TikTok marketing: strategies for companies

When it comes to online marketing, there’s no rest for the wicked. New technologies can transform the virtual landscape overnight, changing consumer behaviours and presenting businesses with new opportunities but also challenges. TikTok is often hailed as an overnight sensation. With its simple concept, the app has already gained the support of millions of users, and now has been busy expanding its opportunities for brands and companies to reach its predominantly teen and millennial audience. With the right strategy, marketers can take advantage of the short video format to position their brand and grow user attention. Keep reading to find out how you can reach your target group through marketing on TikTok.

New call-to-action

What is TikTok?

TikTok is part video portal, part social network. The mobile app was developed by the Chinese technology company ByteDance. In 2017, ByteDance bought lip syncing app musical.ly and combined it with its main product, a personalised content feed – and so TikTok was born. With its lip syncing videos and challenges, the app quickly became a phenomenon.

Who uses TikTok?

During the first quarter of 2018 alone, TikTok had more downloads than social media giants Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. This success persists today. In total, TikTok has been downloaded over 2 billion times globally. Its users spend an average of 52 minutes per day using the app and open it an average of eight times throughout the day (Source: Wallaroo, 2020).

TikTok’s audience consists of mostly teenagers and Gen Z adults. This includes anyone born between the years 1997 and 2012. Even though TikTok is making an effort to win over older generations, 60% of its users are under the age of 24 and 80% are under 34 years. This means that using TikTok for marketing purposes is of greater interest to companies that want to reach young people.

Social Buy Button from IONOS

Turn shares, likes and pins into sales! Start selling your products on social media without the hassle of creating and maintaining a website!

Easy activation
24/7 support

TikTok for businesses

Online marketing and advertising can be divided into numerous categories, each of which require individual strategic implementation. One popular form of virtual, indirect marketing is inbound marketing, in which companies use different content marketing methods to attract the attention of customers. Content is typically either generated by the brand itself or by others, and enjoys wide reach when it’s published on social media platforms. As a popular social network, TikTok also offers marketing opportunities for companies.

There are various options for marketing on TikTok:

Influencer marketing: The term influencer marketing is usually used in connection with YouTube or Instagram, and refers to the practice of working with internet personalities that have a significant number of followers. Based on an agreement with a company, the influencer integrates a brand or product into their content, making sure that it comes across organically and does not resemble an advertisement. The number of influencers on TikTok is continuously growing, and with it the use of influencer marketing on the platform. In the example below, well-known beatboxer Spencer X indirectly advertised for Oreo cookies. He turned the sound of opening and eating Oreo cookies into a beatboxing beat.

Hashtag challenges: Videos created as part of challenges are particularly popular among TikTok users. These are also among the more innovative ways to implement TikTok marketing. A brand creates a hashtag for an engaging challenge and calls on TikTok users to upload their own videos using the hashtag. It’s important that the idea is easy to understand and can be implemented by pretty much anyone. Good challenges can attract a lot of user-generated content in a short time. One great example is Mercedes-Benz’s #MBStarChallenge, in which they called on users to interpret the Mercedes star in creative ways.

Online ads: Just like on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, you can also create ads on TikTok. A growing number of brands are now joining TikTok accounts, which they use to upload original content. This allows them to post videos of up to 15 seconds. Marketers who do not want to create an account can take advantage of TikTok’s native video ads, which appear directly in user feeds. So-called brand takeovers and top view ads will show adverts to users as soon as they open up the app. To ensure that your ad reaches your intended target group, you can take advantage of a variety of targeting options offered in the app.


TikTok introduced branded lenses in 2019 – a feature first launched by rival Snapchat. The lenses offer creative face filters and special effects, and give users a playful way to engage with a brand.

Designing your TikTok marketing strategy

For many companies, TikTok marketing is uncharted territory. This has the advantage that the market hasn’t been oversaturated yet. With a creative TikTok marketing campaign, you can quickly generate public interest in your brand. When developing your strategy, try to use a combination of techniques. A hashtag challenge, for example, can be more effective when it’s promoted by influencers. TikTok even offers a custom influencer package, which puts you in touch with relevant influencers. Paid ads can also be effectively combined with a hashtag challenge. And implementing a call to action sends users directly to your landing page.

When it comes to creating a challenge as part of your TikTok marketing strategy, be sure to consider the following questions:

  • Which challenges have been successful in the past? Get some inspiration from previous challenges and find out what made them successful.
  • What are the current trends on TikTok? Do some thorough research on the app to find out which sounds and clips are being used and shared.
  • What is the appeal of your challenge? Make sure that your challenge is entertaining and interesting. Offering prizes often results in a higher number of participants.

Build the perfect page for your online shop before you consider marketing campaigns. With the eCommerce Website Builder by IONOS, you can get started right away and take advantage of the integrated marketing features.

TikTok hype: what else you should know

Due to the rapid growth of the app, many companies have felt obliged to react with an appropriate marketing strategy. But before you jump into TikTok marketing, take a moment to consider whether the platform is suitable for your company’s needs. When it comes to social media content, the most important thing is authenticity. If a post rings insincere, it can quickly backfire and generate negative attention. Here are some facts that might help you in your decision-making process:

  • The majority of TikTok users are young. Reaching users over the age of 30 years will be very difficult.
  • The positive effects of your TikTok marketing campaign on your sales can’t be measured right away. Success is measured on TikTok via numbers of impressions, clicks, and video views.
  • Trends on platforms like TikTok are extremely short lived. This means that what’s interesting and relevant one day may already be gone from a user’s radar the next day. Therefore, long marketing processes may end up being counterproductive.

If you’re aware of the risks and rewards of TikTok marketing, you’ll create a better campaign and can put yourself a step ahead of other companies.