Brand awareness and loyalty

How to create a winning TikTok marketing strategy

  • 14 Minutes
There’s no denying it – TikTok has made waves in the world of social media marketing over the last few years. With over 732 million monthly active users, TikTok is quickly becoming one of the world’s most popular social media platforms. Although

There’s no denying it – TikTok has made waves in the world of social media marketing over the last few years. With over 732 million monthly active users, TikTok is quickly becoming one of the world’s most popular social media platforms.

Although TikTok’s main demographic is people under 24 years old (or Gen Z), the age range of platform users has started to increase. TikTok marketing expands the possibilities for people to discover your brand and can help you reach a wide amount of people who aren’t currently part of your brand’s audience.

TikTok may seem intimidating to those who have never used it (or any video creation platform for that matter – remember Vine?). We’re here to make it easy for you and maximize your potential reach!

The lowdown on TikTok

TikTok is a video streaming and sharing app that allows users to create 15 to 60 second videos on a wide range of topics (though some accounts now have the ability to create videos up to three minutes long). Users interact with short videos by scrolling through their feed, otherwise known as the “For You Page,” or “FYP”. Users can also “like,” comment on, or share videos with others through SMS or other apps like Instagram.

In its early days, TikTok was mostly viral dance videos. Now, TikTok content ranges from educational to fashion to businesses showcasing their products – the list goes on. Creators and businesses can jazz up their videos by using music, filters, effects, and transitions.

TikTok is a very trend-heavy platform. As you scroll through your feed, you’ll likely see several different creators using the same sounds or filters, each with their own take on it. The easiest way to find out what’s trending is by going to the “search” section on TikTok, also known as the “Discovery Page.” Here, you can see trending hashtags, sounds, and effects.

The great thing about TikTok videos is that unlike platforms like Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn, the timing of your posts isn’t as important. Instead, the algorithm prioritizes the content that people are enjoying most and serves viewers content based on what they like or interact with most frequently.

Why you need a TikTok marketing strategy for your business

Compared to platforms like Facebook and Instagram, there’s relatively little competition when it comes to other businesses on the platform. Many businesses are dismissing it because of its younger user base. But according to Neil Patel, nearly 38% of TikTok users within the US are above 30. While older users may not be creating as much content, there’s no denying that they’re consuming it.

Additionally, engagement is exceptionally high on the platform. According to a study by Influencer Marketing Hub, TikTok beats all other platforms when it comes to engagement. TikTok is also really good at keeping people on the app – those who have used it know how addicting it can be. The data backs this up, as the average user typically interacts with the app for 45 minutes per day.

From a marketer’s point of view, the main reason to use TikTok is to reach out to a current or future customer group. TikTok is actively targeting people in their teens and early twenties, with a strong female bias. Sound like your ideal customer? Then TikTok could be a great place for your brand!

What type of TikTok marketing strategy should you choose?

We can’t stress this enough – don’t advertise on TikTok just because it’s popular. You need to have a good reason for being on the platform and it should align with your campaign goals and target audience. Before you dedicate a huge portion of your budget to TikTok marketing, ask yourself: does your business target the kinds of people who love TikTok?

Here’s a breakdown of TikTok’s main demographics:

  • 53% of TikTok users are male and 47% are female
  • Roughly 50% of TikTok’s global audience is under the age of 34
  • 41% of TikTok users are aged between 16 and 24
  • 100 million monthly active users are from the US

Once you’ve determined that your business is a good fit, you need to set goals. These should be specific to your marketing campaign objectives.

When it comes to your marketing objectives, TikTok works best for:

  • Building awareness or “hype” around your brand
  • Reaching new audiences
  • Increasing engagement
  • Driving traffic to other channels (like Instagram or YouTube)

Given the younger demographic, TikTok isn’t the best platform for direct selling. At this point in time, most brands are using TikTok marketing campaigns to build brand awareness. But given Instagram’s trajectory, we might see TikTok start to incorporate more selling features for business in coming years.

Strategies for building brand awareness on TikTok

Create content that’s relevant to your audience

We took a page out of Neil Patel’s book for this one. When creating your TikTok content strategy, he suggests that much like finding topics for a blog or other social media content, you need to think about the problems or topics that interest your target audience. Then, use these to plan out your TikTok content.

Doing this is simple. Start with the “auto suggest” feature within Google Search or use Google Trends. You can also use a more advanced tool like SparkToro or Ubersuggest to find topics related to your industry or niche.

The best TikTok accounts are the ones that find ways to create content that’s both educational and humorous. If you can play to the trends but put your own spin on it in an engaging way, it’s likely to pick up more traction in TikTok’s algorithm.

The Million Dollar Question: How do I go viral?

Nowadays, everyone is trying to go viral on TikTok. So how does a piece of video content on TikTok go viral?

It’s all about understanding the algorithm. Here’s how it works:

TikTok determines who is most likely to engage with a video based on their past behavior. When a video is uploaded to TikTok, the FYP algorithm first shows it to a small subset of users who may or may not follow your account. If they respond by sharing the video or watching it in full, TikTok shows it to more people who share similar interests. This process then repeats and if the positive feedback loop happens enough times, the video can go viral. If the initial group of guinea pigs don’t show interest in the content, it’s shown to fewer users and is limited in its potential reach.

We’re going to take a slightly controversial position on this and say that it’s better to create content with intent, purpose and that adds value to your audience rather than making content solely for the purpose of going viral. While having a viral video can boost your engagement and feel good in the moment, when it comes to the TikTok community, it’s better to strive for consistency and growth over time.

That being said, here are a few tips to help amplify your content:

  • TikTok’s algorithm favors videos that are watched to completion. One way to do this is by including a hook at the beginning such as “watch to the end for a surprise” or building suspense throughout the video to keep people watching.
  • Use TikTok trends. These can include trending sounds, effects and hashtags. Sometimes (but not always), these will cause the algorithm to rank your content higher.
  • Create a series. By creating a multi-part series that breaks up a topic or list over several videos, you’re more likely to bring users to your profile and increase your profile views. It can also increase the number of views on your videos.
  • Be specific. If you constantly create videos that are designed for a certain target audience or niche, it’s more likely that TikTok will continue to show your content to people who have watched your videos in the past or similar accounts.

Use the Right Hashtags for TikTok SEO

TikTok SEO simply means optimizing your content so that it can be easily found when people use the search feature on the platform. The best way to do this is by using relevant hashtags whenever you post a video.

Don’t know what hashtags to use? In the search bar, type in a relevant, broad keyword. When you do this, TikTok will suggest a range of hashtags associated with that word or phrase. TikTok video captions are quite limited (the max is 100 characters), so try to limit yourself to two to three hashtags so that you also have room for your video description.

Find creative ways to use User-Generated Content

User-generated content (UGC) has increased dramatically in popularity for social media marketers over the last few years. The best way to encourage UGC on TikTok is to ask your followers to promote your brand or organization’s cause by creating and uploading content.

So how can you use user-generated content on your account? Try using Tiktok’s Stitch or Duet features to “repost” it to your own account. You can also privately message the user that generated it and ask them to send you the original video to post on your page.

A company that does a great job at using UGC is fitness brand Lululemon. They frequently share videos of users reviewing their purchases or styling their clothing in different ways.

Lululemon's TikTok account

Influencer Marketing

As a brand, influencer marketing is one of your biggest assets. It’s been proven time and time again that people trust other people more than they trust brands. This is especially true for TikTok.

TikTok has led to the rise of many young stars who are incredibly popular with their fans. Take Charli D’Amelio for instance. She shared her daily coffee order from Dunkin Donuts so frequently that Dunkin ended up creating a custom drink on their menu named after her.They also partnered with her to create her own line of Charli x Dunkin merch. Thanks to the collab, Dunkin ended up selling hundreds of thousands of Charli’s signature drinks.

Charli DAmelio with one of her bespoke drinks

As with all influencer marketing strategies, you need to ensure that you create a genuine relationship with your TikTok influencers. This is the best way to ensure that their promotion of your brand comes across as authentic. When choosing an influencer for your campaign, make sure to select someone who is aligned with your brand’s personality and values.

Struggling to find the right fit? TikTok has developed a solution to help brands find the perfect influencer for their campaign. Meet the TikTok Creator Marketplace. Built using TikTok’s exclusive first-party insights, the marketplace allows brands to browse the platform’s top creators to find a match. Ever better: you can even see the data associated with any given influencer:

TikTok demographics breakdown screen

Influencer marketing has never been so easy!

Here’s another reason why your TikTok marketing strategy should include influencers: they know how the platform works better than anyone. They know what works, what doesn’t and how to use TikTok’s video features to the fullest.

Remember that the TikTok audience is predominantly young people. This means it’s probably not the best place for a hard sell. Keep your brand collaborations light, fun, and focused on showcasing your brand in the best way possible. Trust us – the results will come.

TikTok Advertising

Advertising is relatively new to TikTok. Most of the ad formats allow you to add your website links and Call to Action buttons such as “Order Now” that viewers can click to visit a suitable landing page.

Generally, TikTok offers five different types of ads:

  • In-feed ads
  • Top View ads
  • Branded hashtags
  • Branded effects
  • Brand Takeover

Before you launch any ad campaign, determine your return on investment, or ROI. This is the amount of sales that your campaign needs to bring in to offset the costs of the ad spend. Once you set your principal campaign goal, you can calculate your ROI accordingly.

In-feed ads

In-feed ads work by inserting your video content directly into users’ FYP. Many small businesses find that in-feed ads get the best results. They’re also more cost-effective, as other TikTok ad products may only be open to larger brands that have sizable advertising budgets.

Here’s an example from the Ulike camera app:

Ulike camera app in action

If you want to set up in-feed video ads, you need to create a TikTok ad account. Once you’ve gone through the signup process, you’re not guaranteed an ad account – you need to wait for TikTok to review your application. Once it’s been reviewed, you’ll receive an email letting you know that you’ve been granted access.

Top View Ads

Ever opened the TikTok app and the first thing you saw was an ad? What you’re seeing are Top View ads. They capture users’ attention through a full-screen experience that delivers a strong visual impact for brands. While these can run a little higher in cost, they take advantage of prime advertising real estate.

Here’s an example from Vans:

Vans TikTok add with three legs in the shape of a fidget spinner

Branded Hashtags and Branded Effects

TikTok’s advertising system allows you to formally set branded hashtags and create hashtag challenges. This type of ad presents the viewer with a banner ad on their FYP that sends them to a page of challenge instructions and rules.

A great example is the #SheinCares hashtag campaign from fashion giant, Shein. In their latest campaign, Shein is promoting animal welfare and plans to donate $300,000 to animal welfare organizations. Users all over the world are joining in to spread the love with the #SheinCares hashtag. Currently, the hashtag is sitting at 16.4B views.

Along with their branded hashtag, Shein is also inviting users to use branded animal stickers to raise awareness around their campaign. Check out how users are incorporating them below:

Results for Shein cares hashtag campaign

Brand Takeovers

These are relatively rare, but they involve a brand “taking over” TikTok for a short time period. The first brand takeover was from fashion brand GUESS from September 1 to September 6, 2018 and was combined with a branded hashtag challenge. As each TikTok user opened the app during the takeover period, they were directed to the #InMyDenim challenge. GUESS also worked with popular creators to help spread the campaign.

Using TikTok Analytics

While it can be tempting to make choices based on your gut feeling, two out of three marketers state that decisions based on data perform better. Knowing your data means you’re in control of your TikTok marketing strategy.

To access your analytics, you need to create a Pro Account. Once you have a pro account, you can find Analytics in the settings.

TikTok analytics screen

TikTok keeps tabs of your data on two timeframes: 7 or 28 days. In the dashboard, you can see your progress and monitor your weekly and monthly changes. You can track the number of views your videos get, profile views and followers.

The Content dashboard provides a more in-depth look and shows which are your most trending videos.

For each video, TikTok shows:

  • The number of likes
  • Comments
  • Total views
  • Shares
  • Total playtime
  • Average watch time
  • Traffic sources
  • Audience territories

In the Followers tab, you can see demographics about your followers. These include where they’re located, their activity, which videos they’ve watched, and what sounds they listened to.

Try to check your analytics weekly or monthly so you can get a sense of what content is performing best and resonating with your audience. Then, adjust your content plan accordingly.

Summary

While TikTok is still considered the new kid on the social media block, more and more businesses are recognizing its potential as a digital marketing platform. It might take some time before you learn how to use the platform to its full potential, but once you figure it out, you can reach a lot of people at a relatively low cost.

The best way to stand out and get seen on TikTok is to create engaging content and choose the right strategy to reach your target consumer. Keep this in mind as you work to build out your TikTok marketing strategy.

Photo of Kyra GoodmanKyra Goodman

Kyra is a Junior Marketing Manager and "Spicy Meme Master" at Sked Social who loves to create content. Born and raised in Hawaii, her favorite things are traveling, yoga, beaching, coffee and baseball. Connect with her on twitter at @kyra_n_goodman.

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