TikTok isn’t just for jigging Gen Zers or prank-loving comedians. While it might not be as stiff and serious as some of the other social media platforms, you can use TikTok for your business to see incredible results—you just need to know how.
Get your TikTok business strategy right, and you’ll come off as a trendy in-the-know brand. Get it wrong, and you might just become the parents your kids didn’t want to introduce to their friends.
Fortunately, learning to use TikTok for your business isn’t rocket science—nor does it require a social media degree or certification. This guide will show you everything you need to know to make a TikTok account and start using it to grow your business.
First, what is TikTok?
What Is TikTok?
TikTok is a fast-growing social media platform for creating, watching, and sharing short videos. It differs from Instagram in that users can only share videos, and it varies from YouTube in that the clips are generally short (15-60 seconds long).
While you can find content on just about any topic on TikTok, the most popular videos fall into a few frivolous categories:
That’s quite different from LinkedIn’s most popular content, which revolves around innovation, management, human resources, and digital marketing. Yet, regardless of your brand’s voice or industry, there’s still a place for you on TikTok.
TikTok has become a refuge for younger generations. Unlike with Facebook, most grandparents haven’t jumped on it yet, leaving TikTok for the younger generations to enjoy (for now). It’s not the place users go to catch up on the news or go shopping (though they still do)—TikTokers visit the platform to smile, laugh, and have a jolly few minutes before getting back to life.
Why Use TikTok for Your Business?
You have a lot on your plate already. Is TikTok worth the added time investment?
That’s up to you to decide.
Here are a few benefits to keep in mind:
- Grow Engagement: TikTok has more engagement than any other social media platform. Users spend an average of 11 minutes per session on TikTok, whereas they only spend 5 minutes on Pinterest and less than 3 minutes on Instagram. If you want to connect with your audience for longer than a few seconds, TikTok is an excellent place to do it.
- Drive Sales: Users don’t visit TikTok to shop, but it ends up happening more often than not—enough to trigger the trending hashtag #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt. 67% of TikTokers said the app influenced them to shop.
- Build Connections: TikTokers engage with brands on the platform to see them in a different light, and it usually ends up building deeper relationships. 73% of TikTok users feel stronger connections with brands they follow on the platform.
Building brand awareness, engagement, and sales—sounds like good reasons to join TikTok, right? However, those are things you can do on just about any social media platform.
When you use TikTok, you’re going after a target demographic, and that demographic isn’t baby boomers. 25% of active TikTok users are between 10 and 19, while close to 70% are 39 and younger. If your brand’s target market is teenagers and young adults, TikTok is the place to find them.
How to Make a TikTok Business Account
Ready to join the hip, trendy masses on TikTok? Put on your dancing shoes, brush up on your lip-syncing, and get ready for a wild ride—this is uncharted territory.
First, let’s get you set up with a TikTok business account.
- Download TikTok: Head over to the Apple App Store or Android’s Google Play to find TikTok. Download it.
- Sign Up: Create an account. You can do this with your phone number, email address, Facebook, Apple, Google, or Twitter. Follow the prompts.
- Switch to Business Account: By default, you’ll now have a personal account. You need to convert it to a business account to unlock performance metrics, audience insights, and creative tools. Follow these steps to make it happen:
- Click “Profile” on the bottom menu bar.
- Click the hamburger menu in the top right corner.
- Select “Manage account.”
- Choose “Switch to Business Account.”
- Follow the setup prompts.
And that’s that. You now have a TikTok business account. Next, you’ll want to add your profile image, bio, and links. After that, you’re ready to start engaging on the platform and building a following.
How to Use TikTok for Your Business: 5 Ideas
You have a TikTok business account—now what? It’s time to start creating content, engaging with the community, and building your following. Once you’ve got a foundation, you can begin to make money with TikTok Shopping, influencer marketing, TikTok advertisements, and the like.
Here are a few ways you can use TikTok for your business.
1. Create Quality (Non-Salesy) Content
Remember, TikTokers don’t visit the platform to shop around—they want to be entertained. Jump in with a commercial approach, and you’ll be shunned from the get-go.
If you’ve ever tried joining Reddit and self-promoting your content, you’ll know what we mean.
Your formula for success on Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube won’t work here—TikTok is a brand-new world. It has its own best practices, unspoken rules, algorithms, influencers, and marketing strategies.
Instead of trying to read about it, just dive in—that’s the best way to understand the platform. Start following top creators to see what they’re doing. What kinds of videos do they publish? How do they interact with the community? How can your brand show up on the platform while still remaining true to itself?
Once you have an idea of where to start, begin publishing content and growing your following. Watch your analytics to see what resonates and what doesn’t.
Find a cadence and begin posting on a consistent schedule. TikTok recommends posting 1-4 times a day, but that can be a little bit overwhelming at first. Instead, start slow and work your way up.
Begin by posting once per week. If you’re feeling more ambitious, try twice per week. If you can consistently produce top-notch videos on that schedule, try posting once per day. Still feel easy? Move on to twice per day.
Remember, it’s all about consistency. Find a frequency that feels manageable (and fun).
2. Make Money with TikTok Shopping
Before August 2021, TikTok inspired shopping organically. Meaning an influencer or brand might mention an item, and viewers would manually type in that site’s address on their desktop or phone to browse products.
All that changed last year when TikTok and Shopify announced TikTok Shopping: an in-app ecommerce shopping experience that lets brands sell products on TikTok.
Brands can now add products from their Shopify catalogs to feature on a shopping tab on their profile. TikTokers can also tag products in organic posts.
Don’t worry about your TikTok Shop until you have a decent following and regular views on your content. Build first—sell later. Follow this pattern to earn TikTok users’ trust before you start trying to shove products in their faces.
Once you’ve built a solid audience, add products to your TikTok Shop and start sprinkling in promotions to your organic content. Keep it light, especially at the beginning.
Some products sell well on TikTok, especially more visually appealing goods like apparel and accessories. Selling a toaster might be more challenging, and you might find TikTok to be a better brand builder than revenue maker—and that’s just fine. You’ll never know until you try.
3. Drive Traffic with TikTok Ads
TikTok is an ad-friendly platform that you can use to drive traffic to your website, ecommerce store, or landing page. TikTok offers a few different advertising types to help reach your audience with the most call-to-action-friendly format:
- Image Ads: Image ads run in users’ feeds with an image, brand name, and short text.
- Video Ads: 5-60-second full-screen videos displayed in your users’ feeds.
- Spark Ads: Boost organic content (yours or another brand’s) to get shown to more users.
- TikTok Promote: TikTok Promote is similar to Spark Ads, but you can only promote your own content. It’s a dumbed-down version that makes it faster and simpler to start promoting your content.
- Carousel Ads: Carousel ads show up in the TikTok News Feed, showing up to 10 images with short captions.
- Pangle Ads: Run ads across the TikTok Audience Network, meaning your ads will show up on other applications outside of TikTok.
- TopView Ads: Fullscreen takeover that launches for 5-60 seconds when a user opens the TikTok app.
- Branded Effects: Custom stickers, filters, and special effects to get users to engage with your brand.
- Branded Hashtag Challenge: Short campaign to collect user-generated content that features a branded hashtag challenge page.
Within TikTok’s ad manager, you’ll be able to choose your campaign goal, budget, audience, bidding strategy, and creative optimizations. You can control every nitty-gritty aspect of your ad campaigns to ensure top performance.
Don’t want to worry about choosing between all the different ad formats above? No problem. TikTok offers an automatic placement option that’ll allow TikTok to automatically optimize your ads delivery to the best-performing types.
4. Work with TikTok Influencers to Grow Your Brand
Influencers have massive audiences and the know-how to make content go viral. Partner with these professionals to leverage their followers and creative abilities to build awareness for your brand and grow your following.
Don’t know where to start? Visit the TikTok Creator Marketplace—it’ll help you find influencers and micro-influencers to work with. You’ll be able to see engagement rates and follower demographics to see if an influencer is the right fit for your brand.
If you can’t afford an influencer, consider working with a microinfluencer. These individuals often have smaller audiences but more close-knit communities. Their reach isn’t as impressive, but their engagement and influence with their following are usually substantial.
5. Strengthen Customer Relationships with Engagement
While it’d be nice for TikTok to be a money-maker or traffic-driver for your business, it can serve other purposes. You could use TikTok simply as a brand community builder.
You could focus on posting awesome content and engage with the community—no hidden sales agenda.
So, what’s the point?
Use TikTok to grow your audience and your relationship with followers. When a user recognizes your brand on Instagram or YouTube, they’ll hopefully follow you there—and you can use those more sales-friendly platforms to promote your products and services.
Remember: build first, sell later.
Shifting your focus from marketing and sales frees you up to be more creative with your content. Sing, dance, laugh, and have fun. It’ll help you have a good time on the platform and make you more approachable to your audience.
Take Wendy’s Twitter account, for example.
How does roasting other brands and even consumers help Wendy’s sell burgers? It makes people like the brand—and that makes them more likely to buy from Wendy’s.
Round Out Your Entrepreneurial Skills
Entrepreneurs don’t often have the luxury of just being good at one thing. No, that’s for the corporate careers.
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