Your Complete Guide to TikTok Marketing
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, chances are you’ve heard of the mega-popular video-sharing app called TikTok. It’s one of the hottest social media platforms out there, which obviously means that marketers are looking to get in on it. Have you been looking to break in too?
As a proud partner of TikTok, our team at Cohley has worked with many brands that have seen results through TikTok campaigns. We know just how crucial TikTok is to an active and conversion-focused marketing strategy.
If your brand is feeling stale on social media or you're looking to reach a more diverse audience, you may be ready for TikTok marketing. In this guide, we'll take you through everything you need to know to get started with this popular platform.
Table of Contents
- What Is TikTok?
- How Does TikTok Work?
- Who Uses TikTok and What Is TikTok Used For?
- What Does TikTok Look Like in 2023?
- How Can Brands Use TikTok?
- Examples of Brands Doing Awesome TikTok Work
- How to Succeed on TikTok
- Bonus Best Practice: Succeed With Cohley Content Creators
What Is TikTok?
TikTok is an incredibly popular social media platform designed for creating, sharing, and viewing short-form videos on mobile devices. It was originally launched in China in September 2016, but it didn’t start to gain real popularity until it joined forces with the lip-syncing app Musical.ly in August 2018.
Since then, TikTok has been one of the most popular apps available on the market. It’s been praised for its simplicity, as users can create a video and share it in a matter of seconds. Brands and users alike can use popular sounds and songs already available on the platform or create a completely original video using their own content.
It can be incredibly addicting for viewers as well, since videos play one-by-one automatically on an infinite scroll, making it easy to spend hours on the app scrolling down an endless page of videos.
TikTok has inspired many big players in the social media industry to follow suit with video. Instagram launched the Reels feature in 2020, and other short-form video apps attempting to rival TikTok have popped up over time.
What Makes TikTok Different?
Even though the competition is stiff when it comes to social media platforms, TikTok is built differently:
- Short-form video: TikTok doesn't rely on text content like Twitter and other social media platforms. Instead, short-form video is king. In fact, many videos on TikTok are only 15 seconds in length.
- A robust algorithm: TikTok's algorithm was built to learn our unique interests and show relevant content based on those insights. For example, if you watch a video through to the end, the TikTok algorithm will ensure you see similar content in the future. This process enables highly personalized content for each user.
- Ease of use: TikTok videos are super simple to create, whether you're a consumer or a brand. Video content can be created with just a smartphone quickly.
- A hub for user-generated content: TikTok makes creating and sharing user-generated content simple. Brands can utilize content creators who can develop and share short-form videos and product reviews on the platform in no time.
How Does TikTok Work?
TikTok is a vertical content feed served through an algorithm not dissimilar to Google’s personalization algorithm. It uses machine learning to determine which content users engage with and serves them more of that content.
The first time you open your TikTok feed, you are shown eight videos that have gathered popularity in different segments of users on TikTok. Depending on how you interact with those videos, TikTok will continuously shift and change which content you’re exposed to based on similar or dissimilar videos and AI.
Who Uses TikTok and What Is TikTok Used For?
TikTok is plenty popular, but who is it popular with? As of 2022, 67% of TikTok users are between the ages of 18 and 19, while 56% of users are between the ages of 20 and 29. In addition, 45% of users are 30 and 39, and 38% are between the ages of 40 and 49.
It's safe to say that TikTok is used frequently by nearly all age groups, including the Gen Z, Millennial, and Gen X crowds.
How is TikTok used? Users spend an average of 95 minutes on the platform each day. Yes, 95 minutes. During this time, many users are simply using TikTok to see what their friends are up to, get a quick giggle in, or learn more about current events.
On the other hand, brands can use TikTok frequently to build awareness and promote their products.
What Does TikTok Look Like in 2023?
Since its humble beginnings in 2016, TikTok has continued to grow. Now, in 2023, TikTok has over 113 million users in the United States alone. And according to expert forecasts, TikTok will approach one billion users by 2025.
Growth isn't the only change TikTok is expecting in 2023. Recently, TikTok published its "What's Next" report for 2023, which details three key trends in consumer behavior that brands should look out for this year. These trends include:
- Actionable entertainment: Consumers are looking for entertainment, not ads. Advertising that's delivered in an entertaining way that inspires users to act will be winning campaigns for brands using the platform.
- Making space for joy: Consumers want to be uplifted. That's why they're looking for content that provides "meaningful self-care" advice they can use to boost their happiness meters.
- Community-built ideals: Consumers are continuing to search TikTok for relevant content based on communities (think "Cottagecore" or TeacherTok). Brands that create content that's curated for relevant industry groups will more easily connect with their target audience.
How Can Brands Use TikTok?
By now, we've determined that brands can utilize TikTok to reach audiences of all ages. But how? There are three main ways that a brand can use TikTok to its advantage. When done effectively, each of them can have positive effects on your business (you can also check out some real-world examples in this blog post).
At first, it can be daunting to try and come up with some TikTok content ideas. If you’re struggling to come up with original ideas at first, try scrolling through your “For You” page and seeing what the current trends are.
There’s always some sort of running joke or popular song happening on TikTok, so take some time to learn what’s going on and think about how you can mold that trend to fit your brand.
Another way to create content is to use the help of others via the Stitch and Duet features of TikTok. With the Stitch and Duet features, you can create your own video alongside an existing video on TikTok.
Is there someone asking a question about your brand or industry? Duet yourself answering their question. Is there some sort of fun challenge you can start? Try it out—maybe someone will stitch themselves in and participate! There are so many opportunities for you to get people to interact with your brand—just don’t be afraid to try anything and everything!
Not feeling funny or creative? No worries—you don’t have to use humor in your TikTok videos. Take some time to think about what makes your brand or your business unique.
Is there some sort of cool item, machine, or process that an industry outsider wouldn’t know about? Highlight that! There’s something interesting in any industry. If you can show it to a new audience, you never know who you might attract.
Also, if you ever need help creating content, you can always reach out to our Cohley content creators (more on that later).
Traditional Influencer Marketing
If you’re familiar with social media marketing, then you probably already know how influencer marketing works (if not, you can learn all about it here). It’s a great way to naturally break into the flooded social landscape and the conversations of your consumers.
TikTok has a wide range of influencers. There are plenty of users with millions of followers, and there’s a wide spectrum in terms of the type of content they create. You can find influencers who are moms or even influencers who are talented musicians. Using TikTok, you're sure to find a creator that will work well with your brand.
Spend some time researching influencers and then shoot them an offer—the result could be beneficial to both the influencer and your brand. To engage with influencers on TikTok, look for creators with a verified badge (blue check mark). Or, simply look for users with many followers.
If you have trouble finding influencers, Cohley can help. We have thousands of vetted TikTok creators in our platform ready to go.
If you want to guarantee that your brand is seen by TikTok users, then you want to go with TikTok advertising. Brands can utilize TikTok for Business to build compelling advertising campaigns inside the TikTok platform.
Not only does the site provide you with a self-serving ad platform, but it also gives you access to tons of educational content that you can use to teach yourself the ins and outs of TikTok advertising. This content answers any questions you may have about advertising on TikTok, including costs, best practices, and much more.
Want to learn even more about using TikTok to market your brand? Check out Episode 1 of our Reel It In podcast, featuring Oliver Silzer, TikTok's Manager of Strategic Partnerships.
Examples of Brands Doing Awesome TikTok Work
There are so many brands out there doing awesome things on TikTok. For inspiration, here are a few of our favorite TikTok brands and examples of their incredible work.
Why we love them:
Adore Me is one of our success stories. Adore Me’s fun brand, coupled with its empowerment message, gave them the flexibility to give content creators the creative freedom to express themselves with their Adore Me lingerie authentically on the platform without giving up complete creative control. They’re truly the queens of UGC.
Why we love them:
Ryan Air is a budget airline in Europe that frequently offers €9.99 deals on flights in Europe. Its core demographic is young people and those studying abroad. We love their TikToks because they:
- Engage with trends and use trending sounds and features
- Always hit the message home of cheap, reliable air travel
- Personify the brand by using relatable experiences in creative settings
- Build a storyline with the main character (yes, it’s a plane)
The Washington Post
Why we love them:
The Washington Post is an American newspaper that covers politics, pop culture, and trending news. We love their TikToks because they present the news in digestible ways that stick by their “democracy dies in darkness” mantra.
By using trending sounds and techniques, the Washington Post creates bite-size pieces of news that are shaping our world today to disseminate important information to a new, younger audience.
Why we love them:
Unlike the other profiles on this list, NowThis Politics doesn’t try to make its content more relatable to a younger audience. This is absolutely in line with their brand guidelines. They share snippets of content, mostly unedited, that relate to the news we see every day.
We love this TikTok channel because they stick to their guns and produce informative, conversation-starting content that helps keep us educated.
Why we love them:
A classic party brand, Brumate is a B2C e-commerce site that is made for using TikTok. With its cool, summery vibes, Brumate does a good job of pushing the boundaries of its brand vision and integrating a great product with trending sounds, visuals, and memes.
How to Succeed on TikTok
Are you ready to jump into TikTok? If so, there are a few simple best practices you should know before you create your first video.
#1. Get to Know Your Audience
Your audience isn't everyone. The videos you create should speak to your target audience or those that need your products the most. Discover the type of content your audience wants to see by searching relevant industry keywords inside TikTok. Or, visit the TikTok pages of your competitors to learn more about how they're connecting (just don't plagiarize).
#2. Remember to Engage
Don't just post a video and walk away. Instead, engage with your audience by answering their questions or simply replying when they leave a comment. Engage with other brands in your industry by commenting on and liking their TikToks too. Engagement is a great way to increase awareness of your brand.
#3. Learn & Optimize
As you post content, pay attention to what's earning engagement and what isn't. Use those insights to optimize the content you create in the future. This will ensure you're creating and posting videos that your audience truly cares about and enjoys.
Bonus Best Practice: Succeed With Cohley Content Creators
Another way to succeed on TikTok is to use professional content creators that can develop photos, videos, and product reviews just for your brand. These assets can then be used in your marketing campaigns, so you can scale your content strategy simply and quickly.
If you find yourself looking for a TikTok content partner, then look no further than Cohley. Our team of experts can help you put together a TikTok marketing strategy that is best suited for your business and brand. We are a preferred partner of TikTok, meaning we have unprecedented and unparalleled access to their team and resources.
We have also partnered with a library of content creators that are willing to help you stand out on TikTok. We use our proprietary algorithm to hook you up with up-and-coming influencers that are starting to attract eyeballs. This helps you get cost-efficient content that will drive results.
Using Cohley, creating content is easy. Simply fill out a creative brief, find the right creators through our marketplace, and then receive your assets.
If you want your brand to stand out and make an impact amongst present and future consumers, the time to use social media platforms like TikTok is now. And if you need support, you should reach out to us at Cohley. We would love to help you succeed on TikTok and beyond.
Written by Jenn Wang
Jenn is our Director of Brand Strategy and our first hire! Constantly in the pursuit of a vibrant life, Jenn leads our internal and external product marketing functions, supports sales and CSMs teams, product resources and training, and oversees all fully managed client services. This go-getter is all about challenging the status quo of content generation and creating a flawless system that works for Cohley's customers. Outside of work, Jenn can be found planning her next vacation, eating seafood, or patting every dog she sees.