The Ultimate Guide
This is the only TikTok marketing guide you're going to need.
Because content can only take you so far before you need to try stuff on your own.
In this guide, we'll cover creating an account, content strategy, influencer marketing... you get it.
In fact, by the time you're done, you'll be fully equipped to start crushing it on TikTok!
Just to be clear, this guide is over 8,000 words.
It might help to read a chapter or two today, and come back tomorrow. Just a thought.
Without further ado, let's get into it.
Table of Contents
Getting started on TikTok
(in three parts)
How to Create a TikTok Account
Search for TikTok in the app store (or wherever you get your apps).
Once it's downloaded, open it.
After "Videos to make your day" scrolls by, you should land on a "Choose your interests" page.
I would tap skip unless you see your niche, but it doesn't really matter.
This is so TikTok knows what videos to show you, but their algorithm will figure out your viewing behavior anyway.
Side Note: I would also recommend saying no to TikTok notifications.
They can get pretty addicting, which can be a serious distraction.
When you've done that, your screen will look like this (with a different video displayed):
We'll explore what all this means later
For now, tap the "Me" in the bottom right corner.
Next, tap "Sign up".
You can sign up however you want, but for the sake of this guide, I'll assume you're signing up with email.
Enter your birthday.
Enter your phone or email.
Create your password.
Create your username.
Stick to your brand's name as close as possible.
Well done! You're officially on TikTok.
Now, there's one more thing I want to show you how to set up.
Right now, you have what's called a "Personal" account.
What you want is a "Pro" account.
Pro accounts have access to analytics that personal accounts don't.
It's completely free, so there's honestly no reason to stick with a personal account.
Switching to a Pro Account
If you're back on the For You Page, tap on "Me" again.
On your account page, tap the three dots in the top right corner.
Tap "Manage my account" at the top.
Go to the bottom of the list and tap "Switch to Pro Account".
At the bottom of the page, tap "Continue".
Choose your category, and then tap on "Next" at the bottom.
Follow the instructions and verify your phone or email.
Perfect! You've got a Pro account now.
If you ever want to check analytics, go back to your profile, and tap the three dots again.
Scroll down and tap on "Analytics".
Once you start making videos, you'll be able to see all of your analytics here.
It's a great place to track your progress and analyze what's worked and what hasn't.
Side note: if you've gained some views and they're not showing up in Analytics, don't panic.
That's pretty normal.
It might take a few videos for you to show up on TikTok's analytics radar, so just keep creating!
Let's head back to the For You Page.
These are the only two feeds on TikTok, and the nature of them is identical.
To switch between the two, just tap the respective name at the top.
Next, let's take a look at the right side of the screen.
Right Side Key
1) This is the user’s profile picture. When you tap the red plus, you follow that account.
2) When you tap the heart, you like the video.
3) This opens the comment section.
4) This opens different options to share.
5) This is the video’s sound. Every video has a sound recorded with it.
Each video’s sound is either recorded with the video, chosen from the sound library (we’ll get there) or a mixture of both.
Now, let's take a look at the left side of the screen.
Left Side Key
6) Account username (with blue check mark if verified)
7) Video description (with respective hashtags or tagged accounts)
8) Name of sound
Next, let's take a look at the bottom bar, starting on the left.
Bottom Bar Key
Home - You are here.
Discover - You can use this to search TikTok for accounts, sounds, and hashtags.
Plus Sign - This is where you’ll create your videos.
When you tap on "Discover", your page will look like this.
I personally don’t spend too much time researching hashtags when I'm looking for trends.
In my experience, the For You Page is a much better place to see what's relevant.
Anyways, let's keep going.
Bottom Bar Key (continued)
Inbox - This is where you’ll see the interactions people have with your account (comments, likes, etc.)
Me - As you know, this is where you manage your account.
Your account is set up, you've switched from Personal to Pro, and you know how to navigate TikTok.
Next up, let's go over how to create a video.
How to create a TikTok video
This chapter is all about creating your first TikTok video.
Let's get started.
If you haven't already, open up the TikTok app.
Push on the "Plus Button" at the bottom of your screen.
When you've done that, your screen will look like this (with whatever you have as the background).
Let's have a quick look around, starting at the top left.
In the very left corner you will find an "X". This is if you want to exit from making a video.
To the right of the "X", you will find "Sounds".
Before we go any further, I'm going to take a brief moment to explain how sounds work on TikTok.
How TikTok Sounds Work
TikTok sounds might seem confusing at first, but I promise...
You'll get the hang of it!
Every video has a sound associated with it.
You can find each video's sound at the bottom of their screen.
For example: if you were to just record a video of yourself talking to the camera, its sound will appear at the bottom of the video.
If you don't change the name of the sound... it will say "original sound - (your username)".
Now if you were to tap on the sound, you'll be taken to its sound page.
(I don't know the technical term, but that's the best name I have for it)
That page will look something like this.
If someone were on your sound's page, they could tap "Use this sound" at the bottom of the screen.
This would allow them to use that exact sound for their own video.
The best way for you to understand that is to experience it yourself, so let's do this.
Go back to your For You Page, and tap on a video's sound. (Pick one with over 50k likes)
Once you tap on that sound, tap on one of the videos (not the original) and you'll see how that video uses the original sound.
You can do this with songs as well.
Go back to creating a video (hit the plus sign).
Once again, tap on "Sounds" at the top of the screen.
Your screen will look something like this.
This is the sound library, and it's the only place (beside your Following and For You Pages) where you can find different songs.
You can search sounds, and see what's trending, as well as access sounds you've added to your favorites in the past.
By the way, you can favorite any sound by first tapping on the sound, and then tapping "Add to Favorites".
Now that you understand sounds, let's get back to creating a video.
Click the Plus sign once again, and let's take a look at the right side.
Right Side Key
Flip - This flips the camera when you're recording.
Speed - This adjusts the speed of the clip you're recording.
Beauty - This turns on "Beauty Mode".
Filters - This adds filters to your video, similar to Instagram.
Timer - This is the timer (I'll explain in a minute).
Flash - This turns the flash on.
Let's take a look at the bottom.
Effects - These are different effects you can add to your video.
The more time you spend on the For You Page, the more creativity with these effects you'll see.
Spend some exploring these and imagine how they could fit into your video!
Record button - This starts the video recording.
Upload - This is where you can upload existing videos from your phone straight to TikTok.
Only upload videos if you know what you're doing and if your videos don't look out of place on the app.
There's also a bar further below that.
Bottom Bar Key
60s - This is for if you want to record a video longer than 15 seconds (max 60 seconds).
Side note: You won't be able to record songs for longer than 15 seconds, because of TikTok's special license with music providers.
15s - This is for if you want to record a video 15 seconds and under. If you use this option, make sure you know you're going to stay under 15 seconds, because you won't be able to go over.
Templates - These are something I've never used, and hardly see anyone use.
Feel free to check them out. That said, I wouldn't recommend using them, just because they look so out of place on the For You Page (unless there's a future trend based around one).
Live - This is the what you tap if you want to go live for your audience.
It won't appear on your screen if you're just starting out, because TikTok only lets creators with over 1000 followers go live.
Now, let's get into creating a video.
You'll need to choose your sound before you start recording, so make sure to get that first.
If the sound is in your favorites, just go there, tap on the sound, and hit the red check mark.
Now you have two options to record.
1) Without the timer.
2) With the timer.
Let's go over creating without the timer first.
Just tap the record button to record, and hit stop when the clip is done.
When you want to record the next clip, hit the circle again.
(Go ahead and try it so you see what I mean, then just hit the "x" when you're done to go back)
This is a good method if you're making a video that's not too complex, and doesn't have too many parts to it.
That said, if you're trying to record clips to coincide with the sound you choose... you're going to need that timer.
Start by tapping on the timer.
You can drag the red bar (all the way on the right, under "15s") to exactly where you want the clip to end.
This allows you to create clips that coincide perfectly with your sounds (as you begin to create, you'll see what I mean).
Once you've dragged the red bar to where you want the clip to end, just hit "Start countdown".
This will start a three second timer (you can switch that to 10s if you need to), and then the video will record until the time you've selected.
You can keep recording clips this way until the video is complete, and then your screen will look like this.
Starting with the top right...
Right Side Key
Filters - Same as before, this is to add filters to your video, like you would on Instagram.
Adjust clips - I'm not going to lie, I had no idea about this before I created this guide. That said, it's incredibly handy!
You can use this tool to rearrange clips in the order you want, as well as re-record earlier clips if you don't want to have to delete your progress on a video (you'll understand how helpful that is once you start creating your own videos).
Voice effects - This add special effects to your voice. Some of these are pretty funny, and spark trends on TikTok, so if you see one that's relevant, feel free to use it!
Voice over - choose this to add an additional voice recording over your video.
Now, the bottom...
Sounds - As you know, you can access sounds here.
Effects - You also know this one... you can add effects to your videos.
Text - This is how you add text to your videos.
You can drag text around to where you want, make text highlighted, as well as edit the starting and stopping point of each phrase.
Stickers - These can be placed anywhere on the screen, and they work basically identical to Instagram.
The best way to learn about these is to look around the sticker library and see if any can contribute to the premise of your video.
A few tips for adding text:
If you spend any substantial time on the For You Page, you'll notice the large majority of videos have highlighted text.
Highlighting your text makes it much more visible than if just leaving it. I always highlight the text, even if it only makes a small difference.
Also, always time your text perfectly with the sound.
I can't stress this enough. Spend the extra two seconds to figure out that your punchline text should start at 7.7s instead of 7.8s.
These little details may seem like they're not important, but your video will stand out if it doesn't flow smoothly, and not in a good way.
One more thing: don't place the text too high or low on the screen.
Sometimes the "Following | For You" at the top and the caption at the bottom can block the text, so keep that in mind when you're placing text (as well as writing your caption).
When you're done with all the editing, hit "Next".
Your screen should look like this.
For your description, keep it nice and short, and make sure it adds to the overall quality of your video (I'll get into hashtags later).
Make sure the video is public, and make sure Duet and React is turned on (unlike the above photo).
The reason for this is that if your video were to get popular enough, people tend to duet it, which adds even more views.
When everything is set, you'll hit "Post"!
You can hit drafts for now if you just followed along and didn't make a legitimate video. This saves it without posting.
That's it! You're done!
You'll get more comfortable with the TikTok video editor as you create, so don't worry if it seems like a lot now.
Remember that you can always come back to this guide if you forgot anything in particular.
Now, let's dive into something that's holding many marketers back in the first place, but isn't that difficult once you figure it out.
TikTok Culture and Content Strategy
TikTok is like every online community (or every community in general)...
It has its own language and culture.
Like with every culture that you're new to, you have to spend time engaging to understand exactly how they talk.
The basic conclusion we can reach, then, is this:
The more you know the TikTok language, the more you’ll be able to fit in natively.
So how do you do that?
It's not rocket science.
Spend some (at minimum 5) hours on the For Your Page, and simply observe.
It may seem like a waste of time, but the more you're able to know about the culture, and talk like they do, the more you'll stand out as a brand and the more your marketing will succeed.
Watch the memes, trends, and popular songs.
Pay attention to how people comment, and what reactions people have to certain content.
When you speak their language, your message will resonate so much more with your audience.
You'll have an edge over your competitors with both your content creation and the comments you leave.
Wendy's does a wonderful job understanding TikTok culture.
Speaking of brands that are crushing the TikTok game...
Pay attention to what successful brands are doing.
Your goal is obviously not to copy others, but you can certainly learn from them.
Here are just a few of my favorite brands to pay attention to:
- NFL (and each team)
- Wendy’s (of course)
The reason these are my favorite is because they understand the culture they’re in, and they provide serious value in the form of entertainment.
How to create a TikTok content strategy
Start with your target audience and find your message. You’ll use this to develop a framework for your content.
For example, I was creating for a Bible college, and understood that my target audience were high school Christians.
So, I sought to educate them directly regarding topics around the Bible, as once we were a bit more established, we used memes to entertain them.
It's a tried-and-true formula:
Make your TikToks known for something in particular, and expand your reach once you're established.
Here's an example of what I'm talking about:
Back in their early days, they were known only for their trick shot videos.
However, after they had established their brand, they decided to venture into comedy videos.
This revealed a different side of their brand, and fans ate it up.
However, it benefited that they had something they were known for (the trick shots) before expanding their reach.
Now, I'm not saying you need one video format to stick by religiously until you have 1 million followers.
But add a nuance to your videos that people will remember you by, and use it enough that it becomes your thing.
How do you come up with that nuance?
Start with your customer, and work backwards.
For example, let's say you sell beard-care products, like Beardbrand.
In this scenario, your target audience is males that need help with growing and maintaining beards.
I would either make little 15 second clips that explained tips for perfecting your beard, or beard related comedy videos, or both.
In this case, the "thing" that you're associating with your brand is beard-related content in general.
That gives you the freedom to branch out early with content, since people will remember you for all-things-beard content.
Also, as I'll get into later, you don't have to speculate about what type of content you should go with.
You can simply split test both ideas, see what works, and roll with your successes.
Here's another example.
Let's say you run an auto body shop.
Your target audience is people who need help with their car, many of whom don't know much about cars.
Create small helpful videos explaining easy informative car topics.
I'm talking about simple things, like where to find your tire pressure, how to check your oil, how to jumpstart your car, etc.
You could do a quick-paced voice-over while you demonstrate each task, somewhat like Julia's TikToks.
People would get used to learning quick lessons about their cars, and you could put your location in your bio, so people in your area have already developed a trust for you.
If you still don't know quite how to develop a content strategy for your brand, explain your target customer and brand in the comments and I'll try to help you out!
Now, let's talk about my 95% rule.
My general rule of thumb with 95% of my videos is I want them to be native to the platform…
A.k.a. 95% of the time on TikTok, I’m not selling.
To be clear, that's selling in one out of every 20 videos.
For my own personal brand, I don't even sell that much, but 95% is the lowest I would ever go.
Inbound isn’t anything new, but it’s always a good reminder when you’re building brand.
With the nature of the For You Page, you need to treat every video like it's essentially the viewer's first time seeing you.
This is a screenshot from one of my video analytics. An overwhelming percentage of viewers come from the For You Page, which means I simply showed up in their feed.
If your video goes viral, you'll often see over 80% of your views (I've seen 97% before) coming from the For You Page.
That's the beauty of TikTok, but it forces you to act different.
They push your content to people who have never heard of you, for free.
On the flip side, this means you can't sell nearly as much as you could with other organic channels.
People need to be able to watch your content and not be pressured into taking an action, such as signing up for a newsletter or purchasing your product.
Below is a screenshot of a video I made where I pitched a (free) campus visit.
It only led to 90 likes.
I'm not even saying it's necessarily bad, because we're not creating TikTok for likes.
We're creating for (eventual) sales, revenue, etc.
That said, you need to time your pitches right, and keep them rare.
If you're pitching every third video, people aren't going to keep watching your content.
Keep your pitches to a minimum, and be prepared for your pitches to not result in as much engagement.
You should be focused on creating good content.
Because then they'll come back.
According to Salesforce, a customer will need to go through 6-8 touch points (interactions with your brand) before they're ready from you.
Focusing on quality content increases their chances to want to engage with your brand again, which is the whole reason you’re on TikTok in the first place!
That said, don't let the quality of your content lower the quantity of your posts.
Which leads me to my last point for this chapter.
Most successful creators (like Charli D'Amelio above) often create 4 videos per day.
Test many ideas, and let the algorithm decide if it's crappy or not.
TikTok won’t push it if no one engages with it.
Which means you can create outside of the limelight until you figure out what works.
You have to simply try different content forms, and not be scared of pushback.
If you’re a brand that people already recognize (like Doritos, for example), you'll obviously need to be careful with this, because people will recognize you no matter what.
But to everyone else, people just won’t remember your videos like you think they will, and you as a creator need to realize that.
You can't predict virality, so it's worth it to invest in creating more videos.
Don’t waste time speculating if it’s a good idea or not.
Trust your gut, create, and pay attention to whether it worked or not.
Well, that's it for this chapter!
Now, let's talk about that crazy A.I.-powered algorithm.
The TikTok Algorithm
There’s alot of speculation about the TikTok algorithm.
To be honest, no one knows precisely how it works.
Well... like all social media platforms, TikTok keeps that secret.
That said, similar to SEO specialists with Google, popular creators study the algorithm to figure it out.
Of all the explanations I've seen, Michael Khieu's explanation is the most accurate based on my algorithm observations.
I’ll be using that hypothesis as my reference (Here’s the link to that video if you want a visualization, it’s really well done).
The TikTok Algorithm
The TikTok content algorithm is unlike any I’ve ever seen.
It's acts differently from a normal social media feed, almost the opposite.
Where normal social media feeds prioritize who you're following, TikTok prioritizes new creators for you to discover.
And it gets this done with artificial intelligence.
The whole idea behind the algorithm is this.
As a viewer scrolls through the For You Page, TikTok pays attention to your behavior, specifically what videos you enjoy.
TikTok watches closely which you videos like, share, view repeatedly, etc.
TikTok then curates similar content that it can present just for you.
The app's end goal is to put new content and creators in front of new viewers.
This is why it’s possible to get 10,000 views on your first video.
I personally got 52,000 views and 13,000 likes on my first TikTok, and that's not even that impressive.
Since the algorithm learns as it goes, it gets better and better at knowing exactly what you like.
I see this in the same way I see Facebook Ad lookalike-audiences.
Your message keeps getting put in front of a more precise and targeted audience.
How getting views works
In short, it’s like a system of levels.
Whenever you post a video, TikTok starts you off at level one.
Think of this as TikTok's way of giving your video a chance.
At this point, one of two things can happen:
1) Your video gets alot of engagement, which case TikTok bumps it up to level 2.
2) Your video doesn't get much engagement; thus, TikTok decides it's not made for level 2 and lets it "flop" at that many views.
So, what happens if your video makes it to level 2?
As you can see, the leveling up will continue until your video stops qualifying to the next level.
Eventually, all videos stop qualifying for the next level.
It all depends on when the algorithm decides to cut off the supply of views.
Pretty simple formula.
Also, it’s important to note this isn’t taking into account your pre-existing followers.
TikTok only shows your video to a small percentage of your followers (similar to Facebook or Instagram), through both the Following Page and the For You Page.
However, it’s obviously still valuable to grow an audience, and you should make content that tailors to both your target audience and the one you already have.
This is the traffic source of one of my videos. It got 192k views, which means roughly 184k of those views came from the For You Page!
So, what engagement factors are TikTok looking for?
Well, while there is a list of known signals TikTok looks for, those don't tell us exactly which signals are the most important.
Below are the factors ranked in a point-system based on Michael Khieu's video.
When you understand what TikTok's looking for, you'll be able to create great content that gains alot of engagement.
TikTok Video Creation Tips
Now we’re going to get into some actual video-making advice that I’ve used myself.
I’m splitting this advice up into three different filming categories:
1) before you make your video
If you're still reading this, great job by the way!
You're taking the time to educate yourself, and it will pay dividends in one way or another.
Remember that TikTok is very top-of-funnel (at least for now).
This is my third time saying this, and I'm okay with that.
My most popular videos are almost always over 80% seen by the For You Page.
Most of my viral videos' analytics look like this.
80% of the people watching those videos have likely never seen my account before.
The only reason I’m saying this is to emphasize my main point.
Unless you’re already a brand people would already recognize like Chipotle, you should not be selling.
Chipotle is an established brand, and people are used to their food. That's why they can get away with "hidden sells" like this tutorial above. Side note: even Chipotle rarely sells their product.
We talked earlier about how customers need seven interactions with you to purchase, and this is probably going to be their first with your brand!
Bring value. Don’t sell.
Keep it short
You have the option for 60 seconds, but stick with 15.
The nature of this app is quick paced, so it’s more native to not drag on.
Unless you have a specific idea for a longer skit, avoid going over 15 seconds.
Don’t confuse people with multiple messages.
Just stick to one concise story (whatever that may be), and don’t over complicate things.
Think about effects
If you’ve spent considerable time on the For You Page, you’ll have a good grasp about which effects correlate with the current memes.
You can always use popular effects by tapping on them in videos on your For You Page.
Here's what the page looks like.
You can stick to trends, but don’t be afraid to mess around yourself with effects and get those creative juices flowing.
Experiment a bit and see what ideas you can come up with!
The element of surprise
I’ve found surprise endings work really well on TikTok.
If you can, end your video with some kind of humorous plot twist.
Think about the first time you watched the Michael Dubin’s Dollar Shave Club video, and how much it caught you off guard.
(If you haven't seen it, watch it, and observe how it uses the element of surprise)
Surprise is a great punchline, and can help your viewers remember what they saw in the video.
Professional, but raw
Good lighting and an iPhone camera are pretty much all you need to make good TikToks.
You’ll notice even popular brands like Gary Vee and the NBA zoom in for a lot of their footage.
It can be a bit grainy sometimes, but that doesn't matter.
Their content is still native, so people welcome it.
Keep it choppy
Even within 15 seconds, your video shouldn’t just drag on.
By choppy, I just mean changing the scene up quickly.
Whether that means doing many cuts, or simply changing text midway.
If you have one cut of content that works for fifteen seconds, that’s obviously an exception.
Otherwise, keep it constantly changing.
Keep your cuts on beat
To help your video’s cuts/text change, make sure to pick a sound that correlates well.
I just mean that the beat will match up perfectly with the words or cuts to make it a friction-free video.
Writing a description
Spend a minute to think of a clever or fitting sentence.
Maybe even try asking a question to start a discussion in the comments.
I usually keep it to a sentence, though…
At that short length, it’s a quick read that adds something to the video.
Decide on hashtags
Honestly, unless it blocks the view of some text or takes away from the description… it doesn’t look awful to use hashtags.
How many is too many?
I can’t decide that for you.
I've seen alot of people preaching to avoid using broad keywords like #fyp and #fy.
That said, in my experience, those hashtags give your video an initial boost, but they do anything in the long term.
Sometimes an initial boost is all it takes to jump-start virality, though, so I tend to sprinkle two or three of those broad keywords into each of my videos, for good measure.
As you can see, my caption is a short blurb of text, the beat I rap on, and then my hashtags.
While you can see my use of the broad keywords for a boost, my use of niche hashtags is much more methodical.
If my video goes viral it will appear at the top of the results for these hashtags.
This is basically me attempting SEO, but instead of ranking for Google keywords, I'm ranking for TikTok hashtags (and keywords).
Here's an example video.
3% may not seem like alot, but that was 412 views on their own.
If you're just starting out, that's worth adding a niche hashtag or two!
TikTok seems to boost beginners’ videos
Don’t expect it to happen, and don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t.
That said, it seems to be a somewhat normal occurrence, based on what other creators have said.
The reason I’m telling you this is that if your first video peaks, and then you don’t get the same crazy views after that… don’t get discouraged!
The same thing happened to me, and you just have to keep creating and improving your content, and you’ll continue to slowly build that following.
Turn off notifications
There's just no point to notifications, except maybe to respond to comments (even then I do that manually).
I don’t like getting notified because it's so easy to get addicted when your video's start to take off.
There are just better things to be thinking about when you’re not on your phone.
This also sets you up for major disappointment when future videos don't meet that same measure of success.
You can't get discouraged when certain videos flop.
In the same way that you shouldn’t become hooked on success, don’t be dismayed by what you think is failure.
You won't go viral everytime, so don't expect it.
Don't delete old videos
I’ve had old videos that slowly show up on people’s For You Page… long after I had forgotten them.
You get no benefit from deleting them, and you do benefit from the late views TikTok gives you.
Growing with Depth
There are a few ways you can build depth with your audience.
Or as I like to call it, grow horizontally.
Some of these tactics don't have a clear-cut ROI, so many marketers hesitate to put in the work doing them.
And you know what?
That's fine with me.
Because as long as it's abnormal for brands to focus on depth, the ones who do are able to differentiate.
With all the noise on social media that exists in 2020, we need to find any method we can to stand out.
I emplore you, fellow marketer, to take the time to engage in these opportunities.
So, without further ado, here are my three favorite ways to grow horizontally.
Try going live
Gary Vaynerchuk goes live fairly often. This image in particular shows Gary throwing a charity event in his livestream.
Going live is great, especially when you promote it ahead of time.
It gives your audience a different level of connection when you're talking directly to them.
While I personally lean towards giving people a reason to join your live, you don't have to have a specific theme.
If you don't have a pre-existing plan, you'll probably just be reading the live chat and answering questions.
People love that!
Again, your audience just wants to see you.
Now, if you have the opportunity to showcase an event, have donations to a charity (people can give money in the livestream), or something else creative... go for it!
If you're treating the content as exclusive, a.k.a. something people couldn’t access simply by watching your videos, then you're on the right track.
Bottom line, going live is a great way to build trust and deepen the relationship between you and your audience.
P.S. You go live by starting to create a video, and then swiping the bottom black bar to the right (the options are in this order: 60s, 15s, Templates, and Live).
You can only go live if you have 1,000 followers, so if you don’t see the "Live" option, that’s why.
Respond to every comment
I've responded to thousands of comments, and my audience feels more connected to me because of it.
This is probably my most unpopular opinion in marketing.
People call it a waste of time, but I think responding to every single comment is vitally important.
If you can’t do every comment, still go through your comment section and respond to at least some.
I still think you should take an hour to respond to all, though, for two reasons:
1) No other brands are doing it, making you stand out when you do.
2) It means the world to your followers when you simply acknowledge they exist.
It adds more trust from their end and is a delight when they realize that you care enough to say “Hi” or “Thanks”.
You don’t have to spend alot of time thinking of the perfect response to each comment.
With practice, you get pretty quick at leaving one sentence answers, and it’s easy to leave a small, heartfelt message.
As you can see, most of my responses to comments take 15 seconds to write.
Bottom line: take some time and respond.
Your followers will love it!
Two Cents Strategy
This is largely based off of Gary Vee's $1.80 Instagram strategy.
I don't claim this as an original idea, just a good one to include include in the guide.
The basic premise is just going onto other videos on your For You Page and leaving a witty/clever/memorable comment.
In other words... leaving your two cents.
This can prove valuable as an outreach method, because your comment has a chance to go viral.
This is an example of a comment that went somewhat viral. Sometimes a comment I leave can get more likes than some of my videos!
From my experience, funny comments are the way to go.
If you have a scenario where you think a serious comment will work, go for it!
I typically go for a humorous, though, just because people seem to enjoy those comments more.
A few tips for commenting:
The earlier you are, the more likely your comment will go viral.
This is because your comment will grow as the video grows, and if the video's already peaked, there won't be a future influx of views.
Also, keep it short and memorable.
Long, drawn out comments typically don't work as well, and that makes sense.
People's attention spans are short, so grab it and let it go.
And finally, if there's something no one is talking about from the video that you feel people should, mention it!
Chances are, there are other people who will relate with your comment, and you should sieze that viral opportunity before someone else will.
Sure, creating content for free is great.
But how about something with more of a direct ROI?
Let's talk paid strategy.
Don’t try ads yet
I'm going to keep it real with you.
I wouldn't recommend running TikTok ads yet, unless you're a big brand with high CLV whose budget includes YouTube banner ads.
There are two reasons.
1) The organic reach is doing just fine for now.
I know it's tempting to pay for direct results, but if you're trying to build a brand that lasts long term, content is the way to go.
If they play their cards right (I'm betting they will), they'll follow the timeline of every organic reach "breakthrough" ever.
(note the "Social Media Ad Timeline" Infographic below)
2) They still have to figure out their ad product.
They don’t have a pay-per-click model open to all budgets (the minimum budget is $500 across campaigns).
What does that tell you?
They’re using big budget brands to test out their ad platform before they're ready to give it to the small brands at scale.
I don't knock them for this... frankly, it's a smart move.
You'll actually find that most successful platforms do this.
I’m totally fine with giving TikTok time to remain in step 1.
Once they create a software more like Facebook Ads Manager (where you don’t have to work with someone, and you don’t need a huge budget), I know they’ll have figured it out.
When that day happens, no question I'll be hopping on TikTok ads.
But for now, I’m sticking with organic reach.
Now, if you still want to go the paid route, there is another option.
Influencer marketing is the best TikTok's best pay-to-play option, at least for now.
To start, you're going to want to find influencers in your niche.
I would search hashtags and keywords close to your brand, and see what videos pop up.
You can go from there and assess which creators to reach out to.
For this example, let's say I'm a direct-to-consumer brand that sells custom football gloves.
I'll search for "football" in the Discovery Page.
My screen will look like this.
As you can see, you can search through users, videos, and more. Look through the top menu, or simply scroll down.
In this scenario, I'm looking for an account with a few things:
First off, I'm looking for an account that creates football content.
Duh, but staying within your niche is key.
The more tailored the audience is to your product, the better your campaign will go.
Second, I'm looking for an account with between 10,000 and 1 million followers.
Anything less than 10,000 typically isn't enough of an audience, while anything over 1 million is typically going to be overpriced.
This dude meets the first two qualifications, so let's look further at his account.
The third thing I'm looking for is his recent view counts.
Some creators got popular along time ago, and even though their followings are big, they don't get much engagement anymore.
We don't want that.
Let's check this account to see what kind of engagement he's gotten recently.
He has two recent videos in the six-figure views, and his most recent video is almost there.
In his last six videos, that equates to 32% of his audience seeing his videos.
(Some of those viewers obviously aren't his following, but it's just the metric we're using)
Fourthly, I'm looking to see that he hopefully hasn't worked with any brands.
If he hasn't done ads in the past, then he won't likely charge too high, and his audience isn't numb to ads, yet.
At a glance, it's looks like he hasn't done ads.
So, everything about this influencer checks out.
Now, I'll go to shoutcart.com to see if he's listed there for pricing.
I don't use their paid service, I just check to see what influencers of similar followings are charging.
You'll need to register for a free account to access prices.
Click the menu in the top right corner and click "Register for Free".
You'll need to register for a free account to access prices.
Click the menu in the top right corner and click "Register for Free".
Once you've got your account, go to the menu and click "Browse".
Search for your influencer.
My influencer didn't show up (it's a small database, so your influencer likely won't either), but prices for others showed up below him.
You can scroll through these prices and get a good estimate of what it will cost.
Right now, I would pay between $20 and $50 for my influencer, based on the prices that are showing up.
That said, the prices vary by niche and influencer, so you're going to have to research the price point on your own.
Next, unless they showcase a business email, your best bet is to reach out to them via TikTok DM.
Up until recently, you could only message creators who followed you back.
This is no longer the case, it only takes one of you to follow each other to get the conversation going.
To message someone on TikTok, go to their profile and hit follow. Once you've done that, the follow button will be replaced by a message button.
You can also access your previous messages by at any time by tapping "Inbox" on the bottom black bar, and then tapping the arrow in the top right corner.
If they don't respond to a TikTok DM, their Instagram is likely in their TikTok bio, and if not, just look them up on Instagram.
Leave a simple, straightforward message focused around what you can do for them.
A few other things regarding influencer marketing.
Just because they raise the bar high doesn't mean you have to instantly succumb to that.
Don't charge them below their worth, but try to find middle ground.
Feel free to tell them that this is a test run, and that you'll pay them more next time if the test is successful.
(and follow through on that promise)
If still no response...
Try their comment section.
There's a good chance they read the comments more than messages.
Just say something like "Check your DMs" or "We want to sponsor you, check your DMs".
I advocate for giving them complete creative control.
They put in the work to build their audience, so they know how to create content for that audience better than you do.
That said, be crystal clear with the parameters you set.
Mention if you want the link in their bio, how long it'll stay there, what link, promo codes, etc.
Don't leave them guessing on what you want, but give them the freedom to be creative.
These are just some extra tips that I couldn’t find a place for in the content above.
As far as I can tell, re-purposing old videos works well as long as it stays quick paced and/or choppy (many cuts).
For example, there’s a creator named Trey Kennedy who gained a million followers on TikTok by posting (almost exclusively) one minute clips from his Instagram.
Trey can get away with re-purposed content because it's already fast-paced and entertaining, even if the video format itself isn't native to TikTok.
That said, you can easily see why his videos succeed, based on how the camera zooms and how quick the cuts are.
Use your judgement and be selective with re-purposing.
Many brands attempt it, but only the ones who make the content entertaining pull it off.
Don’t overthink it
This goes hand in hand with creating lots of content.
Go with your gut, unless your gut is holding you back only because you're afraid.
If you feel like it’s a good idea, roll with it!
Keep it short and simple, and focus on value.
You can always pivot if it isn't a great idea.
Example? How about me!
Rapping TikTok tips was a gamble that could've failed majorly.
Especially for a white dude named Caleb.
I thought it was an overall good idea, but I was fully prepared for it to flop.
What would I have done?
I would have abandoned that style of content, and tried something else.
Even if it was slightly embarrassing at the moment, most people would've forgotten I ever tried to rap.
Pivoting is always an option, even if you don't think it is.
The truth is, if you embarrass yourself, no one is going to remember as long as you do.
So, as long as the idea is worth testing, try it out!
If it doesn't work, you can always change course.
Don't overthink it.
Remember to link in your profile
I actually see alot of famous creators mess this up, and it drives me crazy.
It's not difficult, and most of your sales will come through inbound (people searching for you), you will heavily rely on the few links TikTok gives you.
You can link your Instagram and YouTube when you tap on the “Edit Profile” on your account page.
You can also choose to put a link in your bio, so make it count.
If you're selling a product (whether you're a Shopify store, SaaS, or something else), offer a discount code for TikTok users only.
You could even go so far as to create a landing page just for your TikTok audience.
Both a promo code and a landing page can be great ways to track the ROI of your TikTok strategy.
Side note: use a tool like Bitly to shorten your URL.
Long URLs in the profile just look bad.
I don't mind as much because it's a Facebook link, but it still looks better if it's shorter.
Don't chase fake clout
This is only for a select group of marketers reading.
Unless it fits into the content, you should avoid engagement bait (asking for likes and comments in the video).
No one likes that type of content, and the TikTok community gets particularly angry at it.
The following you do amass from engagement bait will be a flaky one, not the loyal fanbase you’re trying to attain in the first place.
Your content should be good enough to earn the viewer's favor. You shouldn't have to ask for it.
So, if you want to ask, do it at the end when you've potentially "earned" it, and don't ask every single video.
On that same note, don’t buy followers.
If you're buying followers, you are spending money to get an audience that doesn't want anything to do with you?
That last sentence sounds funny when you say it out loud.
Just create content that brings value, and focus on building an audience of people who love that content and the brand behind it.
A duet is just a unique format for a TikTok video.
In a duet, the right half of the screen is the original video and the left side of the screen is the creator's reaction or compliment to the original.
You can duet both your own and other's videos.
This is an example of a duet.
On TikTok, you can duet a video by tapping the share button on the video you want to duet, and tapping “duet”.
Only do this if you feel like you are adding to the content of the video.
Many people just react but don’t add much, and the TikTok community generally dislikes that.
Contribute to the original video in a creative and/or funny way.
Find a "mascot"
I just mean a personality that you can attach with your brand.
Your brand is much more memorable when there's consistencies people can expect, and a individual personality is one of those consistencies.
It could be yourself (the founder, or even social media manager).
I was the face of Ethnos360 on TikTok for a while. That pose has context, I promise.
It could be a huge cutout of your brand logo (Like Steak-umm!).
It could be your literal mascot (like Benny the Bull, for the Chicago Bulls).
Just try to think of some clever representation of your brand.
As Kurt Elster notably puts it, "People don't buy from businesses. People buy from people."
People attach to characters, and building your content strategy around one singular character helps people remember your story.
You’ve done it!
You've started a TikTok, you have a strategy, and now you’ve got alot to keep in mind moving forward.
If I could get you to take away one thing, it’s the message I've sprinkled throughout this entire article.
Whether in the form of entertainment or education, give viewers a reason to engage with your brand.
That's it from me.
Now, get to work making those videos.
Let me know what you think in the comments below!
I’ll do my best to answer any questions you may have.
Also, if you're looking for yet another TikTok resource to constantly sharpen your TikTok game, check out my podcast!
Thank you so much for reading, and I wish you the best.
I’ve talked alot.
Let me know what you think in the comments below!