TikTok Marketing for small businesses in 2022
You’ve heard the expression “15 minutes of fame”, right? Well, how about 15 seconds?
Because that’s all it might take to catapult your small business to viral fame and for your brand to become a TikTok sensation overnight, even before you’ve built up a solid base of fervent followers. It could happen even with one of the very first videos you post — as happened to small business The Silk Labs in 2019.
TikTok itself is something of an overnight sensation. Launched in 2017, it has been downloaded over 3 billion times (reaching that particular milestone in just under 4 years) and, for the third year in a row, was the most downloaded app in the world in 2021.
According to Business of Apps, TikTok has enjoyed rapid revenue growth of 142% year over year — generating a whopping $4.6 billion in 2021. And by the end of 2022, it’s expected to reach 1.8 billion users, almost double the number it had at the end of the 2nd quarter in 2021.
No wonder marketers around the world are waking up to the potential for TikTok to help businesses increase brand awareness, build community, and sell their products and services.
But how do you go about marketing on TikTok? And is that something your small business should be doing?
In this value-packed guide, we’ll take you through some of the best marketing tips for TikTok. So when it comes to using TikTok to promote and grow your small business, you’re all set to put on those dancing shoes and really bust some moves. 💃
- What is TikTok and how does it work?
- Why marketing on TikTok makes sense for small businesses
- How to get started with TikTok Marketing for small businesses
- How to create TikTok videos
- Ideas on the building blocks for a TikTok Marketing strategy
What is TikTok and how does it work?
TikTok is a short-form video-sharing app that lets you create and share 15-second videos on any topic.
TikTok gives users a personalized video feed based on what they watch, like, comment on, and share. While individual videos max out after 15 seconds, you can combine a series of videos for a total of 60 seconds. More recently, people have started uploading three-minute TikToks.
What makes TikTok so appealing for users and content creators?
You can add all sorts of music, sounds, and editing effects to your videos. And there are a gazillion trends to jump on, get inspired by, and go viral with.
Why marketing on Tiktok makes sense for small businesses
Think TikTok is just for teenagers and twenty-somethings? A Gen Z space where marketing has no place?
While TikTok certainly offers you a fantastic opportunity to reach younger audiences, it’s also a great place to grow your brand recognition without needing to grow an enormous marketing budget.
And it gives you a platform for connecting with a target market much quicker. That’s because it’s somewhere you can form niche communities and TikTok’s organic reach is unsurpassed by other social media platforms.
What’s more, while the majority of TikTok users worldwide are aged under 30, the app’s popularity is set to grow with all age demographics. In fact, it already has a sizable number of users who don’t fall within the Generation Z or younger Millennials brackets. For example, of TikTok’s users in the US, 53% are aged 30 or over.
How to start TikTok Marketing for small businesses
Ready to “move your business to new heights”? To “enter a world exploding with joy and inspiration”?
Then you’re ready to join TikTok for Business, the marketing and advertising management hub TikTok launched in 2020.
According to TikTok, this is “where you tap into your brand’s creative side.”
Exciting, right?! 😃
But before we get into the good stuff, let’s make sure we get you set up properly…
How to set up your TikTok business account
First things first, sign up for TikTok.
Once you’ve opened the app, you’ll be presented with a choice of methods for signing up for an account. Nothing you haven’t encountered before.
You can either create a username and password or use your Facebook, Apple, Google, or Twitter account details.
Your name and username
Your name is the name TikTok users see on your profile, while your username is the @username TikTok users can use to find or tag you. This has to be unique.
Make sure it’s easy for people to find and recognize you. It’s a good idea to use your business name or the same branded username you have across your other social media channels.
Changing your username
You can change your username once every 30 days. It can contain only letters, numbers, underscores, and periods — although you can’t put periods at the end of your username.
If you decide to change your username, remember that doing so will also change your personal TikTok URL. Which means that if anyone tries to use your older profile link, they won’t be able to see your videos.
Editing your profile
Once you have an account, you can edit your profile by:
- Updating your name and username
- Adding pronouns
- Adding a bio
- Adding a profile photo or video
- Adding a link to your bio
- Connecting to your Instagram or YouTube profiles.
Note that once you’ve set a profile video, your profile photo will no longer be visible.
Adding a nonprofit listing to your profile
You can also choose to display a nonprofit fundraiser you wish to support.
If a profile visitor taps on your nonprofit listing, they will be able to see how much money you have raised for your chosen charity. They will also be presented with a prominent “Donate” button with direct links to donation options.
Given that TikTok users crave authenticity and values, this is something well worth considering.
Creating a TikTok business account
- On your profile page, tap the hamburger menu (the “3 horizontal lines” icon) in the top right-hand corner.
- Open the Settings and Privacy tab, then tap Manage Account.
- In the “Account Control” section, tap Switch to Business Account.
- You’ll then be presented with a choice of 25 different business categories, such as Clothing & Accessories, Health & Wellness, Professional Services, and Shopping & Retail. Choose the category that best describes your small business, and you’re good to go! 🙌
The power of observation
In a moment, we’ll look at how to go about devising a TikTok strategy. But if you can’t wait, here’s a sneak peek at the essentials of TikTok content creation.
In short: Watch. Create. Repeat.
But when you’re first getting started, it’s worth spending a week or two just in observer mode — to watch and learn. That’s because TikTok is very different from other social media platforms.
So take some time to play around with the app and learn how it works. Get familiar with trending sounds, hashtags, and challenges. And find out what your audience likes, how your competitors are using the platform, and who the key influencers are in your niche.
How to create a TikTok video
TikTok gives you the option of shooting a video directly in the app or of uploading a prerecorded video from your camera roll.
Shooting videos on TikTok
To shoot a video using TikTok, select the plus sign icon at the bottom of your screen and then press and hold the red button.
When you create a video directly within the TikTok platform, you can take advantage of a range of features. These include:
- Adding sounds — your own sounds, sounds from other videos, a voiceover, or music from TikTok’s vast library
- Flipping between the front and back camera (TikTok to TokTik? 😁)
- Setting the video speed to 0.3x, 0.5x, 1x, 2x, or 3x
- Zoooooming in or out
- Filters — choose from hundreds of filters, grouped under portrait, landscape, food, and vibe categories
- Enhance — apply an automatic filter to adjust the appearance of your face, including smoothing your skin or whitening your teeth
- Timer — use the timer to shoot videos without having to hold down the record button (plus the countdown function means you really can tick-tock ⏰)
If you’re used to posting videos on Instagram, you’ll be familiar with creating content that can be understood without the sound turned on — at least for the first few seconds anyway. (For a guide to creating Instagram content, see our article: Instagram marketing for small businesses in 2022: The essential guide.)
But when it comes to TikTok, sound is king.
Pairing your video with the right sound can turbocharge the number of shares your video receives. And if you manage to create a viral sound, you can expect TikTokers from all over to start using it in their own videos.
Use the search bar to discover or search for a specific sound. Preview the sound by pressing Play and save it by pressing Bookmark.
Customize and add details to your TikTok videos by using effects. These include adding text, stickers, and emojis.
You can add effects before and after recording a video, although some effects are only available before while others are only available after.
Pro tip: Add an effect to your Favorites to make it easy to find later.
When you browse a grid of videos on TikTok, you’ll see a thumbnail image for each video. These are called video covers.
To add a video cover before posting your video:
- Tap Select cover on the post page.
- Drag and drop the pink frame anywhere on your video.
- Tap Save.
If people are going to find your content, you need to be strategic with your hashtags.
While there’s no limit on the number of hashtags you can add to your videos, the hashtags you use will appear in your video captions and those are limited to 300 characters. So it’s probably best to stick to no more than 3—5 hashtags. That way you’ll still have space to write a fun or descriptive caption.
Here are some other useful tips:
- Combine popular, trending hashtags with niche, brand-related ones.
- Popular hashtags can be short-lived so make sure you research hashtags that are trending today and not just yesterday.
- The easiest way to find trending hashtags is to scroll through the search section in the app. But you can also use TikTok’s Trend Discovery platform or use a TikTok hashtag generator to create different hashtags around a topic.
For more tips on how to use hashtags on TikTok (and Instagram) see our blog post Hashtags are not dead: How to use tags on Instagram and TikTok in 2022.
Want to combine another video on TikTok with the video you’re creating? Then say “hello” to Stitch.
With Stitch enabled, you can also allow someone else to combine your video or part of your video with their own.
To select who you allow to Stitch with your videos, go to your account privacy settings and then choose one of the following 3 options:
- Followers that you follow back (your Friends)
- Only me (by which I mean “you,” not “me.” Make sense? 😵)
You can turn Stitch off or on before posting a video and also for videos you have already posted.
While Stitch allows you to combine your video with another TikTok video, Duet allows you to play your video side-by-side with someone else’s video. The two videos are played at the same time in a split screen.
As with Stitch, you can choose who you allow to Duet with your videos in your account privacy settings, as well as turning Duet off and on for existing videos or before you post a new video.
Ideas on the building blocks for a TikTok Marketing strategy
How to come up with interesting content for TikTok
When it comes to creating your own organic content on TikTok, the world is your oyster.
You can post everything from documenting a day in the life of your business and showcasing your products and how they work to sharing funny videos, hashtag challenges, and dance routines.
How can you come up with ideas related to your brand?
- Think about the topics or problems your audience is interested in — just as you would when creating a content calendar for your blog.
- Pay attention to common questions your audience is asking on popular forums.
- Or take advantage of Google Search’s autosuggest feature.
But if you’re really stuck for ideas, why not head over to the inspiration page on TikTok’s website?
Influencer Marketing on TikTok
TikTok users, particularly Gen Z and younger Millennials, want brands they can trust. And partnering with an influencer is a great way to build trust in your brand.
Influencer audiences are usually super engaged, so partnering with the right influencer can turbocharge your small business’s presence on the app.
But while millions of users watch content produced by TikToker superstars such as Charli D’Amelio, Addison Rae, and Spencer X, you don’t need a high-profile influencer to bring success to your marketing strategy. Look for up-and-coming stars or an influencer in your niche.
How do you decide if an influencer is a good fit for your small business?
Start by asking yourself these questions:
- Is there a match between your target audience and the influencer’s audience?
- Is the influencer’s content relevant to your niche?
- Does the influencer’s audience have a high engagement level? In other words, are they interacting with the influencer’s posts?
You can also sign up for TikTok’s Creator Marketplace. Metrics such as audience demographics will help you decide whether an influencer is right for your small business.
Check out our article on virtual influencers to explore alternative TikTok influencer marketing opportunities.
When it introduced TikTok for Business in 2020, TikTok made a bold call to advertisers to stop making advertisements. But, in reality, its mantra of “Don’t Make Ads, Make TikToks” was intended more as an invitation for brands to be “more creative, more authentic, and to create content that truly speaks to people.”
There are, in fact, 5 different types of TikTok ads you can make through TikTok Ads Manager.
These appear on the “For You” page, which is where a user lands when they open the app. They’re the 4th video that a user sees as they scroll through their feed.
Because you can include a CTA, they’re particularly useful if you want to drive sales and conversions.
Want to make an impact even sooner than the 4th video in a user’s feed?
TopView Ads appear immediately after a user opens the app for the first time. They only appear once a day but can be up to 60 seconds long.
That makes them perfect for advertising products and services that require longer promotional material. But to make sure viewers don’t swipe away, you’ll need to be at your most artfully creative best.
Branded Hashtags let you reserve a specific hashtag for a designated period of time and inspire TikTok users to create brand-related content.
They’re like leaving your towel to reserve a sun recliner by the pool, except instead of keeping it to yourself, you actively encourage others to get creative with your recliner, erm, hashtag — and you don’t need to get up at 6 am to secure the best one.
Branded Effects allow you to create 2D, 3D, or AR images of your products that TikTok users can use when creating their videos.
These stickers and filters are a fantastic way to boost brand awareness and engagement.
Looking for the ultimate TikTok advertising experience? One that combines all the best features from In-Feed Ads, TopView Ads, and Branded Hashtags all at once?
You could look to do a Brand Takeover.
This has potential to take your brand engagement and follower numbers to stratospheric levels. But it doesn’t come cheap and availability is scarce with just one business being able to do a Brand Takeover per day.
TikTok Marketing tips for small businesses
There’s no surefire way to be successful on TikTok. What might work one day could fall flat on another.
But, in a way, that’s part of its attraction. Everyone is constantly learning from trial and error and drawing on inspiration from each other.
Nevertheless, there are some best practice tips you can apply to nudge your TikTok marketing in the right direction.
Optimize your content
Help TikTok’s algorithm recognize and promote your content:
- Be consistent
- Post videos at varying times over one week to discover what works best for your brand
- Use trending sounds
- Add relevant hashtags to your captions
- And prioritize shorter videos — after all, TikTok is all about bite-sized content
Jump on the latest trends
Trending searches, trending topics, trending hashtags. No doubt, you’re familiar with all of these.
Well, get ready to add a host of new trends to your repertoire because TikTok users love a trend.
And there are many trends to love! From dance challenges, edgy humor, and making TikToks with your family to seamless transitions, being vulnerable, and videos that are #oddlysatisfying.
Focus on giving your audience value
What are two key watchwords for TikTok?
Trust and authenticity.
While there is scope to promote your products and look to drive sales, there remains a lot of sense in keeping in mind TikTok’s mantra of making TikToks rather than ads.
Rather than hoping that every video you post goes viral, concentrate on producing quality content for your audience on a regular basis.
But remember, in the TikTok ecosystem, “quality” doesn’t mean “polished”.
If you create content on a consistent basis, post videos that solve a problem for your audience, and maintain a conversation with your followers by replying to their comments, you won’t go far wrong. And you can soon build up a community.