A Beginner’s Guide For TikTok Marketing

It’s a well-known fact that visual content performs the best on social media. Whether it’s images, gifs, or videos, if people can take a quick look or hit the play button and watch a funny 10-second video clip, they’ll choose that over written content any day.

TikTok is one of the newest social networking video platforms available, and it’s one of the most popular with a large worldwide audience of 800 million users. TikTok videos are no more than a minute long, but they capture the attention of viewers because of how easy it is to get creative with videos by adding in special effects, music, voice-overs, and even “duets” which are two videos running side by side.

The draw of TikTok is the casualness of it. There’s no need to get fancy or spend a lot of money. Being funny, friendly, and approachable is what will gain you an audience without a lot of investment on your part. Just be yourself.

In this article, we talk about how to set up a TikTok account and get started creating TikTok videos that will keep people entertained.

Using TikTok for Brand Promotion

TikTok is a video-sharing platform where users create 15 to 60-second video clips. It started in China in 2016, but didn’t become popular in the United States until 2018. Despite its fledgling status, the app has over 30 million in the United States alone. That’s nearly 4 times the number of Snapchat users and 1.5 times the number of Instagram users. In November 2019, TikTok reached the milestone of 1.5 billion downloads. Needless to say, those audience numbers have caught the attention of marketers.

Compared to the other social networking platforms we discuss in this book, TikTok has the youngest user base; nearly 70 percent are 16 to 24 year olds (Gen Z), meaning the remaining 30 percent are 25+ years old. If your target market is the latter, don’t write off TikTok just yet. Younger generations adopt technology earlier than older generations, but older users eventually catch up. Marketers would be wise to strike while the iron is hot and build up a following sooner rather than later.

So what’s the appeal? Are there fancy bells and whistles that enable users to create mind-blowing video clips filled with special effects? Hordes of celebrities making videos in exotic locations? Well, no. Neither of those is the case. What draws users into TikTok is the exact opposite; namely, the fact that the content depicts everyday people in everyday locations doing everyday things. The most popular influencers on TikTok are teenagers making videos in their kitchens and living rooms. They’re relatable.

Creating and Personalizing Your TikTok Account

Okay, so now that you’ve decided to give marketing on TikTok a try, let’s go ahead and get started!

Setting up your account

Follow these steps to set up a TikTok account:

Step 1: Locate the TikTok app on iTunes or Google Play and download it to your mobile device.

Step 2: Choose to register with your email address/phone number, Facebook account, Apple account, Google, or Twitter

Step 3: Do one of the following:

  • For Facebook, Google, Twitter, or Apple accounts: Tap Continue and use that particular site’s credentials to create an account on TikTok.
  • Email account or phone number: You will be prompted to enter your birthday on the following screen to ensure you’re over 13 years of age.

Step 4: Step Create a username.

Either choose the one TikTok suggests or create your own. I recommend creating one that reflects your brand’s name.

And that’s it! You’re now on your brand new profile page.

Note: If you used anything other than your email address or phone number to sign up for your new TikTok account, then that account information will automatically be brought over and used for TikTok. Depending on the information that you filled in, you may want to go back and change it, which we get into in the next section.

Completing your profile

It’s important that you have a completed profile before you start videos. Otherwise, you run the risk of looking like a spam account. Also, as we mentioned in the previous section if you utilized one of the sign-up methods other than an email address or phone number, whatever personal information you entered into that account was brought over. Chances are you’ll want to change some settings for your TikTok account.

To get started filling in the rest of your profile, follow the steps below:

Step 1: Tap the Edit Profile button in the center of the page.

Step 2: To update or add a new profile photo, tap the camera icon in the left circle at the top.

You have the option to take a new photo or upload an existing photo. If you’re replacing the existing profile photo, then you also have the option to view the existing one.

Instead of uploading a static photo, consider taking advantage of using a video as a profile image. To do so, tap the Change Video circle to the right of the photo circle, pick the video that you want from your existing library of videos, select a 6-second portion to feature (if the original video is longer than 6 seconds), and then tap Save in the top right corner.

Step 3: Tap on the Name area to change your name.

If you want to change the name that may have been imported when you created your account, now’s your chance. You have 30 characters to work with.

Step 4: Tap Save.

You’re back at the Edit Profile screen.

Step 5: (Optional) Tap on the space that says Username if you want to change it.

You just created your username, but if you change your mind and want to update it, here’s where you do it.

Step 6: (Optional) Tap on the section that says Bio to add your business’ bio and tap Done.

This is the most important part of your profile, so if you don’t want to fill it in now, make a note to return to it soon. You have only 80 characters to work with, so be creative — and brief!

Step 7: (Optional) Add your Instagram and/or YouTube profiles.

This is a great way to cross-promote your other social media accounts, so take advantage of it!

Touring the TikTok screens

Now let’s talk about the features you’ll be using when creating your videos. From the Profile screen, you see the following:

  • New video button: This black square with the plus (+) sign is what you tap to record videos.
  • Discover: Tap the magnifying glass to find new videos, accounts, trending hashtags, and so on. This is how you’ll go about finding new accounts to follow (which we go over in the following section).
  • Inbox: This is where you’ll send and receive direct messages (DMs) from others on TikTok.
  • Me: Takes you back to your profile page.
  • Home: This is where all the videos from the accounts you follow show up, as well as videos from accounts that TikTok suggests based on your interests.
  • Favorites: Tapping the icon that looks like a ribbon (next to the Edit profile button) takes you to a screen where you can see all the videos, hashtags, sounds, and effects that you’ve favorited.
  • Your videos: When you start creating videos, they will show up on this main screen, which is represented by the three vertical, dashed lines.
  • Liked: The heart icon next to the lines are the videos that you’ve liked. These are private by default, but you can change that in your Privacy settings.
  • Private: The lock icon next to the heart is where the videos that you’ve marked private are kept.
  • Following, Followers, Likes: Pretty self-explanatory, the numbers underneath your username at the top show you the number of accounts you’re following, the number of people that follow you, and the total number of likes you’ve received.
  • Add friends: On the top left of the screen is a silhouette with a plus (+) sign. Tap that to invite friends using the contacts on your phone, as well as the options to invite via text and other social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
  • Settings and Privacy: Tapping the icon that looks like three dots in the top right takes you to the Settings and Privacy screen that is essentially the nuts and bolts of your account. You can adjust things like the notifications you receive, the language your account displays in, and privacy and safety features like who can send you DMs and whether or not your videos can be downloaded.

Note: There are too many settings to cover in this book; we recommend you go through them all to ensure you’re making the most of your TikTok experience.

Following (and getting followers) on TikTok

Now’s where we go looking for accounts to follow! The idea is that when you follow similar accounts, you’ll see the types of content they share and how they engage with their audience. This is especially important when you’re first starting out on TikTok because you’re still learning the etiquette that comes along with this unique platform.

To get started, tap on the Discover icon at the bottom of the screen. Now, in the search box at the top of the Discover page, type a search term associated with your business. 

Figure 1 shows the results when you type the word cupcakes. At the top the results are categorized into Top (what’s trending), Users, Videos, Sounds, and Hashtags.

Figure 1 - The search results when you type cupcakes.

Scroll through all the content, watch different videos from various users, and listen to the different sounds for ideas on short sound bites you can incorporate into your own videos. When a video catches your eye, tap on it to open it and you’ll see the options shown in Figure 2.

FIGURE 2 - The different actions you can take on a TikTok video.

Here are the different parts of the video screen:

  • Follow: On the right side of the screen is the user’s profile photo with a white plus (+) sign in a pink circle. Tap the button to follow this account.
  • Liked: The heart icon underneath the Follow icon shows the number of likes this video has received. Tap on the heart to like the video.
  • Comments: The conversation bubble icon represents the comments the video has. Tap on it to read the comments and add one of your own.
  • Send: The right-pointing arrow icon lets you share this video with someone else via TikTok message, text message, through Snapchat, Instagram, and a number of other options. You also see options to report the video, save it, add it to favorites, convert it to a live photo, send it as a gif, or create a “duet” with it, which puts this video side by side with one you’ve created.
  • Music: The spinning icon on the bottom right is the specific music clip that accompanies the video. Tap on it to get the details of the sound and save it to your favorites if you’d like to utilize it in your own videos.

Tip The music is all free to use, so take advantage of the wide variety!

Sharing videos

Note: There are so many different combinations and features that go into creating TikTok content that we can’t cover them all here. But play around with the different options and see how creative you can get!

Now it’s time to create your first TikTok video! All you have to do is follow these steps:

Step 1: Open the app on your mobile device and select the new video button (square with a plus sign). You see the fresh canvas like the one shown in Figure 3.

FIGURE 3 - It’s time to get creative!

You may have to give the app access to your camera and microphone first.

Step 2: Select either 60s or 15s for video length in seconds.

Alternatively, you can tap Templates and utilize one of the premade video templates with all the effects built right in.

Step 3: (Optional) Tap on Effects to select a fancy effect to have on your video.

You can choose from multiple categories of effects including Trending, Interactive, Beauty, Funny, and Animal.

Although every video of yours shouldn’t have an effect, definitely use them sometimes to give your content some pizazz.

Step 4: (Optional) Utilize the options on the top right of the screen:

  1. Flip the camera to film out
  2. Speed to record at a faster speed
  3. Beauty to smooth out skin texture
  4. Filters to add a colored filter over the video (nothing silly, just changes in lighting and so on)
  5. Timer to set a 3- or 10-second countdown before the recording starts

Step 5: (Optional) Tap Sounds at the top of the screen to select music to add.

Step 6: Tap the red record button (large red circle) and get creative!

Tap the button again to pause and once you’re finished, tap the red circle with the check mark to finish the recording and play back your masterpiece!

Tip The fun doesn’t have to stop there! After you’re done recording you can add voice effects, text, stickers, additional sounds, and more!

Step 7: Tap the red Next button.

Add a description of your video, include hashtags to help others find your video, and decide if you want to keep it public or make it private, allow comments on it, and allow people to make it into a duet, as well as whether or not people can save your video to their devices.

Once you’ve changed all the settings to your liking, tap the red Post button to post it immediately to your account or Draft if you want to return to work on it later.

Congratulations! You’ve made your first TikTok video! That was fun, wasn’t it?

Determining What Videos You Should Create

You may be wondering what kind of fun and interesting videos you can make for your brand. The good news is, as long as it’s … er … fun and interesting, it doesn’t have to directly showcase your brand. Just something related to your brand.

Here are some examples of how to showcase your brand’s personality on TikTok.

  • Trending content: Take advantage of trending content like hashtags or dances. Are you or someone on your team a great dancer (or at least a good sport)? Throw on a branded t-shirt and try to re-create one of the trending dances. You’ll have a lot of fun and your audience will as well!
  • Test kitchens: Who doesn’t love to see how products are made or served to the public? If you have a bakery, give a behind-the-scenes peek at decorating a fancy cake set to some grand music.
  • Kids and pets: Kids and pets are the two top draws on TikTok. After all, the audience does tend to be younger generations. Enlist the help of your adorable bouncing puppy to get some likes.
  • Challenges: Take part in a trending challenge. Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge where people tossed buckets of ice water over each other’s heads to raise money for ALS? There are always a number of challenges going on throughout TikTok. Pick one and get creating!
  • User-generated content: Run a contest and ask fans and followers on your other social networks to put together TikTok videos representing your brand, post them, and ask people to vote for the winner.
  • The only limit is your imagination! Try out a few different ideas and see what your audience responds to the best.

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