April 21, 2022

How to use Tiktok to promote your startup

Rupert Mason

A platform that has over 2 billion downloads and a global community consisting of over 1 billion monthly active users is pretty hard to ignore. Launched to a worldwide audience in 2017, Tiktok has experienced exponential growth at an alarming rate. It was ranked as the third fastest-growing brand in 2020 by data intelligence company Morning Consult and it beat Google to achieve the most popular website of 2021 in a survey by Cloudflare. It took Instagram double the time to achieve the growth that TikTok has achieved in its first 3 years. Even social giant Facebook can’t top its rapid growth statistics.

While it’s great for targeting millennials and Gen Z, audience demographics are certainly starting to broaden as its user base grows. Statista reported that in 2020, 60% of all TikTok users in the US were in the 10-29 age bracket. Fast Forward a year, and this number has dropped to 47%, with users across the 30+ brackets continuing to rise. At the time of writing, 55% of users are in the 30+ bracket so the platform still offers lots of potential if your startup doesn’t just target Gen Z and Millennials. 

Tiktok has altered the way that we create, absorb and share content, with other social channels adapting to provide competitive offerings (IGTV, anyone?). As a startup or scaleup, how do you use Tiktok effectively as a business tool to drive brand awareness, connect with customers and sell more products? We take a look at our top three tips.

1. Make the most of Tiktok's targeted ad tool, Promote

Tiktok Promote is an in-app tool that enables businesses to convert existing content into a far-reaching ad. Perfect for startups in the early stages of using the platform.

If you’re gaining traction on the platform with your organic content, then it’s time to consider boosting some of your posts to reach a wider audience. Promote is a great way to start doing this. It offers detailed targeting to reach new audiences segmented by age, gender or interests. Promote enables you to set up specific goals; whether you want to drive traffic to your website, increase your follower numbers, or reach more users with your content, Promote is a great way to do it. 

MetroTap is a social sharing startup that started using TikTok Promote to drive downloads of their app in 2020. Launched during the pandemic as a contactless business card, MetroTap signed up to Tiktok as part of their omnichannel marketing strategy. TikTok reports that the Promote feature has effectively enabled them to achieve “increased visibility, followers, and engagement.” MetroTap now counts TikTok as their top revenue source, noting that the channel delivers 78% of their total sales.

2. Tap into the innovative Tiktok ad formats

A recent study by data and insights company Kantar revealed that TikTok ads are seen as more ‘inspiring, trendsetting and enjoyable’ than ads on all other social platforms. 70% of those surveyed felt that they were leading trends, 72% said they were more inspirational and Tiktok had a 10% lead above all other social platforms when it came to grabbing viewers attention. Tiktok believe this is down to their innovative ad formats and detailed user demographics that enable you to run targeted ads defined by gender, location, interests, age and language. So, what are the ad options?

Topview Ads

Topview ads display when you first open the app. Tiktok describes it as its ‘biggest billboard’. It is the most effective ad format for driving engagement and sales and offers a strong platform to grab attention. Great for startups looking to drive rapid growth.

In-feed Ads

In-Feed ads are Tiktoks standard ad format featuring within a users For You feed. Full-screen and created with a sound-on experience they appear seamlessly like native content. According to Tiktok, 1 in 4 users have purchased or researched a product after seeing it promoted on TikTok.

Branded Effects

Tiktok offers a full range of effects for your ads, from stickers, to filters, special effects and games. They enhance the creativity of your content and increase the likelihood of interaction. Filters can be customised to your startup branding. 

Branded Hashtag Challenge

The branded hashtag challenge is unique to Tiktok. It makes the most of user-generated content (UGC) and co-creation. You create the challenge, your followers (and more) respond by posting and sharing content with your chosen hashtag. Branded hashtag challenges have strong potential to go viral, and are a great way to acquire high-performing content. They have transformed how brands are interacting with their followers, and, as Tiktok notes on their website they ignite massive engagement, spark cultural movements and generate full-funnel impact. 

3. Meet audience needs: create authentic and experimental content

Tiktok place real emphasis on the artistic, experimental and organic nature of its platform and its user-generated content. Tiktok users value authenticity and creativity. They want inspiring stories from real people. As a startup you need to adapt your brand collateral to match the platform. As TikTok put it “TikTok For Business is where you tap into your brand's creative side. A world exploding with joy and inspiration set to move your business to new heights.” We reported back in September a growing trend for branded video content that has a homegrown feel to it. Startups need to channel the creative spirit of user-generated content if they’re marketing on Tiktok. 

Tiktok offer three tips for creating a growing presence on the platform: build brand trust and transparency, create community connections and test new ideas and content. Reveal the behind the scenes elements of your business and don’t be afraid to expose your startups real character, or appear unpolished.

Get in touch with us if you'd like help with your Tiktok production.

You'll also find Sidekick Studios on featured DesignRush.

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