The disruptive new kid on the block, TikTok has taken the social media landscape by storm since its global launch in 2017.
In a few short years, the platform has exploded from a niche lip-synching app into a major player. Just look at the numbers. Worldwide, the app has been downloaded more than 2 billion times. It’s already the 7th most popular social media platform. It has over 100 million monthly active users in the US alone.
TikTok’s brand of short, snackable video has become so popular, other social media platforms have been forced to react. It’s no coincidence that YouTube’s Shorts and Instagram’s Reels were both launched in 2020, the pandemic-blighted year that TikTok established itself as a video powerhouse.
Refreshingly different, stripped back and relevant, TikTok’s biggest asset is its audience. Providing unrivalled access to Generation Z (almost half of TikTok’s total users are under the age of 29), the platform allows brands to tap into a completely new customer base.
Put simply, TikTok is a platform you can’t afford to ignore.
Brand starting out on TikTok? In this beginner’s guide to TikTok, we’re going to show you the basics. Here’s everything you need to know.
So, What Is TikTok?
TikTok’s big USP is that pretty much anyone with a smartphone can take part – which is good news for brands on a budget.
Its videos are super short (between 5 seconds and 3 minutes), and mostly shot in a very simple, DIY format. Users can then edit videos in the app, adding a range of colorful effects, and music from the platform’s massive library. It’s short, easy, and fun, with a lot of emphasis on humor and silliness. As you use the app more, the algorithm gets to know exactly what you like, feeding you a never-ending stream of relevant content.
In many ways, TikTok has come a long way in a short amount of time. It began life as a lip-synching app, popular with teenagers and young adults. But in the last couple of years, it has exploded into one of the most popular video platforms on the planet. Today, you’ll find all kinds of content on there, from tutorials and Q&As to dance and social media challenges.
How To Create A TikTok Business Account
Business accounts are free and easy to create on TikTok. First, download the app from the relevant app store. Next, open the app, tap “Me” on the menu bar at the bottom of the screen, and then “Sign Up”. You’ll then need to register using your phone number, email address or an existing social media account.
Once you’ve set up your account, you will need to switch it into a business account manually. To do that, head to your “Me” page and tap the top right of the screen.
The whole point of TikTok is that it’s simple
Here, you’ll see an option to “Manage Account”. Click this and select the “Switch to Business Account” option. You’ll then be asked to select a category that matches your business. This aids the TikTok algorithm so that it can, in the platform’s own words, send you “customized content, events, and solutions”.
And that’s it – you’re ready to start making content on TikTok. So, now what? Well, here are a few ideas to get you started.
Stay Tuned In To The “For You” Page
TikTok’s “For You” page is the first thing you’ll see when you open the app. This digital smorgasbord of viral content is everything popular on TikTok right now –
whether that’s a grown man pretending to be Harry Potter, or a cat sticking its head into a cardboard tube.
For TikTok newbies, this is the place to find inspiration. The platform automatically populates this page with trending content, and you can use this to influence your own ideas.
For brands, this is a great way to jump on trending challenges or pranks, which can often be recreated with very little time and budget.
Be aware that as you become more active on TikTok, its algorithm will adapt, curating content to match your tastes.
The whole point of TikTok is that it’s simple. Like we said earlier, pretty much anyone with a smartphone can use it to make content, grow their following, and go viral (although good ideas help, too).
So, that super slick, seamlessly edited product video you shot to sit on your website isn’t going to work here. For TikTok, the best content should be organic, almost off the cuff. At least it should appear that way.
New trends blow up on TikTok all the time
We suggest following a few brands with a similar vibe to yours – or a vibe you aspire to have – and see how they do it. Look at Gymshark, Innocent Drinks, and Nando’s for inspiration.
Their stuff is simple, relatable, and, most of all, funny. A lot of people, for now, visit the platform to consume content that makes them laugh. Meaning it can be a place to show your brand’s humorous side. So, let loose and make with the funny.
Search For Trends
New trends blow up on TikTok all the time. In fact, it’s a big part of the platform’s appeal. These can be anything from a popular sound or a new dance to a general topic. Following trends is a great way to begin life on TikTok for two reasons:
- You get a readymade template for the content
- It can give you access to a bigger audience
There are a few ways marketers can keep an eye out for emerging TikTok trends. One is to follow #trendalert, a hashtag used by TikTok users to point out trending features on the platform; #ticktokmarketing is similar.
Another way is to look for specific sounds or effects. Essentially, this is when a particular sound – for example, a song, a silly noise, or an audio sample from a movie – becomes popular over a number of videos. To do this, just browse the “Discover Page”, looking out for songs that keep on appearing.
TikTok’s algorithm prioritizes likes over followers
When you see a song or sound appear a few times, click on it to see how many other videos have used it, too. If it’s got between 1,000 and 5,000 videos, monitor it over the next 24 hours. This way, you’ll be able to see if it’s a trend worth jumping on or not.
Unlike most other social media platforms, TikTok’s algorithm prioritizes likes over followers. That means it’s possible to get tons of likes, even go viral, on TikTok, without having a single follower. How? Because the emphasis is on your content.
You see, TikTok has two main tabs: “For You” – a never-ending feed of content based on your behavior (likes, watch-time, etc) on the app – and “Following” – the account you follow.
We recommend using up to 5 hashtags
“For You” is by far the most popular because, quite literally, it “gives the people what they want”. Every video uploaded to TikTok is shown to a small subset of users based on their likes. If they react positively, it’s shown to a larger set of users. This continues until it either snowballs into a viral juggernaut or peaks and runs its course.
So, hashtags – what about them? Well, this helps the algorithm categorize your videos properly, which, in turn, helps TikTok show your content to the right users. We recommend using up to 5 hashtags, dividing those between trending (which you can find in the “Discover” search bar), and those that are relevant to your brand and content.
Stick With Short Videos
When you’re starting out on TikTok, no one knows who you are, or what you stand for. So, the last thing you want to do is turn off audiences with a long, boring video. Early on in your brand’s TikTok journey, the name of the game is attention – keeping it, that is.
To start with, keep your videos short. We recommend starting with the 15-second limit. Save the platform’s two other options, 60 seconds, and 3 minutes, for later down the line when your audience is a little bigger. The reason for this is that one of TikTok’s most important metrics is “watch time”.
The more of the video they watch, the more likely it is to gain traction. On top of that, 3-minute videos are still relatively new (they were only introduced in summer 2021) to TikTok, so the jury’s still out on their effectiveness.
So, what’s the best length for a TikTok video? While there’s a lack of hard research on this, most seem to agree that somewhere between 10 and 15 seconds is the sweet spot.
Work With “Micro-Influencers”
Working with a “micro-influencer” is exactly like working with a regular influencer, just on a much smaller scale. Typically, they have around 10,000 followers, which is tremendous reach for a brand starting out on TikTok. For smaller brands, they’re also cheaper and easier to partner with.
When selecting an influencer to work with, we recommend going with one of two options: location or niche. With location, it could be that there’s a local micro-influencer in your city, state or region. This is particularly useful if you’re running a bricks-and-mortar business (bar, café or clothing store, etc) and want to drive some foot traffic.
For niche, think about the type of audience you want to connect with. TikTok is divided into hundreds of sub-communities (or niches), where people go for specialized content.
Examples include fashion, health and fitness, comedy, cooking, and business. Niches are often defined by certain types of content – for example, instructional videos on cooking TikTok – and can be found through specific hashtags, such as #cookingtiktok, #gamertiktok, and #traveltiktok.
In both cases, be sure to vet the influencer carefully (look back through their previous videos and make sure there’s nothing potentially controversial in there), and choose someone that relates to your product, service or brand values.
We hope you’ve found our beginner’s guide to TikTok useful. For more expert tips and awesome advice, subscribe to the Viddyoze blog and check out our social media channels. Or if you want to start creating exclusive TikTok videos, click here.
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