What Is TikTok Marketing and How to Use TikTok Marketing For Your Ecommerce Business

With exceptional reach and engagement, especially amongst younger Gen Z audiences, TikTok marketing can be a boon for ecommerce businesses – if used right.

When planning your social media marketing strategy, one of the big questions you'll come across is: which platforms or channels should you prioritize?

And because of its reach and virality, TikTok may be at the top of your mind. That’s certainly understandable – the app has broken the record as the fastest-growing social media platform of all time, surpassing the 2 billion download mark in early 2020 and boasting over 800 million active users worldwide.

But before you jump onto the TikTok bandwagon, it's important to consider that each platform has its strengths and weaknesses and that each channel you build is another you have to manage.

Here’s what you need to know to best harness the power of TikTik for business marketing, including the benefits and challenges of using TikTok as part of your social media campaign in Singapore.

What is TikTok?

TikTok as a platform is known for its short-form videos and has been the source of multiple lip-syncing and dance challenges, viral trends, and memes in recent years. The platform has many video editing effects, filters, and background music choices, making it easy to create videos directly from your mobile.

The major difference between TikTok and other social media marketing channels like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter is its unique discovery algorithm. Unlike the other channels, where your content is organically fed only to your existing followers, TikTok reverses this, prioritizing audiences that aren’t following you yet. This is why a creator can go viral even with 0 followers.

The challenge, then, is reaching TikTok’s ‘For You’ page.

What is TikTok’s For You page?

The ‘For You’ page is the first thing users see when they open the app. It’s a curated feed of videos from creators and brands that they do not yet follow but that the algorithm thinks they may like based on their past video views and interactions.

Getting to the ‘For You’ page as a creator is like striking gold on TikTok because it gives you free exposure to tens of thousands of viewers, all of which could potentially translate to traffic to your ecommerce store.

While each individual user’s ‘For You’ page is unique, there are a few things that you can do to increase your chances of getting there:

  1. User interactions: The more comments, likes, shares, and duets you get on your video, the higher the likelihood of it getting picked up by the TikTok algorithm.
  2. Completion rate: Another factor is your video’s completion rate – if more users watch your video to the end, that also increases your chances of reaching the ‘For You’ page.
  3. Trending content: If your video uses a trending hashtag or background music, it’s more likely to get pushed to the ‘For You’ page. There is speculation that including the hashtags #fyp and #FirstPage makes a difference, but that has not been proven.
  4. Account settings: Your account’s or device’s location, language, and country settings play a role in which users get served up your content. However, this has much less weight than other factors, which means you can still reach regional or global audiences on TikTok.

Why use TikTok for business marketing?

One of the most significant benefits of using TikTok for business marketing is brand awareness, which leads to increased traffic to your website. Many sellers have harnessed the power of TikTok to market all sorts of products, including art, crafts, clothes, and even slime.

In Southeast Asia alone, the TikTok app has had more than 360 million downloads and over 43.5 million monthly active users in Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia. The app is extremely popular amongst Gen Z and millennials, with 62% of users aged between 10 to 29. The majority of the TikTok user base is also female– the biggest online consumers in the region.

TikTok also boasts the highest engagement rate amongst all the social media platforms, with over four times the engagement of Instagram. This means that brands and businesses have an opportunity to leverage the power of TikTok as part of their brand storytelling strategy and as a means to build up a reputation and credibility amongst their target audience.

How to use TikTok marketing for your ecommerce business

There are a few different ways you can use TikTok social media marketing to boost traffic to your ecommerce store.

TikTok paid advertising

Because TikTok is not as saturated with businesses as other social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, it opens up the potential for more affordable and cost-effective advertising. Take note that if you intend to run ads on TikTok, you will need to create an ad account in addition to your Business account that gives you access to TikTok Ads Manager.

TikTok brand campaigns

Start your own brand channel and start putting out different content types to see which resonates best with your audience. The great thing about TikTok is that you can create videos relatively quickly and easily (in fact, the "homemade" nature of TikTok videos is what sets them apart from other video marketing platforms like YouTube), and you have the freedom to experiment.

The most important thing is to be authentic with your marketing content – posting corporate messages, or overly sales-y videos will fall flat with the TikTok audience.

TikTok affiliate marketing

Collaborating with influencers is one of the best ways to reach out to new communities for increased brand exposure. Especially if you are new to TikTok, influencer marketing also allows you to leverage the influencer’s expertise to your advantage – they’ll have some of the best insight on how to use the app's various tools and features and what sort of content and trends work best.

As with all influencer marketing campaigns, be sure to choose the right influencer who is a good fit for your brand.

Live streaming

TikTok live streaming can be a powerful tool for community building, especially when used to host a Q&A or Ask Me Anything session. For ecommerce brands, live streaming has also become an increasingly popular channel for live shopping or live selling, where sellers introduce or showcase products live on video (much like the television-shopping networks of old) while also getting the opportunity to engage with audiences.

However, take note that you need a minimum of 1,000 followers on your account before you can start live streaming on TikTok.

User-generated content

One of the most popular things on TikTok is hashtag challenges. As a brand, you can tap into that to create a user-generated campaign that creates a challenge and engages your audience. An example would be the highly successful #eyeslipsface campaign by E.l.f cosmetics, which relied purely on user-generated content to drive publicity for the brand.

FAQs about TikTok marketing for business and ecommerce

How is TikTok used for marketing?

Brands and businesses can use TikTok like any other social media platform – to gain brand awareness, increase user engagement, boost traffic to their website, and generate leads. The difference between TikTok and other social media platforms is its unique discovery algorithm, which prioritizes serving up your content to users who are not currently following your account.

Done right, TikTok marketing can be a powerful channel for brands to express their individuality, grow their impressions, and engage in brand storytelling.

Should I use TikTok marketing for my business?

The top business benefits of TikTok marketing make it an attractive platform to adopt as part of your social media marketing campaign in Singapore. But there are also some things you should consider before deciding to invest in TikTok marketing.

Target audience profile
First and foremost, you need to consider whether your target audience is even on TikTok. If your ideal customer is in the luxury space or above the age of 30, TikTok may not be the best fit for you right now compared to other social media channels. Remember that each channel you build is another you have to manage.

That being said, you can also consider whether your target audience will be using TikTok in the near future. Getting involved with the platform earlier than your competitors may give you a valuable head start once it becomes more widely used.

Marketing objectives
If your primary purpose is to drive brand awareness and social media engagement, TikTok could be the perfect platform for you.

But if you're marketing on a tight budget and are focused on sales conversions instead, your resources (including time, money, and effort) may be better spent on a channel that targets lead generation and conversions more actively.

Brand relevance
Depending on your brand identity, TikTok may or may not be suitable for you. TikTok content is relatively niched at the moment, focused on fun, entertaining, and trending content. If those qualities don't align with your current brand, jumping onto the platform can seem awkward and cringe-y – like a politician trying to dance The Floss.

How can I use TikTok for business?

There are multiple ways to use TikTok marketing for your ecommerce business, including but not limited to:
  • Paid TikTok ads that target your ideal customer
  • TikTok affiliate marketing and influencer marketing to leverage others’ communities and expertise
  • Organic TikTok brand campaigns where you post your content on a branded business channel
  • Hashtag challenges for brand awareness and TikTok user-generated content
  • Live shopping or live selling videos to feature your products in a more engaging and human-centric way

Shopify is here to help you succeed at TikTok marketing

One of the biggest challenges that ecommerce marketers used to face with TikTok was that the TikTok For Business reporting tool that tracks campaign performance cannot be integrated with other digital marketing platforms.

That’s now changed with the Shopify and TikTok partnership for Southeast Asian businesses. The new partnership means that Shopify merchants from the region can easily create, run, and optimize their TikTok social media marketing campaigns without leaving their Shopify dashboard!

Simply download the TikTok Channel App from the Shopify App Store, and you can start tracking your campaign performance immediately. The app even helps you generate TikTok-style videos in mere minutes; no video production expertise required.


Grow your Singaporean ecommerce business today — Start your free trial on Shopify. No credit card required.