The Complete Beginner’s Guide to TikTok for Business


July 7, 2020·10 min read

Should your brand be on TikTok? The Washington Post is. So is Chipotle. Discover the big benefits of TikTok for business and how to shoot your first video for the app.

“OK boomer.” VSCO girls. “Old Town Road.” Even if you’re not on TikTok, you’re probably familiar with some of its most pervasive memes.

TikTok, or Douyin, as it’s known in China, is a social network where users share short videos, typically set to music. Launched in its current form when China-based TikTok merged with lip-syncing app Musical.ly in 2018, the app has rapidly skyrocketed to cultural dominance.

Downloaded 2 billion times, TikTok has 700 million monthly active users worldwide, including 100 million active users in the U.S.—up 800% in just over two years.

Among Gen Z, it’s ubiquitous: About 40% of TikTok users are aged 16 to 24.

  1. Contents
  2. 1.The Benefits of Using TikTok for Business
  3. 2.Native TikTok Video
  4. 2.1Quick Tips for Creating TikTok Videos
  5. 2.1.1TikTok Video Size
  6. 2.1.2TikTok Video Length
  7. 2.1.3TikTok Video Orientation
  8. 2.1.4TikTok Video Sound
  9. 2.1.5TikTok Video Ideas
  10. 2.2How to Share a Video on TikTok
  11. 2.3TikTok Video Metrics
  12. 3.TikTok Video Ads
  13. 3.1Types of Video Ads on TikTok
  14. 3.1.1Top View
  15. 3.1.2Brand Takeover
  16. 3.1.3In-Feed Video Ad
  17. 3.2How to Create a TikTok Video Ad
  18. 3.3TikTok Ad Metrics
  19. 4.TikTok Live
  20. 4.1How to Stream on TikTok Live

The Benefits of Using TikTok for Business

Because the platform is still so new, TikTok provides a massive opportunity for early adopters to establish their brand presence, engage new—especially younger—audiences, and create new revenue streams. B2C brands are already testing the waters with influencer marketing campaigns, paid promotion, and shoppable video.

What makes TikTok especially distinct from other social networks, however, is its hugely loyal and active base. On average, TikTok users open the app 8x per day and browse for approximately five minutes each time—much longer sessions than SnapChat or Instagram. Whether you’re a mom-and-pop shop or a global enterprise, this is a marketing opportunity you can’t afford to miss.

There are a few key things you need to know before you get started, like the different video formats available on TikTok and how to use them.

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Native TikTok Video

TikTok is wonderfully accessible to businesses of all sizes—all you need to get started is a smartphone and an internet connection. And there’s no pressure to be perfectly polished.

Unlike most social media networks which curate highlight reels of an idealized lifestyle, TikTok videos are unapologetically silly. They feature teens performing goofy dance routines with their friends, middle-aged moms lip-syncing in their kitchens, and even politicians poking fun at themselves.

For brands, it’s a fantastic opportunity to engage younger audiences. As The Washington Post‘s TikTok creator Dave Jorgenson told The Atlantic, the average subscriber to the newspaper is “‘well over 40. So this is a really good way to, at the very least, get [younger people] to trust the brand or to know the brand.”

Since starting to create TikTok videos in May 2019, The Post has amassed over 330,000 followers with its quirky takes on life in the newsroom. Not too shabby for a 142-year-old newspaper.

Quick Tips for Creating TikTok Videos

TikTok Video Size

The aspect ratio for a TikTok is 9:16—pretty much the vertical default for smartphones. You’ll only need to think about this if you’re shooting from a camera and uploading to TikTok later.

TikTok Video Length

While TikTok video clips are a maximum of 15 seconds long, users can string together multiple clips to create a video up to 60 seconds long.

TikTok Video Orientation

As a mobile app, TikTok was built for vertical video. It’s how most people already use their phones and—given the short length of TikTok videos—it doesn’t make sense for viewers to have to change orientation.

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