How to use TikTok for business: 6 tips to get started

TikTok has had a rapid rise to fame in the last few years. With the vast majority of its users under the age of 30, it’s a smartphone app that makes even millennials feel old. But whether you like it or not, this video platform is on almost everyone’s radar.

Created by internet entrepreneur Zhang Yiming, the app prioritizes memeable content that quickly goes viral, kick-starting trends that content creators and businesses alike all over the world take part in. TikTok is currently on track to reach 1.5 billion users by the end of 2022 and was the world’s most downloaded app in 2021. So it makes sense that entrepreneurs are becoming increasingly curious about how to use TikTok for business.

How does TikTok work?

TikTok videos last anywhere from 15 seconds to up to 10 minutes for select creators. On TikTok, you’ll find “memeable” content and trends that involve soundbites, music, dancing, or video recreation. Filters can adjust colors, add shimmer, give users a silly costume, or any other kind of customization. You’ll find product reviews, community building, original music, and much more.

Much of TikTok’s content is loosely organized into sub-communities colloquially named after their subject. You may have success catering content to these communities on the app, named TikTok “sides” by its users. For example, people who love to cook and eat seek out “FoodTok,” shorthand for Food TikTok. Those content ideas can include recipes like the famous feta-tomato pasta bake, kitchen hacks, and how-to videos.

TikTok is famous for how it hooks users. The platform analyzes the videos users watch and instantly suggests new clips. This auto-suggestion feature keeps folks watching. The content lives on the highly curated “for you page” –— popularly abbreviated to FYP — within the app. For those looking for specific information or topics of interest, the hashtag system lets users browse, search, and discover the same way they do on other platforms.

As with Instagram and Snapchat, TikTok creators can control who sees their videos. The app's default setting is public so anyone can watch and engage with their videos, but users have the option to restrict uploads to an approved list of followers if they wish.

Why TikTok matters

TikTok was the world's leading social media app in 2021, with 656 million downloads. That’s a dramatic increase from its numbers in 2019, when the app received 60 million downloads. Its meteoric rise to success has attracted attention from social media and tech pioneers all over the globe. In fact, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who oversees vital platforms like Facebook and Whatsapp, acknowledged the "unprecedented level of competition" from TikTok. Understandably, any platform with that many users is going to turn some heads. 

With that many users comes the opportunity to reach those users as an advertising platform. Just like Instagram and other familiar social media platforms, companies can engage in paid advertising, work with influencers and content creators, and establish their own presence on TikTok. But TikTok’s algorithm uniquely delivers content to users in a highly personalized manner, a model that other platforms have tried to emulate in recent years. That personalization is fantastic for brands who can leverage the platform to deliver content to likely customers.

There’s also the controversy the app has generated, particularly within the United States. The Chinese-owned app was reportedly investigated as a potential national security risk by the U.S. government over concerns about how it stores personal data. There are also concerns about data privacy on an individual level.

Despite these issues, TikTok’s growth shows no signs of stopping. It’s taken claim as the fastest-growing app and remains one of the largest apps on earth, with more than 1 billion daily users — a milestone that took Facebook and Instagram much longer to reach. For businesses, this means that TikTok presents a unique opportunity to reach new customers.

Who uses TikTok?

Around 43% of TikTok users are between 18 to 24 years old, and around 138 million of the app’s daily active users are based in the United States. According to recent data, it’s slightly more popular with female users, which is a switch from just a few years ago. An estimated 57% of users are female and 43% are male. However, these users don't necessarily post videos themselves, as many prefer to watch the content created by other users.

Although Gen Z and TikTok are strongly associated with one another, it’s important not to discount the presence of millennials, Gen X, and even boomers on the platform. These figures may be much smaller, but they have demonstrated year-over-year growth.

How to make content that performs well on TikTok

You may think that your business doesn’t have a place on TikTok among all the viral dances and acting challenges. However, there’s no better moment than now to grow your business with this platform.

To start, you’ll need to come up with a content strategy for TikTok that makes sense with your brand. If your company sells artisan condiments or aesthetically-pleasing kitchenware, for example, posting FoodTok videos would be a natural place to start.

Like all other marketing strategies, the most successful ones begin with a well-researched buyer persona. Before creating content, know who you want to reach on the app. Some metrics to consider while creating a buyer persona include age, gender, economic status, and related interests. 

Once you begin to create content for TikTok, keep these valuable tips in mind:

- Upload your content correctly. Keep an eye on the directions when making TikTok content. Film your content in vertical format for mobile viewing, and keep an eye on the time limits as well.

- Use TikTok’s tools. The platform has no shortage of ways to edit and remix your videos, including filters, fonts, stickers, and special effects. You can also go “live” to reach new audiences. Utilize these assets and tools to help increase engagement.

- Keep an eye on what’s trending. How does your brand overlap with the most recent viral sound or music? Find ways to naturally and authentically connect your product or service with those sounds. If they’re not a perfect fit, it’s okay to wait for the next trend.

- Stay active. Much of TikTok’s success is due to the participation features built into the app. For example, “dueting” with other trending videos is a great way to get exposure for your brand. You can also use trending hashtags to help increase viewership.

6 reasons why TikTok is good for business

With so many people on TikTok taking advantage of the video app for endless entertainment, there are a lot of reasons to be excited about TikTok. As the world’s most downloaded app, you can’t deny the vast potential for businesses, including the use of TikTok ads. The following tips can help you find success when advertising on TikTok.

1. Get your name out there. When it comes to advertising on social media, you have to go where the people are — and TikTok continues to remain a happening scene. Having a TikTok business account that links to your other socials, as well as a website for your small business, is a great way to gain brand awareness. 

2. Foster community. Companies on TikTok and other popular socials have the opportunity to build and maintain a community. As a small business or an independent artist, when you find your people online, there’s so much room for engagement and growth.

3. Share important information. Let’s say you have an exciting launch coming up for a new service or product — share it on TikTok. This platform can help you get the word out and keep your customers informed on what’s happening. 

4. Connect with more people. With billions of users on the app, there’s a ton of potential to reach more of your target audience and possibly expand beyond your current demographic. 

5. Market your brand naturally. Gen Z is more likely to be responsive to ads that don’t look like ads. Now, this doesn’t mean you should try to trick your viewers. Instead, take the time to create genuine content that’s funny or heartfelt. People want to see transparency and feel like there’s a face behind the brand instead of an impersonal corporation. 

6. Find potential employees. When you find your audience and grow your following online, you can also discover people who might be interested in working for your business. TikTok gives you a chance to connect with like-minded people who share your values and could make excellent contributors to your team. 

How can you advertise on TikTok?

All video ads on TikTok currently require you to go through an ad representative. They have multiple ad formats to choose from, including:

- Hashtag challenge

- Biddable ads

- Brand takeover

- Branded lenses

You can also work directly with a content creator on the platform. These creators have to disclose that a video they produce for your product or service is indeed an ad, but creators are still a highly valuable way to introduce your brand to a whole new audience of likely buyers.

Hashtag challenge

TikTok’s hashtag challenge is a user-generated content (UGC) game — which means it’s driven by users. A hashtag challenge encourages users to create and share their own spin on a sponsored hashtag. It often involves a “creator” with millions or billions of followers showing off a new coat or pair of shoes or lip-syncing a song from a movie.  

It also allows users to browse and buy products associated with the hashtag without leaving the app. A separate tab provides an in-app experience where the products from the hashtag campaign are available to buy.

hashtag image
Photo by DS stories from Pexels

Biddable ads

The in-stream video is the main ad unit available on the platform. As users scroll, these videos are delivered within their feed in a seamless manner. This way, the user experience isn’t disrupted. 

There are three advertising models available for biddable ads.  

- Cost Per View (CPV): This requires advertisers to pay when users view their ad. It’s limited to a six-second time frame. 

- Cost Per Impression (CPM): This model requires advertisers to pay when their ads appear in a user’s TikTok feed.

- Cost Per Click (CPC): With this model, advertisers only pay when the user clicks on their ad.

TikTok’s biddable ad targeting options allow you to include and exclude users by age, gender, and location. Keep in mind, though, that not all products or services can be advertised on the platform. TikTok restricts advertising for certain high-risk categories.

Brand takeover

A brand takeover takes place when a user opens the app and an ad appears, “taking over” the opening screen. Once opened, TikTok users viewing the ad are taken somewhere else, whether that’s an external link like to your website or to the page of another TikTok user. Currently, brand takeover ads are limited to one per day.

Branded lenses

TikTok’s branded lenses let users tell stories using 3D stickers and face-altering filters. Alternative reality (AR) lenses encourage mass levels of engagement, with millions or billions tuning in to see how popular users transform their appearance.

Engage with everyone

Even if your user base is tiny, make sure you reply to everyone on TikTok. Why not take part in user challenges or engage with lip-syncing duets? You are the product. You feeling something is what works on TikTok. 

With these video apps, the relationship between advertisers and users is merging ever closer, and if you’re successful, you will have made an invaluable connection with a new audience. 

Spend a day scrolling through the highly addictive app and you’ll be hooked, with an entire stream of weird and wonderful videos at your fingertips. There is nowhere on the internet quite like it. So if you want to master the next big thing and get ahead of your competitors, then TikTok is where it’s at.

How to grow your TikTok audience

Paid advertising is not the only way to get the word out about your business or product. The following strategies can help you attract interest organically.

Engage with everyone

The app highly values engagement between users, so even if you’re brand new to the platform with only a handful of followers, make sure you’re replying to comments on your videos. Another great way to engage with others on the app is to take part in user challenges or to “duet” videos. 

Be where the people are 

Social media is a wonderful tool for spreading brand awareness and building up a following, especially as a smaller brand. With billions of users and counting on TikTok, the platform has experienced massive growth in the last few years, so you never know what creating an account can do for your professional advancement. 

Start growing your business on TikTok

For other branding needs to help you grow your online presence, Namecheap’s Visual offers simple, affordable tools to bring your brand to life. Take the complexity out of creating a logo with Logo Maker. And set up a gorgeous professional portfolio that you can link to in your TikTok bio using Namecheap’s Site Maker. It’s time to get out there and start connecting and collaborating!


Nick Allen

Nick Allen

Nick Allen is a writer, photographer, and content marketer. He’s also the founder of BrainBoost Media, a boutique content and operations studio. With a wide range of interests, he enjoys reading and writing about sports, entrepreneurship, and start-ups.
More articles written by Nick.

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