TikTok Marketing for Ecommerce Store Owners

Utilize the creator economy by partnering with influencers and using TikTok to market your products.

TikTok has gained a tremendous amount of notoriety around the globe for the social app's features for quick video sharing, vibrant conversations, and popular games, challenges, and tactics used to entertain users. The app is native to China, but it now boasts over 1 billion monthly active users from all over the world. That means just over 20% of the entire internet community uses TikTok. That's an incredible collection of potential buyers for any online store, and it's why so many brands are using TikTok marketing tactics to sell products.

In this guide, we'll explain the basics of TikTok, then go into the most practical TikTok marketing techniques like partnering with influencers, creating hashtag challenges, and advertising.

Keep reading to learn all about TikTok marketing campaigns for ecommerce!

What's TikTok?

To make things simple, we can compare TikTok to the many other social media apps on the market.

TikTok is similar to Snapchat, in that it allows users to post short videos. It's also primarily run as a mobile app like Instagram and Snapchat. Although you can access TikTok from a desktop, you receive additional features (and get rid of annoying prompts to download the app from TikTok) by using the app.

Overall, TikTok capitalizes on the “social stories” trend where users are able to post short videos. Yet, it differentiates itself from the likes of Facebook Stories, Instagram Stories, and Snapchat by keeping those videos on a feed for other users to explore later.

Therefore, TikTok has a unique advantage. Users can, of course, delete their videos from the past, but that's not the idea. Instead of watching videos disappear on those other platforms, TikTok saves them on your wall of past posts.

Yet, what makes TikTok truly unique is its community, and how that community chooses to interact with particular content:

  • TikTok users often share lip-syncing videos to music, movie clips, or TV shows.
  • Many users post short videos of them dancing to popular songs, singing, or performing duets. There are several formats to follow.
  • It's common for TikTok users to partake in hashtag challenges, where they receive a challenge to complete some sort of video (often utilizing an editing trick or specific dance move) then pass the challenge onto others.

These types of content are ripe for influencers in the creator economy, seeing as how they can think of their own challenges to share with followers and build buzz around products, art, or their own platforms. In addition, TikTok provides a simpler way for brands to target younger users since most of the content is so short and easy to make.

The length of most TikTok videos remains under 15 seconds, but it is possible to create and post longer videos, up to 60-seconds.

What else should you know about TikTok and its options for social media marketing?

  • Although it began as a music/dancing app, that's not the case anymore. Comedians share their bits; gamers post their gameplay; fashion brands share clips from shows.
  • You don't need an account to view videos on TikTok. Public profiles are accessible to anyone online.
  • If you have an account, there's no need to follow anyone if you don't want to. TikTok offers a Discover page to immediately start playing videos. The TikTok algorithm still delivers relevant content.
  • Users can follow their favorite brands, TikTok creators, and friends.
  • Prominent influencers have emerged in industries like fashion, dance, comedy, music, crafting, sports, and more, making the platform ideal for influencer marketing
  • TikTok offers a sleek advertising channel for getting your brand in front of users.
  • It's common for brands to partner with influencers on the side to promote products.

What's the TikTok Demographic?

From the beginning, TikTok targeted younger people (like Gen Z). In 2018, TikTok acquired the well-known Musical.ly app, which also targeted younger users, mainly Generation Z females.

With the combination of these two apps and their early growth, TikTok has maintained a level of focus on younger generations, particularly those under 30 years old. In fact, about 47% of its users report being under 30.

It's also worth mentioning that TikTok, having always leaned towards a female crowd, still maintains a 60% demographic of females (and 40% males). This divide gets even wider in the United States: females outnumber males 2:1 on the US version of TikTok.

So, what types of TikTok content do these users consume?

Based on views, we can surmise that the most popular types of influencer content include:

  1. Entertainment, with over 535 billion video views.
  2. Dance: 181 billion views.
  3. Pranks: 79 billion views.
  4. Fitness and sports: 57 billion views.
  5. Home renovations: 39 billion views.
  6. Beauty: 33 billion views.
  7. Fashion: 27 billion views.
  8. Recipes: 18 billion views.
  9. Life hacks: 13 billion views.
  10. Pets: 10 billion views.

How Can Online Stores Use TikTok in Their Marketing Strategy?

Ecommerce businesses have several unique opportunities to capitalize on the TikTok craze.

We recommend you consider all of the following:

  • Manage your own brand's content creation with a company TikTok channel. You could consider things like tutorials, training videos, products in action, and interactions with influencers.
  • Partner with notable influencers in the industry. This helps you reach a built-in audience that the influencer has already established, while also making for a more entertaining, natural way of bringing brand awareness to your products through a social channel. This works even better if the influencer in some way relates to your brand.
  • Pay to advertise on TikTok. It's one of the easier social apps to create videos, and all it requires is a creative video and some money.

Ecommerce brands perform well with a combination of these TikTok marketing strategies. We always recommend using the advertising tools, but it's not a bad idea to start with an influencer partnership, then build up your own following with an animated employee who's willing to work on videos.

TikTok Marketing with Influencers

Influencer marketing isn't unique to TikTok, but it's definitely one of the most effective ways of marketing on the platform. That's because TikTok influencers have a tremendous amount of clout with their users, having built up trust over the years through their own entertaining videos.

Young TikTok users crave authenticity, and that's what influencers provide. Being marketed to a regular basis isn't really what young people want, yet they have shown to be okay with it as long as they hear about interesting brands from entertainers they enjoy.

That's where the influencers come into play in your marketing strategy.

First of all, you must contact influencers who may seem like they actually use your product. A 20-year-old female fitness influencer wouldn't make sense to market your latest burger-grilling apparatus.

It's also important to remember that all you typically need from an influencer is to use your product in a video, maybe talk about how they enjoy it, and explain where followers can use a promotional code to try it out. There's not much more to it.

The best influencers know how to market products without sounding forced, and you can choose different types of partnerships, like having them wear a piece of clothing with your brand's logo, or maybe sending them a product and having them unbox it for their own followers.

One final thing to remember with TikTok influencers is that they probably know more about their audience than you. Young TikTok users don't seem to care as much about high production value. They're used to videos from a phone, so it's important to not direct the influencer too much. They're the ones who have built this following, so they tend to know what the people want. TikTok is more about authenticity and fun, so it's best to let influencers create that fun instead of turning it into a commercial with your brand's suggestions.

Ask for Customer-generated Content in Your TikTok Marketing Strategy

User-generated content involves brands asking for users to make videos, often with certain products involved in the videos. For instance, a kitchen utensil company may ask to see what its customers are cooking this weekend. A fitness brand might ask for videos of people at the gym, or at home using their products.

An example is how Seven-Eleven encouraged user-generated content (combined with a hashtag challenge) by asking TikTok users to film themselves eating a slice of Seven-Eleven pizza topped with Paqui Ghost Pepper Chips and 11-pepper hot sauce. To finish, users are supposed to wash it down with a can of Liquid Death Water. So, essentially, it's a simple spicy food-eating challenge. But everything is from Seven-Eleven, it's incredibly fun, and the @oneslicechallenge hashtag makes for a rapid way to share the content.

user generated content for seven eleven - TikTok marketing

This is one of the content categories that are unique to younger generations. They crave immersive experiences as opposed to passively watching television. Therefore, they enjoy interacting with brands, sending in their own videos, and challenging others to do the same.

The #targethalloween hashtag is a simpler version of user-generated content, where Target asks people to show all the Target products bought for their costumes, along with a final shot of the completed costume. To make it even more appealing, just about every #targethalloween hashtag post is to the same music.

user generated content

The goal here is to challenge people on TikTok to share videos of themselves using your products. This can also be a wonderful opportunity to combine the strategy with influencer marketing, hashtag challenges, or advertising. For instance, you could announce the user-generated content challenge with a hashtag (great for sharing), and have an influencer in your industry make the announcement. After that, you might consider throwing some money at it with an advertisement.

Run Hashtag Challenges on TikTok (And Really All Social Media Platforms)

Hashtag challenges aren't unique to TikTok, but TikTok is one of the few social apps that has made a reputation on hashtag challenges. So much so that it's become an essential part of the TikTok community.

TikTok users enjoy making, accepting, and viewing challenges. You may have heard about some rare, extreme challenges in the media but, in general, these challenges are absolutely harmless.

Hashtag challenges start when a user thinks of a funny or creative challenge that people can complete at home, while out and about, or while with friends. They range from video editing challenges to lipsyncing battles. Many of them also incorporate silly dances, like the #tumbleweed challenge introduced by Jimmy Fallon.

Another example is the #faceoffchallenge, presented by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, where he prompts users to show what someone says or does to encourage you in your life.

faceoffchallenge - TikTok marketing

Many hashtag challenges don't even have any product or brand attached, but they focus on making the community more fun, such as the #filterchallenge.

TikTok marketing hashtag challenge

For brands, you're more than welcome to create a hashtag challenge that involves your product. In fact, user-generated content works perfectly for getting people to actually respond to the challenge. But if your followership isn't that strong, consider reaching out to an influencer with a large following; they can make the announcement, and demonstrate the challenge for you.

Other than that, you need a catchy word or phrase. Then, attached a #-tag to the front of that phrase for people to tag it in the future and make it more popular on TikTok.

Think About TikTok Ads

The final, easiest form of successful TikTok marketing involves good old advertising. As you may have surmised from the previous paragraphs, TikTok users are there for entertainment, fun, and cleverness. So, it's not quite as simple as making a quick video that explains the benefits of your product; that comes off as a traditional advertisement, something that people on TikTok want nothing to do with.

Instead, consider combining the previously mentioned TikTok marketing tactics for more effect.

For instance, you could partner with an influencer to offer a brand takeover day, where they control your TikTok account, interview people in the company, and test out some of your newest products. Another option is to start up a hashtag challenge and use some advertising dollars to get the word out. Finally, you may try creating your own creative videos with some of the in-app TikTok features like 2D lens filters, buttons, and stickers.

The good news is that TikTok advertising tools are far easier to understand than the ones you find on places like Facebook. There are wonderful editing features, quick upload tools, and even some solid metrics. Regardless of how you go about approaching advertising on the TikTok app, do your best to avoid making a traditional ad; that's the easiest way for people on TikTok to forget about your company.

Our Conclusion on TikTok Marketing

With the rise of the creator economy, it's no wonder TikTok has made a name for itself in the social world. It's a wonderful place to reach younger users, influencers are doing well by monetizing their own brands, and online stores are able to contact some of those influencers with their own partnerships.

TikTok marketing techniques like hashtag challenges, TikTok influencer marketing, and user-generated content all ensure that you're not committing any TikTok sins like running boring feed ads, catering to older crowds, or just listing off product features. All of those are bound to lead to failure in the TikTok community.

So, we wish you luck in your TikTok journey! Let us know in the comments if you have any questions about TikTok for large and small businesses. Also, if you have them, share your experiences in partnering with influencers on social media, as this is usually the most effective way for online stores to reach out to customers on the platform.

Joe Warnimont

Joe Warnimont is a Chicago-based writer who focuses on eCommerce tools, WordPress, and social media. When not fishing or practicing yoga, he's collecting stamps at national parks (even though that's mainly for children). Check out Joe's portfolio to contact him and view past work.

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