TikTok...is it the new Instagram? Maybe, maybe not.

But what we do know is that TikTok has skyrocketed in usage, and it's only getting hotter.

Why should you care? If your target audience is younger than 35 and male (and, fun fact, they are), then you probably should be paying attention to TikTok.

What exactly is TikTok? Basically, it's a platform where people can share short videos (15 seconds or less) of themselves lip-syncing or dancing. It also has some features that promote community sharing of videos.

If you're thinking, "Oh no, I don't have time for another social media platform," you're not alone.

But if you want to reach the young men who are flooding onto this new platform at a rate of over 6 million per month (and counting)...you'll have to find a way to make time for it.

And that's why we've written this guide: to help you decide whether advertising on TikTok is suitable for your business and—if so—to help you get started with it!

Where is TikTok advertising available

Currently, TikTok advertising is available in over 150 markets and 75 languages.

A few notable markets include the United States, China, and Europe.

TikTok is currently not available in Russia & India due to a ban that took effect recently.

What does TikTok advertising look like

The different ad formats you can use on TikTok are:

  • In-feed native video ads (appear in the For You and Discover tabs)
  • Hashtag Challenge ads (appear on the Hashtag Challenge Page)
  • Brand takeovers (ads that appear when someone opens TikTok)
  • Branded lenses and filters (2D, 3D, or AR filters that people can use to enhance their videos)
  • In-feed native image ads (can appear in the same places as video ads but aren't as common yet)

What Kind of Ad Creative Works on TikTok

Ads on TikTok are usually short videos lasting 10 to 15 seconds. This means that you need to put a lot of effort into your video content to succeed on the platform.

You can use your ads to highlight certain aspects of your product or service, showcase new products, entertain with funny content, etc. The only thing you need to keep in mind is that the video has to be entertaining or engaging enough for users to stop scrolling through their feed just long enough for them to consume it.

One more thing that’s important when creating ad creative for TikTok: relevance. The relevance of the ad creative matters because if they’re not relevant, the user will skip it regardless of how good it is.

If you have an online store selling jumpers and you create an ad about cats playing piano, very few people will stop and watch this (because it’s irrelevant), which means fewer people will see your brand name at the end of the video, which means fewer conversions for you!

How to Get Started With TikTok Advertising

  1. Make sure you have a TikTok account. If you don’t already have one, create one here.
  2. Once your account is created, link it to a Facebook page that you manage by clicking on the profile icon and navigating to Settings > Linked Accounts > Manage Linked Accounts > Add Account.
  3. Go to https://adsmanager.tiktok.com/en/. Then click the ‘+ Create Ad’ button on the top right-hand side of your screen.
  4. Select your business objective from the options shown below (Brand Awareness & Reach, Traffic, App Installs, Video Views, Conversions), and then select whether or not you want to use automatic bidding or manual bidding for this campaign. Here’s how they define each type:
  5. Brand Awareness & Reach: Promote your brand by putting ads in front of a large number of users who are likely to be interested in your products or services
  6. Traffic: Send people to your website or app so they can take action, such as buy products or sign up for newsletters and appointments (Note: This option is currently only available in Canada and India.)
  7. App Installs: Show ads to people who are most likely to install your app (Note: This option is currently only available in Canada and India.)
  8. Video Views: Get more video views for videos that haven’t gotten many views yet (Note: This option is currently only available in France, Germany, and Spain)
  9. Conversions: Show ads to people who are most likely to convert when they visit a critical page on your website (e.g., make a purchase)

Setting up your TikTok business account

Click on “Edit profile,” and a pop-up will appear on the right side of your screen.

  1. Click on the pencil icon to add your social media links. You can link to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitch. Add your social media accounts (if you have them) so that users can find you more easily.
  2. Create a bio (150 characters maximum). Your profile should be as complete as possible, even if it means adding hashtags describing what your account is about or what kind of content you post (e.g., #photography). Make sure that it has been adapted for TikTok and not just copied from another platform.
  3. Add a link in the website section to attract traffic to your site
  4. Connect your music library by clicking on “Add Music” at the bottom of the page so that you can use songs in your videos instead of shooting them with the camera microphone only.
  5. Profile picture: Choose one that best represents your brand or channel and which is consistent with those used on other social networks
  6. Profile video: This short video generated automatically when creating an account should represent what you do on TikTok

Direct response campaigns on TikTok (TikTok For Business)

Direct response campaigns on TikTok are intended to drive a user directly to an action off the platform, such as downloading an app or making a purchase. To do so, there are three primary types of ads you can serve:

  • Call-to-action buttons - The call-to-action button is included in the native video and can be customized based on your objectives. The CTA will take users directly to your landing page or website. These “soft” CTAs are available for all TikTok ad formats, including easy downloads, product browsing, and messaging.
  • Card Ads - Similar to Instagram Stories, card ads show additional information at the bottom of videos, including links and descriptions that provide more context. You can use these cards to send users visiting your profile page directly to your website or landing page, where they can make purchases or take other desired actions right away. These “hard” CTAs allow you to provide a link-out option within the video itself versus having it only in the description below the video. Cards ads are available for In-Feed Video Ads, Branded Hashtag Challenges, Brand Takeovers, Branded Effects & Stickers, and TopView Ads.
  • Catalog Ads - If you have an eCommerce store with several products you want promoted in one campaign (eCommerce brands), this may be better than Card Ads for you because Catalog Ads automatically generate personalized ads for each product listed in your catalog (products from your eCommerce store) which makes it easier for consumers to discover similar items from retailers that advertise on TikTok if they wish (upselling).

Brand Awareness on TikTok

Now that you’ve got a better understanding of the platform and how it works, let’s talk about your strategy. The good news is that TikTok isn’t all that different from most other platforms when it comes to advertising. If you want to promote your product or service, you need to have a business account, which means creating an Ad Account.

In order to do this, you have to have a Business Manager account set up first, so if you don’t already have one of those in place for your other social media ad campaigns, take the time to get one created now (or talk with us about managing it for you). Once your business manager is set up and connected with the TikTok Ads API partner (list available here), you can create an ad account through the TikTok Ads API Partner Portal.

Unfortunately, if your company isn’t already well-established or otherwise considered “important enough” by TikTok itself, then there are still no paid ads available on the platform quite yet. Whether or not they start opening that up to smaller businesses remains to be seen. For now, though, if your company doesn’t fit into the pre-determined list of industries required for ads access right now—which includes eCommerce brands like Nike and retailers like Walmart—then all is not lost! You can still use influencers to promote yourself on the platform and reach a wider audience than regular organic posts would generally allow (the typical post reach being around 3% - 5% of followers). As we saw earlier in this guide, however, creating truly engaging content organically is what will draw people toward those influencer posts later on anyway.

Start small and be willing to try a lot of different things during your first campaign.

Don’t spend a ton of money on your first TikTok campaign. Start small to see what works and what doesn’t. It’s not a bad idea to start off with $20-$50 per day, which is 20%-50% of the budget recommended by TikTok. You can increase that as you learn more about the platform and figure out how to maximize your bid.