TikTok surpassed Instagram as the most downloaded app of 2020, with a staggering 200% increase in users. During that time, the viral video-sharing app has managed to keep smiles on people's faces despite a global pandemic. With this uptick came a new world of opportunities for eCommerce brands across the globe.
What began as a platform for sharing dance challenges and lip-synching videos has emerged as a powerful marketing tool for eCommerce brands. TikTok has risen to the challenge and quickly became a platform for merchants to reach their audience and drive more sales.
TikTok vs other social media platforms
TikTok is similar to other social media platforms in more ways than one. It provides a steady stream of content through a feed. It's a visual-based platform. Plus, it is centered around video content, putting it almost in the same league as YouTube.
But what sets TikTok apart from other social media platforms is that it combines all the features from different social media platforms into one powerful app.
TikTok's key differentiation lies in its algorithm. Instead of just showing your content to the people in your network, TikTok's algorithm uses a recommendation system that delivers content based on the users' interests and behavior on the platform. That means the videos you'll see over time may vary depending on your viewing preferences.
What does this mean for you?
Because of the algorithm, there's a higher chance that someone unfamiliar with your brand may see your content on the For You Page. So if you own a cosmetics brand, people who enjoy watching makeup tutorials, product reviews, or lipstick swatches are more likely to see your content.
TikTok's algorithm allows even the smallest brands to grow their audience and go viral on the platform without spending money on ads.
User-generated content is the new word-of-mouth. Not only is it an effective way to capture your audience's attention, but it also gives potential customers an honest and unbiased look at what your customers think of your products. It's so powerful that 91% of consumers claim that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Here's the thing... User-generated content has dominated TikTok's For You page for months now, and consumers are taking notice. In fact, According to a recent TikTok survey, 67% of users claimed that TikTok inspired them to shop even when they weren't looking to do so.
You see, TikTok users prefer watching videos from everyday stars whose authenticity shines through. That's why a lot of eCommerce brands are collaborating with TikTok creators and influencers. They're leveraging the power of word-of-mouth marketing to turn video views into sales.
Sharing content with other social media platforms is an excellent strategy, and TikTok actively encourages you to do so. It can seamlessly link with other platforms, making it easier to cross-promote your content.
You've already spent time creating your TikTok content, so why not share it with your followers on other platforms? This will not only help you save time but also allow you to get the most out of your content.
If there is one thing eCommerce brands like best about TikTok, it's how receptive the audience is to brand messaging. They consume content like crazy and even rave about products they've bought, you don't even have to ask.
No social media platform has the same level of engagement that TikTok has. It provides a tremendous opportunity, especially for small eCommerce brands, to boost brand awareness and grow their audience.
While getting more views, likes, comments, and shares is a step in the right direction, the whole point of building a brand presence on TikTok is to turn viewers into customers. That said, we created this guide to help you get there.
Ready to kickstart your TikTok journey? Let's get started!
Make the Algorithm Work For You
Your TikTok bio is complete. Well done! Now, it's time to plan your TikTok marketing strategy to make the most of the platform.
Get familiar with TikTok
We know you're excited to create your first TikTok content. But before you do, you'd want to spend some time getting familiar with the app.
Start by scrolling through the "For You" page to get content inspiration. This is where you'll land once you open the app. But remember that each user gets a unique and personalized stream of video content. It is highly personalized, and the type of content each user sees will vary depending on a number of factors, such as:
- Subject matter
- User Activity
- Language and location
- Audio used
- Videos you've marked as "not interested"
TikTok also has a wide array of features you may want to explore on your own. Try to record a short video, choose a song, and add a filter. You can also use the edit features to add texts, stickers, voiceovers, and more.
Understand the algorithm
What's interesting about TikTok is that you don't need a massive following to succeed on the platform. In fact, even a brand with zero followers can go viral on TikTok.
Although the playing field is level, you still need to have a good understanding of TitkTok's algorithm and use the right strategies before you can go viral.
The "For You" page serves as TikTok's home page. It features some of the best content on the platform. So if you want users to discover your content on the platform, you need to optimize your content for TikTok's For You Page.
Plan your content
Remember that you're creating content for your audience. So you need to find out what type of content your audience is interested in. To do that, we recommend following other brands and influencers in the same niche.
Watch their videos and carefully examine those that captured your attention. What did they do that caught your attention? Have you noticed a pattern among the pieces of content you liked? Now, try to recreate those elements in your content.
Spend at least 15 minutes a day scrolling through the "For You" page. Watching videos can help you keep up with the latest trends and discover what's trending on TikTok. Also, see if there are any challenges your brand can participate in.
You may also want to search for trending hashtags, challenges, or trending music. Keep a list of ideas as you do this. Now, sit down and see how you can re-create these videos, but make sure you put your spin on them.
Set tangible goals
Clearly defining your goals and objectives can help you assess and refine your marketing strategy and help you achieve better results.
Ask yourself: why did you decide to create a TikTok account? What is that you want to get from it?
- Do you want to grow your social media following?
- Do you want to reach more people?
- Do you want to drive more traffic to your eCommerce store?
- Do you want to generate more sales for a specific product?
Now, turn them into SMART goals:
- Get at least 200 followers in 30 days
- Increase video views by 20% in the next three months
- Increase website traffic by 20% in the next three months through TikTok videos
- Sell 1,000 skin-brightening serums in four months
Now that you've familiarized yourself with TikTok's algorithm and finally set your goals, it's time to get in front of the camera and join in on the fun. Are you ready?
Optimize your TikTok business account
Benefits of a TikTok business account
Anyone looking to promote their business on TikTok should create a business account.
Brands and companies gain access to the app's entire marketing suite of marketing tools to build a cohesive marketing strategy with a business account. This includes access to TikTok ads, TikTok analytics, the Business Creative Hub, and the commercial music library.
Another significant benefit of a TikTok business account is the ability to create a TikTok shop. Businesses that set up a TikTok shop will have a dedicated shopping tab on their profile, where customers can purchase products directly on the app.
Setup a TikTok business account
Setting up a TikTok business account is easy. Follow the steps below to create a TikTok business account.
Already have an account? Then, start with step 4 instead. This is important, so be sure not to skip this step.
- Download and open TikTok app
- Create an account
You can create an account using your email address, phone number, or third-party apps like Google or Facebook.
- Change your username
TikTok automatically assigns you a username once you sign up. If you sign up using your mobile number, you'll get a generic username such as user5678. So don't forget to change your username.
Be sure to use the same username as other social media platforms, so to avoid confusion. Plus, it will be easier for your audience to find you on TikTok.
- Switch to a business account
Tap the three horizontal lines in the upper right corner, then "Settings and Privacy". Click "Manage Account" and then "Switch to business account". Lastly, select a category that best describes your business.
Optimize your TikTok bio
As with other social media platforms, your bio is your chance to tell your potential followers who you are, what you do, and why they should follow you. It can mean the difference between a user tapping away or hitting the "follow" button.
Creating an excellent TikTok bio doesn't have to be complicated. Follow the tips below to make your profile stand out and rack up a bunch of followers.
- Choose a profile photo that represents your brand
Your photo is one of the first touchpoints users will have with your account. Plus, people will create judgments about your brand based on your profile photo. That said, you want to choose a photo that best represents your brand. Also, we highly recommend choosing one that matches your other social media profiles for brand recognition and familiarity.
- Talk about your brand
Sure, people might be able to put together some ideas about what you offer based on the content your produce, but you wouldn't want to rely on that. Use your bio to tell potential followers what your brand is about.
Keep it short and sweet since you only have 80 characters to convey your message. List down some words you would use to describe your brand and start from there.
- Add a link on your bio
You can add a link to your site when you set up your account. Take advantage of this feature if you want to grow your email list or generate more sales. This allows you to redirect viewers to your eCommerce site without sacrificing space on your TikTok bio.
- Add a CTA
Be sure to include a strong CTA to make the most of your TikTok bio. It tells people exactly what you want them to do and encourages them to take action. Do you want them to visit your site, subscribe to your email list, or follow you on other social media channels?
Expand your reach and maximize engagement
Growing your audience on TikTok is not that hard if you know what you're doing. As mentioned earlier, TikTok's algorithm allows even the smallest brands to go viral on the platform. And if you build the right following the right way, you will likely build a community of evangelists on the platform.
Post content frequently & at the right time
Like other social media platforms, good quality content and consistency are critical to improving your engagement rate. Start by setting a posting schedule and commit to it. If you can only commit to posting three times a week, that's fine. This is better than posting for five consecutive days this week and then not posting at all the next.
Not all your content will go viral, and it can be challenging to do so when you're just starting. So try mixing up your content until you find one that captures your audience's attention. Once you do, focus on creating similar types of content. It will only be a matter of time before people start noticing your content. Be patient.
Reaching a wider audience is as easy as posting your content when most of your audience is active on the platform. According to Influencer Marketing Hub, posting at specific times of the day can result in higher engagements.
Source: Influencer Marketing Hub
This data is an excellent place to start when you're crafting your TikTok marketing strategy. Keep in mind, though, that these are just guidelines. The results may vary depending on your audience and the type of content your share.
Stay on top of trends
If you're serious about going viral on TikTok, you should spend about 15 minutes a day browsing the "For You" page. Try to keep up with the latest trends, find out what's currently hot among your audience, and use them to inspire your content.
Use trending audio
Pay attention to the songs and audio used in the videos on your For You page. Now, if you tap on the sound icon in the bottom right corner, you'll see how many times it was used, as well as the top videos that featured this song or audio.
Why does this matter? You see, incorporating trending audio in your content can trigger TikTok's algorithm and recommend it to other users who have previously engaged with the audio. This increases your chance of getting more video views and possibly boost your engagement rate.
Collaborate with influencers and content creators
Partnering with Titkok influencers is one of the best ways to get in front of your target audience and send your engagements through the roof.
When it comes to skincare, there is no one more reliable than a dermatologist. Peach & Lily understood this, so they teamed up with TikTok's favorite dermatologist, Dr. Zion.
This video looks like a customer testimonial, which is crucial in convincing people to try the product. Plus, it also builds trust.
@peachandlilyofficial Glass Skin Refining Serum is basically glass skin in a bottle👌🏼 @dr.zionko #PeachAndLily #GlassSkin #GlassSkinGoals #skinhealth #skintokthings #skin ♬ original sound - Peach & Lily
Cross-promote on other social media channels
Just because you created the videos specifically for TikTok doesn't mean you can't post them on other social media platforms.
You have already spent time conceptualizing, writing the script, and shooting the video, so why not repurpose it and share your TikTok content on other social media platforms? It's a surefire way to reach the largest audience possible.
It's time to dance — or maybe not!
You've probably heard about the popular dance challenges on TikTok. We know some of you would rather stick pins in your eyes than start dancing in front of millions of strangers online. The good news is, you can still grow your brand on TikTok without humiliating yourself. In fact, some brands create content without even showing their face at all.
Here are 3 types of TikTok content to get you started:
A great first TikTok video gives your viewers a chance to get to know you and your brand better.
Share your "why" and brand story
People might not be familiar with your brand and your products, but they might be interested in learning how your business started.
Everyone loves a good story, and that's one of the things that can make your brand unique.
Sharing your brand story is an engaging way to connect with your audience.
Ask yourself: What prompted you to start your business, and how did you develop this idea? You may also want to talk about your business name and its meaning. Who knows? It might be just the thing you need to turn viewers into paying customers.
Check out this video from Huha, where Founder, Alexa Suter talked about why she started her brand. It's educational and solves one of the most common issues women suffer from. We're not surprised that the video went viral.
Since you're using the platform to introduce your brand, why not start with your bestsellers? Showcase your products and get people interested in what you have to offer.
Creating a compelling video product goes beyond just getting the perfect shots. You must also answer the question, "What's in it for me?". It may be hard to believe, but consumers don't care about your product unless it benefits them. So if you want to generate more sales, you must ensure that your video content highlights this.
Video framework suggestion: The purple cow framework
Seth Godin said, "Be a purple cow in a field of brown cows." In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible. Being a purple cow makes you stand out. It makes your brand worth talking about.
- Start with a mind-boggling question - Use the first three seconds to stimulate the audience's mind.
- Arouse curiosity - Do something unexpected that would capture the attention of your audience, make them look up, and listen to you attentively
- Invalidate other solutions on the market - Give specific details of where others fall short, but your product succeeds.
Blendtec provided an excellent example of being a purple cow. In this 100-second video, CEO Tom Dickson showed how powerful their product is by blending an iPad.
Who in their right mind would snap their iPad in half and put it in a blender? The idea may seem horrifying for some, but it captures people's attention. It's so different that you can't help but share it. That's how powerful the "Purple Cow Effect" is.
There are many success stories online, so the question is... how is yours different? What was the most significant achievement that you are so proud of? You are free to brag about it. After all, you've worked so hard to achieve it.
Behind the scenes
Sharing behind-the-scenes videos give your audience a glimpse of what's happening behind their favorite brand. Not only does it help personalize your brand, but it also makes your brand more approachable and relatable. Give them a peek at your workspace and show them where the magic happens.
Order packaging process
Consumers enjoy watching their favorite brands prepare orders for shipping. Not only does it amp up excitement for customers who recently placed an order, but it also shows how much effort you put into packing your products.
In this video, Essentielle Cosmetics gave their audience a glimpse of how they prepare their orders for shipping. It may be a simple video, but it got almost 2 million views and 114k likes.
@essentielle.cosmetics Let’s pack the cutest order together! This order is going to California, USA 🇺🇸🤗 thank you for supporting our small canadian business 🇨🇦 #asmr #asmrsounds #asmrtiktoks #asmrpackingorders #packingorders #supportmysmallbusiness ♬ original sound - Miss Essentielle 🇨🇦
Meet the team
Putting the spotlight on your employees helps humanize your brand. This allows your audience to get to know the people behind the products they love. Let your audience know their role in your business and how they have helped it grow.
Educational and informative content
Funny and lighthearted content works well on TikTok, but it wouldn't hurt to share some valuable content with your audience.
Let's face it. People don't have time to read instruction manuals, nor are they interested in being walked through the process over the phone. Creating product demos makes it easier for customers to understand how to use your product. And who knows, it might be just the push some potential customers need to purchase your product.
Video framework suggestion: The unexpected solution
As a brand owner, you probably have clear ideas for using your products. But try to think out of the box, and you'll realize there are many ways to use it.
- Problem - Start with a problem, something that doesn't relate to your product.
- Introduce the product - Introduce your product and show how it solves the problem. This will shock people as they haven't considered it a solution.
- Call to action - Ask viewers to try this new way. Or if they haven't already, encourage them to buy your product.
This video from Gushers is hilarious! As a kid, you probably broke something and didn't know how to tell your mom about it. This would've been the solution you needed at that time.
You can use TikTok to share educational and informative content. It's an excellent way to showcase your knowledge and share valuable tips with your audience. Keep your videos short and share bite-sized tips to boost engagement and get your audience to tap the heart button.
Answer your audience's question
TikTok's Q&A feature lets viewers know their favorite brands and influencers better.
On the other hand, it allows brands and content creators to respond to their questions through a written reply or video content.
The Q&A feature provides an easy way to engage with your audience and gives you an idea about the content you'll create in the coming weeks and months. This video from Fizzy Soaps responded to one of their followers' questions.
As brand owners, you're looking for ways to generate more sales. But people are already tired of seeing ads that many of them no longer pay attention to them. Unless it's interesting and entertaining.
People love a good deal. But since you'll be competing with millions of brands on the platform, you need to create content that stands out. You want to be memorable. One way to do it is by making your promotions fun.
Video framework suggestion: The Musical
TikTok is all about humor and entertainment. So why not use the platform to show your brand's
personality and create a song for your brand? Go ahead and have some fun.
- Choose audio or song - You can use any audio or music from the app. Or create a new one to use for your TikTok marketing campaign.
- Write the lyrics - The lyrics should provide more information about your product or promotion.
- Call to action - Tell them what they should do next.
Chipotle's video is so entertaining. They created a song for their "free queso on Monday" promotion. They even shared a hack on how to enjoy the queso and instructions on how to avail of this promo. How cool is that?
Measure your success with TikTok analytics
Wondering how to track the results of your brand-building efforts? By keeping track of your metrics. It can help you better understand how your content is performing and what you can do to improve it.
TikTok analytics is available to anyone who has a business account. The best part? It's free!
Here are the four main analytics sections.
Under the overview tab, you'll see the profile views, video views, follower growth, and engagements over the last week or month, or a custom date range of up to 60 days. If you want to know how your account performed after posting a teaser of your new product, this is where you should go.
The follower analytics will give you all the information you need about your audience and followers. Here, you'll find how many followers you have, the number of followers you gained or lost over a specific date range, the percentage of your followers by gender, where they're from, and the time when they're most active.
All these can help ensure that you're creating content that resonates with your audience and that you publish them at the right time.
Content analytics will show you all the data related to the TikTok videos you posted over the last seven days. That includes the number of videos you've posted, how many of them are currently trending, and the number of likes, comments, and shares they got.
Live analytics will give you insights into the live videos you've hosted over the last week or month. It includes the number of live sessions you've hosted, total live time, total live views, new followers, unique viewers, and how many diamonds you've earned.
Now that we've covered everything you need to know about TikTok marketing, it's time to take action and start building a presence on the platform.
There's no denying that TikTok can help you reach a massive global audience, but you need to remember that succeeding on the platform goes beyond creating unique, engaging, and exciting content.
Learn from brands that are successfully using the platform for their marketing campaigns.
eCommerce brands that are killing it on TikTok
We listed five brands currently leading the pack on TikTok marketing. Build a fun, creative, and scalable strategy by taking notes from these brands.
- Challenges are one of the biggest trends on TikTok, and Gymshark leveraged it to become one of the leading fitness brands on TikTok.
Gymshark's success was predominantly because of its incredibly well-executed TikTok marketing strategy. Most of their content is centered on inspirational health journeys and workout challenges, which has helped them reach two million followers in just six months.
The brand started targeting younger fitness enthusiasts and has now grown into the "Nike" of the new generation. As of writing, Gymshark has over 3.8 million followers, and the number steadily increases each month.
- Crocs went from a brand everybody hates to one that everybody's obsessed with. They got 100,000 followers in their first week on TikTok.
Their ad campaigns have been killing it on TikTok since 2019 with the #ThousandDollarCrocs challenge, where people were asked to customize and enhance their Crocs. They teamed up with Post Malone and other influencers, which resulted in over 3 billion video views.
Currently, Crocs has 703k followers and 4.7 million likes on the platform.
- ELF Cosmetics
- Makeup sales took a nosedive during the pandemic, but there was one brand that thrived: ELF. In fact, the makeup brand ended 2020 with triple-digit online growth, thanks to its winning TikTok marketing strategy.
ELF commissioned a song entitled "Eyes, Lips, Face," which was named after the brand's acronym. They used their original song to launch the #eyeslipface challenge, where creators would show their eyes, lips, and faces. It became one of the most viral campaigns on TikTok and garnered over 5 million user-generated content. Even celebrities like Reese Witherspoon, Ellen, and Lizzo joined in on the challenge.
- Beauty and fashion are some of the biggest brand categories on TikTok, making it difficult to gain traction in this niche, especially if you're a small brand. But Topical knows how to set its brand apart from the competition.
They captured their audience's attention by focusing on their main pain point: managing zits. The brand shares authentic content that are mostly comprised of UGCs.
But one thing that has helped them drive engagement and grow their following on TikTok is their giveaways. After all, consumers love the idea of getting products for free. So if you're hoping to increase brand awareness, gain followers, and even gain the trust of potential customers, you might want to try this strategy.
- Scrub Daddy
- If your brand is comfortable with being bold and ridiculous, you may want to take some pointers from Scrub Daddy.
Most of their content is weird, chaotic, and hilarious all at the same time. But people seem to love watching that massive version of the happy-faced dish scrubber going on adventures. Their snappy content calling people out for cleaning their dishes with other products, is also a hit.
As of writing, Scrub Daddy has 2.3 million followers, which clearly indicates that their unhinged content is paying off.
Now is the time to use TikTok for eCommerce
With TikTok's popularity, it is now seen as a major player in the social media platform market.
It's no longer just the platform for lip-syncing videos and dance challenges your nieces and nephews can't stop talking about. Rather, it's a social media powerhouse that provides the most opportunities for eCommerce brands to go viral. So If you're not already on TikTok, now is the best time to hop on board.
Some of you might think it might be too late to get in, but it's not. The platform is huge enough to quickly grow your following and get your content in front of a massive audience. But it's not as oversaturated as other platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
While we can't deny that TikTok is one of the biggest social media platforms today, most businesses find success by using it in tandem with other platforms. Remember, though, that TikTok is an entirely different platform, so you can't apply the strategies you use on Facebook or Twitter and expect the same results.