In just a matter of years since its inception, TikTok has become the world’s third largest social network, shortly behind Facebook and Instagram. With over a billion active users, who spend an average of 32 minutes per session, TikTok is one of the most engaging social media apps by far. Considering the sheer volume of both users and activity, the business opportunities on the platform are huge. This article breaks down the seven easy ways to use TikTok for business.
1. Create a TikTok business account
You’ll need a business account before you can use TikTok for your brand.
- Download and open TikTok on your mobile device.
- Sign up for an account. You can use your email, phone number, or log in with any social media platforms listed.
- Create your username.
- Click Edit Profile to upload a profile photo, add a bio, and link your Instagram and Youtube accounts.
- You’ve successfully set up your account, but to take full advantage of TikTok’s many features, you’ll need to upgrade to a Pro Account. To do this, click on the upper right-hand corner of the Me tab (the icon is three dots).
- Click Manage Account and Switch to Pro Account.
- Select an account type. Choose between Creator or Business.
- Select the category that best describes your account/business.
- Lastly, add a website and email to complete your profile.
Voila! You’re all set. Perks of having a TikTok business account include real-time performance tracking and analytics for organic content and ads, and the option to drive traffic to external websites.
2. Get to know Tiktok
While a reported 60% of TikTok users are Gen Z, there is a large portion of users on the app outside this demographic. Recent data indicates that in Q1 2021, 36% of the app’s users were between 35 and 54, demonstrating quite the increase compared to 26% in 2020. These stats show just how large and diverse an audience you can reach through the app.
Before you build an effective TikTok strategy, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the app. Spend time on the platform, engage with content, and follow popular users. Take this a step further by experimenting with creating your own content to find what appeals most to your audience while staying true to your brand.
Work the algorithm
One of the advantages TikTok has over other social media platforms is its For You Page, an endless stream of videos curated by its algorithm that’s unique to each user’s interests. Since the For You Page is the app’s default home page and where most users spend their time, it’s much easier to go viral. Because the algorithm doesn’t consider how successful past content has performed or follower count, if you create gripping content that speaks to your target audience, you have just as much chance of going viral as TikTok’s biggest users.
Keep in mind these top three factors that do and don’t influence the TikTok algorithm to best make use of it:
Factors that influence the algorithm
- Initial exposure is based on location.
- Using trending hashtags, sounds, and trends will help boost discoverability.
- User interactions play a significant role in determining which videos TikTok shows.
Factors that do not influence the algorithm
- The number of total followers.
- Your performance track-record of TikToks.
- How long ago videos were published.
Identify trends within your niche
There are always new trends on TikTok, and jumping on these opportunities is one of the easiest ways to make your videos more entertaining and viewed.
Engage with content and users that fit your target demographic. For instance, if your business sells cute stationery, you’ll most likely find yourself engaging with content of a similar aesthetic. For example, it may have to do with bullet journaling and desk organization. By following, commenting, and liking, you’re training the algorithm to show you more similar content and share your content with like-minded users.
The TikTok algorithm is designed to promote videos that implement the latest trending sounds, effects, and hashtags. Once you’ve trained it to expose your account to content within your niche, it’ll be easy for you to quickly pick up on what’s trending. If you notice multiple videos using the same structure and sound on your For You Page, that’s a sign of a trend gaining traction.
Curious about how you can find content within your niche in the first place? Look no further than the Discover page. You can use the search bar to look up specific terms like “journaling” or “cute aesthetic.” TikTok will show you all the top videos for that term, plus relevant users, sounds, hashtags, and similar terms others have searched for. You can also browse the Discover page’s main feed which is categorized by trending sounds, effects, and hashtags to see what’s ranking on TikTok.
Example of TikTok’s Discover page, which categorizes the latest trends for easy viewing.
3. How to use TikTok for business marketing
When used strategically, TikTok will allow you to not only engage and connect with your audience but also expand it. Unlike Instagram and Youtube, where curated and polished content is king, TikTok is known for being a more casual and creative platform. Let’s take a look at the three key things to consider when using TikTok for business marketing.
The easiest way to see what’s working for similar businesses within your niche is to scope them out on TikTok. See what performs well and identify areas of weakness to get an idea of what your shared audiences respond to best.
Notice something successful your competitor is doing? Great! Use that as a framework to innovate rather than imitate. Think of ways to stand out in a competitive market while staying unique to your brand identity.
Set Tangible Goals
Going viral right off the bat sounds great, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, the chances of immediate virality are slim. That’s why it’s important to set tangible goals and objectives for your TikTok.
Whether you plan to promote a product, increase brand awareness, or develop stronger customer relationships, identify how TikTok can help you accomplish your business objectives. Once you’ve narrowed them down, stay on course using the SMART goal framework. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. Creating goals that meet the SMART criteria makes the task of goal-setting far less daunting and much more actionable.
Here’s a SMART goal example to inspire your scalable TikTok strategy:
Objective: I’m going to increase global brand awareness on TikTok.
- Specific: I will partner with international TikTok creators and reach out to 15 leads/day for content creation.
- Measurable: The goal is to double international website traffic within four months.
- Achievable: I have a successful business that is ready to expand globally and budget to work with creators
- Relevant: I want to establish my business and increase awareness abroad.
- Timely: I will start a spreadsheet of 50-100 creators I would like to work with that includes their contact information within one week. Then, I will begin the outreach process and coordinate to have the posts published within two months. I will evaluate my results after four months.
This will help inform your TikTok strategy and give you achievable milestones to work toward over time.
How often to post on TikTok for business
Regular posting is key to any successful social media strategy. Planning out content in advance ensures you’re producing content regularly and helps you take advantage of key dates.
You want to post during the most optimal times of the day for maximum engagement. Luckily, TikTok for businesses makes it easy to find when followers are most active. Go to the top right corner of your profile to access your analytics, click Creator Tools, then Analytics. You will need to have a Pro Account to access this information and other tools. It’s totally free and easy to switch over if you don’t have one already. Simply head to your TikTok profile, go to Settings and Privacy, then Manage Account, and check if you have the option to Switch to Pro Account. If you don’t, that means that you’re all set up.
Example of the TikTok Analytics page.
4. Engage your TikTok audience
Being consistent and building a strong presence on TikTok will work wonders for your business. There are plenty of ways to increase engagement and visibility, especially with the abundance of creative opportunities available on the app. Let’s take a look at the best ways to engage your audience.
Make behind-the-scenes videos
Gen Z is known for preferring a more laid back and authentic approach to the content they both produce and consume. They also account for the largest demographic of TikTok users and as such should inform the type of content you create.
Humanizing your brand allows for a deeper connection to be made with your audience and the easiest way to do this is by sharing behind-the-scenes videos. Consider taking your followers along with you on a day in the life as a business owner. Show things you do throughout the day; from the mundane clerical work to the more exciting aspects of your business. Check out Shopify merchant Liv Portio as she takes her audience on a day in the life of a 21-year-old entrepreneur.
@livportio Today was HECTIC #smallbusiness #businessowner #jewelry #necklace #dayinmylife ♬ Forever - Labrinth
Other popular behind-the-scenes video ideas include packing orders, making products, and meeting the team. The most important thing to remember is that Gen Z is looking to connect to the people behind the brand, so play into that and get creative.
Share user-generated content
While making videos is crucial to bringing brand awareness on TikTok, you should also consider sharing user-generated content (UGC). UGC refers to any content related to your brand created by your customers or users. For B2C industries, this is especially popular because it’s an easy way to acquire and share brand-relevant content.
Shopify’s very own TikTok account is an excellent example of how to use UGC to reflect your brand’s core values and create a community that users can be a part of. By producing both original content and UGC, you can optimize TikTok for business by showcasing a variety of engaging content makers.
There are many ways to source UGC, including creating a branded hashtag or collaborating with creators. Part of what makes this type of content so effective is since it’s not coming from the business itself, it creates a more authentic experience for your audience. Not only does UGC engage with your audience by offering them recognition but it will help consistently fill your feed with awesome videos.
Stitch and Duet TikToks
One thing that makes TikTok stand out from other social media platforms is the ability to incorporate other users’ content into your own TikTok video. This can be especially useful when repurposing UGC for your feed by adding a more personalized touch. Two features allow you to do this: Stitch and Duet.
Stitch is an editing feature that allows you to clip and integrate a user’s TikTok video into your own. It’s a great tool that enables you to reinterpret and build on stories. For instance, this TikTok user employed the feature to reiterate another user’s small business tips.
@tasselamor #stitch with @northerntiesmn Go watch Jacklyn’s full video💕 #TasselAmor #businesstiktok2022 #womanowned #SmallBusinessTikTok #smallbiztips ♬ original sound - Tassel Amor | CassieDuet works similarly, allowing you to use another user’s videos alongside your own. However, unlike Stitch, the two videos play in a split-screen format. You can use this feature to show a reaction, make a before and after video, and experiment with trends. Check out Domenic Iandolo’s duet to see how he uses the feature to summarize key points from another user’s video.
@domeniciandolo #duet with @mrmanuelsuarez $100,000,000 doesn’t sound to bad 🥵🚀 #ecommerce #shopifybusiness #businesstips ♬ original sound - mrmanuelsuarez
Since the original creator gets credited for both features, your reach has the potential to be increased. Use these innovative tools to take sharing to a whole new level and boost your engagement.
5. Create content that converts
You’re using TikTok for business; therefore, it must have an objective. Whether that’s to drive more traffic to your website or increase brand awareness, you want to make sure that you’re creating content that converts. Let’s look at a few essential strategies for getting more views.
Keep it short and sweet
Though TikTok has rolled out the ability for users to upload videos up to 10 minutes in length, short-form videos are more likely to perform better. TikTok videos started as 15 second clips, before growing to 60 seconds, followed by three minutes. Typically, the shorter the video, the stronger the watch time and video completion, ultimately increasing your chances of landing on the FYP (For You Page).
We recommend avoiding the risk of losing followers and disfavoring the algorithm by keeping your videos short and sweet.
Odds are, you are active on other social media platforms, and using TikTok for your business is just one part of your larger social media strategy. Cross-promoting is a great tactic to save time and resources while simultaneously luring other audiences to your TikTok.
Cross-promoting sounds simple: you’re sharing your content on different platforms. And, yes, while it is simple in theory, it’s important to be mindful that every social network is different. Therefore, tailoring your posts to each platform is an absolute must. Not only will adjusting your content for each channel keep your followers engaged, but it also helps attract different demographics to your Tiktok.
Take full advantage by uploading your TikToks as Instagram Reels with a few tweaks to stay on Instagram’s good side. Since TikTok and Instagram are direct competitors, Instagram has banned videos with watermarks from being uploaded as a Reel. To bypass this, use a website like snaptik.app to download your video without the TikTok watermark. You’ll then be able to re-upload your TikTok, watermark free, to Reels. We suggest tweaking it to the platform by adding a relevant trending sound and muting the original sound. This way, you’ll avoid Instagram’s strict copyright rules while tailoring your content to another platform. Alternatively, you can edit your videos with an editing software outside of Tik Tok and upload that video to both platforms.
While you’re at it, don’t forget to promote your latest TikToks on Twitter, Facebook, and any other social platform you’re on to generate buzz.
Use a powerful hook
It’s imperative to grab your audience’s attention within the first 2-4 seconds of your TikTok video. One of the best tried and true methods for achieving a viral video is using a hook to pique interest. Without a hook, viewers will likely scroll past your video before getting to the meat of it.
Lists are a powerful way of drawing people’s attention while giving an idea of the content’s focus. Shopify merchant Brittany Paige does a great job of employing the list hook to discuss the three things she wishes she did earlier in her business.
@brittanypaigedesigns #smallbusinessowner #smallbusinesstips #smallbiztok #smallbiztip #smallbiztips ♬ original sound - Brittany PaigeIf lists aren’t your thing, you could also try enticing viewers by making a statement that seems too unbelievable to be true—like Joel Dropships’ did for Shopify’s very own Kopy App.
@joeldropships A crazy Shopify app #dropshipping #dropshippingsecrets #shopifytips #shopifydropshipping #shopify #shopifystore #dropshippingtips ♬ original sound - Joel DropshipsConsider catering your hook to people looking for a solution to a problem, like this Sara McCabe TikTok.
@saracmccabe 🔑 #businesscoachtips #businesscoaching101 #smallbusinessowner2021 #bizowner2021 #businessplanning ♬ original sound - Sara | Business & Leadership
There are so many different ways you can approach the hook technique, so get to experimenting to see which might be the most appropriate for your content.
6. Advertising on TikTok
A key ingredient to consider using in TikTok for business marketing is taking advantage of ads, which can be a lucrative asset to your overall social media strategy. In fact, TikTok ranked #1 globally for ad equity, with brands such as Princess Polly reporting a 15x increase in return on ad spend.
If you run a business on Shopify, be sure to install the TikTok app. This makes it easy to create ads for TikTok, track results, and boost online sales.
Tiktok ad formats
TikTok offers four different ad formats for businesses to use. They are:
In-Feed ads are video ads integrated into users’ FYP. This format allows users to comment, like, and share. What makes these ads so great is that they are embraced like native content, with 83% of TikTok users reporting that this type of ad is enjoyable.
TopView ads are full screen video ads that occupy the first in-feed post. They can last anywhere from 5 to 60 seconds. Since it is a distraction-free viewing experience, TopView is ranked first in engagement.
Branded hashtag challenge
Branded Hashtag Challenge is a three to six day campaign format that encourages virality through user-generated content. What’s so great about this format is the advertisement can be as subtle or straightforward as you want it to be. Plus, it sparks organic visibility and a high level of engagement. In 2020, Shopify teamed up with TikTok to launch the #ShopBlack hashtag challenge to celebrate and showcase black-owned businesses across TikTok. Check it out:
@alexis.frost All of my wraps shown are from @thewraplife ❤️. Click the video for more Black-owned business . #shopblack #headwrap #BlackTikTok #mrsfrost ♬ Pieces (Solo Piano Version) - Danilo Stankovic
Branded effects allows businesses to create their own stickers, filters, and special effects to get users to interact with their brand. This is another great ad format that encourages organic content creation. In 2021, TikTok launched Versailles Run, an AR branded effect to promote an ad campaign titled #MuseumMoment. It quickly picked up steam, now boasting over 1.1 million videos. Users jumped on the effect quickly for its entertaining and comedic potential.
@handluggageonly But where is it though...? #run #versaillesrun #ikea ♬ оригинальный звук - Videographer | ROSTOV
Ways to run ads
There are two forms of running ads on TikTok. They are:
Auction ads allow you to bid on ad slots on TikTok. TikTok Ads Manager currently provides four different bidding methods:
- CPM (Cost per mille)
- oCPM (Optimized cost per mille)
- CPV (Cost per thousand views)
- CPC (Cost per click)
Bidding is done manually and allows you to bid to place video ads in TikTok’s main feed.
Formats available with a TikTok sales representative
For ad formats such as TopView Ads, Branded Hashtag Challenge, and Branded Effects, you’ll need to work with a TikTok Sales Representative. This is ideal if you are working with a larger budget. You can contact them here to see if your business is a fit.
7. Control it all from the Shopify TikTok sales channel
After reading the last six steps on how to use TikTok for business, it might seem an overwhelming prospect. That’s where the Shopify TikTok sales channel can help. Forget trying to run campaigns and producing videos all on your phone. Instead, add the TikTok sales channel to your Shopify store, sync your products, and run everything smoothly straight from your desktop.
Add an in-profile shopping tab
Integrate your store right to your TikTok profile with the shopping tab; now your viewers are just a swipe away from all your products. This way, once your captivating videos starring your products have them hooked in, they can make a purchase right then and there.
Example of the in-profile shopping tab from Shopify merchant AC Toyz.
Use the Video Generator tool
Don’t worry about not being a professional video producer; we’ve got you covered. The video generator tool lets you upload images and videos you have already taken and edits it all for you in minutes, auto-generating a video that’s TikTok ready.
Run, track, and optimize ad campaigns
Everything you need to grow your sales, from one-click Pixel installation to audience targeting and campaign optimization, is right there in the sales channel.
Consistency is key
While TikTok may seem intimidating at first, this guide should have helped peel back some layers of mystique surrounding the platform. Now you’re equipped with the tools to optimize TikTok for your business, so get creative and start exploring all its opportunities.
The most important takeaway is to be consistent and allow room for trial and error. The platform is ever-changing, but engaging content, consistent posting, and authenticity stay winning.
Once you hit the ground running, don’t forget to download the Shopify TikTok app, it makes creating video ads and tracking sales super easy. You’ll be a TikToker in no time!