TikTok is one of the fastest-growing social media apps in the world – and not just among teens. The app has an incredible impact on the modern world's culture, and brands are taking notice.
Though brands realize the value of TikTok, they’re not all on the platform yet. Whether it’s because they assume their audience isn’t active on the app or they don’t know where to start, it’s a missed opportunity to connect with potential customers and gain a strong presence.
Numerous businesses have found success on TikTok, including Crocs and the NFL. In fact, some of the most influential campaigns happened by accident, such as the #DreamsChallenge that caused Ocean Spray’s sales to skyrocket in 2020.
Fortunately, you have more control over your brand presence and success with TikTok if you use the right marketing strategy.
Benefits of TikTok Marketing
Like other social media platforms, TikTok can be leveraged to promote a brand, product, or service. You can use a variety of tactics, depending on your audience and brand personality, including TikTok paid ads, content marketing, and influencer marketing.
The benefits are virtually limitless:
- Building engaged brand communities
- Increasing brand awareness
- Gathering feedback from customers and audiences
- Providing customer service
- Selling products or services
- Advertising to target customers
How to Set Up a TikTok Business Account
- Sign up for TikTok
- On your profile page, open the Settings and Privacy tab
- Click Manage Account
- Using Account Control, choose Switch to Business Account
- Choose the category that’s most appropriate for your brand, such as Fitness or Arts & Crafts
- Add your business website URL and email address to your profile
TikTok created the TikTok for Business option in 2020 and TikTok Pro. Initially, TikTok for Business was designed exclusively for businesses, while TikTok Pro was used for creators.
Both options offer similar benefits to account holders, including real-time metrics, audience insights, and more profile fields.
The Steps of a TikTok Marketing Strategy
TikTok may appear as it runs on random and fleeting trends, but that doesn’t mean you have to throw spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks.
You can take steps to increase your chances of success on the app and make the most of its unique features.
1. Understand TikTok content
TikTok is unique among social media platforms. It doesn’t work like Facebook or Instagram, so you shouldn’t use the same tried-and-true marketing strategies.
You need to approach TikTok as the marketing channel it is and use its trends, features, and user patterns to your advantage.
What’s the best way to do this? Start watching some videos! Explore the TikTok app's different features, such as the filters and effects, and watch out for trending hashtag challenges.
Pay attention to what TikTok sounds are trending, as using them will make your videos go viral. These may involve a song or dance that others have to recreate. For brands, this means more user-generated content.
You should also research the TikTok algorithm and how the app indexes and ranks content. Once you know this, you can use it to inform your content and hashtag strategy.
2. Define your target audience
What audience are you hoping to reach on TikTok? Is it on the platform?
Before creating content and investing in TikTok, ensure you understand TikTok demographics and how much of your audience is active on the app.
Though TikTok has a lot of active teen members, that doesn’t mean you should avoid it if your audience is slightly older. In general, the next age group eventually follows what the teens are doing, which includes TikTok.
A little research goes a long way in determining how much overlap you have between your current social media platforms and TikTok. Of course, you may also come across similar audiences interested in your brand.
For example, a teacher on LinkedIn may be interested in a gamified driver’s ed app for teen drivers, as would a parent on Facebook.
Then, if the teen is on TikTok, you’re hitting several wide sections of your audience within your social media strategy.
3. Use TikTok Ads
Creating an official ad on TikTok will get your content in front of more people.
TikTok ads come in two formats:
- In-feed ads: These are ads that you create yourself, such as image ads, video ads, or spark ads, which boost the content you already created.
- Ads for managed brands: These are similar to in-feed ads in their appearance, but they have additional formatting options that you can access by working with a sales representative for TikTok.
TikTok also offers Topview ads, which play the moment a user opens the app and can’t be skipped or shut off, and branded ads. These include branded hashtag challenges and effects, such as stickers and filters connected to your brand.
For example, Microsoft did a branded hashtag challenge, #StartUpShowUp with sponsored videos. Eventually, other creators got in on the trend, promoting the hashtag and Microsoft for free.
4. Research your competitors
If you have competitors on TikTok, it’s a sure sign that you should also be there. If they aren’t, you may still have an audience and an opportunity to gain a competitive advantage.
Search the platform to find a few similar brands or competitors and see what types of content they share. Pay attention to what works and what doesn’t to inform your own strategy.
This is also a good opportunity to check out the influencers and creators in your niche. TikTok offered a platform to many rising stars, and these personalities could be valuable to your marketing strategy.
5. Set realistic goals
TikTok is a fun platform, but if you’re entering into it as a brand, you should have goals aligning with your overall business objectives to maximize your time and budget.
Consider your goals for getting on TikTok. You may want to reach a new audience or promote a better brand image. Maybe you’re trying to showcase your new product or service or connect with your customers more directly.
No matter your goals, it’s important to outline them and support your assertions with reason.
The SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound) goal framework is always helpful to ensure you’re setting realistic, appropriate goals, and neither too difficult nor too easy to achieve.
6. Create new content regularly
One of the vital components of TikTok marketing is consistency. The app rewards consistent content creation.
Consider creating a content calendar with all your plans weeks in advance. Think about upcoming events or holidays that you can use to guide your topics.
For instance, at Zutobi, we think National Teen Driver Safety Week, a week dedicated to parents conversing with their teens about safe driving, is an excellent opportunity to start a conversation and push our content to parents and teens alike.
Remember to leave space for impromptu content, however. Trends move quickly on TikTok, so you may need to increase views and engagement.
7. Monitor analytics
Analytics are valuable to your TikTok marketing campaign and help you see what’s effective and what needs tweaking. Ideally, you should check in on your analytics once a month to see if you’re reaching the goals and objectives you set.
If you’re not hitting your targets, consider trying different types of posts. For example, a traditional ad-style video promoting driver's ed training's learning and retention benefits is more geared toward parents, not teens on TikTok.
Conversely, doing a video challenge to post practice permit test results with a hashtag like #AceYourPermitTest or showing a demo of how the practice test is done could be more appealing to your audience.
8. Experiment often
TikTok is a highly organic, non-traditional platform, so there’s no formula for getting viral content and success. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try, however.
Leave some room in your TikTok marketing strategy for fun and creativity. The app is ideal for experimentation, giving you space to learn and grow to deliver better content to your audience.
One excellent example of how this is Mucinex. Historically, pharmaceutical brands don’t have an easy time with fun campaigns on social media, and FDA and FTC guidelines create challenges with brand and influencer content.
Mucinex took a chance and used creators to promote its product with transitions, a slick edit that moves from one video to another.
Users posted a video of them being “too sick” and transitioning to being “so sick” to showcase the glamor of their Halloween costumes, complete with the hashtag #TooSickToBeSick.
This campaign was highly successful and leveraged TikTok features, viral challenges, and common slang for the audience.
Get Started on TikTok
TikTok isn’t just for kids – it holds much value for brands. If you’re not on TikTok yet, or you are, and you’re not getting a lot of traction, try out these marketing tips and techniques to boost your brand awareness and make the most of the hottest new social media platform.
About the author:
Leo Waldenback co-founded Zutobi, a gamified e-learning platform focused on online driver education to help teens get their licenses. Leo founded Zutobi to make world-class driver's education fun, affordable, and easily accessible for all.