By Colm Fitzgerald, on 21 January 2021
TikTok rose to prominence last year during the height of COVID confinement. It’s short, entertaining video format became wildly popular in a very short time. Businesses and entrepreneurs took notice, and TikTok quickly caught on as another platform ripe for monetization through social ads and influencer marketing. Now with over 500 million active monthly users, TikTok cannot be ignored, especially if brands want to reach the Gen Z audience.
But TikTok isn’t quite the same as other social media channels and requires a different approach. So how can you grow your followers and make money using TikTok in 2021?
Marketing on TikTok
TikTok began as an app targeting teens and tweens, with a focus on music and dance. Short lip syncing videos were the norm and in fact are still what the app is known for. Users have begun to branch out, however, with more creative and original content. People showcase a wide range of skills from artistic performances to sports and now tutorials and branded content. This shift has given birth to influencers who have tens of millions of followers and make seven figures. But what about the stats? What makes TikTok worth the effort? Some surprising TikTok statistics:
- 2nd most downloaded free app in the world in 2019
- Most downloaded app on Apple App Store (33 million)
- 90% of users use the app daily
- Highest engagement rate of any social platform
- Only 4% of U.S. marketers use the platform (low competition)
- 64% of users have participated in a hashtag challenge
- Users average 52 minutes per day on the app
- Available in 154 countries and 75 languages
- TikTok’s ByteDance is the world’s most highly valued startup at US 78B
- 46 million US TikTok downloads in 2019
And so, opportunities abound for brands to reach new audiences in fresh ways. Here are three primary ways businesses can market on TikTok:
- Create a brand channel and upload videos - develop your branding and identify your target audience specifically for TikTok
- Develop an influencer marketing strategy - identify influencers within your niche or industry to reach a wider audience
- Advertise on TikTok - though not as developed as YouTube, TikTok’s advertising platform is still a valid way to increase your reach
Of course many brands use a mixture of these for their overall TikTok marketing strategy: Building a library of branded content, working with influencers and testing out paid social campaigns. Below we’ll cover how to use more specific tactics for growing your followers and actually making money on TikTok.
How to Gain More Followers on TikTok
Building a following, on any social platform, starts with great content. That means content that your carefully chosen target demographic wants to consume and sees value in. Unlike other social channels, posting multiple times a day is actually encouraged as a way to grow your audience.
TikTok operates around its For You page, content curated around your interests and activity. Similar to Instagram’s Explore Page, this is a virtually endless stream of content tailored to each individual, meaning it’s easy to get your content in front of the right audience. One thing that sets TikTok apart is that anyone can go viral and grow a following quickly, however, this also means in order to be considered a ‘big account’ you need more followers than on other social channels.
Here are some tips to gain more followers on TikTok:
1. Choose the Right Hashtags
Similar to Instagram, hashtags on TikTok make your content discoverable. Make sure you’re using relevant hashtags to your industry or niche and are mixing up general (#bikes), specific (#bikeshopNY) and creative (#bikes4life) hashtags to be seen. Staying on top of trending hashtags and how you can join the conversation is also a great way to get in front of new sets of eyes. Using #ForYou and #fyp is also worth a shot to try and be featured on the For You page.
2. Post at Peak Times
Posting when your audience is active is a must to maximize reach. Luckily, with a Pro Account you can access TikTok Analytics and easily track when your specific audience is online. But you’ll still need to experiment and test which types of videos make for popular topics and build a strong content calendar.
3. Cross Promote on Other Social Channels
Reposting your TikTok videos to other channels is also super easy, just download the video and share to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. If you have a decent following on any other platform it’s a no brainer to leverage that audience and ask them to follow you on TikTok, too.
4. Collaborate with Influencers
Prominent personalities on TikTok have a wide reach considering some have garnered followings of over a hundred million. Much like Instagram, partnering with TikTok influencers in your industry gives you access to their audience and third party validation of your products or services. Make sure the influencers you’re considering are in line with the brand image you want to communicate. The TikTok Creator Marketplace, which we’ll discuss below, is a powerful tool to help you match with content creators. Influencer marketing on TikTok is still in its infancy, making it a well timed strategy to gain more followers.
5. Try TikTok Ads
A relatively new option on TikTok, paid ads are well worth a try especially since competition is still low. TikTok ads allow you to target audiences based on specific demographics and locations. Here are the types of ads available:
- In-Feed ads: Your content appears in a user’s feed among organic posts making it seem native
- TopView: Shows videos up to 60 seconds when users open TikTok
- Brand Takeover: Full screen ad shown when app opens
- Brand Hashtag Challenge: Customized hashtag challenge is inserted into user’s Discovery page and encourages them to participate and use the hashtag
- Gamified Branded Effect: a gamification filter with more than 20 different ways for users to interact with brands using facial expressions and gestures
How to Make Money on TikTok
Like many facets of TikTok monetization is still a new concept, yet there are already multiple ways to earn with the platform. And some influencers, like Addison Rae Easterling, are already making millions.
1. TikTok Creator Fund
Because of speculation around the sale of the app in the US, TikTok created the TikTok Creator Fund in July 2020 to reward content creators. This monetization model allows people to make money directly from the app. It is set to grow from 200 million to over a billion dollars in the next three years.
2. Direct Links
Similar to Instagram, TikTok allows you to insert your website or product links directly into your profile. The feature was introduced in February 2020 and now makes tracking campaigns much easier as traffic can be traced back to TikTok. These direct links make it convenient and easy for users to click straight through and engage with your brand.
3. TikTok Creator Marketplace
As mentioned, the TikTok Creator Marketplace is a new tool that is specifically designed to help match up brands and influencers. While advertisers currently need to apply or be invited to use the creator marketplace it is free once you are accepted.
Advertisers can create filters for creators based on location, content types, audiences and more. You can also view stats related to their activity and content performance Once you find a possible match, content creators can be contacted with direct messages. Aside from helping you gain followers, influencers can promote your products in a variety of ways including giveaways, reviews and contests.
4. Coins and Gifts
TikTok’s live streaming option GoLive helps influencers and content creators engage with users and monetize their accounts. You need at least 1,000 followers to unlock this feature. During live broadcasts followers can thank or reward content creators with coins and images which they purchase and store in the app's virtual wallet. It’s basically a way for audiences to directly show their appreciation for the hard work that goes into content creation. Once an influencer has collected enough coins they can trade them in for actual currency from TikTok.
5. TikTok Shopping
In October 2020, TikTok announced its partnership with e-commerce giant Shopify. Their agreement lets Shopify users utilize TikTok to promote their stores and products and allows TikTok creators to develop their own stores on Shopify.
TikTok marketing campaigns can be run directly from the Shopify dashboard and measured through a unique tracking pixel on TikTok. As an incentive,Shopify merchants are eligible for $300 in ad credit to get started using TikTok ads.
In the past year TikTok has taken the social media world by storm. It’s highly engaging and playful style initially so attractive for teens has now reached wider demographics. Stars, major brands and small businesses have begun embracing the platform as a new way to engage with audiences. And you can too! There are even TikTok consultants who can assist your brand in breaking through into this up and coming channel. With so many ways to monetize your content on TikTok in 2021, why not give it a try?