TikTok For Business in 2021: Tips From a Gen-Z

September 2021
 minute read
typewriter typing out the word tiktok

It’s inevitable. By 2021, you’ve at least heard of TikTok. The platform took the world by storm in 2016, and has since become one of the most popular apps out there, especially for those of us who find ourselves in the Gen-Z and Millennial categories. It’s proven itself to be a powerhouse tool to help businesses get our eyes on their prized content. But if you’re not sure how to use TikTok to market your business or even what on earth it is, that’s where we come in. Get ready to learn all things TikTok from a bona fide Gen-Z’er working for one of the top marketing agencies in the business. 

A Quick Recap: What the Hell is TikTok?

Learn What Top Marketing Agencies Consider the Platform’s Most Important Features 

young woman sitting at a table taking a video of herself with her phone
TikTok is the “destination” for mobile videos

First thing’s first. What the hell is TikTok? Before you can start using the platform to supercharge your brand awareness, you need to be familiar with its features and what they can do for you. So here’s a crash course about TikTok and some of its main features, especially the ones that excite top marketing agencies like ours the most. 

TikTok is, in their own words, “the destination for short-form mobile video.” They’re also the destination for seriously fast growth:even though the platform was only unveiled in 2016, it has quickly become the sixth largest social network. Essentially, TikTok is a social media platform where users create and share informal, entertaining video content, usually in response to whatever’s “trending” at the time. 

Though TikTok recently allowed videos to go for up to 3 minutes, the sweet spot for video length generally hovers at around 15 seconds. This has proven to be a simple, yet powerful concept for Gen-Z. Growing up in a technology-saturated world, we’re primed to pay attention to multiple stimuli and screens at once. We’re used to engaging with a constant flow of new information–quickly and all at once. TikTok meets us where we are by keeping its videos short, immersive, and in a steady, scrollable stream. 

When we first open up the app, they’re greeted by their For You Page (FYP) which is a flow of videos curated by TikTok, based on what its algorithm thinks we’ll like the most. Crucially, users aren’t limited to just seeing videos from accounts they follow on their FYP, which keeps us constantly engaging with something new.

This means that optimizing for the TikTok algorithm is a far more effective way to capture our attention than chasing follows. This requires really digging into what types of content people within your niche and industry are interacting with and actively searching for (We know, it’s so much harder than it sounds). 

If you’re looking for what’s trending in your industry or on the app in general, a good place to start is with TikTok audio. The app has a whole page dedicated to its library of sounds. This is a crucial page to watch if you want your videos to get on a user’s FYP because audio is one of the biggest sources of TikTok trends. Using a trending sound in your video is a great way to get it in front of your audience. 

So to recap, TikTok is a platform: 

  • where users share short form videos 
  • that shows each user a list of videos customized to their interests 
  • that is highly driven by trends, many of which can be found on its audio page. 

Got it? Good. Let’s learn how we can use it for your business. 

How Your Business Should Use TikTok 

Tips and Tricks to Make the Platform Work for Your Objectives

hand holding up a phone with the TikTok logo onscreen
It’s easy to become a pro on this platform once you know how to use it 

Since the best way to get seen on TikTok is by participating in trends and not necessarily by being a powerhouse account on the platform, TikTok can be a great tool for even the smallest business to push brand awareness and user engagement. The trick is knowing some best practices for posting on the platform: 

  • Know Your Niche: Since every user’s FYP is so personalized, TikTok is the home of super-niche content. Becoming an expert in the types of content users in your industry want to see will go a long way in getting them to see yours. Try creating tutorials and hacks that relate to your product/service or industry relevant tips and tricks. 
  • Use Hashtag Challenges: Getting in on a trend on TikTok is the ticket to success on this platform. Hashtag challenges are a good way for businesses to generate user engagement and buzz around their brand. The pricier option here would be to create your own, branded hashtag and challenge users to create content using it. Lots of brands have found success this way: like E.L.F. cosmetics with their 2019 #EyesLipsFace Challenge. But smaller brands can still use existing challenges or hashtags to get their content to trend.  
  • Be authentic: Part of the charm of TikTok videos is how unpolished they are. No one is coming to TikTok to see a highly produced marketing masterpiece; we want to see real people doing real people things. Aim to be as informal and personable as possible in your TikTok videos. For example, this would be a great place for some behind the scenes content. Do live Q&A’s, give sneak peeks at product launches, and show what it’s like to work in your industry. Check out how Scrub Daddy uses TikTok’s audio and a classic informal style to show off their sponges. And Fenty Beauty is killing the game by poking fun at their audience while teasing their products. Speaking from experience here: GenZ’ers love that stuff. 
  • Cross-Promote and Repurpose: TikTok videos have a way of creeping onto other platforms as well. Make sure you’re using content you make for TikTok to help meet your other content goals. For example, you might want to use a shorter TikTok video as a teaser for your more detailed YouTube content. And don’t forget to repost to your Instagram Reels–they’ve basically become TikTok’s secondary location. 
  • Consider your CTA’s: Since you can’t share direct links in your posts, it’s important to be as strategic as possible with what you’re asking your TikTok audience to do. Consider including shoppable links in your bio or plugging other social handles in your captions to help extend your reach and drive conversions.

Once you learn how to use it, TikTok is a space teeming with potential for your business. Top marketing agencies know that if brands can get in on trends, find their niche, and learn how to post on the platform, their bottom lines will thank them. But for some brands, being on TikTok doesn’t make much sense. What if you decide TikTok just isn’t right for your business?

How To Use TikTok (Without Actually Using TikTok)

What Insights Can You Learn From the Platform Anyway?

wide eyes emoji over four images of brand tiktok profiles: Washington Post, Fenty Beauty, Chipotle, and Scrub Daddy
Even if you’re not on TikTok, it’s important to keep an eye on what’s going on on the platform.

Even despite its massive growth and popularity, TikTok isn’t right for everyone. It’s important for brands to be strategic about choosing which social platforms make the most sense to pursue. For one reason or another, it could be that creating a TikTok specific strategy just isn’t in the cards for your business. Does that mean you can afford to ignore the platform entirely? Absolutely not.

Whether or not you’re making videos for TikTok, the platform is defining the trends and standards that are shaping audience expectations in 2021. It has a young customer base, and–sorry to tell you– we’re going to have all the purchasing power soon. So it’s important to understand what we like to see. And in terms of our preferences, TikTok is already changing the game: 

  • We’re losing our taste for static content. According to Wyzowl’s annual State of Video Marketing survey, 86% of customers want to see more videos from brands. This means that even if you’re not shooting for TikTok, it’s time to get that camera rolling.  
  • TikTok style videos are gaining popularity on other platforms. Understanding the appeal of short, mobile-first, TikTok style videos has driven platforms like Instagram to roll out Reels, designed to directly compete with TikTok. If you’re shooting videos for other platforms (which based on the previous point, you should be doing), it’s important to learn the style of the genre. 
  • Brand Authenticity is as good as currency in 2021. We’re more interested in the real-life, behind the scenes content we're finding on TikTok than more traditional advertising formats. 

Essentially, TikTok trends aren’t just trending on TikTok. The platform specializes in viral content, which affects everyone, first, second, or thirdhand. Even if someone isn’t a GenZ’er on TikTok themselves, they’re probably hearing catchy audio bytes or seeing content their friends or family are sharing with them. Knowing what’s trending on TikTok can help your brand better reach your audience no matter which channel you’re using. 

Without knowledge of this growing phenomenon, you’re going into 2021 blind. Top marketing agencies know how important it is for any business to have some insight into how TikTok works, how to do well on the platform, and how trends on the platform affect the market writ large. So whether or not you’re planning to shoot some videos, come join us on TikTok! Every good marketing strategy lives at the cutting edge. And if you want some help getting yours up to speed, shoot us a message. We’d love to help.


Keep Reading

Browse All

Subscribe for the Latest

Want to stay in the know with all things Responsival? Sign up for our newsletters, we promise we won't email you too often!

By clicking Sign Up you're confirming that you agree with our Terms and Conditions.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.