We’ve all heard of the infamous lip-syncing, viral dance-crazed, music video social media app TikTok, but how is it leading the charge in a new generation of social media?

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, TikTok has skyrocketed up the social media ladder. In February 2019, the app reached one billion global downloads and kept growing from there. With over 689 million active users as of 2021, the app is proving to be more than just a ‘fad’ like past video sharing apps such as Vine and Musical.ly. Even Instagram seems to have noticed the emerging competition and decided it was time to rebrand.

What sets TikTok apart from past platforms is its authenticity. It’s an app for the people, by the people. Unlike most social media platforms, TikTok is focused less on lifestyle and more on entertainment, which is one of the reasons why it blew up so quickly during quarantine. It has yet to become a kind of marketing giant like Instagram and Facebook because it is still an emerging platform for many social media marketers.

Many small businesses have gained tremendous success by mastering TikTok’s analytics and going viral. From the actual video editing to the Creator Tools, TikTok is easily accessible for all its users. Business owners are appealing to the masses by showcasing their small businesses, products, and art in creative one-minute videos, and people just can’t seem to get enough—#smallbusiness has 33.8 billion views alone.

Many larger companies, brands, and even political figures, have noticed the success of these creators and have jumped on the TikTok bandwagon as well, including the White House. Press Secretary Jen Psaki partnered with famous TikTok Comedian Benito Skinner to help incentivize young people to get vaccinated. With over three million views, the viral video is funny, memorable, and impactful in conveying an important message.

Savvy businesses will take advantage of the new social media app because it is an effective and fun way to connect with their audiences. Here are a few tips to help you get in on the action:

1. Create an account and learn how to use the app.
You should explore how TikTok works before you upload content. For instance, make sure you have made a Pro account when you sign up—this gives you metrics and insights on your posts. You’ll get a better idea of when to post and what type of content is popular with your audience.

2. Follow relevant accounts.
One of the first things you’ll want to do when getting started on TikTok is to follow accounts similar to yours. This will help give you a better idea of what kinds of videos people are interested in and spark your own ideas (you can also see what the competition is up to!).

3. Experiment with simple videos and trends.
Joining a hashtag challenge is a great way to get your ‘feet wet’ in the TikTok world. These challenges are trending activities people do to get on the For You page. A recent competition challenge to the song, “Believe Me” by Navos, is trending right now. You can find these trending hashtags and sounds on the explore page. Making content with these tags will get your business noticed.

4. Showcase your team/ product.
Whether you’re a solo artist or a small business with a team, make sure you introduce yourself and your product. TikTok pushes your first couple of videos in the algorithm, so these initial videos can help your brand grab some attention. This is what TikTok is all about—the individual. Relatability is one of the keys to success on the app. People like to put a face to a brand or a business, and what better way for your audience to get to know your business than by introducing yourself. If you’re promoting a product or a series of products, you could show the process of making it, the story behind it, or the way it works. Plus, it’s an easy concept to use as a springboard to create something unique to your brand.

5. Know your audience.
Though TikTok’s primary demographic is between the ages of 18-24, the app still has a decent reach across a spectrum of people. It’s important to know who your audience is and what kinds of videos they are interested in. Similar to following relevant accounts, once you gain an audience, start checking out who they follow, which of your videos they interact with the most, and reply to comments fans leave on your TikToks. The more you interact with your audience, the more TikTok will push your videos on the For You page.

6. Find the right TikTok influencer.
Influencers are a big marketing tool on social media, and TikTok is no exception. Reaching out to influencers who resonate with your brand/product will help you reach a wider audience and create more buzz around your company. Collaborating with influencers or other TikTok accounts similar to your own will pull their followers to your page. This type of marketing comes across as more organic than a regular advertising campaign because it’s an outside perspective—the influencer can give their opinion on your product or showcase it through product placement on their own account.

7. Know the Different Business Tools TikTok Offers.
TikTok offers business tools for creators who have a Pro account. TikTok Pro offers content strategies and specialized resources to help grow your business on their app. They provide exclusive insights into trends and analytics, as well on your page and on individual videos, and over 150,000+ songs in their royalty-free commercial music library. This will save you time and money in obtaining music licenses on your own. The app also offers Web Business Suite, which allows you to download your analytics, view content creation tips from the Creator Hub, and access the TikTok Business website for interesting case studies.

8. Know your Ad: Brand Takeover Ads, Top View Ads, and Branded Effect Ads.
Reading this title, you might be thinking ‘Huh?’ So let’s break this down.

  • Brand Takeover Ads are graphics that appear as soon as a user opens the app. They display for targeted individuals for a few seconds.
  • Top View Ads are similar to Brand Takeover ads, except they display full-screen graphics and display on the ‘For You’ page.
  • Branded Effect ads are effects that users can add to their posts like filters or stickers. A brand can add these to advertisements to display its logo.

9. Create a content schedule.
Creating, editing, and posting videos can quickly become time-consuming. Having a schedule and planning your videos out can save you a lot of time. However, keep in mind that trends move quickly, so planning videos out more than a week or two in advance may not be the best strategy. Try filming a few videos in one day and post one or two videos a day throughout the week. View the analytics and then adjust your schedule based on the data.

10. Get creative and have fun!
Most importantly, don’t overthink it and just have fun! The videos that go viral are the ones you least expect.

If you are making content you enjoy, your audience will likely love it, too.