TikTok Advertising: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started

The TikTok phenomenon has seen explosive growth over the past year. And the hype is not expected to go away anytime soon.

It has over 800 million users looking for fun and exciting video content, which is an excellent opportunity to promote your brand. To be successful with TikTok advertising, you need to know the platform’s ins and outs, especially how the users interact with each other.

How TikTok Works

TikTok revolves around the creation of short videos that play in loops of 15-60 seconds. Users will often share videos they recorded themselves with background music and sounds.

Videos can be edited within the app as users apply fun filters accompanied by their videos. TikTok users can also interact with other people’s videos using the app’s duet or reaction feature.

The platform has a chat feature for TikTok users to interact with each other and an exploration tab that will allow users to see the most popular videos on the platform. It also has a system of fan following just like Instagram and Twitter.

When TikTok users open the app, there will be two main pages. The first one is the Following page, which shows videos from the accounts that the user follows, and the other one is the For You page, which shows videos that the app thinks will be interesting for the user.

TikTok’s Feed works just like other social networks such as Twitter or Instagram. Whenever users play a video, it is shown in full screen along with a series of icons that directs different actions from the user, such as follow, like, comment, or share.

The Browse tab is where users can find the popular videos in the app. TikTok users can also use the search bar, just like Instagram’s Browse Tab. Videos are often tagged with hashtags.

Is TikTok right for your own brand?

It may be easy for brands to instantly join the hype of TikTok’s bandwagon since it has been one of the most popular apps of 2020. While its unprecedented growth rate is indeed impressive, TikTok still has its own unique traits that may not be suitable for all kinds of brands. Ask your brand the following questions first and decide whether TikTok is right for you.

QUESTION 1: Who is your target audience?

TikTok has one of the youngest social media users with an age range of 16-24 yrs old in the United States. The average user spends around 52 minutes per day in the application.

If your brand targets Gen Z consumers, then you are in the right place. However, if your target audience is over the age of 30, then it may be better for your brand to keep its focus on other social media apps like Facebook or Instagram.

QUESTION 2: Does your brand fit TikTok?

While there may be a myriad of creative ways to help integrate the brand on TikTok, it will be better to find out if your audience’s niche interests are aligned with TikTok. Topics such as music, fashion, humor, games, food, and technology are just some of the popular things you can explore on the platform.

QUESTION 3: Is your brand comfortable enough to let loose on the platform?

TikTok has been famous for its viral potential. However, it’s important to note that its virality is based on user-generated content. As such, not all content will align with the brand’s usual communication guidelines since users will often generate new content in unexpected ways.

Think of it as if the brand will post an original video that will serve as a “template,” and TikTok users can interpret it in various ways with their own creations. The brand needs to be prepared to have more laidback communication guidelines on the platform and try not to take itself too seriously.

QUESTION 4: What are your advertising objectives?

TikTok is an excellent platform to produce viral videos or participate in viral jacking. Keep in mind though that it does not respond well to direct sales campaigns. When you plan your advertising strategy, TikTok can be a very useful publicity tool. However, it may not be easy to link your sales conversions with your TikTok campaigns directly.

Types of TikTok Ads

·   In-feed Native Ads

The in-feed ads are the most conventional form of TikTok ads. It’s similar to Instagram Stories, which also uses different creatives and options to add links and call-to-action buttons. TikTok users can have the option to skip through these ads.

·   Hashtag Challenge Ads

The hashtag challenge ad is based on the user performing a particular action and tagging a video with a promoted hashtag. To promote the challenge on the app, users are redirected to a banner page that will indicate the instructions and rules.

However, brands do not really need to launch an ad campaign on TikTok to create their hashtag challenge. It can also be done organically. The promoted hashtag challenges are just a useful tool that brands can use to increase the campaign’s reach and visibility. It can also help increase the chances to help the challenge go viral.

·   Brand Takeover Ads

Brand takeover means that a specific brand takes control of the entire TikTok homepage. Brands can use images, video clips, and GIFs to promote their campaign. To fully achieve the ad’s desired effect, brand takeovers are limited to one brand per category in a day. Brand takeover ads can be used alongside hashtag challenges to help draw more attention among TikTok users.

·   Influencer Package

TikTok’s influencer package can help collaborate with an influencer within the platform to multiply the reach of your hashtag challenges and other campaigns. TikTok has their own platform to help brands in partnering with creators. Collaborating with TikTok influencers can help brands multiply the reach of their hashtag challenges and other campaigns.

Tailor your ads to reach these goals:

GOAL 1: Discovery – To raise awareness of your brand

Take note that no one is more of an expert on your brand than your own team. Think about the best way on how you can introduce your brand to the TikTok platform. Highlight the brand’s unique traits when you create your ads.

Brands can try using Shakr to grow their TikTok audience with great video campaigns on the platform. Shakr will help create a unique and customized creative video to help your brand engage with your TikTok audience. 

GOAL 2: Consideration – To stand out among competitors

Once consumers have determined what kind of product they need, they would immediately gravitate towards different brands that offer similar solutions. Make sure that your brand provides the best solution to what your target audience needs. Demonstrate these through your ads and include key selling points such as performance, cost, value, variety, and design attributes.

GOAL 3: Purchase – To convert your audience to become consumers

While TikTok users often veer away to the hard-selling type of ads, brands should not hesitate to include a clear call-to-action to direct them on what to do next if they are interested in your products. Brands can use captions and voiceover on the ads, including TikTok’s native CTA button on the app.

Step by Step Guide to TikTok Ads

STEP 1: Create a TikTok Ads Account

Since TikTok advertising is relatively new on the platform, the process is not as straightforward as it is on Instagram and Facebook. First, brands can visit the TikTok Ads homepage and click the button to “Create an Ad.”

A form will appear to ask for information on setting up an account. After the items have been filled and submitted, a TikTok representative will contact the brand and notify you within five business days to let you know if your brand qualifies on the TikTok advertising platform.

STEP 2: Create an ad campaign

Within the TikTok ads dashboard, users can go to the Campaign tab and click Create. TikTok categorizes their advertising into three levels: Campaign, Ad Groups, and Ads. A campaign indicates the brand’s overall activity, while ad groups and ads are the main functions within the campaign.

You also need to choose an advertising goal for your ad. TikTok currently has three main objectives: traffic, conversion, and app installs. Then you need to set your budget under the Settings Tab. You can choose a daily budget or a total budget.

STEP 3: Set up the ad group

The next step is to create an ad group for the campaign. This is the step where placements and targeting are decided. Within a campaign, you can have different ad groups intended for different audiences. Once the brand has chosen its preferred ad placements, you need to follow the instructions to enter all the digital assets necessary to start running your ad, including URLs, display name, images, categories, etc.

STEP 4: Set the campaign details and optimization goal

The rest of the campaign details include the ad’s optimization goal to reflect the overall campaign’s purpose. Brands can choose from Conversions, Clicks, or Impressions as the ad goal. The bidding price will depend on the selected optimization goal.

STEP 5: Design the ad

TikTok ads consist of images and videos in horizontal, vertical, and square format. To make it easier for brands, TikTok offers a tool called Video Creation Kit. It includes video templates and images that you can customize with your own images. In addition, it also has more than 300 free background music options. To have a unique ad, brands can also use Shakr’s TikTok templates. Shakr will help create a unique and customized creative video to help your brand engage with your local TikTok audience.

Successful campaigns on TikTok

Chipotle’s Real Foodprint with Influencer Bill Nye the Science Guy


What you eat matters. See how @chipotle ingredients can help reduce the impact on the planet. Check out your Real Foodprint at chip.tl/foodprint. #ad

♬ original sound – Bill Nye

Chipotle just launched its Real Foodprint sustainability tracker, which measures the environmental sustainability of a meal. Chipotle diners can find out if what they are ordering could help save environmental resources since the app shows the exact measurements on each order.

To explain the Real Foodprint app’s details, Chipotle tapped the famous science influencer Bill Nye on TikTok. Bill Nye helped viewers walk through the app’s metrics. Since Chipotle is reported to have one of the largest brand followings on TikTok, using the platform to promote this new feature for the brand could increase app downloads and online orders as users may also want to try to use the Real Foodprint app themselves.

Shakr Template: Flavors

You can also promote your brand’s newest products on TikTok and try it out using Shakr’s Flavors template. This video template is tailored to help you engage with your followers by asking them to comment on your video.

Chobani’s #SwitchTheChobaniFlip Challenge

To celebrate Opposite Day 2021 last January 25, yogurt brand Chobani is taking to TikTok by launching its first hashtag challenge, #SwitchTheChobaniFlip. TikTok users are asked to create a video with Missy Elliot’s Work It song featuring the hashtag for a chance to win a case of their cookie dough treats.

Like many brands, Chobani is also embracing the way brands are targeting niche communities on TikTok. Interestingly, in honor of Opposite Day, the product is the opposite of their usual cookie dough cups. The sides are flipped, so there are more cookie dough and less Chobani Greek yogurt.

Shakr Template: Energy Burst

Your brand can also leverage the power of hashtag challenges on TikTok. Use Shakr’s Energy Burst TikTok template to help you create the perfect dance challenge for your young and rapidly growing target audience.

General Mills’ #CerealMilkStacheChallenge

Last January 11 was National Milk Day, and General Mills’ cereal mascots like the Honey Nut Cheerios’ bee, Lucky Charms’ leprechaun, and Trix’s rabbit had milk mustaches as part of their new partnership with “Got Milk?” To reach the younger consumers, General Mills took to TikTok and Instagram to launch the #CerealMilkStacheChallenge.

Users can post images and videos of themselves wearing a milk ‘stache similar to the famous “Got Milk?” ad in the 90s. The nostalgia-driven challenge also featured prominent TikTok influencers participating in the challenge – Dixie D’Amelio, David Dobrik, Noah Beck, and more.

Papa John’s Epic Stuffs

Pizza chain Papa John’s understands that there is not a lot of things to do at home during the pandemic. As such, they encouraged people to get moving any way they can with the introduction of their Epic Stuffed Crust Pizza.

The brand encourages people to show off their basketball-based moves such as doing dunks, jumps, trick shots, blocks, and pranks on Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok using the hashtags #epicstuffs and #sweepstakes. Winners will receive the Epic Stuffed Chair and $7,500 in cash, including free branded sleeping bags and $50 gift cards every week until the contest ends. 

Shakr Template: Party Eats

Brands don’t need to go big on prizes and promotions when they are just getting started on the platform. You can take baby steps to the platform’s video ads and start small by creating your own branded promotions on TikTok using Shakr’s Party Eats template.

Shakr will help your brand create winning ad campaigns on TikTok!

We’re here to help you create successful ad campaigns with winning videos on the hottest video-sharing app today. Shakr will help you create engaging video content that will help increase your brand’s visibility on TikTok.

Want to learn more? Schedule a discovery call with us now!


A Complete 2020 Guide to TikTok Ads. (2020). Retrieved 7 February 2021, from https://blog.iconosquare.com/a-complete-2020-guide-to-tiktok-ads/#:~:text=Create%20your%20ads%20campaign,the%20goal%20of%20your%20ad

TikTok’s Tips for Holiday Advertising. (2021). Retrieved 7 February 2021, from https://www.gartner.com/en/marketing/insights/daily-insights/tiktoks-tips-for-holiday-advertisingTomas, D. (2021). How to Use TikTok to Promote Your Brand. Retrieved 7 February 2021, from https://www.cyberclick.net/numericalblogen/how-to-use-tik-tok-to-promote-your-brand

Slye is an inbound marketing professional who specializes in growth-focused content marketing. He is the Managing Director at Content Hacker.

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