TikTok’s organic reach is unparalleled when compared to other social media platforms. Add to that the fact that 50% of the top brands do not have a presence on TikTok, and what you’re looking at, is a level playing field full of opportunity.
If you’re wondering how you can ride this organic wave and how to use TikTok to promote your business, we’ve got you covered!
This guide will tell you everything you need to know to get started with TikTok Marketing in 2021.
What we’ll cover:
(1) What is TikTok and is it good for marketing?
(2) How do people use TikTok?
(3) How can brands use TikTok?
(4) How to Set Up a TikTok Business Account
(5) How do you find relevant video ideas for your own TikTok channel?
(6) How to Use Hashtags & Hashtag Challenges to Grow on TikTok
(7) How to Set Up & Use TikTok Analytics Data to Grow your Channel
(8) How to Partner with Influencers to Grow on TikTok
(9) How to Use TikTok Ads
(10) 3 Examples of TikTok Marketing Done Right
With over 2 billion downloads and over 1 billion monthly active users, TikTok has marked itself as one of the biggest social media platforms in the world in just a couple of years.
So, what is a TikTok? The same term is also used to refer to the snappy, snackable videos that users on the app can create and share.
It was Chinese agency ByteDance who created TikTok, and while it enjoys immense popularity with Gen Z users (<22 years) all over the world, businesses have been slow to harness the power of the nascent video sharing platform.
Considering how many people are on TikTok, it is clear that it is a lucrative marketing channel. Let’s dig a bit deeper on what makes this channel such a powerful option for marketers.
(A) Volume of Users
Even if you are skeptical about how old TikTok users are — the app’s user base skews towards younger age brackets with roughly 50% of TikTok’s global audience under the age of 34 — it would be unwise to assume that none of your target audience is on the app.
In the United States alone, TikTok has 100 million monthly active users.
(B) High Engagement
TikTok is known for keeping users hooked with the videos’ snackable formats ranging from 15 seconds to 3 minutes in length, and its infinite scrolling interface.
By March 2020, the average user in the US was spending around 14.3 hours in a month on the app. It also has one of the highest engagement rates of any social media platform.
(C) Less Competition
So far, TikTok has been a relatively creator-driven platform. In fact, as much as 50% of the top brands in 2021 have no presence at all on TikTok are yet to establish a presence on the platform.
That’s exactly why developing a TikTok Marketing strategy can be the key to getting a headstart on your competition, and gaining leverage over more established bigger players in your niche.
(D) Cheap and Easy to Learn
Since the platform relies heavily on different kinds of user-generated trends that involve music, graphics, or lip-syncing, it’s an easy, budget-friendly way for brands to jump on the bandwagon of trending content and incorporate these into promotions for their products or services. The cost of content creation is super low since it thrives on more organic content.
(E) TikTok Ads Seen More Favorably
The TikTok algorithm incentivizes creativity and out-of-the-box thinking, because you never know which video of yours could potentially go viral.
This shift is something that users have welcomed, as they have reported a more favorable attitude towards advertising on TikTok, seeing it as more authentic, fun, and trustworthy, compared to other channels.
Now that we’ve covered all that makes TikTok a ripe avenue for your marketing efforts, let’s learn more about TikTok users and how they engage with the platform.
Let’s first take a look at some key demographics of TikTok users.
However, in countries like China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, there are a greater number of users in the 25-34 age bracket than in the 16-24 group. But, unlike many other social media apps, TikTok’s user base skews more towards female users, with 47% of users being male and 53% being female.
If you’re wondering exactly how many people have TikTok, the app has roughly 689 million active users worldwide (Data Reportal, 2021). As of 2021, TikTok is worth $75 billion and it is owned by Chinese billionaire entrepreneur Zhang Yiming.
These numbers indicate that people are constantly rushing back to the app for a quick dose of new and updated content throughout the day.
Now let’s dive a little bit more into what types of content perform well on TikTok.
What is the kind of content that works best on TikTok?
Many brands are operating under the misconception that TikTok is purely an app for frivolous lip-syncing content for tweens. In reality, there are thousands of communities on TikTok and users are flocking to them for everything from entertainment, activism, storytelling, tutorials, how-to guides, and more.
To cut through the flood of content, we studied over 650 videos by 300 brands to figure out what kind of content performed best when it came to marketing on TikTok.
You can find InVideo’s full TikTok Brand Marketing Report here, in case you’d like to explore further.
Now that we’ve talked more about what kind of content performs well, let’s touch on how users end up finding it and participating themselves.
How do TikTok users discover, consume, and create content?
The unique thing about TikTok is that it curates the user’s feed for them, even as they find accounts to follow later on. When you first sign up on TikTok, you are asked to select a few interests for personal video recommendations.
These may include topics like ‘Comedy’, ‘Entertainment’ and ‘Daily Life’. The more content you watch and engage with, the more refined the recommendations. On the video screen, you have the option to like, comment, share or view that user’s profile.
The hub of content discovery on TikTok is the For You tab, which is a unique endless stream of content curated specifically for you.
It uses sophisticated artificial intelligence to constantly update and tweak the videos that get suggested to users based on their preferences, i.e. the kind of content that they engage with the most in the form of views, likes, comments or shares. You’ll know you’ve entered viral territory when your video manages to land on the For You page.
In this way, the For You page is where new video trends or dance challenges emerge. Users can share a 15-second clip or put together a longer video of 60 seconds made of shorter clips.
They can record, edit, and embellish the video all without leaving TikTok, since it contains a range of editing options including video and voice filters, effects, transitions, voiceover, as well as stickers to customize the content and make it stand out.
An example would be the Savage Love dance challenge started by artist Jason Derulo.
If a user wants to participate in a trend, all they have to do is add the accompanying trending music track to their favorites, record their own rendition of the video, and post.
What’s more — you can also click on that specific audio or music track to find other videos by creators that are using it as well, as shown below.
Next, there’s the Discover page. This is where users can type in and actually search for specific users, terms, phrases or hashtags they would like to explore with the help of the TikTok search bar at the top of the screen.
And the third is the Following page, where the user is shown content from creators they have followed.
Now that we’ve gotten familiar with how users move around the app, let’s move on to how brands can leverage TikTok to get the word out there.
Broadly speaking, there are three ways in which you can market your brand or business on Tiktok.
A) Create your own content
The first approach you can take goes fully down the DIY route.
Being consistent is essential, and as we found in our TikTok Brand Marketing Report, the algorithm will reward you for it.
Come up with ways to re-package your standard promotional content for the TikTok format.
In the initial few days or weeks, it may be helpful to take pointers from what others in your industry are doing. It will also help you get a sense of what kind of content is performing well within those circles.
While leveraging trending videos and challenges is super important, it is also just as necessary to come up with other types of content that deliver value to your audience, such as how-tos or unboxing videos.
Doing this will ensure that you are adding value on top of providing entertainment to your audience.
B) Work with Influencers in your Niche
Another quick and easy way to bolster your TikTok marketing strategy is to work with influencers in your niche. It’s important to find the right set of creators, map out your metrics beforehand, and chalk out a larger plan for what you hope to achieve together.
We’ll cover TikTok influencer marketing in more depth in Section 8.
The bottom line: you must be extremely clear about why you have selected a certain influencer to work with, what you’re looking to get out of the partnership, and how you will measure the impact of the collaboration.
While influencer marketing is a great method to get followers quickly, in order to retain any new followers you get, you’ll still need to be on top of your overarching TikTok marketing plan.
C) Run ads
With TikTok ads, you can reach your target audience in record time, even within 24 hours.
There are five different ways to do TikTok advertising:
- In-feed ads,
- Branded hashtags,
- Branded effects,
- TopView ads and,
- Brand takeovers.
We will cover this in more detail in Section 9. Let’s get your TikTok business account set up first.
A business account is geared towards marketers and offers an abundance of tools that can help you optimize your TikTok marketing efforts.
With a TikTok business account, you get access to performance metrics, audience insights, and creative tools that help you track how your content is performing in real time — plus guidance on how to create relevant and engaging content for your audience.
Here’s how you can convert your TikTok account to a business account.
Step 1: Select the ‘Me’ option at the bottom of the screen, and follow it up with the three dots on the top right.
Step 2: Select ‘Manage Account’ and then ‘Switch to Business Account’.
Step 3: You then need to select ‘Business’ from the menu that appears.
Step 4: The final step is to choose the category your product or service comes under and click ‘Next’. This will give you customized content, events, and solutions tailored to your specific niche.
You’re all set! Now you need to find relevant TikTok video ideas for your channel.
No matter what your niche or industry is, you need to be consistently providing value through your content, whether that’s by educating, informing, or entertaining.
One thing’s for certain: if you want to grow faster on TikTok, you have to make the most of TikTok trends.
So, in this section, we’re going to show you how to find relevant video ideas by zeroing in on what’s popular right now on TikTok — hashtags, sounds, or challenges — plus how to conduct audience research to create content that’s fresh and can go viral.
Here are 4 ways you can find relevant video ideas on TikTok:
(A) Go through the Discover Page
The Discover page is the best place to start finding trending sounds, hashtags, and challenges.
You can see the latest trends and hashtags under the Trends section, or you can also go to the Sounds section and see what songs are currently being used by creators on the platform.
One thing to keep in mind though is that once a trend or hashtag hits the Discover page, you have a maximum of 3-5 days to create content on it because after that it’ll already be saturated.
The top-most banner mostly shows you sponsored trends and hashtags. As a creator, it is a good idea to make TikTok videos on sponsored trends too as they will be boosted by both TikTok and the brand.
(B) Spot Upcoming Trends
The TikTok algorithm does not curate trends; so what you see on your For You page is usually a mix of trending videos and video content that you have earlier engaged with.
The For You page is, thus, the best space to spot new trends.
However, you need to keep in mind that TikTok trends now don’t last for more than 5-7 days and you want to be able to jump on a new trend early on.
Here’s a 3 step guide to spot trending content early:
Step 1: Create a second TikTok account where you don’t engage with anything or follow anyone. Simply use this account to scroll through the For You page.
You’ll see videos from a much wider user base than you do on your primary account, making it easier for you to spot a new trend.
Step 2: Keep a check on a new song, challenge or action that you have not seen before. When you identify a sound or action like that, click on the sound bar at the bottom of the TikTok video. You can now see the original date of when the soundtrack was first used and videos that have already been created ranked by popularity.
If the original date of the video is more than 2 weeks, it is old content. If the sound has been used in over 100,000+ videos, it’s probably saturated content.
You want to find a relatively new sound (less than 7-10 days old) that has not been used in more than 2000-3000 videos.
Step 3: When you find a sound or challenge like that — save the audio file first so you don’t have to search for it later and wait for another day or two to see how much it has grown. If the video has grown anywhere between 30-50% more overnight or is seeing a gradual growth over 2 days, it has the potential of blowing up.
Now is the right time to jump on this trend.
(C) Follow Trending Creators
One of the simplest ways to find new trends is to follow creators who are the first to jump on the latest trends. As soon as they post a trend, you will have less than 2-3 days to create your own version of it before it becomes saturated content.
You will have to identify and follow these creators, as well as constantly check their feed to ensure you haven’t missed their latest post.
We have also extensively researched over 300 brands and more than 650 videos to come up with a TikTok brand marketing report that will give you a deeper understanding of how top brands use TikTok, and how you can best use it for yourself or your business.
(D) Conduct Audience Research
Audience research is yet another powerful avenue for TikTok marketing. One great way to conduct audience research is to work backwards.
Start with the hashtags that you know your target user finds appealing. Browse through the videos that appear under these tags and identify the techniques they all have in common, whether that’s a certain audio or a certain editing style or video format (like unboxing videos, for instance).
Aside from your standard evergreen content, for the other 20-30% of the time, you want to hop onto trends and put your own fun spin on them.
Leveraging viral TikTok trends can also be a great place to start if you’re feeling too much pressure about what to post for your first video. Here are 5 viral trends that you can recreate using InVideo's templates.
Let’s look at an example- Skincare brand Dermalogica is constantly serving up skincare hacks and tips to their followers, while highlighting their products, like in the video below.
By building the tips and advice around their product ranges, they are able to kill two birds with one stone.
Similarly, personal finance account Quirkmoney usually posts their usual investment tips and financial advice. Occasionally, it shares the occasional hilarious video to entertain their followers.
Now that you know how to find relevant video ideas for your TikTok channel, here’s how to leverage hashtags and hashtag channels for the growth of your channel.
Hashtags on TikTok work differently than other social platforms. According to TikTok, hashtags are like categorization metrics and play a role in determining who gets to see your content on the For You page.
This simply means that hashtags on TikTok are to help the algorithm understand your content and categorize it correctly for it to reach the right audience.
Let’s look at 2 TikTok Hashtags strategies that have worked for TikTokers:
A. Category Mix
Like the same suggests, you will be selecting from a mix of all the 3 kinds of hashtags - culture, featured and niche. You can use 2-3 from each category of hashtags as long as they are relevant to your TikTok video.
B. Keyword Research
If you have already established your niche on the platform, this hashtag approach is for you. In this method, you will find and add 5-7 hashtags around your niche that are relevant to your video and profile.
How do you do keyword research for TikTok hashtags?
(i) Finding keywords for your niche
Type in keywords that are most relevant and suited to your video on the search bar in the discover page, for example, type ‘pilates’ in the search bar and then click on Hashtags in the options below to find a list of hashtags around ‘pilates’. You can also see how many views have already been accounted for using that hashtag.
(ii) Check the hashtags on related videos
Watch videos from your own niche and category and make a list of the hashtags that have worked for them. These will work for your video too as long as it is relevant to your content and theme.
You will also find the currently trending hashtags on TikTok’s discover page, which will be relevant for 5-7 days (so don’t forget to check the original date of when the song was first used!). A thumb rule to check if the trend is still relevant is if it is less than 2 weeks old. If the sound has more than 100,000+ videos already created, it is probably saturated.
We compiled a list of 26 viral TikTok trends (with templates and tutorials) for you to start creating right away. It also has a bonus section in which we show you how to identify trends on TikTok before they’re saturated.
Now that you’ve got the strategies you need to grow on TikTok, let’s jump into how you can track that growth.
Luckily, TikTok makes it very easy to track how your content is performing with its Analytics data.
In order to access this, you’ll have to upgrade to a Pro account. It’s got everything you’ll need — from a bird’s eye view of your overall content, to all the nitty-gritties and metrics for each post.
The Analytics feed looks something like this.
It's divided into three sections — Overview, Content, and Followers.
Under the Overview tab, you’ll first spot the Video Views section, which will show you the number of times your videos were viewed over the last 7, 28, or 60 days.
Below that is the Followers metric, which shows you the total number of followers you have, as well as the ones that have recently joined in your selected date range.
Next is the Profile Views option, which allows you to track how many times your profile has been viewed in the date range you’ve defined.
You can also keep a check on the likes, comments, shares and you’ve gotten from here.
The Content tab is the place to go if you’re looking for insights on a particular post. From here, you can access the essentials — total views, likes, comments and shares.
Plus you can check other nifty details like average watch time, percentage of viewers who have watched your video in full, your traffic sources (for example, via your profile, a hashtag, a sound, or the For You page) as well as which location your audiences are tuning in from.
But remember — all of this information is only available for 7 days, so keep it saved if you need to.
This tab is the one-stop shop for all the demographic information on your followers. However, you must have a minimum of 100 followers in order to view insights on this page.
Here, you can view the top five countries your followers are from, a gender-based breakup of your followers, what time of the day they are most and least active, as well as trends in follower growth.
A few other great sources of information you have at your disposal are the top 3 videos your followers watched (in the past week) as well as the top sounds they listened to.
The Bottom Line of TikTok Analytics Data
Based on these insights, you now know if your content is reaching your target audience (in terms of gender and location), what time of day to post, what type of videos your followers prefer, and which sounds to use in order to reach them and land on their For You page.
If you’re crunching all this data now and realizing your target audience is missing from the picture, teaming up with an influencer can be an excellent way to drive growth to your content from the demographic you want.
Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of how you can do this:
First off, you need to have complete clarity on why you want to rope in an influencer, because you want to get the bang for your buck here.
If you’re in a scenario where you have engagement, but not necessarily from your target audience, it may make sense to opt for an influencer with a smaller following that comprises your specific demographic.
For example, say you have an all-natural soy candle business and the target demographic is 16-19 year old vegans who are into a sustainable lifestyle.
You may then want to bring onboard a relatively lesser known vegan influencer who has that specific following, rather than a more well-known influencer whose following doesn’t specifically comprise those interested in veganism or sustainability.
If you’re purely looking to kickstart engagement, then it would be more fruitful to reach out to an influencer with a larger reach to get your brand as many eyeballs as possible.
If you’re not sure where to start your search, TikTok has its own Creator Marketplace (currently available in the US), a directory of vetted content creators that can partner with you on paid campaigns.
Along with their profile, you are given access to their audience demographics, engagement metrics, and more. You can browse creators filtered by country, reach, topic and more.
You can also browse for relevant creators using the Discover page, through hashtags, and other social media platforms like YouTube and Instagram.
You can even take a look at what your competitors or others in the same industry are doing when it comes to influencer marketing. This will also help you avoid any repetitive formats or tired concepts and make your video stand out even more.
Research is the name of the game here, and though this is the step that will take the longest, it also counts for the most.
Make sure to go through the other kinds of campaigns any potential matches have done and how often. You want to aim for creators that have a good balance of organic and sponsored content on their page.
Once you’ve zeroed in on your creator, reaching out to them can be as simple as a DM on their socials or an email to their business address.
If all goes well and they are onboard, make sure to communicate all the essentials of the output you are looking for in order to avoid reshoots. This includes mapping out the video length, shoot location, wardrobe, script, captions, hashtags, and payment details.
Remind your creator to declare that the video is sponsored, and add a hashtag like #spon or #ad.
Finally, ensure the final video meets TikTok’s community guidelines and branded content policies.
It is also a good practice to get their take on the idea for the concept you have in mind. It can be quite enriching to work alongside the influencer to workshop the idea and make it even more creative.
Now that we’ve established how to partner with influencers on TikTok, let’s move on to talking about TikTok ads.
In order to begin advertising on TikTok, you’ll need to create a TikTok Ads Manager account.
You will have to set up your account and wait for it to get reviewed before you can use it. Here’s how:
If your ad manager account is already up and running, you can check out this video which covers all the points you need to know when you’re ready to publish your first ad campaign on TikTok.
As we mentioned previously, there are five different ways to run ads on TikTok. Let’s go through each of these, one by one:
1. In-Feed Ads
These are video ads that can be seen on the user’s For You page.
Here’s what is great about in-feed ads — the various types of audiences you can target, as well as a range of advertising objectives (essentially, the call-to-action of the advertisement).
For example, if you select the ‘App Installs’ objective, users who click on the ad will be redirected to your app’s page on the Play Store.
You get to target users based on their interests, or specific engagement behavior within the past week or two. You can even choose between targeting a custom audience, i.e. those who have engaged with your brand in the past, or look-alike audience targeting.
2. Brand Takeover
This option shows up as a static or dynamic ad right when a user has opened the app, which means you have their undivided attention for those precious few seconds.
The app supports a 3 second static .JPG or a 3-5 second clip. As is the case with all your content, you want to have eye-catching visuals that will hook the viewer right away, but it matters a lot here since it is the first thing they’ll be seeing.
Inclusive beauty brand Too Faced promoted ‘Lip Injection Extreme’ lip gloss through a compelling five-second video with a call-to-action to boost visitors to their website.
By showcasing a stunning before and after of the product, the ad garnered 7.6 million impressions.
Watch more on the brand takeover here:
3. TopView Ads
A TopView ad is essentially the beefier version of the Brand Takeover.
Here, the ad comes up when the app is opened just like before, but you now get upto 60 seconds of video real estate with autoplay and sound enabled.
The key to nailing this is high-quality visuals and powerful storytelling that will do all the talking.
Here’s how Balenciaga did it:
4. Branded Hashtags
If user-generated content is what you’re after, this is the best option for you.
TikTok allows you to create a branded hashtag challenge, which shows up on the Discovery page and invites users to create videos using that specific hashtag. All of these videos can be located easily under that hashtag challenge page.
With this format, you also get creative guidance from TikTok, along with 3 to 6 day package options. It boasts an average engagement rate of 8.5% through likes, comments, and shares.
5. Branded Effects
The second in the user-generated segment, this ad format consists of branded lenses, stickers, and augmented reality elements that they can add to their videos.
You can find these on the first page of the branded effects tab, for upto three days. Colgate got this one right:
Now that we’ve gone over all the types of ads on TikTok, let’s take a look at some examples of TikTok ads that have blown it out of the park.
Here are three businesses that have nailed TikTok ads, and succeeded in boosting their views and reach.
Check out this first in-feed ad from ThredUp, an online consignment and thrift store.
This ad disguises itself very well until the end, making good use of user-generated content. It looks like any other TikTok video, where the user is doing a haul of all the new items they’ve bought.
Although the ad addresses thrifting enthusiasts with ‘Miss thrifting?’, it simultaneously taps into something larger than the practice of thrifting itself — the desire to live a more sustainable lifestyle, using that to hook viewers.
Through this, ThredUp is able to lure both those who are already thrifting, as well as those who are into sustainability but have not tried thrifting.
It’s also quite a fast-paced ad with quick cuts and catchy music that highlights all the irresistible benefits of ThredUp in a rapid 9 seconds: name brands, slashed prices, the satisfaction of shopping sustainably, as well as free shipping.
Some takeaways from this ad:
- Leverage user-generated content as social proof wherever you can,
- Tap into a larger value that your business or product provides,
- Use quick cuts to hold viewers’ attention, and,
- End with some irresistible benefits or exclusive offers that will seal the deal.
Next up, we’re taking a look at US grocery chain Kroger’s hashtag challenge, the #TransformUrDorm campaign. As part of this challenge, Kroger invited students to post videos of their decked-out dorm rooms.
In this case, Kroger had opted for the inclusion of a shoppable component, which meant that when users clicked on the hashtag, they were redirected to their back to school/dorm catalog.
This campaign thrived on TikTok because the platform majorly attracted their target demographic of late teens and college-aged young adults.
In addition, they also partnered with four Gen Z content creators in order to get the ball rolling and gain even more engagement from the hashtag challenge.
These influencers participated in the challenge and showed how they upgraded their rooms using items purchased from Kroger.
The integration was quite seamless, since these four fit the age bracket of Kroger’s demographic and were essentially telling their peers about products they themselves would need at this life-stage.
Through this campaign, Kroger was able to establish its credibility in the back-to-school shopping niche. Using influencers can therefore be a great way to highlight one aspect or feature your product or service that you want to hero.
Some takeaways from this campaign:
- You need to know your target demographic well,
- You must figure out the right influencers that can really speak to them and support your marketing efforts.
Don’t be afraid to zero in on specific features to highlight with influencers’ help as well.
This in-feed ad by KFC was short, sweet, and dialed it up on the humor quotient. It’s a great example of how to humanize a brand.
The ad was essentially created to announce that the fast food chain’s delivery services were back on following the pandemic. The ad opens with an existing image of a makeshift KFC bucket and fries followed by the text, “We missed you too.”
Here, KFC uses music and text to build on the dreary KFC-less reality shown through the visuals, and it’s another one of those instances of how keeping it simple can often produce the best results. It’s a way of telling users it is in on the joke.
Some takeaways from this ad:
- This one illustrates that combining music and text to generate humor in your content can really hook the audience and take it to the next level.
- It also highlights the power of repurposing user-generated content creatively, because no one wants to see the run-of-the-mill commercial of people enjoying their KFC meal.
Now that you know all the nitty-gritties of TikTok Marketing, make your own TikTok business account and get started on creating content that can go viral!
We recommend you also give our TikTok Brand Marketing Report 2021 a read if you want to further learn how the top 300 brands in the world are currently using TikTok and what you can learn from them.
If you have any questions or want to continue the conversation, head over to the InVideo community and learn from 25K other marketers and video creators just like you.