Businesses of all types are looking for ways to succeed on TikTok. The short-video sharing platform has achieved massive growth, accelerated by pandemic restrictions and a series of high-profile news events. Originally the brief, unpolished, music-centric videos attracted mainly pre-teen and teen users. Today, the audience is growing, and so is the interest of business leaders.
Yet TikTok’s unique flavor has challenged even the savviest social media marketers. That’s why we asked business experts to share their best advice for TikTok success. Here’s the most valuable advice they had to share based on their own experience using the platform.
Strive for Authenticity
“The key to growing on TikTok as a business is to not act like a business,” said Kyle Dulay, co-founder of the influencer hub Collabstr. “TikTok content is meant to be authentic. You need to avoid the continuous urge to promote yourself.”
He advises brands to focus on value. “ A common rule of thumb is to provide value 90% of the time, and only ask for something in return 10% of the time,” Dulay said.
Miguel Lantigua, Social Media Director of PR firm The Reps, points out the big-name brands that thrive on other platforms but flounder on TikTok. “Like most issues on social media, this is a content-driven one. TikTok has a far more personal feel. Users also go on TikTok expecting to avoid the same advertisers that can clog up their feeds on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter..”
“Gen Z, in particular, is very aware of being patronized and resents obvious pandering,” Lantigua said. “As a result, accounts and videos that feature their users are far more successful than ones that push advertising content. The upside is that this is perfect for brands with mascots or spokespeople, as well as those that are not afraid to be creative in a landscape that celebrates imagination over messaging and polish.”
Follow the Trends for TikTok Success
Marilyn Gaskell of True People Search says they’ve seen success from staying up-to-date on the trending songs and replicating the style of viral TikToks.
George Tsagas of eMathZone points out that TikTok trends often revolve around songs and sounds. If you’re not using these trending sounds, users might be less likely to engage. In fact, the TikTok algorithm prefers videos with viral sounds.
Trending hashtags are another essential element to keep an eye on. Neil Shaw, Founder and CEO of Lottery Sambad, recommends checking out the Discover section of your own TikTok feed to find popular region-specific hashtags. “With 1.7 billion views, #TikTokTaughtMe is certainly suitable for any how-to or tutorial-type video,” he said.
In general, educational content does well on TikTok. Alex Uriarte of 1800injured.care says, “The most popular TikTok accounts are those that demonstrate how to use the things that people want to buy. This tutorial-style content is best suited to travel, fashion, interiors, and food brands, but other industries are also benefiting from it.”
But Find Your Own Voice
Relying too much on trends can mean your videos start looking like everyone else’s, which can backfire. To avoid this pitfall Chloe Sisson of Zen Media, a PR agency recommends coming up with a personalized series or “bit” that is unique to your account. “Big personalities do well on TikTok. You want to grab the viewers’ attention within the first few seconds.”
Just remember that authenticity matters. “Tiktokkers can smell fake and desperate a mile away,” says Psychic Medium Nancy Mello. “It is less about being perfect and more about being yourself.”
Brandon Hopkins, founder of DiamondLinks explains how to do this. “Show a human side and introduce TikTok to someone in your company that they can connect with on a regular basis. TikTok is best used when it’s intimate, hits upon something that is trending, and is FUN.”
Get Help From Influencers
Perhaps more than on any other social media platform, influencers can make a big difference to your success on TikTok.
“Influencers on TikTok have successfully developed a connection of trust with their followers and fans,” says Gerrid Smith of Joy Organics. “Their influence not only allows you to reach a larger audience on TikTok, but it also lends credibility to your brand because these influencers are vouching for your product or service.”
TikTok has made it easier for brands to connect with influencers by introducing the Creator Marketplace. It allows brands to search for, collaborate with, and view insights about influencers on the platform.
Paid influencers aren’t your only option on TikTok. Your customers can also become micro-influencers on your behalf. “Create a hashtag for your company and encourage your customers to use it whenever they post something on TikTok that is related to your goods or services,” advises Chris Nddie of Clothing RIC
Understand Best Practices for TikTok Ads
“In-Feed Ads can be up to a minute long, but as with most TikToks, 9 to 15 seconds is the desirable length of time,” says Spacewhite CMO, Jessica Zhao. “Much longer and users will get bored and move on to other content.”
That’s 9 to 15 seconds for an entire ad. Becky Carré of Elevate PPC says you have even less time to capture user attention so they’ll actually stop scrolling. “You have less than 2 seconds to capture your audience’s attention before they scroll to the next video,” she said. “Introduce your brand early, placing your logo in the first two seconds, and aim to communicate your ad’s key message within the first six seconds.”
TikTok also allows you to advertise using a hashtag challenge. “All you have to do is post a compelling video, create a branded hashtag, and encourage your followers to make similar videos,” says Adam Fard of Adam Fard UX Agency. “Viral marketing is what expands the audience and encourages TikTok users to interact.”
Quick Advice for TikTok Success
While most of the advice for success on TikTok centered around the ideas above, some business leaders had some more specific tips to share. They included
- Don’t use linktr.ee for your link in bio. It triggers an error that might frighten customers away, says Keira Jones of Keira Jones Marketing.
- Closed caption everything, says Flynn Zaiger of Online Optimism. Many users watch TikTok with the sound off or low. Make sure your content is still accessible.
- Generic hashtags may be popular, but they make it hard to stand out, says Patrick Crane, CEO of Love Sew. Do your research to find niche-specific hashtags your audience is searching for.
The Best Advice for TikTok Success
Jacob Henley, owner of the streetwear boutique FORTS summarizes the best advice for TikTok success: “People don’t like to feel like they are being sold to. They want to feel a personal connection with brands more than ever. Don’t focus on selling your product, sell a story.”
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t invest in TikTok ads. Many of our business experts have achieved positive results by advertising on TikTok. What it does mean is that you may need to adjust your mindset. Focus on entertaining and engaging the viewer. TikTok is a community. Figure out where you fit in.
Top photo by Solen Feyissa on Unsplash.