With more than one billion monthly active users and over 200 million downloads in the U.S. alone, it's clear that TikTok is here to stay. TikTok trends continue to shape culture and captivate the attention of younger generations. Recent studies estimate that users spend an average of 52 minutes per day scrolling TikTok videos.
While the opportunity is clear, small business owners often wonder how to find their place in the TikTok community. As influencers and viral videos dominate the platform, figuring out how to sell on TikTok can pose a challenge.
Fortunately, this guide reviews 7 of the best marketing strategies that small businesses can employ to win on TikTok.
Getting Started On TikTok
TikTok is an incredible platform for businesses to generate awareness, drive sales, and engage with their customers. But before creating your first marketing campaign, set your brand up for success by leveraging TikTok's business tools.
Setting Up TikTok For Business
Create a TikTok business account to activate all of TikTok's analytics and marketing features. To start using TikTok for Business, follow these 5 simple steps:
Download and install the TikTok app
Sign up for an account
Click Profile at the bottom, and then the menu icon at the top
Select Settings and Privacy, Manage Account, and Switch to Business Account
Tap Next, and choose a category for your business
Once you have completed this process, the menu button on your Profile page will now give you access to the Business Suite. The Business Suite enables brands to:
Track video performance
Create automated replies to direct messages
Explore trending content from other business accounts
Advertising On TikTok
After registering for a business account, create a TikTok ads account to further promote your best-performing content. Sign up for the TikTok Ads Manager in 4 easy steps:
Voila - you're now ready to run paid ads! However, if you plan to sell products on TikTok from an external website, there is one last step to complete.
To use the Conversion campaign objective and track ad performance, you must install the TikTok pixel. TikTok makes this process simple with the choice of two pixel types and two installation methods. You can either manually install pixel code or use a partner integration for most ecommerce platforms.
As you prepare to create and promote content, take a moment to familiarize yourself with TikTok's advertising solutions. The Dashboard tab provides an overview of your paid advertising efforts, and the Campaign tab is for [helps launch] launching new promotions. Store your short videos in the Assets tab, and access detailed analytics in the Reporting tab.
TikTok Best Practices
TikTok's mantra "Don't Make Ads, Make TikToks" is incredibly important advice for TikTok creators and businesses alike.
Traditional advertisements that work on other social media platforms often don't perform on TikTok. TikTok's recommendation system has honed in on a very particular style of fast-paced, personal, and engaging content that users respond to. For this reason, it's crucial for your TikTok account to blend in with the broader TikTok feed.
As you begin creating ads, follow these best practices:
Spend time exploring branded content and curating your For You page
Follow peers, competitors, and TikTok influencers for inspiration
Use hashtags to aid discovery, but sparingly because they take up screen space
Add closed captions to every TikTok video
Engage with TikTok users in the comment section
Track analytics to monitor which actions drive growth
7 TikTok Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses
Understanding how to sell on TikTok comes from a deep understanding of the platform itself. As you develop your TikTok profile and create content specifically for the TikTok channel, you will begin to see what videos resonate with users.
To shorten this learning curve and think like a TikTok creator, leverage these 7 marketing strategies to grow your small business:
1. Connect TikTok Shopping
TikTok Shopping allows brands to tag products in their videos and create a custom ecommerce storefront on their profile's Shopping Tab. To sell on TikTok in this way, create a TikTok for Business account and then choose from one of two integration paths.
The TikTok Shopping Direct Integration powers the entire customer journey from product discovery to checkout, payment, and even returns. This complete solution requires a Seller Central account but enables affiliate programs and native checkout. With Direct Integration, creators can be paid based on commission, and buyers can check out without ever leaving the platform.
The TikTok Shopping Partner Integration enables sellers to sync products from an existing ecommerce platform directly to their TikTok account. In this case, users can explore products on TikTok before being redirected to a partner platform like Shopify, Square, or BigCommerce to check out.
2. Identify And Participate In Trends
Search your TikTok feed, the Discover page, and #trendalert to catch the fastest growing trends before they take off. As you explore trending hashtags, sounds, and more, think about how your business can take part.
When done well, trend-jacking is one of the easiest ways to go viral on TikTok. Think creatively about how you can use humor, involve your employees, and strengthen your brand positioning with every trend.
While on the lookout for trends, keep an eye on the following features of successful TikToks:
Sound is a key differentiator when comparing TikTok to other sales channels. 88% of TikTok users report that sound is an essential part of the TikTok experience, with creators often using audio clips as the foundation of their content. Sounds can spark curiosity, slow users' scrolls, and even build brand awareness.
Start with TikTok's free Commercial Music Library, which has hundreds of thousands of available audio clips. From the TikTok app, click Post and then Add Sound to see which sounds are available to businesses. Under Discover, tap View All and then TikTok Viral to see what's currently trending.
Hashtags are an effective way to increase exposure and develop community. Include a trending hashtag on your next video to increase the likelihood of landing on the right Discovery pages and to help your target audience find your content via Search.
Savvy brands have also found success in promoting branded hashtags. Consider encouraging customers to review your products on TikTok using a given hashtag to create community as well as compelling social proof.
Effects and filters are built into the TikTok app and make it easy to produce creative content. Green screens, animal faces, and accessories are all popular categories of effects that can help you tell a story or connect with users.
To see which effects are available, tap Post and then Effects. Scroll left and right to explore categories and experiment with a few as you begin to create videos.
Much of TikTok's initial growth and popularity stemmed from viral challenges. From dance crazes to pranks and everything in between, challenges can be a light-hearted way to showcase the human side of your brand.
Look for challenges that relate to your business or that your team is uniquely qualified for. Brainstorm creative ways to stand out, and then embrace the fun. Taking part in challenges likely won't contribute to your bottom line, but it can help build brand awareness and establish your business as a TikTok powerhouse.
3. Showcase Products With Duets
The Duet feature allows you to collaborate with other TikTok users. These side-by-side videos are great for interacting with user-generated content.
Try searching your discovery page for content about a problem that your product solves. Blind react to the videos and share your suggested solution, or offer advice and additional context to build up your credibility as an expert.
Duets also enable side-by-side product demonstrations. Envision a TikTok that highlights the drawbacks of a competing product. Duet with this video while showcasing your own product in order to create an "us versus them" ad. This type of visual comparison is a powerful way to sell products on TikTok.
To create a Duet, locate the video you'd like to use and tap the Share button. Click the Duet icon at the bottom of the screen and film your portion of the video. Edit and add captions as usual, then hit the Post button to share your masterpiece.
4. Engage Your Audience With Stitch
Like the Duet feature, Stitch offers a clever way to connect with other users. Instead of two videos playing simultaneously, Stitch plays the target video first and then your response.
This dynamic allows you to respond to customer feedback, create engaging prompts, or remix popular videos.
A response Stitch can amplify the reach and impact of a positive review. By thanking or rewarding a TikTok user for reviewing your product, you can encourage others to share their experience with your online store.
On the other hand, a prompt Stitch is a popular way to cue your target audience to engage with your content. Ask a question that relates to your mission statement or purpose, and tell users to respond with a Stitch. Before posting your prompt, make sure your account is public, and the video has Stitch enabled.
Humor is also an effective way to create engaging content on TikTok. Take trending videos and Stitch them to create alternate endings or remixes. Including some meme-like video content in your TikTok feed can help your brand stand out and establish personality.
To create a Stitch, follow the same process as a Duet. Find the video you'd like to Stitch, tap the Share button, and then tap the Stitch icon. If the Stitch icon is unavailable or greyed out, the original user has disabled stitching.
Branded hashtag challenges are intended to lean into the collaborative culture of TikTok and encourage users to participate in a trend. While this can be done organically, hashtag challenges can also layer in paid ad campaigns to increase the likelihood of virality.
In either approach, begin by sharing a video to your TikTok account with a challenge and an associated hashtag. Ask users to share their own attempts at an athletic feat, a prank, or a random skill.
Increase the reach of your hashtag challenge by using a trending sound and further incentive engagement by hosting a giveaway for the top participants. Ask employees, friends, and family members to take part and help kickstart the trend.
If you have a large social media presence, these efforts may be sufficient to start producing user-generated content. Otherwise, you can supercharge your hashtag challenge by promoting the video with an ad campaign or sponsoring placement on the Discover page.
Remember to connect the challenge and hashtag to your product or your brand's mission. The ultimate goal of this effort is not only video views but also brand awareness and leads for your online store.
6. Partner With Influencers
Search your feed and the TikTok Creator Marketplace to connect with influencers in your niche who understand how to sell on TikTok.
Through product reviews and live demonstrations, creators can help brands establish social proof and introduce products to new audiences. But TikTok users aren't on the app to shop, so don't ask an influencer to sell products directly. Instead, think of influencers as a way to generate awareness and move potential customers through your sales funnel.
Although the reach of top TikTok influencers like Charli D’Amelio and Addison Rae may look appealing, small businesses generally find that micro-influencers are more affordable and provide a better return on investment. These more relatable creators are often viewed as trusted sources of information, and they can share your products in an organic and unforced way.
Explore using influencers in conjunction with other strategies as well. The right TikTok creator can spark momentum for your brand by stitching your video, participating in your hashtag challenge, or hosting a brand takeover where they post content directly from your feed.
7. Cross-Promote Your Most Popular TikToks
Direct response advertisements that work on platforms like Facebook and Instagram don't often perform well on TikTok. Users are quick to scroll past obvious ads that don't blend in with other content; hence the advice "Don't Make Ads, Make TikToks."
However, the challenge of creating platform-specific content often holds small businesses back from investing in the TikTok channel.
The good news is that marketers are increasingly finding that the same dynamic and personal content that succeeds on TikTok also delivers results on Instagram Reels and Facebook Watch.
Make the most of your best-performing TikToks by sharing them across other platforms and even using them as paid ads. This approach empowers you to focus on building a successful TikTok account without dividing resources or sacrificing other platforms.
Take your cross-promotional efforts one step further by linking across your social media accounts. The TikTok bio, for example, allows users to link to both Instagram and YouTube accounts. Consider using a link-in-bio tool on other social media platforms to grow your overall digital presence. This simple trick allows potential customers to follow you wherever they prefer to spend time.
Small businesses first need to understand TikTok's culture in order to learn how to sell on TikTok.
Rather than actively pushing products, business owners are better served by jumping in front of the camera and being vulnerable. Relatable and authentic TikTok content performs best and helps users establish a personal connection to the brand.
By sharing behind-the-scenes content, engaging with users and creators, and participating in trends, small businesses can establish trust and personality. Over time, this investment in the community will transform scrollers into supporters and shoppers.
Daniel Anderson is a marketing expert who writes about building, buying, and scaling businesses. Learn how to turn ideas into income and plan for financial freedom with the step-by-step guides at TheMoneyManiac.com