How to Use TikTok for Business

Man with hair tied back wearing a colourful patterned shirt and blue jeans sits on chair in front of mobile phone mounted on a tripod. He is pointing at the camera, while recording a TikTok for his business.

TikTok is one of the most popular social media platforms among Gen Z and millennial users, but it’s not all dance challenges. These days, companies of all sizes are tapping into the social platform’s marketing potential and reframing TikTok for business.  

TikTok’s constant stream of video content keeps users tuning in, and businesses are taking note. Don’t let the lighthearted nature of the content fool you. Major corporations and small businesses alike are leveraging the platform to connect with new audiences and build active follower communities.

While TikTok has exploded in recent years, fast movers still have a huge organic growth opportunity. In this article, we’ll explore why businesses use TikTok and how you can make it an effective part of your social media strategy.

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Table of contents

Why you should use TikTok for business

The platform is large enough (with over one billion active users) to offer a sizable audience for many business niches. It’s also still new enough that competition is relatively low, meaning it’s possible to get started and have an impact with your brand now. 

Businesses big and small have successfully used the platform to grow their markets. For instance, Mexican food chain Chipotle has expanded its following on TikTok by engaging users with content ranging from dance challenges to behind the scenes footage inside its restaurants. 

Fenty Beauty reaches new users by tapping into the popularity of tutorial videos to feature its beauty products. 

On a smaller scale, hard-seltzer company Nectar used TikTok to make a niche for themselves. When the founders struggled to gain traction through traditional marketing methods, they turned to TikTok. They posted videos showing their production process. The videos generated hundreds of thousands of views and a community eager to see their product on shelves. (See more about their story here).

Who’s on TikTok

As mentioned, TikTok attracts a younger audience. According to recent data, 75% of users worldwide are under 35 years old. There is also a significant gender gap, as 57% of global users are female.

The platform can be a powerful marketing tool for reaching new audiences. However, you’ll have the most success if you’re interested specifically in reaching these demographics. 

Why businesses are using TikTok 

Because it’s one of the primary social platforms used by Gen Z, TikTok reaches an audience other social media platforms don’t. It also stands out from other social media marketing platforms in several important ways.

It offers marketing that doesn’t feel like marketing

Younger viewers don’t have a lot of patience for blatant marketing tactics. Millward Brown’s AdReaction study reports that Gen Z is significantly more likely to skip ads than higher age groups.

TikTok’s focus on video (versus images and text) allows for a more authentic approach to ads. Videos let you tell your stories in a relatable way and generate conversations. 

You can make and post content quickly

TikTok’s features allow you to expand your breadth of creativity but still turn out content with minimal hassle. Features like the royalty-free Commercial Music Library, editing tools and filters make creating content simple and efficient. There’s no need to invest in a full creative team or specialised equipment to get up and running.

It lets you engage users more organically 

Users can make their own content in response to yours, expanding your exposure to new audiences. When people run across your brand through other users, it creates social proof that carries a lot of weight with buyers.

TikTok’s algorithm helps you target your market

The platform’s distinctive and precise algorithm increases the chances your content will end up in front of your intended audience. TikTok’s “For You” page (FYP), which is uniquely curated for every user, shows videos that get thousands of views alongside those with lower views. This means that new creators have a decent chance of getting in front of people.

Top Tip: Social media platforms can be powerful marketing tools, even for small businesses. Instagram is another great platform for generating high engagement with your target audience. Learn everything you need to know to get started in our guide on Instagram marketing for business 📱

Setting up a TikTok business account

Getting started on TikTok is just a matter of creating an account and starting to post. You can create and manage your business profile via a smartphone in a few easy steps.

  1. Get the app. Download TikTok from your app store and open the app.
  2. Follow the steps for creating an account. Put in your information and choose your preferences to create a free business account.
  3. Set up your advertiser profile. Make sure your account bio is a reflection of your brand. (We’ll go into more detail about this later.)
  4. Start posting content. Use the platform’s creative tools suite to create and share engaging videos about your brand.

You can set up your account on desktop or mobile. To learn more about how to get started, visit TikTok.com.

How to switch a personal account to a business account 

A business account, while still free, has features you don’t get with a personal TikTok account, including the ability to:

  • Direct traffic to external websites
  • Run paid ads
  • Partner with TikTok influencers
  • Track account performance in real time
  • Spot trends by viewing analytics

If you already have a personal account, you can easily turn it into a business account. 

  1. Log in on your phone and tap the “Me” tab at the bottom of the screen. 
  2. Choose “manage account” and then “Switch to Business Account.” 
  3. Follow the prompts to fill out information about your business and finish the setup.

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Forming a TikTok marketing strategy 

As with any social platform, marketing success on TikTok requires strategy. However, even if you have Instagram or Facebook marketing down, you’ll need to rethink your approach here. 

While other platforms focus on images and text, TikTok is strictly video-based. The format is versatile and offers an opportunity to connect with your audiences on a more engaging level.

You can find more insights into how to use TikTok for marketing at TikTok for Small Business, but here are some tips for getting started:

Get to know the platform

Set aside time to get familiar with the kinds of content being posted so you know what audiences are looking for. Learn who your audience and competitors are and consider the topics they’re discussing and video types they’re using. 

Spend time browsing content (in your niche as well as others) and watching trending hashtags and challenges. Play around with tools and effects to learn what you can do with your content.

Finally, do some digging to discover who the key TikTok influencers are in your industry so you can learn from them and, if it fits into your strategy, reach out to them to collaborate. (We’ll talk more about this later.)

Set goals and create a calendar

Once you understand the platform and its potential, you can decide what you want to get out of it. Consider the direction you want to take initially. For instance, you may decide your goals are things like:

  • To grow brand awareness
  • To educate your existing clients
  • To target new potential customers
  • To increase sales
  • To drive more traffic to your website

Decide what content you need to reach your goals. Then create a social media marketing calendar that will keep you on track to post regularly and follow up on campaigns.

Top Tip: Finding success on social media takes more than simply posting. Having a content strategy tailored to specific social platforms is essential. Learn how to leverage social media for marketing in our detailed guide on how to create a social media marketing strategy for your small business 💯

Optimising your profile to represent your brand 

Make the most of your TikTok profile to help people recognise your brand and associate your content with your products and services. You can optimise your profile by:

  • Choosing a memorable display name. Your name shows up wherever you post, and it’s also a keyword that makes sure you show up in pertinent searches.
  • Add a profile photo. A relevant image will personalise your account and make you more approachable.
  • Spend time on your bio. This is where you communicate what your brand is about, so make sure it’s to the point and punchy.
  • Add a URL. You only have space to include one link in your bio, so decide where you want users to land on their first visit to your site. You may choose to link to an about page, your home page or your storefront.

Alternatively, you can expand your options by using a service like Linktree to compile your most accessible links in one place, so they’re accessible from your account.

  • Add a preferred nonprofit. If your organisation is concerned with corporate social responsibility, TikTok has recently added an option to include a nonprofit you support. The feature will link directly to donation options. This can be a great way to show users your organisation’s priorities.
  • Include a call to action. Keep users engaged by directing them on how to interact with your brand once they find you. For example, include an invitation for users to visit an article or take advantage of a discount at the link provided. 

Creating your TikTok content

As mentioned, producing TikTok content can be quick and easy. But that doesn’t mean you don’t need to put thought, planning and resources into it. Here are five tips for making quality content that engages your audience and makes the most of the platform’s marketing potential. 

1. Make sure your video looks and sounds good

You don’t need fancy equipment or professional skills to make effective TikTok videos. However, if you want to compete for user attention, produce high-quality video and audio. 

Make sure there’s adequate lighting wherever you shoot your video. And make sure the audio is clear and clean or replace it with a trending track. 

2. Choose the right video format

Decide what type of videos appeal to your audiences. For example, your target customers may be most interested in how-to and tutorial videos related to your products or services. 

3. Stick to your brand’s tone

Define your voice and be consistent. You want viewers to know what they’re getting with your content. Switching from straightforward how-to videos to cutting reviews to fun group challenges can confuse viewers about who you are and what they’ll get from you.

TikTok is all about fast, reactive content. Trends drive views and responses, so be agile enough to adopt them as they happen. Watch for trends in content (trending TikTok challenges or hashtags, for instance) or in how videos are produced (specific sounds or transitions). Then find a relatable angle you can use to adapt the trend to your brand. 

Businesses frequently have success adapting trends designed by creators. For instance, the #BusyThinkingAbout TikTok trend had content creators start a video with the phrase “I’ve been busy thinking about…” and then show off something on their mind. 

This trend was a perfect opportunity for businesses to jump in and showcase their products or services in a fun format. For instance, Disney Parks used the momentum of the #BusyThinkingAbout hashtag to highlight a fun feature of an old favourite in the park, generating likes and conversation. 

5. Engage with followers

Use the same strategies you would with other social platforms to start conversations with your audience. Make it a two-way relationship by running polls and surveys, interacting with other TikTok accounts, responding to comments and answering questions.

Top Tip: Researching your market is crucial to understanding what your audience responds to. Knowing how to approach your target market will help you define your brand so you can present it consistently and start to build a brand presence. Learn how to get the information you need in our guide on how to conduct market research for your business idea 🔬

Leveraging user-generated content

Organic word-of-mouth marketing is another strong feature of TikTok marketing. User-generated content (UGC) is content featuring your brand or product but created by individual TikTok users. 

UGC tends to be more effective than formal ads because it offers the social proof consumers value (much like how product reviews play a big role in people’s purchasing decisions). 

Seeing other people interacting with and enjoying your products can be powerfully persuasive. For instance, Nike has gone all-in on UGC. Rather than posting its own TikTok content, the brand relies on the millions of videos that use the hashtag #nike to gain exposure. 

There are videos of people running in their Nikes, dancing in them, cleaning them and painting them. The videos are dynamic and follow the trends, and it all results in free advertising for the sports shoe brand.

How small businesses can tap into user-generated content 

You don’t have to be a mega-corporation like Nike to profit from user-generated content. Small businesses can also employ the power of this marketing tactic. Here’s how:

  • Interact with your audience regularly. As on any social platform, “social” is a key component to success. When content creators tag you in a video, respond. Like, share or comment to keep the conversations going.

  • Partner with influencers. Partnering with well-known players in your industry will get your content in front of a wide targeted audience. We’ll talk more about the power of influencers later. For now, note that getting them to produce content around your product can inspire others to use your hashtag and spread the word. 

  • Provide a clear call to action. Tell your audience what content you want. You can encourage them to participate in a social challenge, ask a question or use a video as a callout for a response. You can also demonstrate the kinds of interactions you’re looking for through influencer videos.

The Canadian sneaker brand Vessi is a great example of leveraging UGC to promote its product. Their shoes are waterproof, and the company challenged content creators to post proof of their effectiveness. Cue an influx of videos of users walking through puddles and wading in rivers, all tagged with the #vessi hashtag.

Top Tip: Getting users to engage with and promote your brand organically is a powerful way to get more market traction. To drive that kind of engagement, you need to create a brand that appeals to your target market. Learn how in our guide on how to build a brand that customers love 😍

Investing in Tik Tok ads

In June of 2020, TikTok launched its advertising platform TikTok for Business. Because the feature is still relatively new, customer acquisition costs are low. Depending on your target demographics, TikTok ads may be a good place to invest some of your marketing budget.

TikTok paid ad options

TikTok offers several ad formats that promote user engagement. For instance:

  • In-feed ads. These video ads appear in a user’s feed between other content. Users can like, share and comment on the videos like they would with anything else on their “For You” page (a feed of video content curated by the platform’s algorithm). However, they can also choose to skip or scroll past these ads, so making them compelling is important.

  • Sponsored hashtag challenges. You can leverage the popularity of hashtag challenges by sponsoring a specific challenge on the Discover page. A TikTok challenge is a video asking users to record themselves doing something related to your product and then post it with a defined hashtag. This format encourages interaction and creates helpful user-generated content.

  • Brand takeovers. These ads pop up as soon as a user opens the app. They take over the screen for a few seconds and then transition to in-feed video ads. These ads create awareness by getting your brand or offer in front of the right audience in a way that gets noticed. They also allow you to add a link to your landing page to drive more traffic.

  • Branded effects. These ads involve creating a custom lens, or filter, for your video that other users can add to their own videos. These fun effects also generally include a logo or trending product and are a way to get them in front of other users.

Working with TikTok influencers

Influencers have a lot of leverage on TikTok, with large followings and highly engaged audiences. Partnering with an influencer is an effective way of expanding your reach and getting your brand in front of new and eager users.

Here’s what to look for when seeking out an influencer to partner with:

  • Influencers with followers in your target market. You know your audience, so before you approach an influencer, make sure they speak to the demographic you want to reach.

  • Influencers who are active in your industry. Do they create content related to topics in your niche? Do they understand industry trends or know your competitors? Have they worked with products like yours in the past? These are all key indicators that they know how to reach your audience.

  • Influencers with consistently high engagement rates. Look for people who get a good amount of user interaction across the majority of their posts. This shows they’re tuned into and have established trust with their audience.

Top Tip: Identifying your target audience and researching competitors and influencers are key to developing a useful marketing strategy. Learn more about how to successfully create a marketing plan aimed at well-defined targets, read our beginners guide on creating a digital marketing strategy 💯

Using TikTok’s analytics tool to reflect, revise and iterate

As with any marketing venture, you need to evaluate your success on TikTok to make decisions about your strategy going forward. TikTok offers a free analytics tool to take some of the guesswork out of tracking your performance.

Here are the categories you’ll see within TikTok analytics and what you can gain from each:

  • Overview. This tab gives you an overview of activity within the past 60 days. You can check numbers around follower growth, profile views, video views, comments, likes and shares. The metrics in the overview category give you a sense of overall engagement for your account.
  • Content. Here you’ll get deeper insights into the performance of individual videos. You’ll see numbers for the views, comments, likes and shares, and what percentage of viewers watched the video through to the end. You also get information on traffic sources, or where viewers found your video. Content statistics are only available for the previous seven days.
  • Followers. The Followers tab gives you information about your audience demographics. You’ll find things like where your audiences are located, when they’re most active on TikTok, and comparisons of your audience growth with the previous period. 

All these insights help you see what’s working and who you’re reaching. Keeping up with analytics can help shape your marketing campaigns as you adjust your content to fit your findings. 

Top Tip: Knowing when users are active is a crucial analytic to leverage in any social media marketing campaign. Learn more about how timing affects social interaction on in our guide on the best time to post on Instagram in the UK ⌚️

Explore TikTok for business and grow your audience

TikTok isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. The platform has become a strong social media presence and offers a unique opportunity to engage your audience authentically and personally.

It doesn’t take much to get started as a business on TikTok, so now is a good time to dive in and start exploring this emerging platform.

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Photo by Ron Lach, published on Pexels

Valentine Hutchings

Head of Community and small business enthusiast

Tide Team

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