TikTok marketing: The complete guide for brands in 2023

by Katie Jones

Besides being the procrastination tool of choice for many of us, TikTok has incredible potential as a powerful marketing channel.

19th December 2022

Short-form video is currently dominating the social media landscape — and TikTok is the leading platform for it. With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that 85% of e-commerce brands plan to increase their TikTok advertising spending in 2023.

One thing that all TikTok users can agree on is that the app is frustratingly addictive. One video becomes five, then ten, then before you know it a whole hour has gone by - it's no wonder the average user spends 52 minutes per day on the app.

So why can't we stop scrolling?

Well, TikTok’s algorithm is so accurate it’s sometimes scary. A user’s For You page is constantly updated with short, entertaining clips specifically tailored to their interests. This is great news for brands looking to target specific audiences and communities (and not-so-great news for those of us who can’t get off the app…)

Now is definitely the time for brands to jump on the TikTok bandwagon, so we've made an easy guide on how to get started.

How to market your brand on TikTok

Original content

Showing your brand’s personality is a tried and true method for increasing revenue.

The overly curated, picture-perfect imagery that was once popular on platforms like Instagram is becoming a thing of the past. Younger generations have little tolerance when it comes to blatant advertising tactics and are instead favouring content that is more relatable and authentic, and TikTok is the perfect platform to leverage content like this.

Duolingo’s funny (and somewhat unhinged) content marketing is a fantastic example of how innovative content can humanise a brand.

Previously, its content focused more on educational tidbits and useful language tips. But the app made huge strides after it ditched this promotional approach and instead focused on creating entertaining content that generated interest and status around their brand. Their fuzzy, green mascot participates in all the latest trends, boldly pokes fun at Google Translate, and leans into the threatening ‘do-your-lesson-or-else’ persona.

As a result of their creativity, risk-taking, and openness to experimentation, Duolingo eventually uncovered what worked best and grew their follower base by more than 1,400% - TikTok even wrote a case study about it here.

Duolingo’s success carries lessons that any brand can apply across their marketing strategy: be authentic and don’t be afraid to take risks.

Paid ads

If you’re looking to grow your following, allocate some of your social media advertising budget towards TikTok ads. Similar to advertising on Facebook and Instagram ads, the cost for these is based on bids. Simply choose your target audience, create a fun video ad, then promote it based on your specified daily or lifetime budget. Here’s a full guide on how to do it.

Influencer marketing

Influencers will not only help you to connect with their followers and build meaningful connections rooted in loyalty, partnering with them can also help you learn the lingo and culture of the app. Influencer marketing is made even easier with the TikTok Creator Marketplace, a virtual meeting point for marketers and creators.

Marketing experts suggest that you give influencers significant creative freedom to ensure that your partnership does not come across as an ad and potentially drive users and potential customers away. After all, users are on the app to be entertained, not sold to.

Dos and don'ts of marketing on TikTok

Focus on your brand’s role as a creator of entertainment: There are four things that the TikTok algorithm ostensibly rewards: authenticity, creativity, humour, and perspective. This app offers the perfect platform to show a different side to your business that your customers might not have seen before. By embracing a more personal tone or behind-the-scenes approach, your company will instantly appear more trustworthy and relatable.

Don’t be afraid to follow the crowd: TikTok is a platform built for growth via trending topics and styles, so hopping on trends is an absolute must. How do you find out what’s trending? A great place to start is Business Creative Hub: a free in-app resource readily available to all TikTok business account users. With a steady stream of popular content, users can tap into the latest trends and learn about the best practices to create TikTok videos. It also offers a variety of tips on strategy for creative content, how to build your profile, the best posting times, and so much more. Once you've activated your business account, the Hub can be accessed from the ‘Business suite’ option under the 'Settings and privacy' menu.

Engage with your audience: As of 2022, TikTok has amassed more than 1 billion active users, which is great news for brands looking to reach highly engaged, niche audiences. Try to come up with content that encourages interaction, whether it be Duets, hashtag challenges, or product reviews. As with other platforms, the more you engage with people, the more your audience will grow. Setting a few minutes aside to like, reply, and react to your audience’s comments and content is a sure way of creating an engaged community that will support your brand.

Don’t lead with sales: Pushy advertising on TikTok is a big no-no for any brand. Almost half of TikTok users want branded content to be fun and entertaining. This doesn’t mean you have to shy away from marketing your products all together, but try to do it in a way that’s fun and engaging. Tutorials, demonstrations, and how-to tutorials are great ways of showcasing the best parts of your products or services without appearing too ‘salesy.’

Be agile: With trends coming and going, sometimes TikTok seems too fast-paced for a brand to thoughtfully weigh in. However, smaller businesses in particular can gain a competitive edge as larger brands need approval before posting most videos. And oftentimes when they’ve finally been given the all-clear, the trend is well and truly forgotten about. If you see a trend that could work for your brand, jump on it immediately!

Main takeaways

  1. Be authentic
  2. Follow the trends
  3. Engage
  4. Move fast

The last thing TikTok users want to see on their For You page is robotic, distant, and borderline nonhuman brand content. Instead, find your niche, listen to your audience, and engage with the latest trends.

If you're still unsure about how to embrace this funny and quirky app for your digital marketing strategy, reach out to us today to find out how we can help.