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How To Use TikTok For Business In 2023: An 8-Step Guide

how-to-use-tiktok-for-business-in-2023:-an-8-step-guide

TikTok is now the third-largest social network in the world. And while the app is known to be popular among Gen Z and Gen Alpha users, usage is growing across other demographics: Boomers reported a 164% increase in TikTok use between January and May 2023.

While TikTok has become a popular app for emerging trends, niche communities, and hashtag challenges, it’s also evolved into a powerful tool for businesses. Brands looking to reach new customers are increasingly turning to TikTok’s unique offerings.

Ahead, discover how your brand can use TikTok for business to build community, drive brand awareness, and meet conversion goals using an organic content strategy and the power of video ads. 

Why use TikTok for business?

Woman holds a potted plant in front of a uniform orange backgroundTikTok offers plenty of bang for your buck when it comes to reaching its key demographic: Gen Z consumers. The platform is where this generation is discovering trends, brands, and new products, therefore it’s the perfect place to position your business for maximum discoverability.

Other benefits to brands using TikTok for business include:

  • High engagement rate on the platform
  • Viral potential within trending topics and products
  • Niche communities that could resemble target audiences
  • Affordable ad campaign options
  • Access to creators and influencers for partnerships and sponsored content
  • Connect directly to your online store with selling features and integrations

Connect with shoppers on TikTok

Shopify comes with powerful tools to help you tell your brand story and create TikTok in-feed ads in minutes. Make sales on TikTok and manage all your orders, returns, and payments from Shopify.

Start selling on TikTok

How to use TikTok for business (in 8 steps)

  1. Create a TikTok business account
  2. Get to know your audience and the TikTok community
  3. Establish your goals
  4. Create a TikTok content strategy
  5. Create engaging branded content
  6. Consider collabs and influencer marketing
  7. Check out TikTok’s ad platform
  8. Get started with the TikTok sales channel for Shopify
Side by side panels showing how two brands use TikTok for business
Branded TikTok content by Finn and Wholey blends seamlessly with user content in the feed.

If your business is ready to unlock brand engagement with video marketing on TikTok, you’re in the right place. This step-by-step guide will get you set up, maximize creativity, and help you extract the most value from TikTok’s features. 

1. Create a TikTok business account

TikTok settings page showing the sign up flow for a TikTok Business AccountIf you don’t already have a TikTok account for your business, log in to TikTok to join and create one. If you already have an account, the best way to use TikTok for business is to convert it to a business account. This free service allows you to access advanced marketing and analytics features.

In the browser:

  1. Click on settings in the top right corner.
  2. Click on Business Account in the left nav bar.
  3. Toggle the Business Account button to On.
  4. This will open a new view where you can start setting up your business account. 

2. Get to know your audience and the TikTok community

A mesh bag holds a number of books and magazines
The #booktok community on TikTok is one of many subcultures where engaged audiences can be found.

Understand what TikTok users are looking for by spending some time on the platform. You can find popular TikTok trends on the For You page (FYP) and the Discover page. In addition to overarching trends, find the hashtags and subcultures pertinent to your specific customer profile. 

If you run an online bookstore and your target audience is book lovers, for example, check out the #booktok subculture. While trends can provide some guidelines to help you create content, make sure to focus on those specific to your target audience.

3. Establish your goals

Goal setting is a critical step on your path to starting a business—-and using TikTok for business is no exception. Carve out specific goals for TikTok as part of your marketing plan. Are you looking to grow brand awareness? Build community? Drive traffic to your online store? Having these goals top of mind will ensure your videos stay focused. These goals will also come in handy when you’re ready to run ads on TikTok.

4. Create a TikTok content strategy

Your content plan will outline the best times to post on TikTok, how often you’ll post, and what types of content you’ll share. You can use a content calendar to map out important milestones and dates like product launches, promotions, global holidays and shopping events, and niche cultural events specific to your audience. For example, if you sell pet food, you’ll want to plan content for International Cat Day.

Two side by side panels show examples of timely brand videos on TikTok
Excellent examples of TikTok content created around dates relevant to each brand: dinner party guides brand Hauste celebrated International Waffle Day, while YETI offered ideas for Dad leading up to Father’s Day.

Your strategy should also include how you’ll manage comments and customer questions, any collabs and influencer partnerships, and general brand style guidelines (especially if you have staff or work with an agency).

5. Create engaging branded content TikTok users want

A woman holds up a product while shooting a selfie video for TikTok
Don’t just sell products. Get creative with content that offers value to get the best audience reach.

The best way to engage users on TikTok is by getting creative with your video content. Branded content in the feed should feel authentic and blend with user content. As Gen Z consumers are looking to make more meaningful connections with brands, including real humans in your content goes a long way to building trust. 

Appeal to TikTok users by using trending sounds or jumping on viral challenges that make sense for your brand. Create content that’s funny, topical, and aligned with your audience’s values and interests.

? Success Story: TikTok’s Plant Mom Spun Online Virality Into a Brand

Get inspired by Sonja Detrinidad, a mortgage professional turned succulent influencer who monetized her audience to start her business, Partly Sunny Projects. She buys wholesale plants in her native California and ships across the US. ? Read Sonja’s story

6. Consider collabs and influencer marketing

Creators on TikTok are looking for brands to partner with—you just need to find the right fit. A successful partnership with a TikTok creator is one that benefits both your business and the influencer. Find a TikTok creator who resembles your ideal customer and offers sponsored content within your budget. You can also partner with compatible brands to cross-promote an event or promotion, thereby gaining access to a new audience.

@boy__smells YOU GUESSED IT — Boy Smells is arriving at SEPHORA! Online August 30th and starting in stores September 12th #fragrancetiktok #fragrancetok #boysmells #fyp #WorldPrincessWeek #BoySmells #Candles #candletok ♬ original sound – Boy Smells

Find influencers to drive sales with Shopify Collabs

Shopify Collabs makes it easy to partner with creators, promote your products, reach new customers, grow your sales, and track affiliate campaign performance all from Shopify admin.

Discover Shopify Collabs

7. Check out TikTok’s ad platform

Example of a TikTok ad from brand Magic Spoon
In-feed TikTok advertising, like this example from Magic Spoon, resembles organic content but with an added “Sponsored” tag and call-to-action button.

Video ads are exploding, with 91% of business owners reporting using this ad format for their brands. While you can still gain traction on TikTok with organic content, you can maximize your reach by running a targeted ad campaign. Optimize for what matters to you with TikTok ads by setting audience demographics and campaign goals.

8. Get started with the TikTok sales channel for Shopify

A pair of feet model pink socks and rest amongst limes and lemonsReady to use TikTok for business and boost online sales? Connecting your TikTok account to a sales channel is the best way to minimize friction and convert TikTok users into customers. With the TikTok and Shopify integration, you can sell directly on TikTok and sync inventory, customer, and sales data with Shopify. Manage all your sales across the internet in one place—the Shopify admin.

Small business TikTok ideas to grow your brand

Stuck for inspiration? Here are a few TikTok video ideas from Erin Dubs, founder of activewear brand Azur Fit and the creator behind the company’s popular TikTok account.

Portrait of Azur Fitness founder, Erin Dubs
Erin Dubs, founder, Azur Fit

Use behind-the-scenes content

Showing the inner workings of your business is one of the most popular types of branded video on TikTok. “People want to see proof of what you’re doing, whether you’re shipping out your very first order or you’re talking about your sales on a launch day,” says Erin.

This type of content idea satisfies customer curiosity, humanizes your brand, and can even highlight the popularity of your products. 

In this example, lifestyle brand Ban.do takes its audience on a behind-the-scenes journey through a day in the life of its merchandising director.

@shopbando Spend a day with Tam our Director of Merchandising ? Searching for amazing products to bring to you! ✨?? #spendadaywithme #vlog #merchandising #bando #shopbando #losangeles #la #buyer #merch #apparel #skincare #cosmetics #accessories #jewelry #shoes ♬ Fashionable lofi truck loop – Koko ni studio

The “pack an order with me” trend is a popular content type on TikTok and another way to draw your audience behind the scenes with you as you pack up a customer order. Here’s a take by acrylic nail brand KRYLX

@krylx pack an order with me ? well us! ??? international edition #krylx #nails #acrylicnails #bts #nailsupply #packingorders #packanorderwithme #smallbusiness ♬ Blue Blood – Heinz Kiessling

Show how your products are used through demo videos

Erin uses this idea by having employees, models, or partner creators wear the brand’s clothing. This often involves moving in the clothing, using transitions, styling tips, or showing off a specific feature of the garments.

This content by Girlfriend Collective shows a model being active in the brand’s athletic wear while demonstrating a unique feature of the product: pockets.

@girlfriend Breakfast of champions ? #girlfriendcollective #snackbreak #activewearfinds ♬ original sound – Enzo

Use TikTok to announce new product launches

Create hype around the launch of a product both before and during the launch. Teasing new products builds excitement and creates reasons for users to follow and come back to your content for updates. 

Erin uses her popular personal brand account to promote the brand’s products and launches. In this example, she’s modeling new pieces from Azur’s seamless line ahead of the collection’s launch. 

@erinndubs

Wednesay at 12pm est. I cant wait ?

♬ original sound – KHAENOTBAE ?

Find a trend and put a spin on it

TikTok is never short on trending sounds, stickers, memes, or challenges.

“If I’m gonna have some downtime on my own, I’ll just scroll TikTok for an hour,” Erin says. “I’ll just listen to the sounds and think, How can I apply this to my office? How can we put together a skit or apply it to something funny that happened the other day, even if it’s not necessarily business related?”

When the Wes Anderson trend emerged in spring 2023, some brands jumped on the concept to produce their own takes. The Musee D’Orsay in Paris found a perfect fit in the trend for its brand, showcasing the museum’s ornate interiors through the lens of the director’s style.

@museeorsay Musée d’Orsay but #wesanderson #accidentallywesanderson #wesandersontrend ♬ original sound – Jeremy Cascamisi

Get inspired: TikTok success stories

A young woman with pink hair has her back turned to the cameraMany brands have successfully used TikTok for business to launch products, find audiences, and go viral. Hear from three founders with winning strategies and learn how to grow your business on TikTok.

Sana and Will Saleh, Lala Hijabs

Sana and Will Saleh started Lala Hijabs after losing their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The couple designed tie-dyed hijabs “just for fun,” sharing their creations to TikTok.

“When people began asking where we got [the hijabs] from, we decided to hype up the business before we even began forming it—and people loved it and anticipated the huge launch,” says Sana.

After one of the couple’s videos went viral, the account gained more than 50,000 followers. This was the push they needed to officially launch Lala Hijabs—and use TikTok as their main marketing channel. The family-owned business posts behind-the-scenes content, hijab tutorials, and product launches. It’s an approach that’s proving effective, as 60% of the brand’s sales are attributed to the platform. 

@lalahijabs Come and meet us at our pop up shop in Holt Renfrew in Mississauga! #hijab#mississauga#toronto ♬ original sound – Lala Hijabs

Chioma Ngwudo, CeeCee’s Closet NYC

Chioma Ngwudo is on a mission to inspire and celebrate Black women and African culture through her brand CeeCee’s Closet NYC. Together with her sister and creative director Uchenna, Chioma partners with artisan creators in Nigeria to produce everything from head wraps to body care products.

Chioma uses her TikTok account to educate her audience on products not widely available in the United States, including skincare products created specifically for Black skin. The brand’s approach to customer education has helped its account grow to over 260,000 engaged followers.

@ceeceesclosetnyc Replying to @batman_oracle #greenscreenvideo #greenscreen exfoliating regularlt can do wonders for your skin ? #africanexfoliatingnet #dryskinremedies #dryskinhacks #dryskin #dryskintips #clearskin #dryskin101 #clearskinroutine ♬ original sound – Cee Cee's Closet NYC LLC

Jamal Hejazi, Candy Funhouse

Jamal Hejazi took his brick-and-mortar candy store online in December 2020. Candy Funhouse used TikTok to reach a global audience. One of the brand’s first viral videos used the “pack an order with me” trend and resulted in 30,000 new followers. 

The key to the brand’s growth on the platform, however, has been a focus on community. “We participate in active social listening from our audience and create content that we, as candy lovers, would enjoy watching ourselves,” says Jamal.

The brand’s three-million-strong following sticks around for the engaging content that feels authentic and not salesy. “TikTok is a great platform for building a brand if you can capture the spirit of TikTok and steer away from the traditional forms of advertisement.”

@candyfunhouse Replying to @Kenzy Sherif Ahmed The ???Pink Platter??? #asmr #pink #platter #candy #candytok #satisfying #frooties #cowtales #fizz #bottles #gum ♬ original sound – candyfunhouse

Get started with TikTok for business today

A laptop sits against a pastel-colored backdropTikTok can be a valuable marketing channel for businesses looking to stay on top of trends and meet potential customers where they are. Whether your goals are to use TikTok for business to grow an audience or convert them to customers, the platform offers plenty of opportunity. Join the fastest-growing social platform and the leagues of businesses that have found success on TikTok. 

TikTok for business FAQ

Can TikTok be used for business?

Yes, TikTok can be used for business! Simply log in to your account, go to settings, and toggle your account from personal to business. You can now access TikTok’s powerful features to help your business achieve its goals.

Is TikTok for business free?

Yes, TikTok’s business account is free. Note that some features like the ads manager do have associated costs, as in the example of running a paid ads campaign.

Is TikTok good for business?

Depending on your business, TikTok is definitely a worthwhile platform to invest in as part of your overall marketing strategy. Creating TikTok videos and staying engaged on the platform can be time consuming, but the results can pay off for businesses that find the right content and audience mix.

How do I set up a TikTok account for my business?

There are a few quick steps to getting started on TikTok for business:

  1. Create a professional profile and switch your account to a business account.
  2. Establish a strategy and goal for your TikTok efforts.
  3. Create videos and promote your content using ads and popular hashtags.
  4. Analyze your results and check your content performance by using TikTok’s built-in analytics tools.
  5. Connect your account to your Shopify store to streamline selling on TikTok.

This originally appeared on Shopify and is made available here to cast a wider net of discovery.
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