If you’re building a social media strategy today, it’s worth considering TikTok. With short-form video offering the largest return on investment and TikTok poised to reach 2.2 billion users by 2027, it’s just as powerful as any other “big” platform.
In the world of TikTok, genuine content reigns supreme. More than on other social media platforms, users favor raw and engaging TikTok videos over highly edited, curated posts—the type brands typically produce for platforms like Instagram and Facebook.
This stylistic difference is what gives TikTok creators a connection with their audience that’s hard to match elsewhere. It also makes TikTok an incredibly noisy platform, but a potential goldmine for creators who can strike the perfect balance between authenticity and marketing.
Ahead, learn how to use TikTok marketing as part of your brand’s overall strategy, read tips for best practices on the platform, and get inspired by successful brands using TikTok for marketing today.
What is TikTok marketing?
TikTok marketing is the process of promoting a brand, products, and/or services to consumers on TikTok. Common TikTok marketing strategies include the creation of trend-driven organic content, using popular hashtags, and incorporating TikTok influencers into promotional campaigns.
Why use TikTok to market products?
The biggest difference between TikTok and other social media platforms, notably Facebook and Instagram, is that the homepages of the latter two consist largely of people you already know and channels you already follow. TikTok reverses this, prioritizing videos from creators you’ve never seen before.
TikTok’s user interface is designed to keep people in the app for as long as possible, more so than channels like Facebook and Twitter. With TikTok, you can also add a “link in bio,” which makes the platform ripe for marketing and selling.
If you’re trying to reach a younger demographic, TikTok is an especially useful tool—62% of its audience falls into the 10- to 29-year-old age group. Based on these demographics, you can tailor your videos to match the content Gen Z enjoys consuming and capitalize on your understanding of the algorithm to manufacture virality.
Here are just a few of the benefits of using TikTok for your marketing.
Every video has a chance for virality
The Facebook algorithm tends to favor content from friends and family. This means it prioritizes people and content you already know.
TikTok reverses this and prioritizes videos from creators you’ve never seen before. As mentioned earlier, this discovery engine means every video has a chance to go viral, no matter how many followers you have.
People are buying what they see
Whether you use TikTok ads or brand takeovers, or post regular videos about your product, you have a good chance of someone seeing and buying it. According to on study, nearly half of TikTokers make purchases from brands they see in the app.
Product-based social media trends from TikTok have even generated a now well-known phrase and hashtag: “TikTok made me buy it.” TikTok users frequently buy products they discover on the platform. Some industries perform better than others, with 89% of TikTok users polled in one survey saying they purchased a beauty product after seeing it on TikTok.
TikTok influencer marketing is huge
With that discovery power, more brands are seeing the value in working with creators to promote products and services.
Creators on TikTok can amass millions of followers. And the best part? Niches work well on the platform. So much so that when a niche gathers steam on the app, it becomes known as its own TikTok space or subculture, such as #booktok, #fiilmtok, and #gaytiktok.
As with influencer marketing on any other platform, the key is finding the right influencer for your brand. But with these established niches, you can easily find influencers in your space.
TikTok works well with Instagram
If you’ve already built a presence on Instagram, here’s the good news: TikTok has native features that link up to Instagram. First, there’s the Instagram link button on your profile page (which is separate from the external link option). This means people can easily check out your Instagram account from your TikTok.
Second, there’s automatic sharing to Instagram. This means that when you post a video on TikTok you can opt to automatically share it to your Instagram Stories and/or Instagram feed.
“I think the beauty of TikTok is that it cross-pollinates to Instagram and YouTube,” says Nadya Okamoto, founder of August. “So as we’ve grown on TikTok from August, we’ve also grown to 175,000 followers on Instagram.”
How to create a TikTok marketing strategy
To create your marketing campaigns in TikTok, take the following steps to ensure your efforts are focused and will bring you closer to your business and marketing goals.
Set up a TikTok business account
A TikTok business account is a great way to learn about trends and become a TikTok pro. The platform offers a commercial music library for business creators, performance and audience data, and a web business suite.
Setting up a TikTok business account is easy and is the first step in using TikTok for marketing. Start by downloading the TikTok app from the Apple App Store or Google Play store. Then register for a TikTok account and follow these steps:
- Head to your profile page.
- Tap the hamburger icon in the top right corner, then select Settings and Privacy.
- Under Account, tap Manage account.
- Tap Switch to Business Account under Account control.
- Choose a category that best describes your account, such as Clothing & Accessories, Electronics, Pets, etc.
- Complete your profile.
🎵 Read more: How to Make Money on TikTok: 8 Proven Ideas
Define your audience
We know TikTok is a popular platform for Gen Z consumers, but that’s not the only demographic using it. Gen Alpha is an emerging demographic of future consumers on the platform, and TikTok use has even grown in the boomer segment.
To identify your audience on TikTok, describe what you can to paint a picture of the people most likely to convert into customers:
- Location: Where do your ideal customers physically live? Even knowing just the country can help. But if you’re a local business or only want to serve a specific area then you should isolate those places.
- Age: What is the age range of your customer? Keep this as broad as possible, unless you know for sure your target customer is at a certain point in their life.
- Gender: What gender do they identify as? This might be unimportant or essential, depending on your brand.
- Interests: What are their interests/hobbies/passions? These help with potential content ideas and audience targeting (e.g., cooking, hip-hop dance, yoga).
- Career/industry: What industry do they work in and what job titles have they held? Again, this might not be as relevant, depending on your brand.
- Income level: What is the income range of this buyer persona? Are they price-sensitive or are they willing to spend more money on premium products?
- Relationship status: Are they single, actively dating, or married? This may be relevant if you’re in the wedding industry, for example.
- Favorite sites/apps: What type of websites do they keep bookmarked? Do they browse Instagram or Pinterest daily? Are there specific apps they couldn’t live without?
- Motivation to buy: What reasons would this person have for buying your product? Do they want to sport a status symbol or make time to work out despite a busy schedule?
- Buying concerns: Why might they choose not to buy your product? Are they worried about the quality?
- Other info: Anything else that isn’t covered but would be worth mentioning, such as education, stage in life (parents with newborn kids), events they attend, etc.
Understand the landscape
On TikTok, you have two competitors: your business competition (who you’ve likely already identified) and your content competition. TikTok, like other social media platforms, is filled with people and brands alike, so you’re not only competing with other businesses but also other creators.
Take a look at your business competitors and see if they have a TikTok presence. If they do, look at the types of things they post and which posts have significant levels of engagement. This can clue you into what their audience likes, which is probably somewhat similar to what your audience will like. Just remember to create your own unique content—no stealing ideas here!
Then spend time looking at TikTok content itself to see what is already produced in your space. Search hashtags, join groups, look at trending posts, and look for topics relevant to your brand. Notice any overlaps from these posts with your business competition.
“What we really understood from TikTok is that the algorithm and the way the platform works is completely different from Instagram, where you have to be super mindful of how many times a day you’re posting,” says Nadya.
Figure out your promotion strategy
In addition to investing time and energy into creating your branded TikTok profile and videos, you can supercharge your marketing efforts in TikTok with influencers and paid advertising.
Influencer marketing puts your brand and products in front of someone else’s audience, serving as social proof. And influencer marketing is huge on TikTok, especially as it’s a creator-focused platform, like Snapchat.
Get paid by brands you love with Shopify Collabs
Shopify Collabs makes it easy to find brands that match your vibe, build affiliate relationships, get paid for what you sell, and track everything in one place.Learn about Shopify Collabs
Shopify merchant Peace Out Skincare partnered with an influencer to promote its acne line. The brand gifted its products to TikTok influencers, two of whom collaborated on a video. The video earned 12 million views, 2.4 million likes, 60,000 shares, and $15,000 in product sales in a single day. The video trended for months after its original posting, fueling a steady stream of sales past that initial surge.
To work with TikTok influencers in your marketing strategy, scout influencers on the platform to see who resonates with your industry and audience. Reach out through messages directly on the platform and send free products in exchange for a video of their experience and honest feedback. This is great for marketing and also for product teams.
As far as paid advertising goes, TikTok Ads Manager grants you access to a set of tools that can help you increase visibility of your ads to a defined audience. Omolola Jewellery uses a combination of organic posts and paid TikTok ads to reach new audiences. This has been especially helpful in supporting its business during the pandemic, when customers can’t visit Omolola’s physical store.
🎵 Read more: How to Make Merch for TikTok (and Sell it)
10 TikTok marketing tips
With your strategy set, it’s time to put your plan into action. Keep these TikTok best practices and tips in mind when creating and posting your marketing content.
- Be authentic
- Go live
- Get the gear
- Keep it simple
- Connect in the comments
- Master the trends
- Consider accessibility and legibility
- Take advantage of features
- Post consistently
- Join creator groups
1. Be authentic
With so much noise on TikTok, it’s important to be authentic and stand out with your content. You don’t want to post videos that sound like sales pitches—that’s not why users are on TikTok. TikTok users want to be entertained or informed, not sold to.
Before starting your marketing efforts, spend time on TikTok. Once the algorithm learns what you like, it’ll feed you quality content you might find inspirational, which can boost creativity for your own videos.
TikTok was designed to feel like a community of individuals posting relevant and authentic content. 4K videos, fancy edits, and “cinematic” or “corporate” TikTok videos may alienate users.
Since most content is shot, edited, and uploaded on smartphones, it’s normal for your page to feel a little less on brand than the rest of your social media channels.
2. Go live
One way to build a human connection with your audience is by taking advantage of TikTok’s LIVE feature, which lets creators connect directly with followers through a livestream. Going live is one of the best ways to stand out on TikTok.
The app will push a notification to your followers that you’ve started livestreaming, and your stream will be pinned to the top of their For You page. With millions of creators currently on the platform, this real estate is priceless. TikTok heavily promotes the going-live feature, and it’s surprisingly easy to do.
Jot down a few talking points for common questions and update your list after every TikTok LIVE. Do your best to answer all appropriate questions during a LIVE and be sure to thank followers who “gift” you stickers/emojis, as there’s a small monetary value associated with them.
Scheduling is also super important. While spur-of-the-moment livestreams are awesome, sticking to a livestream schedule will help build a community around your stream. Some excellent formats include Q&A sessions, behind-the-scenes videos, informal hangout streams, “work with me” sessions, tutorials, and interviews with special guests.
💡Tip: If you’re creating a livestream schedule, be sure to account for your followers’ time zones and pick a time where most people aren’t at school or work. This is a great way to boost viewership when you’re first starting to grow your community.
3. Get the gear
Videos should be filmed directly from the TikTok app on a smartphone. You’ve got access to a bunch of beauty filters and lighting options in-app, which can make up for sub-par lighting or a fancy background.
You can shoot TikTok videos using more professional equipment and editing tools but often the time required to create this content isn’t always worth the results.
Sound is something that shouldn’t be compromised, however. While your standard iPhone mic may do just fine, quality audio goes a long way in maximizing potential replays and shares.
4. Keep it simple
You can’t pack an entire novel into a tweet, and you can’t fit an entire movie into a TikTok. To keep content digestible, your videos should be short and sweet.
Stick to 15-second videos sharing high-level information, and pepper in 60-second deep dives to explain details further. If a topic is super important, you’re welcome to break it down into multiple 15-second videos to keep viewership and replay ability high.
Think of each TikTok video as a unique story you’re sharing with your audience. Too little content and they might be unsatisfied; too much content and you may lose interest.
If the average video on a For You page hovers between seven and 10 seconds, a 60-second upload will feel like a movie—something many users don’t have the attention span for.
5. Connect in the comments
TikTok’s discovery algorithm is amazing at getting your video in front of potential followers, but that’s only half the battle. Once the algorithm grabs someone’s interest, it’s your job to reel them in.
TikTok comments are an amazing place for conversation, communication, and explanation. As often as you can, hop into the comments and communicate with your viewers. You can also like comments you want to acknowledge but that don’t warrant a written response.
As your posts gain traction and replying to comments takes up too much time, address them at scale. Create a document to break down frequent comments and which types you can reasonably respond to. Then respond to recurring comments in a longer video, a livestream, or a video response.
TikTok also includes generous filtering functionality to make your life easier, automatically removing comments that use certain keywords or phrases.
Comments are an important part of the TikTok experience, and there’s no excuse not to interact with every single comment until your channel has grown to the point where that isn’t possible. Few brands do this, and you’ll stand apart.
💡Tip: It’s OK, and even encouraged, to remove inappropriate comments. You can do this by holding + and then opting to delete.
6. Master the trends
Before posting content, take a look through TikTok’s Discover page and see if you can produce content that jibes with the day’s TikTok trends or hashtag challenges. Doing so will cater to TikTok’s algorithm and can boost your follower numbers.
While we don’t suggest using these hashtags if your video is totally off topic, it can be a great way to understand what’s trending on the platform and give you an idea of how to better shape your content strategy.
Trending hashtags change on a daily basis and are a prime example of what keeps content on TikTok fresh and fun. While creating draft posts is completely acceptable, having a finger on what’s trending is an excellent way to display relevancy and appear more human to your followers.
If you notice a particular trending TikTok sound pop up on your For You page a few times, get creative and see if you can use it in one of your own videos. You can always add it to your favorite sounds for future use as you continue to brainstorm.
🌵 Success Story: TikTok’s Plant Mom Spun Online Virality Into a Brand
Get inspired by Sonja Detrinidad, a mortgage professional turned succulent influencer who monetized her audience to start her business, Partly Sunny Projects. She buys wholesale plants in her native California and ships across the US. 👉 Read Sonja’s story
7. Consider accessibility and legibility
There’s a reason you see successful TikTok creators bake in titles at the start of their videos. If you’re scrolling through their profile, it’s an easy way to get a preview of what’s to come. You can use colored titles to help categorize your videos in an effort to help direct viewers to content they might be interested in and boost viewership.
Keep in mind that TikTok’s user interface is overlaid on the bottom and right sides of your screen, so make sure those titles fall in the middle. Since each type of phone uses a different aspect ratio, keeping important content away from the edges can help ensure everyone can see them.
To cater to all TikTok users, use closed captions on your videos wherever possible. This ensures your videos are accessible to all audiences, in all contexts. The app’s timed text feature makes this super easy, and it only takes a couple of extra minutes.
8. Take advantage of features
TikTok always pumps out new features—animated GIF stickers, titles, and new filters are among some of the popular TikTok upgrades. So while the algorithm is kept secret, you can focus on using these new tools to keep your feed looking fresh for your audience.
We also suggest looking into TikTok’s beta program, as it may offer you brand-new content creation tools that most users haven’t seen yet. This can be a great way to stay on the cutting edge of what the platform is working on so you can stay a step ahead of your competition.
9. Post consistently
Many creators have seen amazing results from sticking to a posting schedule. We suggest posting one to two times each day and going live a couple of times each week. This cadence keeps your content fresh and interesting without overloading your followers with videos.
Check your analytics to see what time your audience is most active, because this varies depending on who you’re talking to and where they’re located.
If your followers are more active on certain days of the week, consider doubling up posts on those days to maximize viewership. Since so many new videos are constantly added to the platform, it’s important to keep feeding the algorithm new and exciting content of your own.
🎵 Read more: Best Times To Post on TikTok
10. Join creator groups
There are countless Facebook groups full of creatives looking to take their TikTok game to the next level. Take a look at what best suits you, and join a community of creators. Being around like-minded people is a great way to find inspiration, build a sense of accountability, and keep motivated over the coming weeks and months.
Check out TikTok Creators, TikTok Creators Support, or TikTok For Beginners to start, and then drill down into your specific area of focus. If you’re a business, look for a marketing or business strategy TikTok group. If you’re a comedian, find similar groups online.
If you can’t find something for your particular demographic, it could be the perfect opportunity to create your own community.
🎵 Read more: How To Use TikTok for Business: An 8-Step Guide
TikTok marketing examples
What does great marketing look like on TikTok? Get inspired by five examples of ecommerce businesses that are killing it on TikTok—and driving sales.
Send A Friend
Send A Friend is a store that lets you send cute stuffed animals anywhere in the world. Thanks to the link-in-bio feature, Send A Friend was able to scale to $5 million in sales in two years. Send A Friend takes advantage of the “TikTok made me buy it” trend but also shares user-generated content from its followers and customers.
In the personal grooming space, Beardbrand has a significant presence on multiple social media platforms, including Instagram and YouTube. On TikTok, however, it makes sure to utilize the platform’s own captioning and thumbnail title effects. Helpful content like beard grooming tutorials add value and keep followers coming back.
HeyPixelCo creates t-shirt designs and sells digital planners, bundles, and template freebies. What makes HeyPixelCo a little different is how the brand documented its journey from idea to reality. The link in its bio also takes you to a special landing page designed to introduce you to the brand and direct you to either its shop or small business video series.
A popular genre of videos on TikTok is personal hygiene—think hacks and satisfying transitions. One brand that has taken advantage of this TikTok niche is Sud Scrub. Sud Scrub sells one product: a soap scrub designed to lather better than a traditional loofah and keep itself clean. What makes Sud Scrub do well on TikTok is how the team reacts to comments with full video responses in both creative and educational ways.
Another brand killing it in the grooming space is Dr. Squatch, which makes organic, handmade personal grooming products—though it’s best known for its soaps. Dr. Squatch takes a more entertaining approach to TikTok content, making use of a sasquatch mascot and trending audio or videos.
In an interview with Modern Retail, CMO Josh Friedman said the brand experimented with TikTok at the end of 2019 and quickly gained traction, with some videos reaching more than 100 million views. The company reported 400% year-over-year growth between 2019 and 2020, hitting over $100 million in revenue.
Now is the time to create your own TikTok marketing strategy
While TikTok has become noisier over the years, and the algorithm is constantly changing, the basics of marketing and brand building on TikTok remain consistent: aim for authenticity, frequent posting, active community management, and quality posts.
If this all sounds intimidating, just like for marketing your business on social media, getting started is the hardest part. The TikTok community is incredibly encouraging, and you’ll be surprised how quickly your followers will turn into fans—and customers.
TikTok marketing FAQ
Is TikTok good for marketing?
Yes. If you’re trying to reach a younger demographic, TikTok is a useful tool—62% of its audience are 10 to 29 years old. As one of the fastest growing social media platforms, TikTok is becoming popular across demographics, and you’re likely to find your target audience on TikTok.
How do I market on TikTok?
Marketing on TikTok involves having a solid digital marketing strategy for your TikTok videos, a defined target audience, and an understanding of the marketing content that works on the social media platform. When using TikTok for business, remember these best practices:
- Be authentic.
- Get the right gear to create TikTok videos.
- Go live with TikTok’s features.
- Keep it simple with short video content.
- Connect in the comments.
- Master the trends like hashtag challenges.
- Post consistently.
- Join creator groups.
Can a small business use TikTok advertising?
There are different types of ads you can promote on TikTok, including in-feed ads and top view ads. However, both can be quite expensive for small businesses, starting at $10 CPM (cost per 1,000 views). If you’re on a tight budget, try using TikTok for influencer marketing instead of advertising.