Your Guide to TikTok Marketing

Despite ongoing controversy about a potential ban of the China-based app, TikTok has exploded this year. With 100 million monthly active users in the United States, it’s safe to say the app’s popularity will continue to grow. 

But how many brands are taking advantage of this opportunity? The answer: not a lot.

Is Tik Tok good for brands?


Why should brands be on TikTok?

The limited amount of marketing competition paired with widespread consumer use is a rare combination. 

TikTok could be your brand’s moment.  

But before we get into that, let’s answer the question, what is TikTok? 

TikTok describes itself as “leading destination for short-form mobile videos.” You can think of it as a mobile, mini YouTube. 

TikTok videos range from five to 60 seconds. Users have access to a collection of filters, effects, and music.

The app also has helped a few careers take off. Perhaps you remember hearing about how Lil Nas X’s popular country tune, “Old Town Road,” brought in approximately 67 million plays on TikTok, helping the song become #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for a record of 17 weeks. 

Now, let’s explore how TikTok came to be. 

A brief history

TikTok has been referred to as “the brain child of and Douyin.” was created in Shanghai, China, in 2014 by Alex Zhu and Luyu Yang. The app allowed users to post 15-second lip syncs and garnered 70 million downloads by 2016. 

In 2016, the short-form video-sharing app, Douyin, was launched. Douyin took off in East Asia, and one year later, ByteDance launched TikTok. In 2018, TikTok officially merged with and made its way to the states. then became TikTok. 


The rise of TikTok has come with a fair amount of controversy. Last year, the app was banned in India. The same thing nearly happened in the U.S

This controversy has helped bring TikTok’s name into the mainstream, so publicity-wise it’s been more of a boom than a bust.

Additionally, the worldwide shutdowns have kept so many people at home, with TikTok taking more than its share of creativity, connection, and content from across the globe.

How does TikTok work?

Teenagers, the typical social media trendsetters, may have mastered this app, but the rest of us may be left with some lingering questions. Here’s the scoop: 

What do users do on TikTok?

The main TikTok activity revolves around: 

  • Watching and creating videos: Videos are the essence of TikTok, whether they are made in the app or uploaded. Users also have the option to live stream. Video effects include GIFs, filters, split screens, green screens, transitions, sticks, and more. 
  • Music: TikTok has both an extensive music library and an integration with Apple Music. Users also have the freedom to add and remix tunes, too. 
  • Interaction: Users can send hearts and gifts, give and receive follows, comment, share, and more. 
  • Discovery: TikTok has a “Discover” feed, where users can add friends, explore hashtags, look up videos, and so on. 
  • Finding creators: TikTok profiles are designed to show one’s amount of follows, followers, and hearts received. Like Instagram or Twitter, official accounts are verified with a blue checkmark. 

Virtual coins: TikTok’s virtual currency is used to give Virtual Gifts. Virtual Coins can be exchanged for diamond emojis, which can then be converted into real cash.

Which content is best for TikTok?

User-generated content (UGC)

TikTok is fueled by user-generated content (UGC). Here are a few examples of frequently used TikTok content:

TikTok Challenges

TikTok Challenges, also known as TikTok Trends, often combine text, sound, and movement, such as a dance.

Source: Social media examiner

TikTok challenges are often born out of trending songs or hashtags.

When Ed Sheeran joined the TikTok challenge trend surrounding his song “Beautiful People,” millions of other TikTok users participated as well, posting videos about the beautiful people in their lives.   

TikTok Duets

TikTok Duets are very popular. They commonly involve users adding themselves to another creator’s video, showing both users side-by-side. 

Duets are like their own form of TikTok Challenges. 

The music label “The Other Songs” wanted to drive more streams in anticipation of RuthAnne’s upcoming release, “Love Again.” 

Through Duets, the label was able to receive 901,000 views.  

Reaction Videos

Under a TikTok video’s share option, selecting “React” allows users to record their reaction to a video in real-time. 

Sharing Across Platforms

TikTok is integrated with Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and Pinterest, allowing users to easily share their videos across social media. 

TikTok Statistics

Here are some of TikTok’s stats. 

TikTok is: 

  • The sixth largest social network
  • Has more than 1.65 billion downloads
  • Has been installed more than 738 million times 
  • Estimated to have an in-app purchase revenue of $87 million

Now that you have this background, let’s dive into how your business can best use TikTok. 

How do you do marketing in TikTok?

Here are some ideas on how to get started on TikTok marketing. 

1.Create and participate in hashtag challenges

A hashtag challenge is one of the most effective ways a business can use TikTok and should definitely be integrated into your TikTok marketing strategy. 

Chipotle was an early adopter of TikTok. One of their most popular challenges was the #GuacDance challenge. 

Chipotle asked users to choreograph a dance in order to receive free guacamole when they ordered online on July 31st, which was, aptly, National Avocado Day. 

Big names also participated in the challenge, including Loren Gray and Brent Riveria. 

The #GuacDance challenge hashtag received over 1 billion views. 

2. Partner with influencers

Partnering with a TikTok influencer can help your business gain a large following. 

As with other social media platforms, the key is to find influencers relevant to your industry. For instance, if you’re a software company, you could partner with a tech influencer. 

To make the process of finding influencers easier, TikTok has a “Creator Marketplace.” 

After joining the marketplace, you can access a specific influencer’s metrics.

Source: Neil Patel

With all forms of influencer marketing, it’s important to set viable goals and be highly specific about which part of the purchase funnel you are targeting.

3. Create TikTok ads 

TikTok ad campaigns are known to work quickly. After setting up an ad campaign, you could reach your target audience within 24 hours. 

How do TikTok ads work?

TikTok offers 5 kinds of ad products:

  • In-feed ads
  • Branded hashtags
  • Top View ads
  • Branded effects


  • Brand Takeovers

In-feed ads typically get the best results unless you have a significant budget to spend. The other products require a fairly large budgetary investment, but can result in positive ROI if your ad is in line with TikTok’s overall style and ethos.

Because in-feed ads are the ones most brands start with, these are the ones we’ll cover here. 

Getting started with in-feed ads

To create an in-feed ad, first:

  1. Create your TikTok ad account
  2.  Click on “Create an Ad”
  3. Complete the signup process

It may take some time for TikTok to review your application. 

Selecting advertising objectives

TikTok allows you to select objectives for in-feed ads. 

For instance, by selecting the “App Installs” objective, you are able to provide users with a link to your app store page. 

Targeting your TikTok ads

TikTok ads can use:

  • Interest targeting


  • Behavioral targeting
Interest targeting

Interest targeting on TikTok is similar to advertising on Facebook; it works by choosing relevant interests to your audience. 

Behavioral targeting

Behavioral targeting allows for targeting TikTok users based on their behavior from tbe last 7 through 15 days. 

When using behavioral targeting, a business selects a specific behavior and then a relevant video category.

Targeting by custom audience and lookalike audience 

TikTok offers businesses the options of custom audience targeting and lookalike audience targeting. 

With custom audience targeting, you can target individuals who have already interacted with your brand, on TikTok and elsewhere.

Source: Neil Patel

The lookalike method allows for targeting audiences that are similar to one’s own brand. 


TikTok is a one of a kind platform. While it might take a little time to learn the nuances of this mighty social media contender, it is well worth it. Today’s customers want to connect and engage on the most cutting edge platform, and companies that effectively utilize TikTok’s enormous advantages will absolutely benefit. 

Looking for a TikTok marketing agency? Contact Zen Media today to get started on your TikTok marketing strategy! 


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