The Beginner’s Guide to TikTok Marketing

January 23, 2024

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TikTok was the most downloaded app in the world in 2022. With its elusive algorithm, this short-form video content giant has become the go-to social platform for Gen-Z and the place people and brands go to gain virality.

But it’s not just the hope of becoming an overnight success that brings hopeful influencers, small businesses, and enterprises to the platform. TikTok’s advertising has proven to be impactful and cost-effective.  

In fact, TikTok’s average CPM (cost per 1,000 impressions) is 50% cheaper than Instagram, 62% less than Snapchat, and a third of the cost of Twitter. 

However, getting started on TikTok can feel intimidating. In many ways, it’s less like a social network and more like an entertainment platform. Despite this, it is still an excellent place to market your small business and brand. 

So, how do you get started? In this article, we’re giving you the steps you need to take to start marketing your business on TikTok, plus a few tips to help enhance your brand and content.

How to Start Marketing on TikTok

Here are the fundamental steps to start marketing your business on TikTok. 

Step One: Become a User First 

If you’ve never used TikTok before, it’s important to understand it as a user first. In many ways, TikTok is a world unto itself with its own language, etiquette, trends, celebrities, and more. It has a super unique and insular ecosystem that doesn’t exist anywhere else online. 

As a result, we recommend dedicating at least a couple of weeks to meaningfully using the platform as if you were a normal consumer – not a brand. TikTok’s algorithm is incredibly precise at giving you the exact content you want to see, but you have to train it first. Taking some time to familiarize yourself with the platform as a user will undoubtedly help you become more equipped to market on it. 

Step Two: Understand the Features for Creators 

During your research phase, it’s important to understand the creation features as well. Take some time to learn how the recording and editing features work inside the app. You should know how to create, edit, and post videos before you start in earnest. 

Check out this guide from Agorapulse for a comprehensive look at creating videos on TikTok. 

Step Three: Unlock the Business Account 

If you’re trying to grow your business or brand on TikTok, you’ll need a business account instead of a personal one. The app experience is basically the same, but the business account has some added, must-have perks, including: 

  • Additional access to tools, analytics, and ads.
  • The ability to create an ecommerce storefront.
  • The option to add a website link to your profile right away.
  • The ability to use third-party scheduling apps for your content.

The only downside to the business accounts is that they don’t have access to the entire sound clip library, which makes jumping on trends a little more challenging. However, the benefits of having a business account far outweigh having access to the sound library. 

To switch your TikTok account to a business account: 

  1. Tap your Profile at the bottom.
  2. Tap the Menu button at the top.
  3. Select Settings and Privacy.
  4. Then, tap Manage Account.
  5. Tap “Switch to Business Account.” 
  6. Follow the instructions to finish setting up your business account.

Step Four: Lean on Influencers (and UGC) 

One of the most powerful ways to take advantage of the power of TikTok is via influencer marketing and UGC (user-generated content). Let’s talk about both briefly. 

Influencer marketing works like it does on any other platform. You hire influencers (people with an already-engaged follower list) to talk about or promote your product or services in their posts. However, there are a couple of things to note about influencer marketing on TikTok. 

On other social media platforms, when you post something, it’s shown to all your followers. On TikTok, your videos are thrown onto the FYP – not to your followers.  Consequently, TikTok videos live and die on the FYP (For You Page). One video may get 60,000 views, and the very next video will get only 400. That kind of fluctuation isn’t uncommon.

This means that follower count matters a lot less than engagement rates. So, you don’t want to look at the number of followers an influencer has, but instead, the follower-to-engagement ratios to get a more accurate view of how good that influencer is at getting engagement from their viewers.  

Now, UGC can come from influencers, but it can also come from smaller creators or even your current customers. There are also loads of UGC content creators out there with much lower rates than established influencers who can create videos using or talking about your products or services that you can repurpose for your social platform. 

This is valuable because Gen-Z likes a fully immersive shopping experience. As a result, watching someone engage with a product and having the ability to comment or engage with that person can generate some serious results.  

Step Five: Use TikTok Ads Manager

Like other social media platforms, TikTok has a robust ads manager that you can use to further promote your business. There are several types of ads you can run on your account, including: 

  • In-feed Video – These ads appear alongside regular videos on the FYP.
  • Video Ads – Full-screen 5- to 60-second videos that appear in a user’s FYP.
  • Spark Ads – These ads allow you to sponsor popular organic content that correlates with your products or services. 
  • Carousel Ads – Carousel ads include ten images. 
  • Brand Takeover – Take up the whole screen with your ad before the ad turns into an in-feed video ad.
  • Image Ads – Pay for image ads to appear in TikTok’s news feed apps: TopBuzz, BuzzVideo, and Babe.
  • Hashtag Challenge – Encourage user participation with a hashtag challenge. (ProTip: you’ll probably need to hire some influencers if you want to get your hashtag challenge to take off).
  • Branded AR Content – Advertise with branded stickers, lenses, and other types of augmented reality (AR) content that users can use on their own videos. 

The right ads for you (and whether you should use ads at all) depend on your company’s budget and goals. So, take some time to explore the ad options to see if they work with your overall objectives and budget. 

Step Six: Create Content Consistently 

The only way to really get meaningful results with your TikTok marketing efforts is to start creating content – and a lot of it. TikTok recommends you post 1-4 times each day, with three times a day being the sweet spot. 

Now, you don’t have to create new content three times a day, but you do need to post consistently if you want to gain traction. Remember that TikTok videos don’t need to be snazzily produced or ultra-high-quality. Influencers and experts recommend you don’t overthink what you post and just get in the habit of creating and posting. After all, you never know what could be the thing that helps your profile take off. 

Step Seven: Be Social 

Even though it may not feel as connected as other platforms, it’s still important to interact with the other creators on the platform. So, comment and like other users’ videos, and be sure to interact with everyone who comments on yours – especially in the beginning.

Step Eight: Utilize the Deep Analytics (and Other TikTok Tools) 

The TikTok analytics are incredibly powerful. Once you’ve been creating content and working the platform for a bit, take a deep dive into the analytics to understand what’s working and what isn’t. Then, use that information to adjust your content strategy.

This Hootsuite guide is a great starting place for understanding TikTok’s analytics and how you might use them to get better results on the platform. 

5 Extra Tips for Going Viral and Being Successful on TikTok 

Here are some additional tips for making the biggest impact on the platform.

  1. Find (and Use) Your Authentic Voice 

TikTok users are looking for authentic people and brands. So, get really clear on your brand voice and make sure you’re representing yourself authentically. 

  1. Jump on Trends 

Jumping on trends is one of the easiest ways to gain traction quickly. While you won’t have access to a lot of sounds with a business account, you can still take advantage of trending topics, hashtags, and challenges to capitalize on the temporary organic momentum of trends. 

  1. Utilize SEO (search engine optimization) 

SEO exists everywhere – even on TikTok. So, take time to incorporate important keywords into your TikTok post texts, comments, and in-video text to start showing up in organic searches on the platform. 

  1. Follow the TikTok Experts on TikTok 

There are hundreds of TikTok experts who spend their time researching, studying, and posting about the latest TikTok tips and tricks to gain traction. Be sure you follow a few of these accounts, so you can stay up to date without spending your time keeping up with TikTok’s mysterious algorithm. (@jera.bean is a great example)  

  1. Utilize New Features 

TikTok is continually unrolling new features. When they do, they prioritize them. So, if a new feature pops up, don’t hesitate to start using it immediately. Even if it doesn’t take off, the early adopters of features generally reap some benefits. 

Start Using TikTok to Market Your Business

There you have it – all the basic things you need to know to start marketing and generating results on TikTok. If you follow the steps and tips above, you’ll be well on your way to achieving meaningful results on the platform in no time. Remember: it only takes one video to go viral for your account to make some waves.

However, it’s important to note that TikTok may not be the best platform for your business if you aren’t specifically targeting a younger demographic. Get really clear on your target audience and understand which social network is right for your brand before going all in – especially since TikTok requires such a huge time commitment. 

If you decide to move forward, give yourself time to learn the platform and use analytics to adapt and mold your strategy.