TikTok Marketing: Top 3 Strategies + Best Practices for Small Businesses

Whether or not you’re a business that caters to the Generation Z (Gen Z) market, it’s a good idea for your brand to become one of the earliest adopters of TikTok marketing.

TikTok started as a channel to showcase silly short videos and has become the world’s fastest-growing social media platform. 

Previously known as Musical.ly before the Chinese company Bytedance bought it, TikTok has been downloaded 2.6 billion times. It has 1.1 billion monthly active users and has enjoyed explosive growth during the height of the 2020 pandemic.

TikTok videos are similar to those of the now-defunct social platform Vine — they’re short at only 15 seconds but can be combined to up to 60 seconds. Users can add background music to their videos and edit them with special effects.

Keep reading to learn how TikTok marketing can help your business, including:

  • How to make money on TikTok
  • The top three TikTok marketing strategies
  • TikTok marketing best practices

Can You Make Money on TikTok?

Brands can earn money through TikTok marketing by growing their TikTok presence with trending content, working with influencers to promote their products to new audiences, and advertising on the platform.

Due to its reputation and predominantly young demographic, many businesses are overlooking TikTok marketing. However, social media marketing experts say it is unwise to do so, as many of the top social media platforms started as “fads” with a younger user base. 

TikTok is the social platform with the highest engagement. TikTok users spend about 45 minutes per day scrolling through the app and open it eight times a day.

There are currently only a few businesses on the platform, which means you can establish your brand without heavy competition.

TikTok Marketing Strategy #1: Grow Your Brand’s TikTok’s Presence

If you’re a small business looking to grow your brand’s TikTok presence, the key is to create interesting TikTok marketing content. It’s important to understand the platform’s user base and the kind of content that resonates with its younger audience.

Research Trending Content

If you don’t know where to get content ideas, the easiest way is to start on the TikTok app itself. Use the Discovery page to look for trending content and hashtags.

When you start typing in a keyword in the search bar, TikTok automatically suggests related hashtags based on what you wrote. If you make a video based on a trending hashtag, the TikTok algorithm ensures there’s a chance users will discover your content.

You can also use the same methods you’d use to come up with good blog post ideas, such as thinking about the problems or topics your target audience is interested in or doing keyword research. But with TikTok, it’s always best to ask your audience what they want to see.

If all else fails, incorporate two of the most popular TikTok elements: pets and children.

Be Authentic: Start or Participate in a TikTok Challenge

Showcase your brand’s authentic self. TikTok’s predominantly Gen Z audience generally likes brands that are bold and authentic. One way to be genuine and show your brand’s fun side is to participate in a TikTok hashtag challenge. 

Challenges are an excellent way for brands to reach millions of users because the hashtags associated with the challenge are discoverable by audiences. 

Creating branded content on TikTok isn’t the same as other social platforms. TikTok users (also called TikTokers) usually don’t care about an account’s popularity — as long as an account produces content users like, there’s a good chance it will gain attention and go viral.

You don’t need smooth dance moves or professionally produced videos to use the platform successfully. 

For example, look at Washington Post’s TikTok account. You might not expect the younger generation to be interested in it, but its content includes employees incorporating popular TikTok memes to produce bite-sized news. The account has over 30 million likes and is on its way to one million followers.

A TikTok account with viral posts also presents an opportunity to cross-promote challenges on your other social media platforms. You can also invite your followers to be part of your TikTok community.

Use the Right Hashtags

For your content to be discovered, you need to put some thought into TikTok search engine optimization (SEO). The easiest way to do this is by adding hashtags.

If you don’t know what hashtags to use, type in a relevant keyword in the search section, and TikTok will suggest a range of related hashtags. 

There’s no limit to the number of hashtags you can add, but a video’s caption is limited to 100 characters. Two to three hashtags is optimal, so you can still include a description of your video.

User-Generated Content

While it’s fun, TikTok marketing can be hard work. It takes a lot of thought and creativity to create content that resonates with users. 

This is where user-generated content comes in. For instance, if you search #nike on TikTok, you’ll find videos of people with their Nike shoes — be it wearing them, showing them off, or even painting them. This is free advertisement for the brand.

Create a branded hashtag and encourage your followers to use it, and repost the best content from the hashtag often. Your followers will appreciate it.

TikTok Marketing Strategy #2: Collaborate With TikTok Influencers

Another option small businesses can use in their TikTok marketing strategy is to partner with influencers to create branded content.  

A whopping 86% of marketers have used influencer marketing to raise brand awareness or generate sales, and you can use this tactic on TikTok too. 

TikTok influencer marketing has become a large part of the app’s ecosystem, with its top content creators raking in millions of dollars from ad revenue and endorsement deals.

TikTok has developed its own influencer marketing platform called the Creator Marketplace, where brands can create marketing campaigns, access influencer metrics, and connect with TikTok’s top influencers. 

The good news about influencer marketing for small businesses?

You don’t always have to hire the most popular influencers. There are micro- and even nano-influencers who you can partner with to help you get results. These smaller creators may even garner you more brand engagement than their larger counterparts. 

To partner with influencers, start by searching for relevant content on TikTok and shortlist TikTokers you think would be a good fit for your business.

Some of the ways TikTok influencers can generate brand awareness or sales include:

  • Talking about your product in a video
  • Linking your product or website in their video’s description 
  • Posting about your product in their video’s description

If you find an influencer you think would be a good fit, send them a message to let them know you’re interested in working with them.

TikTok Marketing Strategy #3: Advertise on TikTok

Advertising on TikTok is a great way to market your business.

With TikTok advertising, you don’t have to spend a lot of time building an audience. When you set up your ad campaign, you’ll usually be able to reach your target audience within 24 hours.

There are five different types of TikTok ads:

  • In-feed video ads: These are short-form videos that appear in a user’s feed or the For You page.
  • Branded hashtags: Brands ask TikTok users to record themselves doing something, such as a lip-sync video, choreographed dance, or challenge, and then post it with a specific hashtag. The ads are found at the top of the Discovery page. Clicking on the hashtag takes users to a collection of videos from the challenge.
  • TopView ads: These are 60-second full-screen ads on a delayed play, so they don’t appear during app startup.
  • Branded effects: Like Snapchat branded filters or Instagram AR filters, TikTok’s branded effects can be custom stickers, filters, and lenses that users can add to their video. Branded effects are available for ten days.
  • Brand takeover: These are three- to five-second video ads that appear as soon as someone opens the app. These may also appear on the For You feed and can include a hashtag or website link.

Most small businesses find the in-feed video ads most effective as the other types are more suited to companies with larger advertising budgets. 

To get started with ads, make sure you upgrade to a TikTok For Business account and check out guides to TikTok advertising.

TikTok Marketing Best Practices

If you’re interested in establishing a presence on the social media platform, take note of the following TikTok marketing practices.

Create a TikTok Bio

When you start using TikTok, create a detailed bio so people can learn about you. A bio is also an excellent way to include links to your website and social profiles and a call to action.

Post Frequently

Like other social platforms, there are recommended times for posting on TikTok to get the best results. But remember, the practices that work for one business may not work for yours.

TikTok rewards consistency. Start by posting three to five times a week at different times to see what works best. Then, review your engagement stats at the end of the week and adjust accordingly. Consider creating a content calendar to help you plan content.

Check Analytics

What isn’t measured isn’t managed, and the same goes for TikTok.

A TikTok Pro account gives you access to analytics to see details on your demographic, determine the best times to post, and know what type of content resonates with your TikTok followers.

Whether or not your company caters to younger audiences, your business will miss out if you don’t include TikTok marketing in your brand strategy.

Creating authentic content, participating in challenges, and taking advantage of influencer marketing and TikTok ads are just some of the ways to use the platform to increase sales and create brand awareness.
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Machielle Thomas
Machielle Thomas | Content Manager
Machielle Thomas writes and curates web and email content for marketing professionals, small business owners, bloggers, and more.

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