has already had temporary bans and restrictions put in place in India, Hong Kong, and Indonesia, and has come close to being banned in Japan, Pakistan, and the US. Currently owned by the Chinese tech company ByteDance, there have been concerns that they might be collecting personal data for uses outside the benefits of the app.
At this stage, it is difficult to tell how this will affect the operations of the app; however, it is good to be aware of the government’s stance on the app in the country your business is registered and where your target audience is located while planning your campaigns and strategy.
In the end, TikTok is on a fast track to becoming the top most-used app in the world in a few years, and therefore make sure to take full advantage of it while the reach of their ads is effective.
Although more expensive than Facebook or Instagram when it comes to paid ads, their algorithm still allows you to reach a big audience without having to spend any money at all.