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The Low-Down on TikTok Marketing for Small Businesses (+4 Takeaways to Try)

It’s crazy to think that just a couple of years ago, TikTok wasn’t a “thing,” and now it’s essentially taken over pop culture.

TikTok, an app originally built for lip-syncing, has expanded into a powerhouse social network predominately for Gen Zers. These teens and early 20-somethings take part in challenges, duets, and synchronized dances, among other things, to share with friends and virtual strangers.

@negative_normalI don’t think you’ll ever be ready for this ##foryou ##fyp ##foryoupage ##virał ##dance ##napoliandynomite♬ Get Up (feat Chamillionaire) – Ciara

And, after becoming a quarantine hit last year, TikTok has only continued to grow – reaching 100 million monthly active US users.

Even if you’re not into the TikTok craze yourself, chances are at least some of your target audience is either active on the app or familiar with it.

As a millennial, I’m not part of the typical TikTok demographic, but that didn’t stop me from becoming obsessed last year and spending literal hours watching videos on the app. I’m now a recovering TikTok-addict, but I’m here to share what you need to know about TikTok marketing for your business, like:

  • What TikTok is and how it works.
  • TikTok marketing options available for businesses.
  • How you can use TikTok to market your business.
  • Takeaways you can learn from TikTok even if it’s not right for your business now.

 

What Is TikTok & How Does it Work?

TikTok is a video-sharing app that allows users to share short videos with music or original sounds. Users can also add stickers, filters, and lenses to their videos and post using hashtags to increase exposure.

@420doggface208♬ Dreams (2004 Remaster) – Fleetwood Mac

TikTok is often compared to Vine, the short-lived (but never forgotten) short-format video app that was purchased by Twitter before it shut down. (Although you can still watch Vine compilations on YouTube — this is one of my personal favorites.)

When you open up TikTok on your mobile device, it automatically starts playing videos with audio (beware if you open in public – especially if you’re in a quiet place). These videos are in your For You tab, which will start personalizing to your preferences as you interact in the app. You can also follow users and see their newest videos in a separate tab labeled Following. As you’re watching videos, you can “heart” them, which adds them to your personal repository, and you can comment on them or share them.

You can search videos by user, hashtags, and more in the Discover tab.

tiktok marketing for small business - discover tab

To upload a video to TikTok, you just click the plus button, take or upload a video, and choose music to put over the video. Then, you can add your content and hashtags. Hashtags are important for searching, trending, and getting in the For You tab, but the music or sound you choose is also important.

Users can also create original sounds that others can then use to duet or create their own videos. This is another way that users can get found and increase exposure on the app.

 

TikTok Marketing for Small Businesses: What You Need to Know

As a business owner, you might be wondering why you should care about TikTok, especially if your demographic is not Gen Z. Let’s explore the top facts you need to know about TikTok marketing for your business.

How Many People Use TikTok?

We know that TikTok has seen substantial growth over 2020, but the actual numbers are kind of shocking:

tiktok marketing - app downloads and user growth 2020

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While lockdown orders and quarantine seemed to help popularize the app, it has only continued to grow and shows no signs of stopping.

Who’s Using TikTok?

It might be surprising to know that TikTok’s demographics have expanded to include more than just teens.

Ten-to-19-year-olds do make up the largest percentage of users (25%), but the 20-to-29-year-old group and 30-to-39-year-old demographic are not far behind at just over 20% each.

tiktok for business - tiktok age of users

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This represents a change from 2020 when teens made up nearly 35% of the user base on TikTok, which means that as TikTok grows, more of your demographic may begin using the app.

How Do People Use TikTok?

People have been spending records amount of time on their phones over the last year (my weekly screentime alert is appalling), and much of that time is spent on TikTok. Consider these usage stats:

  • 90% of TikTok users open the app more than once a day — eight times a day on average.
  • The average user spends nearly one hour on the app every day.
  • 1 billion videos are watched on TikTok daily.

tiktok marketing - tiktok stats

So, it’s clear that people are using the app regularly and adopting usage at high rates – which speaks to the importance of getting familiar with TikTok whether you’re going to use it to market your business or not.

Speaking of…

What TikTok Marketing Options Are Available for Small Businesses?

Businesses of all sizes have started getting into TikTok – especially over the last year. Many businesses and brands are using it just for a fun to test content, get in on viral video challenges, and engage with their audiences.

We even got in on the action pre-pandemic and had one of our videos go viral!

@localiqGetting everyone in the Halloween spirit! 🎃 #trickortreats #pranks #foryou #fyp #4u #chooseyourgame #tiktok♬ Better Follow Us Now – 🤑Bridget😍Ryann

Others, however, have started to take advantage of TikTok’s recently released advertising options.

TikTok tested advertising as an option for brands in late 2019 but has since enabled further ad options for brands and businesses of all sizes, even creating a Business Creator Hub to help businesses take advantage of TikTok for brand building and advertising.

Additionally, they commissioned a study to determine how effective advertising on TikTok was for businesses, how users perceived ads, and what businesses and brands need to know for effective advertising on the app.

What they found was that 72% of respondents found ads on TikTok “inspiring,” the highest of any platform. Users also find ads on TikTok “trendsetting,” and 70% said they found TikTok ads enjoyable.

These findings speak to the effectiveness of TikTok advertising for businesses looking to engage and reach a new audience.

 

How to Use TikTok Marketing for Your Business

If these stats and data points have convinced you that TikTok is a must for your business, we’ve got you covered. Here are some ways to use TikTok marketing for your business:

Set Up an Account for Your Business

The first step to using TikTok for your business is easy – you need to set up an account to start using the app. Just like creating any other social media account for your business, it’s important to keep your branding and information on TikTok consistent with your business name, logo, and any other brand identifiers.

tiktok marketing - set up your business account

Get in on the TikTok Trends

One of the best ways to promote your business’s TikTok and gain followers is by jumping on the latest trends. This often involves learning a TikTok dance or posting a Duet with another TikTok account.

A Duet is when you record your video alongside the original poster’s video – this can help you build on the popularity of the original post and increase your chances of getting found in someone’s For You page.

@lauriehernandez_#duet with @skinnymario1914 I’ve waited my whole life for this♬ Charlie Brown – Children’s Cartoon All-Stars

Test Your Video Content

Video content is a great way to engage your audience and build your brand, and TikTok is an ideal testing ground to see what works (and what doesn’t).

You can use your business’s TikTok page as a place to see what resonates with an audience, what drives engagement, and what’s not performing as expected.

From there, you can repurpose your TikTok videos on other social media sites – like Instagram Reels and Facebook. This gives you an easy way to take advantage of the video creation options on TikTok, like the music, filters, and stickers, and get engagement on your other social media pages.

tiktok marketing - test video content

You can see that performance on the University of Georgia’s TikTok varies from video-to-video.

Use Hashtags & the Right Sounds

Some of the top ways your business can get found on TikTok is through hashtags and the music or sounds you use in your video.

Pay attention to the TikTok hashtags that are getting the most traction on your own For You page to determine what you can use when you post and make sure to use trending music or sound in your videos.

tiktok marketing - use hashtags and trending sounds or music

Look into TikTok Ads

You might decide that TikTok is the right fit for your business to advertise. If that’s the case, TikTok suggests using an already-created TikTok video for your ad. Learn more about TikTok ads here.

 

TikTok Takeaways (Even if It’s Not Right for Your Business Now)

Based on TikTok’s demographics and your creative bandwidth, you might decide that TikTok isn’t a fit for your business right now. There are still some key TikTok marketing takeaways that can help you promote your business.

Invest in Personalization

In the TikTok app, the default tab you see is the For You tab. Consumers are so used to personalization now that it’s important to infuse this into your marketing or into how you’re running your business. This can be done with targeting options like geo-targeting, something simple like making sure your automated emails include consumer’s first names, and more.

tiktok marketing tips - use personalization

Pay Attention to What’s Timely & Trending

So much of TikTok is getting in on what’s trending to get seen by more users. That means keeping up with the latest that’s going on in the app. When it comes to marketing, there’s always something new going on that you need to know about.

Whether it’s a Google algorithm update (like mobile-first indexing) that’s going to impact your performance on the search engine or an emerging social platform you’re unsure if you should join (like TikTok!), you want to be in the loop. You can do this by reading leading industry publications like Search Engine Land or Search Engine Journal, subscribing to a newsletter, or learning more about local marketing (like with our LOCALiQ Marketing Lab!).

Streamline the Customer Experience

TikTok is easy to use. You don’t really need a tutorial to figure out how to use it – and you don’t even need an account to get started. You just open the app and get to scrolling. You can search for hashtags and users, and by liking videos, it automatically adds them to a list of favorites you can revisit.

Because TikTok is so easy to use, it’s easily addictive. You want every part of your business to be easy for your customers so they become addicted to you! It should be easy for them to find you (both online and offline!), easy for them to contact you in their preferred method (phone, email, chat, and text), and easy for them to interact and engage with you.

tiktok marketing takeaways - improve customer experience

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When it’s easy for consumers to do business with you, it increases the chances that they will.

Don’t Be Afraid to Get Creative

TikTok really serves no other purpose at this point other than fun. You watch videos of people doing silly things, and they’re usually pretty creative. So often, we remove the creativity piece from marketing, when creativity should be a key piece of the puzzle.

Your marketing messages, images, and even your overall marketing plan need to have some elements that stand out, or you won’t stand out from your competitors.

 

Is TikTok Marketing Right for Your Business?

Whether TikTok is a fit for your business now or not, it’s an important trend to stay on top of so you can continue engaging with and reaching customers. Plus, as TikTok grows, the likelihood that you’ll need a presence on the app will, too.

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