A Beginner’s Video Marketing Guide to TikTok

Video Marketing Guide to TikTok

Last updated on August 2, 2020

In its early days, business owners and marketers were quick to dismiss TikTok as video marketing platform.

It’s just a social network where kids post funny videos, right?

Nope, wrong.

TikTok is one of the fastest-growing social media networks in the world, with online sharing power that rivals Facebook and Twitter. 

TikTok was originally Musica.ly, an app formerly popular for creating and sharing lip-syncing videos.

ByteDance acquired it in 2017.

The company remodeled Musica.ly to a replica of Douyin, their uber-successful social media app in China.

Due to China’s censorship restriction, they couldn’t launch Douyin outside the country.

The acquired Musica.ly, which was renamed as TikTok, was ByteDance’s ticket to expand their success to the rest of the world.

When TikTok was launched, all former Musica.ly users were automatically transferred to the new platform. 

According to this 2019 report, TikTok currently has over 500 million active users worldwide.

It has maintained its record as the most downloaded app in the iOS store for the fifth quarter in a row. 

How does TikTok work? 

TikTok allows users to post 15-second videos.

Users can also link several of these videos together to create a 60-second story.

Users can follow one another to view people’s posts.

They can also find new videos in the ‘Discover’ tab.

There’s a never-ending stream of videos always playing on any TikTok homepage. 

Within the app, you can film videos, trim clip lengths, and adjust speed.

You can also use pre-installed filters, draw, or write on the screen.

If you’re familiar with the tools in Snapchat and Instagram, you should be able to use TikTok very quickly.

On Android devices, Tik Tok users in the U.S. spend an average of 53 minutes using the app.

The average session duration is 9.7 minutes, which is significantly higher than every other social media app. 


Source: Statistica- Most popular social media apps in the U.S.U.S. 2019, by session length

Here’s a compilation of some creative TikTok videos to give you an introduction to the platform. 

Is TikTok Ideal for My Brand? 

TikTok seems to be targeted at a specific demographic known as the Gen Z.

Global Web Index reports that 41% of TikTok users are between 16-24.

If your target audience correlates with this demographic, then you can’t afford to ignore TikTok as a marketing platform.

However, this doesn’t cancel out every other demographic.

Many TikTok creators and users are well above their early 20s. 

For example, The Washington Post has managed to find and connect with its audience on the platform.

By posting behind-the-scenes clips of their daily activities, the newspaper has earned 154.4k fans and 3.8m hearts on TikTok.

Here’s one of their quirky, platform-appropriate posts

I personally believe that almost every brand can find its audience on the TikTok platform.

There are several examples (which will be shared throughout this article) of different brands, in various industries racking up engagement on TikTok.

Your brand could see some benefit in exploring video marketing on the platform. 

Important Elements to Marketing on TikTok

Many brands create video content and then publish across several platforms.

For example, the same video could be created for Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

This strategy will not work on TikTok.

The platform has a specific tone that creators use.

Below are four elements which your TikTok videos should have to be considered as platform-appropriate. 

  • Humor

TikTok videos are funny.

They don’t necessarily have to make a viewer laugh out loud.

However, the element of humor is usually present.

Chipotle is one of the brands using humor to gain traction on TikTok.

They create videos with staff members and also encourage customers to join in on the fun.

Here’s an example

In this post, Chipotle recreates a popular meme video to celebrate one year of TikTok.

This content resonated with their audience and brought in significant engagement for the brand. 

  • Music and sound effects 

Music is an essential element in TikTok.

In fact, the message behind TikTok videos is often hidden in the selected songs’ lyrics.

The platform is very playful, so you can either use real music or make yours up as you go.

Here’s another Chipotle video with someone freestyling as they taste the new quesadilla recipe. 

With the right music, you can grab the attention of viewers and pass the intended message.

Since TikTok videos are significantly short, there’s no (current) issue of using copyrighted music when creating video content. 

  • Creativity

TikTok viewers value creativity over everything else.

The platform is not video-quality specific.

We can even say that almost all TikTok videos are recorded on mobile devices.

However, they have to bring a new, creative appeal.

Creativity doesn’t have to be complicated.

It could simply mean playing out a funny scene.

Here are two NBC team members playing out an Autumn-themed skit

TikTok users enjoy relatable content.

By looking at everyday situations, you can quickly come up with tons of creative video ideas for your page. 

  • Difficulty

TikTok users also love videos that present some complexity to the creators.

If the video contains a challenge or obviously required some extra work from the creator, users will often appreciate it more.

For example, the NBA’s TikTok page brings in a lot of engagement because of challenge-filled videos such as the one below. 

Video Marketing Strategies for TikTok

When you have a good understanding of TikTok, it becomes clear that marketing on this platform requires an organic approach.

Users are not interested in seeing branded visuals and one-size-fits-all strategies.

If you want to become a part of the TikTok community, you have to think, act, and play like them.

Here are some strategies that have worked so far. 

Hashtag challenges

TikTok users love to follow challenges.

The ‘Discover’ section is always full of users trying out new challenges.

Thanks to creative people and brands, there’s always a handful to choose from.

One person who has mastered the art of creating challenges is Jimmy Fallon.

His team asked TikTok users to create videos of themselves rolling like tumbleweed. Of course, this challenge was named #tumbleweedchallenge.

Jimmy Fallon created one of the largest challenges of TikTok today, with over 8,000 submissions and 10 million engagements.

He also got hilarious clips for his show. 


Many of us are familiar with the Lil Nas X song- Old Town Road- which was the Number One song in the U.S. for seven consecutive weeks.

What most people don’t know is that the song first gained momentum on TikTok.

Creators were making videos with the hashtag #yeehaw to Old Town Road.

These videos gained up to 75 million views and forced the song to rank on traditional streaming platforms. 


Influencer marketing 

With the growth of TikTok, a new set of influencers have cropped up.

Their content style is a bit different from what we’re used to, but collaboration is possible.

TikTok is all about authenticity.

Each creator has a ‘voice’, and as a brand, you should be looking to work with their voice, rather than change it.

Gym Shark is a notable brand which has been collaborating with TikTok influencers.

They recently worked with several popular TikTok creators to promote their “66 Day | Change Your Life” products. 

The only downside to influencers marketing on TikTok is a lack of sophisticated third-party tools.

With platforms such as Instagram and Twitter, there are external tools to measure an influencer’s exact engagement rate.

This is how brands can spot influencers with fake followers.

Since influencer marketing on TikTok isn’t big for brands yet, those tools are currently not available.

However, the TikTok platform shows the number of impressions and hearts on each post.

So as a brand, you can access this information directly on any sponsored post.

You can also review an influencer’s performance before choosing to work with them. 

User-generated content

To create results on TikTok, your brand should be able to encourage users to create on-brand videos.

Unlike other platforms where single posts can go viral, the viral power in TikTok is widespread challenges and hashtags.

Think of Guess’ approach. The brand encouraged TikTok users to create videos of themselves in interesting places, wearing items from their new denim line.

Creators also had to use the Bebe Rhexa’s song “I’m a Mess” as their soundtrack. 

The Guess brand was able to achieve a few things with this approach.

First, they generated a lot of attention within the demographics which their new denim line targeted.

They also gained models of every size and colour.

Their audience was able to see how clothing pieces looked on real people, and make informed buying decisions. 

TikTok users should be able to take your idea and create something unique.

This probably sounds scary, especially as a brand owner or manager who is responsible for quality control.

However, the target audience expects a ‘tone of voice’ from the creators which they follow.

Your interference in their creative process could possibly have a negative impact on the end result.

Also, focus your efforts on encouraging as many users as possible to participate. 

Community building

Despite its quick growth, TikTok is a relatively small community.

The top creators are familiar to almost all users.

And the most engaging posts are challenges or duets (videos where two different videos play side-by-side). 

While you create challenges and other cues for creators, ensure that your brand stays present.

Use hashtags that can be traced back to you.

Not only will this improve brand recognition within the platform.

But you will also establish your brand as a member of the community, and make it easier for your content to spread out. 

Jimmy Fallon is a popular name on TikTok, which makes it easier for him to start up new challenges.

He’s a known member of the community, and creators are usually eager to follow his lead with every new idea. 


Branded stickers 

This is a free option for anyone looking to share their brand logo on the platform.

TikTok allows users to create and import their own GIFs and stickers.

Many people use a variety of GIFs and stickers when texting or posting on social media.

With this option, you can create on-brand stickers and launch them on the platform for free.

Right now, TikTok is giving users creative freedom to add new elements to their videos.

We can’t say for sure how long this will last. 

Free branded stickers hold a lot of potential for brands.

For example, as we enter the Halloween season, TikTok users will be searching for themed GIFs and stickers for their videos.

Your brand could create and provide branded elements that users will love.

When used by top creators, your brand could be advertised to millions of users for free.

While commissioning a sticker, make sure the idea is playful and creative enough to catch the eye of TikTok creators. 

TikTok provides advertising for brands looking to promote sponsored content.

For now, brands can promote goods, services, and websites.

Marketers already use this platform to advertise products and music.

Brands can also work directly with the creators to connect with their specific audience.

So far, TikTok has seen ads from big brands such as Nike and Fenty Beauty.

The entry requirements are still significantly low, which means that small to large scale businesses can easily launch ad campaigns on the platform. 

The most important thing to remember is that your ads should not feel like ads.

The target audience is tired of being sold to.

Instead of looking for the traditional blueprint, embrace TikTok’s casual culture.

Have fun with your ad concepts, embrace humor, and shoot everything with a smartphone camera.

Yes, everything. 


After considering the examples above, we can say that TikTok can be optimized for every brand.

From newspaper organizations to fast-food restaurants, there’s a voice and an audience waiting.

So what do you think?

Will you be using TikTok in your video marketing strategy?

PS…Thanks for reading and let us know below your thoughts on TikoTok Video marketing.


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