An In-depth Look at TikTok, A New Platform for Marketing

1st November 2021

TikTok is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms of all time. It now has 1 billion active users, which is extremely impressive considering it had less than half of this number two years ago.  

TikTok also has a much higher engagement rate than other apps, attributed to high levels of content. There is a lot less stigma around engagement on the app and users are much more willing to like, follow and post.  

Although TikTok is extremely popular, many businesses are still reluctant to use it in their marketing strategy. It is often overlooked as many believe that only young audiences are using the app. Although TikTok is popular with a majority of people under 30, it has been gaining popularity amongst older audiences. Now many celebrities, brands and businesses have TikTok accounts. 

The History of TikTok  

ByteDance (TikTok’s parent company) first launched TikTok under the name of Douyin in China, before launching the TikTok app for international markets in 2017. Both Douyin and TikTok use the same software today, however they still maintain separate networks to comply with China’s censorship laws. 

In 2017, ByteDance purchased, a social media platform that saw users creating short lip-sync videos to popular songs, interacting with other users via trending sounds and hashtags. was then merged with TikTok in 2018. Existing accounts and data were combined to make one app. The ‘TikTok’ name was chosen, marking the end of  

How does TikTok work? 

TikTok gives users the ability to post short videos a maximum length of 3 minutes. The massive sell of TikTok is its collection of sounds. Sounds comprise of user-made sounds and popular music. Users also have a range of effects they can apply to videos. Often sounds and effects will trend, leading to some videos that include them, going viral. Hashtags are also used by content creators to make their videos discoverable by wider audiences in the ‘discover’ page. 

The main feature that sets TikTok apart from the other social media platforms is the “for you page”, also known as the ‘FYP’. The ‘FYP’ is a never-ending feed of videos from creators you may not follow, but TikTok algorithm thinks you will like, based on videos you’ve engaged within the past, and your interests.  

Although users on TikTok have the ability to follow creators and see what they post under the ‘following’ page, many users stay on the ‘for you page’. This makes TikTok incredibly unique as it gives content creators a chance to have their TikTok’s viewed by huge audiences without even having a following. Often TikTok pushes content it believes will go viral; this often leads to creators gaining huge success overnight.  

TikTok business accounts  

TikTok has special accounts for businesses. TikTok business accounts are designed specifically for brands and businesses. These accounts offer features that aren’t available to regular creator profiles.  

Some of the features include: 

  • Ability to set up paid ads account  
  • The option to partner with TikTok influencers  
  • Real time performance tracking  
  • Option to drive traffic to external URL’s  
  • Analytics to spot trends in your market 

How to market on TikTok 

Since TikTok is still relatively new, there is a lot less competition with other businesses. However, marketing on TikTok is different to marketing on other social platforms. For your business to be successful on TikTok you have to create entertaining and shareable content.  

There are three main ways to market your business on TikTok: 

  1. Create your own content and post it to your business account: Experiment with different kinds of content and see what works for your business. Creating content is relatively quick and low budget, you only need a smartphone. The best thing for growth is following popular trends and challenges on the app. You can keep up with trends by checking the ‘trending hashtags’ on the discover page. Utilise the apps built in filters, sounds and editing tools to make authentic content. TikTok gives you huge opportunities for organic reach, but impactful engagement is only possible if your content truly resonates with users. Simply posting your corporate brand messaging won’t work on TikTok.  
  1. Partner up with influencers: Partnering up with influencers gives your business the opportunity to get in front of their audiences. Influencer marketing involves influencers making, sharing and sometimes live streaming videos that promote your business and make it attractive to their followers. Tikok has the ‘Creator Marketplace’, which allows you to search for influencers based on your industry, budget and business budget. You can invite these influencers to partner up. 
  1. Run paid ads: TikTok paid ads allow you to expand your reach easily. You can target specific audiences by gender, location, age and interests. There are five different types of paid ads available which include in-feed ads, brand takeovers, top view, branded hashtag challenge and branded effects.  
  • In-feed ads are videos that appear on users for you page between other videos. 
  • Brand takeover adverts appear to users upon opening the app. 
  • Top view adverts are ads shown at the top of the for you page after 3 seconds of the app being opened.  
  • Branded hashtags encourage user generated content and often revolve around creating a challenge for users to participate in.  
  • Branded effects allow businesses to design their own custom filter on the app for users to use.  

Here is an example of a TikTok we’ve made for Spray Plant UK that performed well. We used the hashtag ‘satisfying’ as videos that are satisfying are a popular trend on TikTok.  

Should you be marketing on TikTok? 

You will need to decide if advertising on TikTok is worth your time. Although TikTok is massively popular you need to make sure it’s popular with audiences that you want to target. Although TikTok is growing more popular with older audiences the main consumers of TikTok are under 30. Marketing on TikTok is also only really suitable to businesses that are business to consumer. 

There is no harm in uploading content you’ve already created to TikTok however, if you want to see growth on the app you should have a dedicated marketing strategy. Users expect entertaining content.  

TikTok is a fantastic opportunity for you to stand out amongst your competitors, and gives you the opportunity for organic growth that other apps do not. If you do believe TikTok is suitable for your business to market on, you should definitely take advantage of the platform whilst other businesses hesitate.  

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