How to Capture the Enormous Selling Potential of TikTok

Remember when TikTok first launched in 2016? It began attracting audience members through aggressive ads on YouTube with videos of lip-syncing teens. Today, it’s home to content across every imaginable topic and format, from viral challenges and branded filters to product reviews and cooking tutorials. The mega-popular app is now home to more than one billion users — and loads of advertising potential.  

Before you opt out of marketing on the same platform where your teen spends most of their day, hear us out:

  • Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers combined now make up 51% of TikTok’s US user base.
  • Time spent on TikTok per day (45.8 minutes) by US adults now surpasses time spent on YouTube (45.6 minutes) by the same audience (see chart). 
  • TikTok has been downloaded more than 3.5 billion times worldwide.
  • It has been the top App Store app in the US since the beginning of 2021 and has seen a 19% year-over-year increase on Google Play.
Source: eMarketer, April 2022

Consider the Allure of TikTok

TikTok is a social media platform featuring short, user-generated videos on a variety of topics. Most videos are less than 3 minutes in length, though TikTok recently enabled longer form content with video capabilities up to 10 minutes. TikTok content is unique to other social media platforms thanks to its young base of most frequent users, but is similar to others in its prevalence of video filters, hashtags and influencers. 

Perhaps TikTok’s most appealing quality is its ability to cultivate emerging fashion and shopping trends. Thanks to the platform’s powerful algorithm and cultural relevance, TikTok gives brands enormous advertising and selling potential to an audience of consumers ready for the next big thing. 

The key is crafting commerce strategies around entertaining content first, shopping second. That’s because TikTok users are more likely to shop (71.2%) when they stumble across products of interest in their feed and Stories first. Fifty-eight percent of users even head straight to the app for shopping inspiration. 

Get Started Selling on TikTok

In 2020, TikTok harnessed its incredible selling power by giving brands and online retailers the ability to sell to new audiences through the launch of TikTok for Business. Brands can run ads, connect with influencers for paid promotion, sync product catalogs and more to open their doors to a whole new array of buyers. 

It’s easy to get started on TikTok with a business account and begin sharing unique content. Here’s how:

  1. Start a Pro account. Create a TikTok account and select “Pro: Business” to access detailed analytics and track performance. You’ll also be able to add links to your storefront and marketplace pages in your bio. 
  2. Brainstorm and create unique content. Aim for the punchiest, most creative content. TikTok users seek new trends, exciting content and rave-worthy products. Your goal is to get them to share your posts with friends.
  3. Interact with fans. Let your audience know you’re listening. Respond when users comment or like your posts, and showcase their user-generated content related to your product. 
  4. Invest in ads. Take advantage of paid ads to target specific audiences. Self-service ads blend into users’ feeds more naturally, while TikTok Ads Manager includes tactics like branded hashtag challenges and filters. 

It’s also wise to partner with influencers related to your brand and products. Find influencers who make sense for your brand and products through the Creator Marketplace. Choose from thousands of influencers and let TikTok recommend the best one for your audience based on data-driven insights. Then, use the TikTok Selling Center to collaborate with them, set up a promotion plan and share affiliate links. 

Experiment with TikTok Ad Types

TikTok offers brands multiple ways to get in front of engaged users and incite action. According to the platform, 92% of users globally have taken an action after watching a TikTok.

Experiment with them all, and decide which work best for you:

  • In-feed ads – Branded ads up to 60 seconds long that are integrated into users’ feeds 
  • Brand Takeover – Highly exclusive and expensive top-of-feed ads with embedded links allowing for only one brand per category and country per day
  • TopView – Video ads similar to Brand Takeovers that appear in a user’s For You feed after three seconds 
  • Branded Hashtag challenge – Ads exclusive to TikTok that encourage user-generated content through sponsored hashtags to spur virality and brand awareness 
  • Branded filters – Custom augmented reality video filters that encourage user-generated content

TikTok also offers a suite of commerce solutions merchants can use to encourage sales, including in-app storefronts, product links, collection ads, dynamic showcase ads and live shopping. US marketers can also look forward to more livestream shopping opportunities on TikTok in 2022 — a wise investment considering American adult shoppers rated watching livestreams as the top social commerce feature they currently use and plan to use more this year.

Add TikTok to Your Channel Mix

ChannelAdvisor began supporting TikTok as a natively supported feed destination earlier this year to help you connect with your growing audience on this popular platform. The ChannelAdvisor feed template saves you time and resources in setup and maintenance. Plus, the template is automatically maintained as changes occur.

Get started selling on TikTok with guidance from ChannelAdvisor Managed Services and join the fastest growing social media channel of 2022! Contact us today

And stay tuned for part two of this series to learn best practices for advertising on TikTok.