Should your brand be on TikTok?
TikTok has to be in alignment with your marketing strategy; if it’s not, focus on another platform.
But if it is…my hope is that by the end of this guide you’ll have a Rocky-fighting-Apollo, Ferris-Bueller-skipping-school level of confidence in creating content for every B2B marketer’s favorite guilty pleasure platform (and see significant ROI for your business as a result!).
What this guide will cover
- TikTok Stats
- Reasons Your Brand Should be On TikTok
- Getting Started
- How The TikTok Algorithm Works
- TikTok Strategies That Win
- Promoting Your Podcast On TikTok
- How To Measure Success On TikTok
- B2B TikTok Case Studies
Let’s jump into the nitty-gritty:
Did you know?
- TikTok was the #1 downloaded app worldwide in 2021.
Here are the most downloaded apps of 2021 along with their download count (in millions) throughout the world.
Apptopia has also released the list of most downloaded apps of 2021 in the U.S.:
TikTok also drives nine times more engagement than Facebook and the engagement rate per follower on TikTok averages 8% per follower versus 0.09% on Facebook and 1.6% on Instagram, according to data the company shares with marketers.
Update: Sensor Tower recently released its “Q1 2022: Store Intelligence Data Digest” report in which TikTok was the top app by worldwide downloads in Q1 2022!
- TikTok got more traffic than Google in 2021.
Clearly, the way people use technology to find information is changing.
TikTok makes research accessible, and the popularity of TikTok’s education content fits into a trend towards micro-learning. Micro-learning distills topics into digestible, small chunks, making TikTok the perfect delivery vehicle.
I’ve heard people say they follow accounts on TikTok just to learn more about a particular subject, whether it’s working with ADHD, how to change a tire, or tips for filing taxes. For B2B, that could be anything from how to create demand in dark social, how to turn traffic into sales, or how to get more leads using TikTok (talk about meta!).
And while entertainment and dance videos have traditionally monopolized TikTok users’ time and interest, audiences are watching videos on a broader range of topics nowadays!
The most popular categories on TikTok overall are these:
- Entertainment – 535 billion hashtag views
- Dance – 181 billion
- Pranks – 79 billion
- Fitness/sports – 57 billion
- Home reno/D.I.Y. – 39 billion
- Beauty/skincare – 33 billion
- Fashion – 27 billion
- Recipes/cooking – 18 billion
- Life hacks/advice – 13 billion
With the recent update that allows users to create 10-minute videos, TikTok has become a real competitor to YouTube!
Is Your Audience on TikTok?
“Pshhh, TikTok is just a place for kids who crave attention to do silly dances and weird challenges.” That’s what I used to think, too.
But TikTok is no longer an app just for teens seeking fame.
Between 2018 and 2020, the number of American adults using TikTok grew 5.5 times.
Here are the current stats on demographics:
- 25% of TikTok’s active users accounts in the U.S. are people aged 10-19.
- 22.4% of TikTok’s active users accounts in the U.S. are 20-29.
- 21.7% of TikTok’s active users accounts in the U.S. are 30-39.
- 20.3% of TikTok’s active users accounts in the U.S. are 40-49.
- 11% of TikTok’s active users accounts in the U.S. are 50+.
53% of users are 30+?! That’s great news for B2B brands.
And let’s not discount the 22.4% 20 to 29-year-olds on there.
A lot of people in this age group are making buying decisions at their companies. In fact, 73% of millennials influence B2B purchasing decisions. Despite the fact that a very small portion of B2B marketers are currently using TikTok, more B2B marketers are engaging with the platform every day as they realize its value.
Why Should B2B Brands Be On TikTok?
Your audience is there.
If you skipped the section literally right before this, go back and read it!
Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter all started off as ‘young’ platforms, with little-viewed value for businesses. Obviously, these social platforms are now full of multiple generations and serve millions of businesses as a marketing tool. Businesses and personal profiles that get in early and post consistently valuable content are likely to be rewarded short-term and long-term.
Amazing organic reach potential
TikTok makes it relatively easy to get your content in front of the right audience. Each TikTok user has an algorithmically curated “For You” page that generates an endless stream of content based on their prior interactions with other videos. This means if you produce a video in a certain format on a certain topic, TikTok makes it easy to organically access users who have favored similar content in the past.
It really is refreshing to have a platform with an algorithm that rewards content above everything else.
People want content that builds a human connection.
By using a video-focused approach to your brand’s social media content, you’re able to tell your story in the most relatable way possible.
TikTok is the ideal platform for personal, authentic content creation; TikTok videos are usually less produced than YouTube or LinkedIn videos, making them more casual and down-to-earth.
At the end of the day, prospective B2B customers aren’t all that different from B2C consumers. They’re looking for trust and authenticity in a product or service.
There is an unlimited scope for creativity.
The more original, amusing, or outrageous videos are, the more followers you’re likely to get. That can either be scary news or exciting news; I think it’s exciting! It gives B2B marketers freedom to think outside the box and to press into experimentation.
You could blaze the trail.
Chris Walker predicts that TikTok will be a big B2B marketing trend in 2022 and beyond.
“Smart companies will build on TikTok. Not to get “leads” next quarter, but to play OFFENSE. There’s tremendous UPSIDE for B2B companies on TikTok over the next 1-3 years.”
Google is working on indexing TikTok videos.
In March 2022, Google said they’re experimenting with ways to show short-form video in search results more often. Due to how useful short videos can be for searchers, Google is thinking about how to surface them more in search results. Good for your B2B brand? I think so!
You could use it for recruiting talent.
There’s potential to grow your following on LinkedIn, grow your business, and close deals.
Because B2B marketers are so new to the platform, this is a tough one to gather a ton of proof for just yet.
But there are some people who have been vocal on LinkedIn about their TikTok ROI.
- Todd Clouser is the king of the using-TikTok-videos-to-grow-on-LinkedIn strategy. I mean, this is just insane:
Todd went from 1,600 to 7,000 LinkedIn followers in just 2 months, all because he consistently posted amazing TikTok videos. He’s also been invited onto several podcasts because of TikTok, which is another pretty cool perk!
- Will Aitken’s personal account plus the account he runs for Sales Feed, which exclusively show B2B sales comedy and advice, have generated (as of February 2022):
- Over 10 million views
- 650k likes, comments, shares
- 5,000 Linktree conversions
- 80,000 followers
- Stephen Pope has said he used TikTok to 2x his business.
You could be like me and just make an account and start posting videos ASAP.
Or you could learn from my mistakes and start with a game plan instead.
If I had started with an actual strategy, it should have looked something like this:
- Determine your goals
The first tip to getting started with TikTok is understanding what you want your brand to get out of the platform.
- Do you want to grow brand awareness and increase sales?
- Are you looking to educate your target audience?
- Are you interested in recruiting talent?
- Do you want to showcase your personality with entertaining content?
I started my personal TikTok account with the intent of experimenting on the platform, which isn’t much of a goal. But once I understood how to use the platform on my own account, I was able to set a goal and outline a strategy for Sweet Fish’s TikTok account.
Once you’ve identified your big picture goals, it’s time to get more granular and set realistic goals to measure your success on the platform.
- Make a strategy
Before you start creating content, ask yourself:
- What am I hoping to achieve?
- Who is my target audience?
- How can I incorporate TikTok into my current marketing plan?
- How will people find and view my content?
Your answers to those questions will help guide your strategy.
- Consume what you want to create
If you want to create entertaining videos, you need to spend more time consuming entertaining videos. If you want to know how to educate people in 30 seconds, watch TikTokers that educate people in 30 seconds.
Surround yourself with what you want to create.
Pay attention to the little things that make you love that content. Is it their use of the green screen effect? The way they format their points? The way they make a technical topic funny? Then think about how you can use those things for your content creation.
It doesn’t have to be in your industry, either. Most of the stuff I watch regularly is not B2B or marketing related!
- Create content
Now that you’ve got your goals, it’s important to create valuable content that serves the purpose of those goals.
- If your goal is to increase brand awareness: create content that talks about what your company does and how it serves its customers.
- If your goal is to educate your audience: create content that explains industry news, tips, and tricks.
- If your goal is to recruit talent: create content that goes behind the scenes and showcases your company’s culture.
- If your goal is to build trust through your personal brand: create entertaining, relatable, authentic-to-you content.
As always, it is so important to consider your audience when creating content and to provide what you know they are seeking through your videos. If your content is not valuable to your target audience, it will likely flop in the algorithm.
- Be consistent
The “Golden Rule of Tiktok” notes that it is a good general rule of thumb to post a minimum of one time per day.
Doing so will help your audience see that you exist and have a commitment to publishing content. When you post every day, you give your audience something to expect and anticipate.
While posting a minimum of one time per day is a fantastic start, you need to do more if you want to grow your presence on TikTok. The ideal number of posts you should publish is actually between one and three times each day.
I know that sounds like a lot, so let me ease your anxiety:
I don’t post 3x a day. I don’t even post 1x a day, at the moment.
I know that gives accounts a huge boost, but I also simply don’t have time to create that much content just for TikTok.
(I’m not recommending you do this. If you want the most growth, do the most work.)
But if you’re limited in time like me, shoot for something more reasonable, like 3-5x a week. You’ll still see results.
Bonus: Invest in creators.
You might not want to make the content. Okay, that’s totally fine. So who will?
Companies that are serious about using social for demand generation should hire a dedicated face of their brand who is not only an SME (subject matter expert), but has the ability to script, shoot, produce and publish the content.
There are 3 skills that creators have that most marketers don’t:
1) They understand human psychology better than anyone. They intuitively know what content is going to resonate with their audience…and what’s gonna fall flat.
2) They have a deep understanding of social platform nuances. They know how to capitalize on all the different capabilities inside social platforms to get their content in front of the most people.
3) They are masters at developing a captivating content premise.
Investing in quality talent upfront will make the leap to TikTok much easier and more impactful for your brand in the long run!
How Does The TikTok Algorithm Work?
The TikTok algorithm (proprietary code behind the scenes that determines what you see and when) serves videos to users based on a number of different factors, including:
TikTok is great at categorizing content based on user interests, so subject matter is an important factor when it comes to reach potential on the app.
Be sure to use hashtags in your caption that highlight keywords related to your niche and topic to inform your algorithm what your content is about. For example, because my content is usually about marketing, I’ll use hashtags like #B2B, #marketing, #marketer, #marketinghumor, #contentmarketing, as well as hashtags that relate to what I’m talking about (i.e. #ABM, #demandgen, #revenue, etc.).
When a video includes a trending sound or song, it’s more likely to be served to a larger audience. If you’re not into using a trending sound for lip-syncing, put a trending song under your video for greater discoverability!
User Activity and “Not Interested” Feedback
A low amount of likes, comments, shares, and re-watches are all major indicators of low user interest. If you get low engagement on a video, don’t sweat it; just keep on creating and see what sticks with your audience.
Even if you only have a handful of followers or have never posted to TikTok before, there’s still an opportunity for your video to go viral with your target audience!
For example, in November 2021, I posted a video and then logged off of TikTok. I had around 50 followers at the time. When I logged on again two weeks later, that video had 137k views and added 200 followers to my account!
How To Optimize For The TikTok Algorithm
The TikTok algorithm is always adapting, changing, and learning from user behavior.
Here are six ways you can “hack the algo” to boost your performance:
#1: Hook your audience within three seconds.
Since watching a video in full is a strong interest indicator, TikTok typically favors videos that are short and easy-to-digest. Because of this, it’s vital to hook your audience within the first three seconds.
A teeny tiny sample list of hooks designed to stop the scroll:
- “If you want to (result), stop doing this ONE thing…”
- “Here’s how I went from (X) to (X) in 30 days…”
- “This (industry) hack will change your life…”
- “Don’t believe the hype on (X)!”
- “Why is nobody talking about…?”
If people aren’t entertained immediately, they’re probably gonna scroll right past you.
#2: Jump on trending audio.
Since the TikTok algorithm tends to favor videos using trending sounds, consider jumping on trends while they’re still hot.
There are a few ways you can find trending audio.
- You could scroll through TikTok to see if there are any repeated songs or audio clips.
- You could use the video editor. Press the plus icon at the bottom of the screen, tap “Add sound”, and scroll through what’s trending.
- You could follow accounts that call out trends. You’ll find them if you search #trending. Once you follow them, you’ll rarely have to scroll the feed (some of my favorites: @chooseyoursocial, @itxmejules, @daretocapture).
*Note: Only using trending audio can limit your online social success. Make an effort to set yourself apart by producing original videos!
#3: Create accessible content.
The more accessible your video, the broader the audience and the higher the watch time.
The easiest way to do this is by adding on-screen text and captions. Not gonna lie, on-screen text for every single shot can take a TON of time, so know that in advance. TikTok will automatically generate captions for you, though, which is nice. Just be sure to check them for typos before hitting publish!
#4 Don’t go overboard with your video quality or staging.
Unlike most platforms, the more home-made your TikTok looks, the more likely a user is to watch it. You can record in a nice studio, sure, but you can also record while you’re walking outside or at your kitchen table.
Over-the-top staging isn’t imperative on this platform. (Bam! This little info nugget just saved you a ton of time in post-production!)
#5 Engage with other TikTok creators.
Remember that TikTok, like all social media platforms, is social. So…engage with other TikTok creators on the platform!
Using TikTok’s duet and stitch features is a great way to increase engagement!
#6: Focus on a niche.
This may be the most important tip, so listen up.
Creating consistent content in your niche is one of the main factors that influences the algorithm. Remember, the more you share videos related to your niche, the more the TikTok algorithm will recognize your expertise and begin to serve your content to the right audience.
Most of TikTok’s most successful influencers are successful because they pick one very specific thing and do it well. People remember them for that one thing. That’s branding at its finest, folks.
Your signature style will probably reflect two critical things. Firstly, it will relate to a niche that interests you, that you know something about, and that maybe presents opportunities for you to tie in your unique talents and talk about your service. Secondly, it will connect to the type of people you have chosen to target as an audience.
Identifying a trend on TikTok is the start point, but to increase your chances of your video being seen, you need to differentiate yourself from the other videos doing the same thing. The most successful B2B TikTok accounts tie trends into relevant content to their audience; they’re not just grabbing engagement that isn’t relevant to their goal.
To grab attention, you need to co-opt trends to say something original and valuable about yourself. Think outside the box!
Here are some non-B2B examples that show just how effective picking one totally random, specific, and unique differentiator can be:
@sinkreviews has 831k+ followers, and he literally uploads videos of sinks he’s used while he’s out and about.
@lubalin turns internet arguments into cinematic, musical experiences on TikTok.
@totouchanemu uses his drone to capture him shaking his hips from different angles.
And some B2B examples:
@contentmarketingtodd and his “If B2B Marketing Did…” series.
@salesrapper and his freestyle raps about LinkedIn profiles.
@marketingmason and his “Medical or Marketing” series.
At the end of the day, there’s no surefire way to “beat” the TikTok algorithm.
However, understanding how the TikTok algorithm works and implementing some of these practices can help you fine tune your strategy.
TikTok Strategies That Win
TikTok content really falls into 2 buckets: entertainment and education.
B2B marketing gets its “boring” and serious reputation from its traditional, conventional methods.
But successful TikToks capitalize on humor and relatability.
Embracing your company’s fun and relatable side can improve your public image and help you to stand out from your competitors.
Reusing audio tracks to participate in trends can provide baseline inspiration.
Will Aitken (@willaitkensales) does a great job of using trending audio, as do Loom (@useloom) and Chris van Praag (@vpofsales). And how could we forget everybody’s favorite sales millennial, Ross Pomerantz (@corporate.bro)?!
If you want to go even further, though, try creating original skits that poke fun at industry stereotypes and challenges.
Todd Clouser (@contentmarketingtodd) and Chris Bogue (@chrissellshissoul) are great examples of individuals who do this well.
The best thing entertaining TikToks offer is shareability. When you can get someone to relate your joke to their experience or situation, they tag their co-workers, extending your video’s reach. This is the most powerful thing that can happen in your comment section.
TikTok is a great place to create “edu-tainment,” content that provides value to your followers.
It’s a great idea to use clever TikTok content to share information about your products and services that can best serve your audience and make their lives easier. An easy way to make educational content for TikTok is to audit your previous Linkedin content and then remake relevant statuses into talking-head style videos.
Who does this well: Chris Walker (@refinelabs), Stephen Pope (@stephengpope), Allison Loehman (@allisonloehman), Daniel Kading (@brandwithdan).
Promoting Your Podcast On TikTok
I’m gonna be honest with you: I have yet to see a brand that promotes their podcast on TikTok AND gets amazing results.
But I have seen some do better than others.
Here are a few tips that might save you from posting low-performing, cringey videos.
Don’t share clips of your podcast.
Your typical micro videos from past shows or an audiogram of your next episode don’t work here like they do on LinkedIn. Best to avoid them altogether.
However, if you record your podcast for YouTube, that will get you decent reach on TikTok. There’s just something about those videos being better optimized for the platform.
Do post native content.
When it comes to posting videos to TikTok, native content wins the day.
You’re in luck, because I have a few native ideas for you:
Tease a few sneak peeks.
One method for growing your podcast audience on TikTok is to create teasers using trending audio. You might even take a look at the kinds of challenges presently trending on TikTok and check if it’s possible to align those with your podcast as teasers.
Lip-sync challenges and dance challenges are always popular, but there are soooo many challenges and trends that don’t require any dance moves. (Phew!)
Share tips and tricks.
Whatever niche your show is aligned with and whatever your area of expertise, you certainly will have some tricks and tips to share through TikTok. “Hack” videos are really popular on TikTok, so delivering tricks and tips videos and showcasing your expertise might be a great idea as a method of indirectly promoting your podcast.
Create behind-the-scenes videos with your podcast guests.
If your podcast is one that frequently features awesome guests, get those guests in on the action and make a few fun behind-the-scenes videos that you can share on TikTok. Whether it’s you and your guest bantering as you’re preparing to start a recording or you get them to jump on a challenge with you, these kinds of videos fit the platform well.
Can I Repurpose TikTok Videos?
Wherever your target audience spends their time online is where you should be.
For B2B, that’s probably LinkedIn, right? (Yes, yes it is.)
A majority of success you’ll see from TikTok will actually come from repurposing TikTok videos onto LinkedIn. Why? Because they’re scroll-stoppers.
I don’t know about you, but when I come across a TikTok-stamped video in my LinkedIn feed, I’m more likely to watch it than a video that isn’t TikTok-stamped. (This video got 466 views, 7 comments, and 26 reactions on TikTok but 1,928 views, 55 comments, and 103 reactions on LinkedIn!)
*Remember, TikTok promotes native content; so while repurposing TikTok videos onto LinkedIn will increase your reach on LinkedIn, repurposing micro videos onto TikTok will get you very little results on TikTok.
How do I Measure Success On TikTok?
I won’t rewrite the playbook on TikTok analytics. Hootsuite has already done it in this nifty article.
But I will give you a summary of the most helpful info.
TikTok has an analytics feature that allows you to measure weekly and monthly growth, total video play time, information about who is watching, and more.
Anyone who has a TikTok Business account can view TikTok analytics. This account offers “creative tools that empower businesses to think like marketers but act like creators.” And it’s free!
How to check analytics on TikTok
- Go to your profile.
- Open the Settings and privacy tab in the top right corner.
- Under Account, choose the Creator Tools tab.
- Select Analytics.
Note: If you plan to download your analytics data, you can only do this from the desktop dashboard.
The Overview tab offers a summary of video views, profile views, likes, comments, shares, and followers in the last week, month, two months, or a custom date range.
This tab shows you your top nine videos with the fastest growth in viewership over the past seven days, a cumulative total of the time and average amount of time people have spent watching your video, the number of times a video has been watched in full, and the total number of users who watched your video.
This data shows you what content is resonating with your audience!
Look for patterns in these videos and try testing more content that aligns with top-performing content to find the most success.
The Follower tab provides information about your followers, including your followers’ interests and when your followers are most active on the app, which is pretty handy info!
This is a great formula to calculate your social media engagement rates on TikTok:
((Number of likes + Number of comments) / Number of Followers) * 100
Since like and comment metrics are visible on the platform, you can easily see how your TikTok metrics compare with other accounts.
B2B TikTok Case Studies
Brands see a lot more results when they post from a personal account rather than a company account.
But there are some companies that have seen huge success on their brand accounts! (Okay, some of these aren’t specifically B2B, but they’re worth mentioning.)
Adobe’s videos are helpful and informative about how to use their products. The key to their success was in finding methods unique to TikTok that highlight the strengths of their brand.
By leveraging viral trends and poking fun at themselves, Duolingo grew its follower count from around 50,000 in September 2021 to more than 2 million in January 2022. The key to their success was leaning into entertainment as the hook to lead consumers to education.
With over 35k followers on the platform, they’ve certainly appealed to a niche audience.
Most of their current content focuses on investing, tech startups, and big tech brands .
UK-based airline Ryanair organically grew to 1.5 million followers by producing topical, entertaining, and irreverent content.
Shopify shows detailed tips on how to use their services and highlight success stories through partnered videos. Their account shows us the power of building a strong, distinct personality for your TikTok channel.
During the 2020 lockdown, Zoom took to TikTok to offer guides for people adjusting to remote work, giving handy advice on problems such as reducing background noise and improving video quality during your calls.
You can read more TikTok case studies here!
At the end of the day, TikTok has to be in alignment with your marketing strategy. If it’s not, don’t bother with it.
But if you’ve been on the fence with TikTok and you see its potential, now is the time to just do it.
Use yourself as an experiment today so you can execute on TikTok for your brand tomorrow! The fact that most people in the B2B world aren’t yet on TikTok is a huge advantage to those just starting. By getting ahead of the competition, you become the “poster boy” of your niche.
While platforms like LinkedIn are still the gold standard for B2B social media, it never hurts to experiment if you have the resources available to you.
B2B accounts you should follow on TikTok:
- B2B Power Hour (@b2bpowerhour)
- Chili Piper (@chili.piper)
- Demandbase (@demandbase)
- Gong (@gong.io)
- Hootsuite (@hootsuite)
- Later (@later.com)
- Loom (@useloom)
- PandaDoc (@itspandadoc)
- Refine Labs (@refinelabs)
- Sales Feed (@salesfeed)
- Sales Hacker (@saleshacker)
- Scratchpad_sales (@scratchpad_sales)
- Sweet Fish Media (@sweetfishmedia)
- Vidyard (@teamvidyard)
B2B marketing and sales individuals you should follow on TikTok:
- Alex B. Sheridan (@alex.b.sheridan)
- Allison Loehman (@allisonloehman)
- Ashley Lewin (@ashleylewin5)
- Chris Bogue (@chrissellshissoul)
- Chris Van Praag (@vpofsales)
- Dani Kimble (@b2btok)
- Ding Zheng (@salesrapper)
- Jesus McDonald (@jesus_mcdonald)
- Laura Erdem (@lerdem)
- Mason Cosby (@marketingmason)
- Max Cohen (@officialmaxcohen)
- Nick Bennet (@nickb_2005)
- Sam Hembree (@samjamhembree)
- Stephen Pope (@stephengpope)
- Tanya Thompson (@tanya_thompson)
- Tim Davidson (@the_tim_davidson)
- Todd Clouser (@contentmarketingtodd)
- Tom Boston (@tom_boston)
- Travis Tyler(@customerengagementlab)
- Will Aitken (@willaitkensales)