TikTok is one of the fastest-growing social media apps. It allows its users to create, edit and share short looping videos with filters, musical overlays, animations, special effects, and more.  You can lip-sync to popular songs, shoot comedy sketches or cringe videos, record a “duet” with someone by replying to their video or upload your own sound.

The app was developed by Chinese Internet technology company ByteDance. It was released in China in September 2016 as Douyin. Almost a year later, ByteDance launched the app as TikTok for markets outside of China. TikTok and Douyin both use the same software, but maintain separate networks in order to comply with Chinese censorship restrictions.

In August 2018, TikTok merged with the US digital platform musical.ly to leverage ‘s its young user base. The existing accounts were consolidated into one app to create a larger community. Since then, there has been no looking back!  With more than one billion all-time downloads, it had surpassed Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat in monthly installs by September 2018.  It has 500 million active users worldwide, which is much more than sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Snapchat. As of February 2019, it had 27 million active users in the US.

Why Should You Start Using TikTok for Marketing campaigns?

Gen-Z has already taken to the platform to flaunt their creative side, while several brands have started experimenting on the platform to engage their audience.

TikTok is actively seeking partnerships with brands in its bid to expand in the U.S. market.  As such juncture brands have more opportunities and autonomy on TikTok than on established social media channels. Moreover, in a less-crowded brand space, you have more opportunities to show off your creative and funky side.

How Can Brands Use TikTok?

The majority of users on TikTok are between the ages of 13 and 24 and most of them are females. 24-30-year-olds constitute the next demographic. For your marketing efforts to make sense, your products should have some appeal for people in this age group.

There are three main ways that brands can market on TikTok.

  1. You can create your own channel and upload videos showcasing your products or services.
  2. You can work with influencers to target a broader audience
  3. You can pay to advertise on TikTok.

Getting Started

#1: Install TikTok On Your Mobile Device

Download the TikTok App on your mobile device to get started. The “For You” feed is the default screen when you first log in, so you don’t even have to set up an account to start viewing videos. 

Tap on “Discover” to see content categorized by hashtags. You can use the search bar in this section to discover content that you may be interested in. It is a good idea, to search for brands in your category and see how they are using the platform. You may even want to check your competitors profile to learn how they are engaging with their audience.

Now its time to create your account, use your business email to create your brand account. You can even login using your Facebook or Google account. If you are signing-in using an email, it may ask for a phone number to verify your account.

  • Once you have signed in, you can edit your profile by clicking on “ME” in the bottom navigation menu.
  • Click on Edit Profile to add your Name and User Name. Remember this is your brand account, so your Name and User Name should ideally be your Brand name.
  • Just like on Instagram, you can add a short bio of around 80 words to describe your business to your audience.
  • You can also link your Instagram and Youtube profiles.
  • Add a profile photo or video; In case of a brand account, this should be your logo.
  • Click on save to complete.

#2: Start Populating Your Feed

Tap on the plus icon to create a 15-second or 60-second video. You can either upload an existing video that you recorded earlier or record something on the fly.

For first time users, it is always better to start by uploading a previously recorded video. When you click on the upload icon, you will be led to your gallery, select the video you wish to upload and click on Next to continue.

  • TikTok Provides you several options to edit your video. You can trim the video, add different filters, and adjust the volume.
  • You can choose from a wide of filters available on the app.
  • Add special effects to make your video fun. You have a wide array of options from visual effects, stickers, transitions to splitting your video into parts. You can even control the speed of your video- show it in slow motion, increase the speed or show it in reverse. See the screenshots below.
  • Add sound to your video by choosing from the options available on the app or add your own audio.
  • Just like on Instagram and Snapchat, you can also add text to your videos.


  • When you are satisfied with the editing and ready to share your video to the world, click on “Next” to continue. You can add a caption, add any relevant hashtags, and adjust your sharing settings.
  • Click on “post” to share immediately, or save to drafts if you wish to come back to it later.

By default, people can download or share your content on other social media sites. Although all videos downloaded or shared from TikTok will bear the TikToK logo. While this feature does increase the organic reach of your videos, if for any reason you do not want to allow people to download or share your video, you can control this within the privacy settings.

Build your own Feed

Tiktok is the place for quirky, funny, casual and cool. What is it about your brand that you want to showcase on TikTok? Once you have a strategy in place, you can start creating and uploading fun videos to bring out the fun, creative side of your brand. Here are some examples to inspire you.

The Washington Post

The Washington Post was one of the earliest brands on TikTok. If you are expecting breaking news or political analysis from Washington Post’s TiokTok handle, you are in for a big surprise.

The newspaper uses its account to share behind-the-scenes videos of their staff having a good time in the newsroom. These videos are quirky, musical, and just everything the audience on TikTok is looking for.

NBA

With a whopping 5.1 million fans, NBA’s TikTok Account shows a different side of the organization. They often post videos of players working out or having fun on the court, videos of team mascots and fans.

Calvin Klein (@CalvinKlein)

Calvin Klein shares campaign footage, videos showcasing their products or customers chilling out in their products.

Restaurants on TikTok

Several restaurants Have already started experimenting with TikTok. Quirky videos of the service staff handling multiple orders or videos of your chef’s preparing menu items are very popular on the platform.

The Bailey Bakery creates videos of their bakers decorating cookies with music in the background. They have already accumulated 4.4 million fans.

Chipotle

Chipotle has over 55,000 fans on TikTok. They publish a variety of posts from quirky original content to memes and videos showcasing menu items.

Promoting Your Brand On TikTok

Hashtag Challenges

TikTok users love creating and uploading videos. You as a brand can leverage this to your advantage by creating a challenge. Challenges are a pretty common feature on TikTok. You only have to think of a fun and creative way of including your product or service in the challenge. Once you have come up with an idea, give it a Hashtag name to make it memorable and easy-to-find and invite your followers to participate in the challenge.

On National Avocado Day, Chipotle posted a #GuacDance challenge, encouraging fans to post videos of themselves dancing with Avocados inspired by Dr. Jean’s “Guacamole Song.” The challenge generated 250,000 video submissions in six days and became TikTok’s highest-performing branded challenge in the U.S. The promotion also resulted in Chipotle’s highest guacamole sales in a single day.

Popular brand Guess issued the #InMyDenim challenge, which encouraged users to show off their moves wearing Guess’ new denim line to the tune of Bebe Rexha’s “I’m A Mess.”

Challenges help you reach a wider audience and generate brand awareness. They also allow you to engage with your audience in a meaningful way.

If your Brand has just started out on TikTok, Hashtag Challenges may be difficult to pull off. In such a scenario, it is best to collaborate with influencers on TikTok to kickstart your #hashtag challenge.

User-Generated Content

UGC is one of the most sought after content forms, primarily because word-of-mouth referrals are the best kind of referrals. It lends your brand social currency if your customers step into the role of advertisers and share videos of themselves using or interacting with your products. Like on every other platform (remember Coca-Cola’s Share a Coke Campaign), UGC is very popular on TikTok.

Chinese restaurant Haidilao came up with a DIY option on their menu. Customers could create their own dish using a selection of ingredients from the Haidilao menu and film the entire experience. Haidilao encouraged their clients to share their videos on Douyin(The original Chinese version of TikTok). Almost 15000 people flocked to the restaurant to try the DIY option on the menu and a total of 2,000 videos were uploaded, which received 50 million views.

Influencer Marketing

Another way to reach a wider audience on TikTok is through influencer marketing. If you have tried it for your other social media channels, then you know how it works. There are several young people who are incredibly popular on TikTok. You can work with them to create videos showcasing your products.

Before you start hunting for an influencer, consider your goal —is it to drive UGC or to generate brand awareness and sales? Search the TikTok creators whose audience aligns with your target audience. The ideal match would an influencer whose online persona is in line with your brand values. You would also want to check the quality of their content and how much engagement do they generate on an average.

Work on the terms and conditions of the agreement and help them understand how you would like your product to be showcased. Once you have taken care of the basics, you can leave the creative process to their discretion.

Wrap-Up

TikTok offers a great opportunity for brands that are targeting young audiences. In terms of advertising, the platform is still in its infancy, so it is the right time to get on board!