No one anticipated how much TikTok would take off after its release and over the past few years, especially in Western markets. What might have been a small successor to Vine and a somewhat niche app has taken off to have more than a billion users worldwide and tens of millions of users in the United States. That's a vast audience; if you are a marketer, you've probably thought of ways to bring the platform into your efforts and campaigns.
Yet how can you best market your business or products on the platform? All social media has marketing potential, but some enterprises succeed far more than others. Some brands are far more recognizable online than others, even adjusted for need and general interest. What separates the best from the rest? What can you do now and in the long term to ensure you have a strong following on TikTok?
There are few guarantees with social media marketing except that things will change, but here are some tips and strategies on how to utilize TikTok to its fullest potential for your marketing efforts:
First, you should discard all your preconceptions about how social media marketing works before you start working with TikTok. While there are similarities and some universal truths, you will still need to learn them in the context of this unique platform. The way the online environment works is different from other social media platforms. It is even more fast-paced than most video platforms (which were already fast-paced). People might follow creators, but they're also apt to explore the platform.
Even the way people interact and think about the platform is different. You will be unable to force TikTok to adapt to what you want. Such an attempt will be mediocre, even with the best support behind it. Instead, adjust your marketing strategy to the platform, either as a whole or the parts related to TikTok.
Marketers and professionals have asked themselves this question since they started working on TikTok. In truth, you will likely want to do a little of both, but then the question becomes how much effort and resources you want to put into each category. Everything is balanced, and you do not have unlimited resources (much as you might wish to).
A business that creates its own TikTok videos has much more freedom and can try out all sorts of continuing campaigns. Your loyal followers and customers will have more opportunities to interact with you or be sure to get information on sales or promotions. You may be able to adapt bits and pieces of previously made videos into content on TikTok. Though be wary of doing this too much. Editing can only improve so much as opposed to starting from scratch with a short-form video in mind. We'll talk more about creating original content for marketing purposes later.
Yet what about ads? They are ways to guarantee that some people are at least glancing at what you have to say. As you probably know, what is essential for a successful ad versus a successful piece of content can be vastly different, but if you can use ads to drive people to what you have to offer and wow them at that stage, you can hardly do any better. Alternatively, if you are in charge of a more prominent brand that people already know about, a quick ad can remind people that it exists. That might be enough. Whatever your hopes and goals, since TikTok is effectively an ad-driven platform above all else, there are plenty of opportunities and methods to make your mark in the market. We'll go into those more later.
Your audience is not exactly the whole of TikTok. Many users will not even be in the same country you do business in; others would have no idea about what you are selling and have no use for it. If you sell a service aimed at people in their 30s and have your TikTok efforts aimed at people just out of college, you're not in for the best of times. However, you probably (hopefully) already know this). You will need to find the niche on TikTok that works for your marketing efforts, though you can undoubtedly expand after that.
In general, though, TikTok users skew young, so keep that in mind. Don't try to shamelessly pander to them (that won't get you very far), but instead try to either focus on the rest of the userbase or understand why they would or would not be interested in what you have to offer. In the United States, only 11 percent of the TikTok audience is over 50. Twenty-five percent of the audience is between the ages of 10 and 19. Interestingly, outside of this, there is a pretty even split of users among the other demographics, despite all the news reports about it being exclusively for young people.
On top of age, you must consider gender. About 56 percent of the global users are female, and 44 percent are male. This is an even enough divide and not as pronounced as on some platforms such as Pinterest.
And in terms of countries, while TikTok might have started outside of the United States, it does have one of the largest audiences at 136.4 million users. Other top countries include Indonesia, Brazil, Russia, Mexico, Vietnam, and The Philippines. Regarding the user base as part of the total population (or smartphone-owning population), we encourage you to do more research into your market or region of choice.
It might be concerning if the numbers don't precisely work with your hopes for a platform. Nonetheless, don't give up on TikTok if the demographics don't match perfectly with what you have in mind. People from all walks of life use the platform; you might need to be creative to reach them and engage with them. If you're fortunate, you might capture an audience that everyone else has seemingly moved on from. Additionally, you never know where or with what groups the app might take off next.
Before going into making content yourself (probably with a team or with help), let's talk about influencer marketing, which is the elephant in the room when it comes to social media marketing in general. Being an influencer is a new career, and we still aren't exactly sure how to define it, but you know a few for sure and will likely follow some.
Yet, in short, influencers make their living by influencing people, and people can be influenced to try out your product or service. While it shouldn't be the only method you are using (at the very least, you should have a base effort to work off of), you may want to work with influencers to reach a more broad and targeted audience fast and easily.
Often you can let the influencer know the points you want to make and other rules. There are longer and more focused guides to working with influencers and navigating the waters of influencer marketing, so that we will leave you to those. However, the critical decision you will have is which influencer or influencers to work with and how long.
Going for the broadest possible audience will work to some extent. One percent of an audience of ten million is still ten thousand people interested in your product. Yet you will likely not be getting the return on investment you are hoping for. Additionally, you will probably not be able to afford a long campaign that way.
Instead, you may wish to find smaller (and therefore more affordable) influencers to work with that have audiences that are in your targeted audience. If you sell audio equipment or services, working with TikTok influencers who mainly post about music and audio engineering might be best, even if their audiences aren't significant. You will have a greater engagement rate, and your brand will be much more likely to be remembered.
When working with influencers, it can also help not to keep it strictly transactional. Research their contact information and reach out early. You never know when someone might be the right fit, and having a few friends and connections that are established on the platform can be a great thing. Don't try to be their best friend, per se, but keeping a line open can help.
TikTok is a platform for short content. There is a limit for a reason, and while everyone doesn't have short attention spans as many fear, people don't come to TikTok to utilize a long attention span. They usually come on the platform to laugh or check out something quick.
Your content should reflect this reality, whether an ad or a regular video post. If you want to advertise a product briefly, pick a simple message and stick to it. Don't try to do too much in one post. What do you feel watchers will resonate with the most?
When drafting or refining your content, cut whatever you can while maintaining the integrity of the message and the post. There's little time for more than a few seconds of setup, and people won't take very long to absorb it. You want to get your message across, not provide the life story of your brand (that is what your website is for).
TikTok handles advertising in many ways that other social media platforms do. However, you should understand the various forms of advertising you can use and start thinking about their potential best uses. For starters, learn the following:
This is all the essential information, and we encourage you to explore each option more. Take some time to understand how these methods could help your brand and how you can benefit from them.
As we have stated before, TikTok is different from other social media platforms and requires a different approach to social media marketing. Part of that is the content you create. How should you go about it if you are to go about it?
There is also the simple fact that user-generated content does much better than brand-generated content. Part of this leads to influencer marketing, as we have already discussed. Still, it can also mean that your strategy might want to include your audience a lot more, encouraging them to use your brand's hashtag and let your most loyal fans (should you be fortunate enough to have them) be some of the prominent ambassadors. Authenticity matters, and what looks like branded content might not be trusted so much.
That being said, there is undoubtedly a case and a place for more focused, more highly produced, and more professional content. You likely want potential clients or customers to take your business seriously, and having some content that shows that you know what you are doing and can afford an excellent production says a lot. Just remember that a mixture of different strategies is likely to work best.
If you're unsure where to start, look at other videos on the platform brands use. Often they will use the "Stitch" feature to include sections of another video in their own, perhaps showcasing a happy customer. Sharing content that other users make can go further than you think, and it's cheap. Just be sure that this isn't your entire presence on the platform.
What is trending also matters, but only if you think you can keep up, you aren't trying to force your brand into the trend, and you are sure you won't miss the point about why something is trending.
Look at other brands in your industry or with audiences similar to yours. It might hurt a little to see other brands ahead of you, but research is key, and comparing your campaigns to others when they haven't even been released yet is more unproductive than helpful. There are many types of content on TikTok and many ways to approach content. Study more when you can.
If you're hoping to get more followers or just reach the right people, you should understand the algorithm that drives people to content. Now TikTok isn't going just to hand over its source code on a silver platter. However, some things affect the algorithm and what it considers when it recommends content for users:
There is more to understand about the algorithm than we can discuss here, and you will undoubtedly want to look up more information on it. Just note that the algorithm, like any online algorithm, can change in ways, large and small. If it seems like something has changed, then something like it has.
Yet with all the above considered, what should be your goal? Generally, it should be to get onto users' "for you" page. If they are already subscribed to you, you might want to make sure your content is good (you should always make sure of this), but otherwise, trying to increase discoverability is always the right move.
TikTok is a platform that isn't always the most welcome to marketers on the end of the viewers. If someone isn't interested in your content, they'll move on to the next thing without a second thought, and your campaign will be relegated to be forgotten with so much other content on the platform.
Whether you want to provide a quick fact, make your audience laugh, or something else, make watching what you create a winning prospect for the viewer. After all, people aren't there to watch ads, and they will skip over what looks like one if they can in a heartbeat.
How will you provide value with your ads or TikTok posts? That's partially up to you and partially up to the audience (notice a trend that the intended audience is everything). An alcoholic beverage company might not get too far with informing the public about calculus. Similarly, party-style ads might not go so far with online career prep services. It's part knowing your audience and knowing what would help them. Even one tip well-said can stick with someone. And if that sticks with someone, so will your brand when it comes time to require what you have to offer.
One thing the platform experts are saying that the polls back up is that trending audio matters, even if it might not look like it entirely on the surface. While the visual portion of a video might grab your eyes and convey most of your information, the audio also grabs people's attention. It can help people remember what you were trying to say.
Checking the current trending audio is one of the first things you should do, and it's easy. All you need to do is go down to the "discover" section, scroll until you see a music note inside a circle, and check the number of uses on the right. After this, explore and see what sounds or tracks are gaining the most traction. You can also try to predict what might be next or grow, but that might be more trouble than it's worth unless you're an expert.
Just also remember that if you want to use trending audio, you will have to be fast. What is trending today will not necessarily be trending tomorrow. When you have something set up, it could be too late if you take too long.
Similarly, ensure that the audio is relevant to what you are doing or making on the platform. Sticking a popular track over what you're doing can seem out of place and will likely distract potential customers more than help them remember your brand.
In truth, the best way to learn more about audio and how you might want to use it in ads and content is by seeing it in action on TikTok videos. Take notes if you can, and see what you might want to incorporate some of the strategies yourself. There are endless possibilities with music and audio, as with video, and combining the two wisely only makes matters more complex. Yet the rewards for your brand are worth it.
Most marketers aren't going to get everything perfect on their first try, even with the best strategies. General strategies will need fine-tuning, and new content will represent an opportunity to improve matters so that the audience feels a great connection. Tracking is where collecting and using data and metrics comes in. Is something not working? Use the information available to hopefully better understand why it's not working. Then either change what you have or use the lessons learned with future posts and campaigns.
And as you well know, data and tracking success is one of the cornerstones of marketing. Knowing where you are going and where you have been is key if you want to stay competitive and catch and correct mistakes as they happen (and they will happen). In both a great way and trying to micromanage efforts, you want as much as you can collect.
TikTok will provide you with the information you need to get started. However, you shouldn't just rely on their data and do more digging yourself. They might only be able to tell you the numbers. You can give those numbers far greater context and understand the decisions that led to how people respond. You are the one who can make the adjustments down the line.
This can be a lot, and it certainly is without any knowledgeable help. On top of what TikTok provides, you might want to use outside tools and trackers to help you better understand what is happening on the platform. They will cost money (perhaps a flat fee or a monthly subscription), but they will do a better job than you could with no training and will save you a lot of time. Overall, they can be the more efficient option if used correctly. Just make sure you use one that knows what they are doing, is well-developed, and will be supported in the future.
When managing social media accounts in general, we also recommend using apps that can make posting and keeping track of all your posts and campaigns easier. If you need to schedule a post or get the timing right, doing it ahead of time is much better than hoping you're awake at an odd hour if it requires it. Remember that you will need breaks from time to time to keep your mind fresh and your creativity flowing. On the subject of help, remember to scale expectations and projects to the size your team can handle. If you are a social media marketing team of one (not often recommended for more prominent brands, but often there is little you can do), then be adaptable and try things out. Still, you might not have the resources for amazingly produced videos and massive campaigns. Balance your efforts accordingly.
TikTok is still growing and still defining itself, so you should pay close attention to what TikTok is today, how you can use it, and what the platform is turning into. Will it still be strictly the domain of the youth in the coming years? Will other audiences or brands find different uses for it beyond what already exists? We will have to wait and see.
We additionally hope that the above information has been helpful to you and that you can adjust your marketing strategy as you need to. Keep at it, pay close attention to changes and to the response to what you do, and eventually, your marketing strategy will find success. Return to this article as needed, seek additional resources, and be patient.