How to Promote Your Brand on TikTok: A Guide for Ecommerce Business Owners

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For most, TikTok is already a household name. 

In September 2021, TikTok reported 1 billion monthly active users, making it one of the top 10 social networks worldwide, and in April 2020, TikTok ranked number one in overall and app store revenue, outperforming big-name platforms like YouTube, Tinder and Netflix.

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But if you’re not yet familiar with TikTok and why it’s so popular, here’s a quick rundown.

TikTok is a social media platform that allows users to upload and share short videos (up to three minutes in length) covering any range of topics — if you take just a few minutes to scroll through your Discovery page, you’ll find lip syncs, choreographed dances, sports highlights and personal vlogs. Similar to Snapchat and Instagram, TikTok offers features such as filters, stickers and background music, as well as user communities that revolve around hashtags and influencers.

History of TikTok

However, TikTok’s origins aren’t the cliche startup story we’re used to hearing about a few friends with a brilliant idea and making it come true in their parents’ garage. Actually, TikTok was born from two different apps. 

The first, Musical.ly, launched in Shanghai in 2014 but had a large user base in the US. And the second, Douyin, was a similar video-sharing app created by Chinese tech giant Bytedance in 2016. After Douyin skyrocketed in popularity in China and Thailand after just one year, Bytedance bought out Musical.ly, merged it with Douyin and created what is now TikTok. 

Today, TikTok is enormously popular especially among younger audiences, with gen Z-ers making up 60% of TikTok users, and at nearly 18%, TikTok’s engagement rate for micro-influencers trumps those of platforms like Instagram (3.86%) and YouTube (1.63%). 

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Why Your Business Should Be on TikTok

As the most downloaded social media app in January 2020, TikTok became a haven for users to connect with one another and seek entertainment during the pandemic. From cooking videos to makeup tutorials, the app provides a space for users to learn from each other, express themselves and have a little fun. 

And now, the social media platform is also making big moves in the ecommerce world.

According to eMarketer, the US social ecommerce market grew by nearly 38% to $26.77 billion in 2020 and is predicted to surpass $50 billion annually by 2023. And considering the high level of impulse buying among millennials and gen X-ers, it's only expected that TikTok would hop on the social shopping train. 

In 2021, 47% of TikTok users said they bought something they saw on TikTok, and 39% said they discovered a product or brand on TikTok they didn't know about before.

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Following the lead of tools like Instagram Shopping and Facebook Shop, in 2020, the platform launched TikTok for Business, giving business owners the option to connect their online store with their TikTok Business account. With numerous ecommerce features such as analytics tools, product links and advertising options, TikTok has become a hub for merchants to reach new audiences and drive more sales. 

And now, BigCommerce has partnered with TikTok so that you can start selling today. 

With TikTok for BigCommerce, you’ll be able to show your brand personality, connect with current customers and reach new shoppers through an entirely new creative medium. Using your TikTok Business account, you can seamlessly sync your product catalogue and drive customers to your BigCommerce store using TikTok’s various ad formats. 

TikTok for BigCommerce offers organic ecommerce features such as Storefronts and Product Links, as well as paid features such as Spark Ads, Dynamic Showcase Ads and Collections Ads, which we’ll discuss in more detail later. To get started with TikTok for BigCommerce, install the TikTok for Business app, create or connect a TikTok For Business account and Ad account, install the TikTok Pixel on your BigCommerce storefront and start uploading your products to your TikTok profile.

How to Boost your Brand on TikTok

One of the most unique things about TikTok is that it breeds storytelling. 

If you take just a moment to scroll through your feed, you’ll find videos of users telling a #nofilter story about an embarrassing or funny moment, and viewers eat it up. Within seconds, TikTok Creators are able to hook their viewers and keep them entertained for the duration of the video, even if it reaches the three-minute max. 

Rather than relying on picture-perfect, airbrushed content, TikTok breaks the social commerce mold by using storytelling to engage its users. As a result, some of the most successful brands on TikTok are the ones that are authentic and unafraid to show their true colors.

So, if you’re still new to TikTok, start by getting to know the platform by posting daily organic content. Get comfortable with the features and tools, and don’t be afraid to have a little fun with it! And as you’re creating content, always direct viewers back to your TikTok Business Account to start building up your fan base.

Of course, anyone can create a TikTok Business account and post a video every now and then. But if you really want your products to go viral and actually drive traffic to your website, there are a few marketing tactics you’ll need to follow.

1. Use #hashtags.

Creating great TikTok videos is one thing — but getting people to actually watch them is a whole other feat. But with the right use of hashtags, you’ll be able to deliver your content to the users who actually want to see it. 

Just like Instagram and Twitter, TikTok offers a hashtag feature, which lets users search for relevant content and join communities around similar interests. Whether it’s #makeup, #sports or #foodrecipes, these hashtags help users to quickly find the creators and content they’re looking for without having to sift through hundreds of videos on their For You page. 

But hashtags aren’t just for everyday users — they’re also an effective ecommerce tool for TikTok businesses to boost their brands and reach new audiences. In fact, some of the fastest growing hashtags of 2021 were created specifically for brand marketing campaigns, such as Bobbi Brown’s #IFeelWeightless challenge and Chips Ahoy’s #ChipsGotTalent challenge.

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To find inspiration for your own business, search for hashtags like #SmallBusiness or #Entrepreneur to see how other brands are promoting their products and creating content. Or, try coming up with your own hashtag that highlights your product, and maybe even create a fun TikTok challenge to go along with it. 

As more and more users share content around your hashtag, you’ll be able to get more eyes on your brand and, ideally, more traffic to your online store.

2. Invest in ads.

As a highly visual platform, TikTok is the ideal place for running ads that draw attention to your products. But unlike platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram, which thrive on glossy, curated content, TikTok users crave authenticity and humor — so if you want to get your brand noticed, the trick is to be yourself! 

All you need to get started is a TikTok Business account and the TikTok Ads Manager, which offers helpful tools for creating and managing all kinds of ads. 

Once you start browsing through the different types of TikTok ads, you’ll notice there are a variety of formats available. Each one differs in price and has its own unique benefits, so here’s a quick guide to help you know the difference:

  1. Dynamic Showcase Ads: These ads leverage your synced catalogue to show relevant products to interested users and are optimised for large catalogues.  
  2. Collection Ads: This type of ad format combines video ads, product cards and a full-screen landing page to drive immediate purchases.
  3. Spark Ads: This is a native ad display that allows brands to leverage organic TikTok posts and features in advertising.
  4. Lead Gen Ads: These ads enable you to collect leads using customisable forms and can be integrated with CRM partners to help qualify and convert leads. 

3. Partner with creators and influencers.

While paid advertising is a great way to get your brand noticed, the beauty of TikTok is that you don't necessarily have to spend a lot of money to go viral. Many brands blow up overnight on TikTok, simply because a creator found a product they love, raved about it in a video and shared it with their followers. 

This isn’t surprising considering 53% of social media users say that influencer posts play the biggest role in their purchasing decisions.

But often these viral videos are not made by paid influencers — many of them are ordinary TikTok users who simply want to share the products they love. So, if you know you have a viral-worthy product, all you need to do is find the creators to promote it. 

One option is to launch an affiliate program, which allows you to partner with creators and influencers to promote new products and bring traffic to your page. A great resource to utilise is TikTok’s Selling Center, where you can build your promotion plan and use the collaboration tool to find creators who fall into your niche market. 

Once you find an influencer that meets your needs, the creator can post content using affiliate links to your online store, and every time a user follows the link and buys your product, the creator gets monetized.

Plus, a great resource to find influencers is the Creator Marketplace, which is TikTok’s official collaboration platform to connect brands and creators. With thousands of influencer profiles available, you can browse until you find a creator who best fits your niche.  Still need some inspiration to help get you started? Check out the TikTok for Business Inspiration Center for tips from other brands who have found success on TikTok.

Using TikTok to Drive Sales

At the end of the day, the whole point of boosting your brand on TikTok is to turn viewers into customers. While getting views, likes and comments is a step in the right direction, the end goal is to drive traffic to your website and make more sales. Here are five tips to help you get there:

1. Understand watch metrics.

The great thing about TikTok is that you don’t need millions of followers or even high-quality content to get the most views. In fact, the most popular videos are often made by ordinary users with little to no influence.

While other social commerce platforms like Instagram and Facebook prioritize content from popular people and brands, TikTok’s algorithm favors lesser known creators, which means anyone has a chance to get noticed.    The Discovery algorithm, according to a TikTok press release, recommends content based on several factors, including user interactions, video information (such as captions and hashtags), device and account settings (such as language preferences, location and device type) and video completion rate (whether a user watches a video from start to finish).

2. Product links are key to product discovery.

Luckily, TikTok isn’t just a tool for brand awareness — thanks to its external link-sharing features, the platform can also be a major sales driver. 

With the option to add clickable links to your bio, you can easily connect your TikTok account to your Instagram, Amazon storefront or other ecommerce platform. This way, customers can easily navigate to your external site and start their shopping journey. 

Or, you can even embed product links in your videos, allowing users to browse through your catalogue without leaving the app and quickly complete their purchase.

3. Utilise TikTok Shopping features.

Although TikTok is widely known as the platform for humor and entertainment, for many users, it’s also become a hub for social shopping. Especially over the past couple of years, TikTok has innovated its ecommerce features to make it easy for users to shop anytime, anywhere. 

With livestream shopping events, brands can create real connections with their followers and drive conversions by engaging with them in real-time through comments and moderators. Once you have at least 1000 followers, you can host a LIVE video and show your products in action, allowing your followers to learn about and shop from your brand without having to visit a physical store. 

Walmart, for example, partnered with TikTok to host a livestream campaign, “featuring national brands like Champion, Jordache, Kendall + Kylie, Scoop, etc.” The event ended up attracting 100 million viewers, who were able to make purchases from Walmart without ever logging out of TikTok. 

Plus, TikTok offers a shopping tab for business profiles, where brands can upload their product catalogue. This way, brands can create organic content that highlights their featured products and seamlessly direct customers to their online store for checkout.

4. Build promotional campaigns.

Along with in-app shopping features, TikTok also offers numerous promotional opportunities for brands to advertise and sell their products. And with such high engagement rates on TikTok, these campaigns often encourage user-generated content — which means free advertising for your business! 

Here are just a few examples of promotional campaign ideas to use on TikTok: 

  • #Hashtag Challenges: Common on other platforms like Instagram and Twitter, hashtag challenges encourage users to create content around a specific topic or product, such as dance, lip sync and makeup challenges. 
  • Small Gestures: During the pandemic, TikTok came up with a campaign idea that allows users to give back to their communities. By collaborating with brand partners, TikTok’s Small Gestures allows users to search offers and send gifts to their friends and family.
  • TikTok for Good: As a way to inspire and encourage users, TikTok for Good encourages creators and brands to drive awareness around important issues such as education, body positivity or social justice.

And if you want to go even further, here’s a helpful article from TikTok all about optimizing your ad campaigns.

5. Make use of sharing.

Lastly, it’s important that you’re able to start marketing on TikTok without having to start from scratch. Luckily, with the “Share to TikTok” SDK, businesses can easily integrate their existing content into their new TikTok profiles. 

Partnering with third-party apps such as Enlight Videoleap, Adobe Premier Rush and Momento GIF Maker, TikTok allows users to upload content from their own editing spaces to create a seamless brand message across all platforms.

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The Final Word

Although a fairly new player to the online shopping game, TikTok has clearly risen to the challenge. No longer is TikTok just for cute dog videos and funny dance challenges; now it’s also a space for merchants to raise brand awareness and expand their reach.

If you’ve already established yourself on Instagram and Facebook but are looking for a fresh way to create content, use this blog post as a guide to help get you started on TikTok — who knows? You could create the next viral video.

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