A Definitive Guide to TikTok Marketing

March 4, 2020 - 11 minutes read

All you need to know about TikTok marketing.



Social media has transformed the way we communicate in the digital age.

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, another fresh social media platform takes the virtual world by storm, and everything changes.

If you’re a commerce brand, wholesaler or retailer, you most likely know that social media is a powerful marketing tool as it provides an opportunity to meet your audience where they’re most comfortable. However, you must keep your finger on the pulse to enjoy maximum social media marketing success.

With this in mind, we’re going to talk about a brand new social media platform on the block, a little something called TikTok: an app that allows users to share short lip-synced, music, talent, or comedy videos with their friends or followers.

While the likes of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter continue to dominate the social media landscape, TikTok is gaining momentum among young digital natives – particularly the Generation Z population.

To help you get ahead of the pack, we’ll explore this emerging social media phenomenon in greater detail while serving up a few useful TikTok marketing tips.

Let’s begin.


What is TikTok?


TikTok is a concept that emerged from the social platform Musical.ly. The ‘original TikTok,’ Musical.ly, became an instant hit among Gen Zers because of its highly visual, video-based nature.

From 2014, Musical.ly grew at a steady rate. Then, around 2015, the app leaped in popularity as the likes of Jason Derulo pledged to make videos on the platform instead of YouTube. On July 6, 2015, Musical.ly climbed to the number one spot in the iTunes app charts.

The following year, Chinese tech company Bytedance launched its own version of Musical.ly, called Douyin, to appeal to the Chinese market. In 2017, this app was launched overseas under the name TikTok. 

Bytedance swiftly bought Musical.ly and created the version of TikTok that is currently causing a global stir by merging the two platforms. The catchy video-making social media app is growing stronger by the day.

To help you understand the global power of TikTok and its Chinese counterpart, Douyin, here are some facts you should know:

  • In 2019, Tiktok hit the 1.5 billion download mark, making it one of the world’s most popular apps.
  • Due to its rising popularity and appeal among digital natives (Gen Z, especially), you can now download TikTok in 154 countries.
  • TikTok has been installed on mobile devices around 800 million times and counting.
  • Videos made on the TikTok platform enjoy 17 billion average monthly views.

TikTok is highly subscribed, incredibly engaged, and its rapidly growing popularity makes it the perfect brand marketing playground for online retailers looking to expand their reach to a wider audience.


The power of TikTok marketing


Like with any social media platform or digital marketing medium, you must understand the fundamental concepts of TikTok marketing to do it successfully. Here, we look at the two most important and valuable areas of TikTok marketing.

Generational focus

Tapping into the 15 seconds of digital fame dynamic, TikTok has proved a hit among younger digital natives. Most Millennials and Gen Zers prefer to consume video content above all else, and TikTok’s accessible visual features make the platform attractive as a social interaction tool and creative outlet.

The app’s short yet content-rich video-making concept holds digital attention spans while empowering younger, digitally-savvy users to express themselves, earning kudos among their peers in a way that is varied and fun.

By tapping into the platform and creating videos that will speak to a younger target audience, you will be able to share your products or services with consumers you might otherwise miss on other social media outlets. That said, TokTok marketing is certainly worth your time and investment.

Influencer marketing with TikTok

Another reason TikTok is such a powerful retail marketing platform is the access it offers to a whole new wave of digital influencers.

Many members of the Gen Z tribe are flocking to the platform to either become or interact with influencers in a particular niche. It seems that droves of digital natives are migrating away from the big social platforms to connect with peers that share preferences, beliefs, and interests far more relevant to their own.

Brands like Calvin Klein, Sony, and Fifa have already enjoyed success with TikTok-based influencer marketing campaigns – and if you get to the party early, you can, too.


Epic examples of TikTok marketing


To inspire your TikTok marketing efforts, here are two epic examples you should be aware of:

Influencer ‘memeathon’

To showcase its catchy bite-sized video creating concept, TikTok teamed up with a mix of celebrity creators for its ’15 seconds of fame memeathon.’

Big names such as Charlie Puth, Paris Hilton, and Kris Jenner signed up to participate, using the hashtag  #memeathon to promote the campaign across TikTok and other social platforms, including Instagram and Twitter.

The campaign extended to 3,173,500 users, earning an engagement rate of 338,500 and 9.5 million views for posts under the ‘memeathon’ hashtag.

Calvin Klein: My Calvins

As mentioned, Calvin Klein has earned a healthy level of success with its TikTok marketing efforts. An early adopter of TikTok marketing, the brand made a serious impact with its ‘My Calvins’ campaign. 

The concept was simple: ask relevant TikTok users, including niche influencers, to post a video of themselves sporting their favorite CK garment. This simple, accessible idea not only gave the brand some much needed ‘street cred’ among younger audiences. In a mere 24 hours, it became the most viewed campaign in CK’s history.


Best TikTok marketing practices


The potential of TikTok marketing is difficult to argue. Here are some practical tips to help you get your own promotional efforts into gear.

Know your audience

For any eCommerce marketing campaign to succeed, knowing your audience is vital. Armed with the facts, stats, and figures included within this guide, you should set up your brand’s TikTok account and dig a little deeper.

Explore what users in your niche or field are posting as well as how they interact on the platform. By understanding what strikes a chord with your users, you will be able to develop ideas that are likely to spark interaction, boosting your brand awareness in the process.

If you’d like to create a profile or blueprint that helps you target TikTok users the right way, explore our practical guide to buyer personas.

Make shoppable content

Naturally, your TikTok marketing success will depend on your ability to create video content that will inspire your users. As a retail brand, an effective means of getting user attention and driving traffic to your store is by making shoppable videos that direct users to where you want them to go (your website or a specific product page, for example). 

This feature is in its test phase, but it’s likely to launch in full soon, so you should keep your ear to the ground and take advantage of this tool before your competitors do.

Focus on fun and creativity

If you’ve taken the time to get a feel for the platform and understand your audience, you’re likely to connect with countless video content ideas.

When it comes to creating TikTok video content that resonates, the number one rule is authenticity. If you focus on having fun and being creative over the bottom line (getting people to buy things from you), your content will be more authentic, which, in turn, will drive more engagement.

Taking part in TikTok trends, such as hashtag and dance challenges, is an excellent way to get yourself noticed while producing videos that your potential customers will want to see. 

Join the conversion and follow the right accounts

Every time you log into TikTok or create a video, you should do your best to be as proactive as possible. Follow accounts and influencers that are prominent or active in your niche, and take the time to comment or interact with their content.

If there is a conversation happening that is relevant to your brand, join in. And, above all else, make sure you respond to any comments relating to your content as soon as possible. Doing so will empower you to get to know your audience while creating valuable customer relationships that could last a long, long time.

We hope these tips have offered all you need to launch your first TikTok marketing campaign. For more retail marketing insights, check out these five eCommerce tech trends to watch out for in 2020.