An Introduction to TikTok
TikTok is a video-sharing platform that was started by ByteDance, a Chinese company that purchased the app Musical.ly in 2017. TikTok, which is quite similar to Musical.ly, was released in 2016 and eventually absorbed the earlier app. Users create short, 15-second videos. Browsing TikTok is, therefore, a fast-paced experience and more like Instagram than YouTube or other platforms that feature longer videos. TikTok, like Musical.ly, was originally used mainly for music videos, especially lip-syncing. Now, however, users are making all kinds of short videos. Here are a few key stats about TikTok from Oberlo.
- TikTok has close to 1 billion users worldwide and 800 million active monthly users. It’s one of the world’s most widely downloaded apps on Google Play and the Apple App Store.
- TikTok is especially popular with teens and young adults, with 41% of users between 16-24.
- TikTok is especially popular in Asian countries such as India and China. However, it’s also growing fast in the U.S., with more than 100 million downloads.
- Older people are gradually discovering TikTok. For example, the number of adults using TikTok increased more than 5x since 2018.
These are some of the reasons you should start paying attention to TikTok. It’s clearly more than a passing fad and has already outpaced Instagram in new downloads. Another thing businesses are yet to realize about TikTok is that it’s rapidly becoming a profitable place to advertise and promote offers.
Advertising on TikTok
While there are various ways to build your brand organically on TikTok, the site also offers paid advertising options. Before you start planning your ad campaign, however, you should make sure that this platform is right for you. Here are a few things to consider. TikTok presently offers several options for advertising.
- In-Feed Ads – These are native ads that users will see under the videos they view. These are the most economical ads you can run on TikTok, with a minimum CPM (cost per 1,000 impressions) of $10.
- Brand Takeovers – A brand takeover appears to users as soon as they open the app. You can expect to pay a premium price for this type of ad, $50,000 or more.
- Hashtag Challenges – You can create your own challenges without paying for an ad. If you want to get more attention to your challenge, however, you can pay to sponsor it. This is another costly type of advertising, with a minimum cost of $150,000.
Because of the cost, brand takeovers and official hashtag challenges are mainly used by large companies. Even in-feed ads require a substantial budget compared to alternatives such as Facebook, Instagram, and Google.
TikTok Ad Credit
When TikTok opens its ad platform to new markets it may occasionally offer free advertising credits to new advertisers, the same as other platforms as Facebook and Twitter did in the past, or Google and Bing do in the present.
2021 Update: Tiktok partnered with the eCommerce platform Shopify, giving $300 TikTok ad credits for free, plus up to $2,000 ad spend match, to new advertisers, until June 30, 2021. More details on this promo are here. You can open a free Shopify store here (14 days free trial).
2020 Update: Once again, following Facebook’s lead, which declared it will be giving $100 million in free ad credit, TikTok also launches its own COVID-19 relief effort and giving out $100 million in free ad credits to SMBs. You can register on this page, to receive $300 in free ad credit and an additional up to $2,000 in ad spend match, all to be used till December 31, 2020.
How to Advertise on TikTok
If you want to try advertising on TikTok, the process is relatively simple.
- Set up an advertising account.
- Create a campaign. You need to choose a campaign objective, which includes Traffic, Conversions, and App Install. At this stage, you also need to select a daily budget, which must be a minimum of $500.
- Choose placement and targeting. The platform includes not only TikTok but several other sites as well, including BuzzVideo, News Republic, and others. You can pinpoint a platform on which to advertise or let TikTok select this automatically. As with Facebook, you can target ads based on gender, age, location, interests, and other demographics.
- Design your ad. The Video Creation Kit makes it simple to create ads that are optimized for TikTok. If you’re well familiar with the platform, you can create your own custom ads from scratch. Another nice feature is that you have a choice of over 300 free music tracks.
- Optimize and schedule your ads. Set a budget and pacing for each ad group. While there’s a minimum $500/day spend at the campaign level, you must allocate at least $50/day for each ad group. You can also choose to optimize ad groups for conversions, clicks, or impressions. If you choose Smart Optimization, these settings will be calculated for you.
Organic TikTok Marketing Options
If you don’t have the budget for paid advertising on TikTok, there are other ways to build a following and engage with your audience. Even if you do advertise, it’s also beneficial to create your own content and implement organic marketing strategies.
- Create your own videos. While it’s relatively simple to create short videos on TikTok, make sure you create content that’s a good match for your brand as well as the audience on TikTok. Spend some time browsing the platform. Some major brands, including Chipotle, Crocs, the NBA, Calvin Klein, and others, have successfully tapped into TikTok’s audience by making engaging and often humorous videos. This strategy is quite similar to using Stories on Facebook and Instagram.
- Influencer marketing. TikTok, with its young, music-loving audience, is the perfect platform for influencer marketing. It’s best to find someone who already has a large following on TikTok and hire them to do a shoutout or channel takeover for a day. The cost of working with high-profile influencers can be steep on TikTok, making it more viable for larger brands than small businesses. However, you may be able to find micro-influencers in your niche who are more affordable to work with.
- Post UGC. Still, another exciting aspect of TikTok is the emphasis on user-generated content (UGC). One of the most popular features is hashtag Challenges, where users are invited to post content, often singing or performing in some way. The healthy snack brand Kind, for example, launched a successful TikTok challenge that brought in almost 20 million views. In this case, users had to submit videos that promoted the brand’s crunchy energy bars.
Tips for Getting the Most Out of TikTok Marketing
TikTok is still a relative newcomer on the social media scene. When it comes to marketing and especially paid advertising, the platform is still experimenting, and more options will likely be offered in the near future. The following are some guidelines and questions to keep in mind when marketing on TikTok.
- Is your audience right for TikTok? 66% of TikTok users are under 30. As the site grows even more, the demographics may change. For now, though, it’s mainly suitable if your customers are teens or twenty-somethings.
- Consider your budget. TikTok isn’t the cheapest platform on which to advertise. There’s a minimum $500 daily budget, and average costs start at around $10 CPM. For comparison, it’s closer to $7 on Facebook.
- Are you familiar with TikTok and its users? You always have to consider the platform with any type of marketing. It would be a mistake to simply take content from another channel and post it to TikTok, whose users are accustomed to energetic, timely, and usually musical videos. Make sure you familiarize yourself with the content before planning a marketing campaign.
If current advertising costs are beyond your budget, you should stay alert and see if more economical options are introduced. In the meantime, it can still be worthwhile to develop an organic presence on TikTok by creating content and inviting users to contribute.
TikTok is a fast-growing platform that people outside Asia are just starting to discover. As social media changes rapidly, it’s worth keeping an eye on TikTok to see where it goes in the coming months and years. Watch for new features, changes in user demographics, and new types of advertising opportunities.