TikTok Marketing: A Beginner's Guide

Samuel Edwards
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October 13, 2023

So, you've finally decided to take the plunge.Or maybe you're just curious about learning more about the platform.Either way, you know that TikTok marketing has a ton of potential.

TikTok Global Downloads

But how exactly does TikTok marketing work?Does this the right move for every business?And how do you get the most out of your TikTok marketing and advertising strategy?

What Is TikTok Marketing?

TikTok is a social media platform that focuses on highly shareable, engageable video content.Users can create videos from scratch or modify existing videos, then share those videos with their friends and followers. The platform allows for videos of up to 10 minutes, but most people on the platform focus on making much shorter, punchier videos. TikTok users are much more likely to engage with a video that's less than a minute long, so most creators prioritize this.TikTok marketing is a strategy designed to take advantage of the explosive popularity of this app to showcase your brand, your products, and your services. Much like other social media strategies, you can use organic posting to build a following and nurture your biggest fans. You can also use paid advertising to reach new people and cut out the messy middle work.TikTok marketing isn't guaranteed to be effective, and it's not the best medium for every brand. However, there's enormous potential here – and with the right strategies, you can greatly amplify your overall marketing reach.

Why Use TikTok Marketing?

Global TikTok Monthly Users

Not convinced that TikTok marketing is a good idea?Let’s take a look at some of the statistics:

  • TikTok is currently the highest-grossing non-game app.
  • TikTok has more than 1 billion monthly active users.
  • TikTok is more popular than Instagram among Gen Z users.
  • Children spend 62 percent more time on TikTok than YouTube.
  • 29 percent of TikTok users open the app on a daily basis.
  • Average users spend 95 minutes per day on TikTok.
  • TikTok is considered the most engaging social media platform, with average engagement of 4.25 percent.
  • 55 percent of TikTok users have made a purchase after seeing the brand’s advertisements or videos on the app.
  • Only 18 percent of marketers are currently using TikTok.

As you can see, TikTok is an extraordinarily popular app, and it seems to be growing in popularity with each passing year. At the same time, a tiny minority of marketers are currently using TikTok, representing a potential competitive advantage for you.One important thing to note is that TikTok is disproportionately favored by young people. The user base of TikTok skews very young, and older adults are more likely to have negative feelings about the app. Keep this in mind; if you're not interested in appealing to children and teenagers, this strategy may not be viable for you. Or at the very least, you'll probably find better results with other social media apps and mediums.

How to Create a TikTok Account

Creating a TikTok business account is easy. After creating a normal account, go into your account settings, select “Manage account,” then choose “Switch to Business Account.”From here, you'll be able to create and post videos to your business account and leverage the power of TikTok Ads Manager.

How to Create TikTok Videos

How do you create TikTok videos?The app allows you to make novel modifications to videos, adding stickers, sound effects, specific lines of dialogue, filters, and tons of other special features. When creating a video, you'll have the option of pulling in a video saved on your phone or filming a new one from scratch.Either way, once you have a video captured, you can modify it as you see fit. The app is designed to be simple and intuitive, so you should have no trouble experimenting with some of the interesting and dynamic effects available to you. Additionally, new effects are being added all the time, so there's always new material to explore.Once you're done editing, you can review the video and post it to your TikTok business account.If you need further help creating videos for the first time, TikTok has some excellent guides worth reading.

Organic vs. Paid TikTok Marketing

Organic vs. Paid TikTok Marketing

The biggest decision you'll make in TikTok marketing is deciding whether to pursue organic marketing or paid advertising.TikTok organic marketing is all about trying to reach people naturally, as if you were an average TikTok user. You'll create videos on a regular basis, share them with your followers, reach out to new people, and eventually build a following. From there, you can create videos on any topic and rest assured that your content will reach a large chunk of your audience.TikTok makes it easier than most social media platforms for your content to reach new people, since it algorithmically chooses content to display in a section called “For You.” In this section, users can review carefully curated videos that match their interests and personality. Once your content starts to become successful, you'll start showing up in “For You” sections of regular users, introducing them to your brand and potentially drawing them into your audience.These videos are selected based on a number of criteria determined by TikTok, including:

  • User interactions. What has this user interacted with in the past? What types of videos are most likely to hold their attention?
  • Video details. What details of the video are most important? What is the subject of the video, how long is it, and what effects are present?
  • Device and setting data. What type of device is this user using and what are their settings?

Organic marketing is effective because it generates natural, genuine interest in your brand and its products. However, it can also be difficult, inconsistent, and unreliable. Even if you make amazing content, there's no guarantee it's going to reach the people you want, and no matter how engaging you are, your content will never reach 100 percent of your following. On top of that, it usually takes months, if not years to build up a strong following.That's why many TikTok marketers turn to the world of paid advertising as an alternative.If you have any experience with bidding on ads in Google Ads or a similar platform, TikTok Ads Manager is going to look familiar to you. The ads manager utilizes a bidding system, allowing different brands to competitively bid on ad placements.There are several types of ads to choose from, including:

  • TopView ads. These ads appear to a user upon opening the TikTok app.
  • In-Feed ads. These are a form of native advertising, with ads appearing on users’ “For You” pages.
  • Branded Hashtag Challenge. This method is designed to encourage users to use a branded hashtag of your choice.
  • Branded Effects. These allow you to create custom stickers, filters, and effects on behalf of your brand, which can then be used by other TikTokers.

Additionally, you can bid in a number of different ways:

  • Cost per thousand impressions (CPM). This is the cost for placing your ad in front of 1,000 people.
  • Optimized cost per thousand impressions (oCPM). This is similar to CPM, but is focused exclusively on people who are considered likely to take an action.
  • Cost per thousand views (CPV). In this approach, you’ll pay to have 1,000 people watch the video ad for a specific length of time: 2 seconds, 6 seconds, or the entire length.
  • Cost per click (CPC). This is the cost for each click on your ads.

Compared to organic marketing, paid advertising on TikTok is a practical guarantee of results; if you pay money for ads, you'll get a specific number of impressions, views, or clicks in return. It's also much faster and easier to scale, as long as you have the budget to do it. However, users may not be willing to engage with ads as much as organic content, and the strategy can be expensive for some users.

Organic TikTok Marketing Tips

If you’re familiar with content marketing in general, you already know some of the most important fundamentals that will lead you to success in organic TikTok marketing. But here are some additional tips that can help you find success:

  • Appeal to a specific target demographic. With more than a billion users on the platform, it's tempting to make your content as generic as possible to maximize its reach. But it's much better if you appeal to a specific target demographic. Increasing the specificity of your content should increase its relevance, make it more engaging, and ultimately put it in front of more users. Additionally, you'll avoid some of the top competition. Always do your market research before producing anything for the platform.
  • Capitalize on what’s popular. Check out the Discover tab and browse through it on a daily basis. Chances are, you'll get a feel for the ebb and flow of new trends; in the span of just a few days, TikTok can be completely taken over by a new hashtag, a new filter, or a new song featured in videos. Do what you can to capitalize on whatever is popular at the time; just make sure you utilize the trend properly so your brand doesn't seem inauthentic or out of touch.
  • Use trending hashtags. Similarly, make use of trending hashtags. Hashtags are one of the greatest tools available for increasing discoverability; people use these keywords and terms to conduct searches and find new things, so use contextually relevant hashtags for all your organic posts.
  • Use trending songs and dialogue. Most people know TikTok as a video platform, but it's also important to pay attention to your audio when marketing. Try to use popular songs, dialogue, and sound effects in your videos to take advantage of the zeitgeist.
  • Take advantage of captions. It's also important to include captions on your videos. It's a great way to add more messaging or context to your content and it can hold user attention as well.
  • Do something surprising. People who use TikTok sometimes find themselves endlessly scrolling through an ocean of repetitive posts with regurgitated content concepts. If you want to stand out, and make a better impression with your target audience, consider doing something more novel or surprising. Exercise your creativity and show people something they've never seen before.
  • Engage. If you want to build a following, you need to engage with people. That means reaching out to new people on a regular basis, responding to other TikTok creators and marketers, and making your audience feel like you truly know them and love them.
  • Learn from your past posts. Study your performance so you can learn from your past posts. Which types of videos seem to resonate most with your target audience? Are there any video concepts that simply didn't work out? Why?
  • Be patient. Building an organic social media following is not an easy feat, and not something that you can accomplish in a few days or weeks. Try to remain patient as you maintain your consistent focus on content quality and audience engagement.

Paid TikTok Advertising Tips

These tips can help you find more success with a paid TikTok advertising strategy:

  • Set goals. Before you start bidding on ads, you should set the direction for your TikTok marketing campaign by setting specific goals that you want to achieve. What exactly are you trying to accomplish and how are you going to accomplish it? How many conversions do you want to see and how much are you willing to pay for them? Is it more important to build brand awareness and familiarity or drive more traffic to your website? Also, there’s no excuse not to set goals here because TikTok has built-in goals for your convenience. Goals focus on awareness, consideration, or conversions.
  • Get creative with targeting. TikTok Ads Manager allows you to target people based on “dimensions” like demographics, interests and behavior, and the much-more-nebulous “smart targeting.” Use these controls to focus on the most appropriate audience for your brand and reach them specifically. The more focused and relevant your ad content is, the better.
  • Find the sweet spot between value and competition. Highly popular subjects with potential for high conversions tend to be attractive advertising concepts, which means the price of ads will be higher and you'll face more competitors. Accordingly, you should try to find a sweet spot between value and competition; you want to target lucrative opportunities, but you also want to avoid some of the fiercest competitors on the platform if you want to keep your budget intact. This sweet spot looks a little different for each brand.
  • Focus on quality. You need to put considerable thought and effort into your TikTok ads. If your videos don't stand out, or if they're not directly appealing to your target audience, you'll end up wasting money. Every video ad you produce should be a mini masterpiece.
  • Review your data carefully. Finally, take the time to review your data carefully. TikTok Ads Manager does a great job of keeping tabs of your ad performance with hundreds of different variables. If you do a deep dive, you can figure out exactly how much you're spending, exactly how much value you're getting, and how you should adjust your strategy in the future to maximize your gains.

Working With a Marketing Agency

TikTok Marketing Agency

If you can't stand the idea of learning yet another new social media platform, or if you just feel overwhelmed at the marketing and advertising possibilities of TikTok, your best course of action is to work with a marketing agency. Your marketing agency can help you with every step of the process, from helping you set campaign goals to helping you film and edit successful videos for distribution. If you're interested in learning more about how a TikTok marketing agency can help you, or if you're ready for a free quote, contact us today!

Author

Samuel Edwards

Chief Marketing Officer

Throughout his extensive 10+ year journey as a digital marketer, Sam has left an indelible mark on both small businesses and Fortune 500 enterprises alike. His portfolio boasts collaborations with esteemed entities such as NASDAQ OMX, eBay, Duncan Hines, Drew Barrymore, Price Benowitz LLP, a prominent law firm based in Washington, DC, and the esteemed human rights organization Amnesty International. In his role as a technical SEO and digital marketing strategist, Sam takes the helm of all paid and organic operations teams, steering client SEO services, link building initiatives, and white label digital marketing partnerships to unparalleled success. An esteemed thought leader in the industry, Sam is a recurring speaker at the esteemed Search Marketing Expo conference series and has graced the TEDx stage with his insights. Today, he channels his expertise into direct collaboration with high-end clients spanning diverse verticals, where he meticulously crafts strategies to optimize on and off-site SEO ROI through the seamless integration of content marketing and link building.