Marketing and Sales

How to Use TikTok for Business

11 minutes

How to Use TikTok for Business

It’s 2021, and TikTok has proved that it’s here to stay. Gen Z can’t get enough of it. Marketers are well aware that TikTok isn’t going anywhere and are trying to seize the moment. But so far, we’ve only heard about big brands starting their TikTok campaigns with a bang. Is there any way for a small or middle-sized business to go viral without spending millions? Turns out there are quite a few!

Let’s take a look at all of the possible ad formats and practices that marketers use to get more attention and boost brand awareness using TikTok for business. We’ll also talk about the advantages and unique features of the platform. This article is a must for anyone targeting a young audience or planning to expand their existing one. Are you ready to dip your toes in?

What is TikTok?

TikTok is an app for making and sharing short-form vertical looping videos. Videos can be between 15 and 60 seconds long. TikTok allows its users to add musical overlays, sound effects, visual effects, and AR-filters. It’s also possible to upload pre-recorded videos.

With the Duets feature, you can reply to someone’s video by recording your own video set to the same music. Your reply will be displayed back-to-back with the original. You can also upload photos and make them look like a slideshow, but this format is far less popular.

Here is how Walmart uses relatable and funny TikTok videos to establish contact with a younger audience:

Walmart uses TikTok videos to share funny and relatable situations

TikTok users help videos gain momentum by adding hashtags to their video captions. Hashtags are essential for making challenges and trends popular. Users can also like and comment on each other’s videos and send private messages within the app.

TikTok has a dimension of its own. It’s an entertainment-first platform, so no surprise all its popular formats revolve around having fun and trying something new:

  • creative challenges;
  • try-on videos;
  • dance moves;
  • stunts;
  • lifehacks;
  • lip-synching to popular songs;
  • recipes;
  • workouts;
  • DIY ideas;
  • lifestyle videos;
  • motivational videos;
  • tutorials;
  • pet videos;
  • pranks;
  • memes;
  • behind-the-scenes videos.

And there is always some catchy tune involved. Danceable, peppy music is in the app’s DNA. Music is what propels virality, makes videos engaging, and translates the mood — it’s extremely easy to find the right track using TikTok’s playlists. By the way, if you are struggling to choose music for your ads, TikTok will do it for you by pairing a matching song with your video automatically.

Lastly, let’s take a look at some TikTok-related statistics:

  1. TikTok has been downloaded more than 2 billion times on the App Store and Google Play Store.
  2. It has conquered over 150 markets worldwide.
  3. The app is available in 75 languages.
  4. The number of actively monthly TikTok users in the US is about 100 million.

What are the benefits of using TikTok for business?

It’s a down-to-earth platform. TikTok is very different from the typical hyper-edited, well-curated, and glossy aesthetic we’re used to seeing on Instagram and other visual platforms. Staying consistent isn’t as important as being authentic on this platform. So, it’s a good chance to embrace imperfections and create content for a fraction of the cost, and from anywhere you like without spending hours editing it.

It encourages you to radiate authenticity. Videos don’t lie — it’s easy to spot a fake-sounding ad from a mile away. This is why TikTok influencers feel so real and relatable. They laugh, play, explore, and encourage their subscribers to do the same. It’s the type of content we usually share with friends and family, so any subtle and organic product integration on TikTok has more chances to pique users’ interest.

It gives you space to create diverse content. You’ll notice there is a variety of voices and formats on TikTok. Videos are often energetic, silly, tongue-in-cheek, or upbeat — but never boring. There are no strict rules on what to post except the TikTok guidelines.

It has an upbeat mood. It’s safe to say TikTok is about “good vibes only.” Snarky comments are more of an exception than the rule. It’s not the best platform to tackle serious topics, but it’s the place to go if you want your brand to appear more relatable and available.

It makes your content visible. TikTok’s intelligent content discovery algorithms allow users to find fresh content based on their viewing preferences and habits, giving brands an opportunity to spread awareness and get more attention. TikTok doesn’t care how many followers you have. If you produce great, funny, and shareable content, you’ll have a blast.

It’s ever-changing. TikTok trends have a short lifespan. Every day, there is a new craze, so you can’t post similar videos all the time — they won’t get traction. But you get the chance to experiment more often, think out the box, and go beyond everyone’s expectations.

Is TikTok a good fit for your business?

The answer depends on your target audience. We can’t ignore the fact that most TikTok users are teenagers and young people. Let’s look at the distribution of TikTok users in the US as of June 2020:

TikTok users stats
TikTok is mostly used by teens; source: Statista

As you see, teens are the main users of the platform. This fact is important because you’ll most likely need to use challenges and follow trends to make your account and brand more popular. Challenges typically require people to dance in front of the camera or do something similar. But there is no reason to panic — stats show that more and more adult users are getting acquainted with TikTok and picking up on trends.

Once again, there are countless ways to present your brand on TikTok — instead of dancing, you can show funny moments at your work, post your customers’ videos with your product, or dedicate your account to your mascot. After all, even the most strict and demanding buyers probably take a few minutes of their time to relax and smile by scrolling through funny videos.

We’ve mentioned an upbeat mood, but keep in mind that there is a responsibility that comes with it. So-called sensitive businesses will be having a hard time advertising on TikTok. All your content must be kid-friendly — an unwritten rule of TikTok because of its main audience.

How to create a business TikTok profile

You’ll find TikTok on the Google Play Store and App Store. Simply install it and sign up using your email address or social media profile. The interface of the app is similar to that of Instagram, so you will be able to use it intuitively. After you’ve installed it, go to the settings and switch to a business account:

You can use TikTok as a creator or a business owner

And here’s a little checklist on what to do before you start posting:

  1. Add multiple links in your bio.
  2. Create a catchy and memorable phrase or tagline for your bio.
  3. Use your logo as your profile picture.
  4. Dive into Business Creative Hub to get inspired by other brands.
  5. Don’t forget to link your Instagram and YouTube.
  6. Check out your competitors’ profiles and what they post.

How to use TikTok ad opportunities for your business

There are a handful of solutions for advertisers, but some aren’t available for financial reasons. We’ll run through all of them, but your main focus should be on two of the most affordable options — collaborations with influencers for challenges and in-feed video ads.

In-feed video ads

These videos appear in users’ “For You” feed, and they are labeled as “Sponsored.” You can create up to 60 seconds of auto-play video with music or sound effects and a CTA button. Likewise, you can add any relevant Pixel or third-party tracking URLs to track your ad performance data. Users will be able to like, share, and comment on your ad once it goes live.

And this is what the Ads Manager dashboard looks like:

tiktok ads manager
The self-serve Ads Manager is a convenient way to create ads for TikTok

TikTok offers self-service tools to create and manage ads on the platform. It only takes a few minutes to set up your account, and you don’t need any special skills to get started. Just head to TikTok For Business and click “Get started.” That will allow you to create your account.

To learn all of the ins and outs of advertising on TikTok, go to Business Learning Center and Small Business Resource Center.


This a video-first format for grabbing full users’ attention with visuals, sound, and a narrative. By choosing this format, you’ll be able to create 60 seconds of full-screen and auto-play video. This ad will appear when a user opens TikTok. It will also be marked as “Sponsored,” and it’ll be open for likes, comments, and shares.

This is an example of a TopView ad sponsored by Reno:

TopView is an extremely effective ad type

Brand Takeover

This ad type also appears instantly when a user opens the app. The main difference is that, in this case, it’s possible to use 3-second JPGs or 3-5 second videos. Brand Takeover is more like a quick flash, while TopView is better suited for short-form storytelling. It immediately hijacks users’ attention with a full-screen static or dynamic picture, delivering a strong and powerful message.

Here comes an attention-capturing example — a video created by Vans:

Brand Takeover is another example of a clickable full-screen ad

Branded Hashtag Challenge

This format isn’t exactly unique — it mimics Instagram challenges but has a higher potential of going viral, thanks to unique TikTok’s tools and features. Challenges tap into users’ desire to be seen, try something creative, and become part of a TikTok community.

A challenge starts with videos posted by several influencers where they do their part and describe what’s to be done. Then, they invite users to participate and use a specific hashtag that will lead to the challenge page. On that page, users will be able to see other challenge-related content and a small description of the challenge:

tiktok hashtag challenge
Even big brands create challenges without paying for TikTok’s media support

This a “free” option where you need to pay only for collaborations with influencers. There is a more advanced — and expensive — way that will bring your challenge to the next level, and it’s called a Hashtag Challenge advertisement.

When choosing this format, you’ll get a nice-looking “landing page” with your branded visuals, the full instruction for your challenge, and the videos that have already been created as part of your challenge. That page will be promoted for 3 or 6 days with a banner in the Discover tab where new challenges pop up. TikTok will also provide you with creative guidance and a stress-free setup.

If you’re not ready to spend the extra money for a Hashtag Challenge ad, working with influencers will do just fine. Try to choose TikTokers that are somewhat related to your niche so that your placement will look and feel natural to their audience.

Branded AR effects and sounds

With the help of TikTok’s team, you can create unique sharable stickers, filters, and special effects. It’s a sure way to attract Generation Z and make the first impression of your brand unforgettable. Also, visual language is a great way to communicate with a multilingual audience.

Branded AR filters work especially well for experiential brands and the beauty industry:

AR effects are more likely to make users remember your brand

How do brands use TikTok for business?

The best way to get some inspiration for your TikTok is to look at how other companies approach it. These examples of using TikTok for business can help you find your own style and go beyond typical dance videos.

Kylie Cosmetics

Here, you will see a lot of makeup swatches, tutorials, and beauty routines. The brand creates a nice mix of influencer content, commercial videos, and content by Kylie Jenner, the owner of the company. Their feed looks bright and shiny, just like a cosmetic store display.

The Kylie Cosmetics team shows their products in action


The popular magazine’s marketing team took a different approach and radically simplified their content without losing any quality. They post snackable 15-second tutorials, life hacks, and tips that certainly trigger their young audience’s interest without boring them. Here is an example of their tutorial on how to arrange an elegant bouquet in no time:

Quick life hacks belong to the most engaging types of content


We’ve mentioned it before — the brand hosted a cozy Christmas-themed challenge and promoted their branded clothes. Now, let’s take a look at how they presented that challenge. As you see, there are no special effects, expensive decorations, or anything like that, yet the video is entertaining, and it conveys the mood perfectly.

You can create an engaging video for your challenge even on a limited budget

Burger King

The brand is known for its bold and cheeky tone of voice. Their TikTok videos match that description well — the style is the same, and it’s easily recognizable. They share unique memes and relatable moments, and, apparently, their young audience just loves it.

As an example, we’ve chosen their mascot video:

Funny meme videos have the highest chances to go viral on TikTok

The North Face

It’s a brand for true adventure-seekers, and The North Face proves it with their TikTok content demonstrating their influencers, athletes, and explorers moving towards their goals even through extreme weather conditions.

The North Face uses TikTok to showcase what’s possible to achieve with their gear

How expensive is TikTok for business?

It’s still a relatively new platform, and many marketers and agencies aren’t willing to share the exact budgets they’re spending on TikTok. For now, we know that the minimum budget at the campaign level is $50 and the minimum budget at the ad group level is $20 — it’s the daily spend.

There is no clarity on how much it costs to run a branded challenge using TikTok’s media support. Ad Age wrote about a leaked pitch deck in 2019, and they mentioned prices starting at $50,000. According to Digiday, branded effects cost around $45,000 for 30 days. Other formats cost even more.

The exact price depends on your audience, requirements, and campaign goals. Big brands and agencies mostly host branded challenges. Those brands and agencies contact TikTok sales reps to set up their campaigns and get the exact price range.

To be continued

Now that you know what all the fuss is about, it should be easier to make an informed decision on whether you need to invest in your TikTok presence or not. As we’ve mentioned earlier, it depends on your target demographic and brand’s tone of voice. TikTok is somewhat of a niche platform, and not every brand can play by its rules, but it’s worth trying.

The most beautiful thing about TikTok is that your content can go viral without any promotion if it hits the spot. The cost of advertising on TikTok may decrease, and more formats may become available in the future. In any case, it makes sense to test the waters by collaborating with influencers and promoting your account — and only then going all-in by spending money on ads.

If you want to know more about TikTok and other social media platforms — as well as the ways you can use them for your business — subscribe to our emails and get new articles delivered to your inbox!

Date of publication:

March 24, 2021

Elena Timofeeva

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