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Mar 3, 2020

TikTok for Business: Getting Started


TikTok! You may know TikTok is “what the kids are doing these days.” But what exactly is TikTok? And can TikTok be used by “real adults” and businesses? Put your reading glasses on and take a seat because, in this blog, we will answer those questions and more…

What is TikTok?

TikTok is a social networking platform with over 500 million active monthly users [1]. The platform reaches viewers in North America, Brazil, Indonesia, Russia, Korea, India, and Japan [2]. The users consist mostly of 16-24-year-olds (commonly known as Generation Z, the generation immediately following Millennials) [3]. As with other social media platforms, users create a profile on TikTok, from which they can share content. Users can also view content from other users’ profiles in the application.

Let’s go back to the content aspect. Content on TikTok is a bit different from other social media. Instead of microblogging and photo-sharing, which is the focus of other social media made so popular by Gen Z’s predecessor, TikTok focuses on videos. Users record and edit either 15-second or 60-second videos to share on the platform [1]. Music or other audio soundbites are typically added to videos, or the user utilizes audio created in the video recording [1]. Descriptions can be added to the video, but everything on the platform is a video, not a still photo or text-based content.

Can TikTok be used by businesses?

Definitely! Businesses can join the TikTok community by creating a profile and sharing content. If you are considering using TikTok to market your business, consider your target market. Since most users are between the ages of 16-24, do the users match your target clients? Could a 16-year-old purchase and use your product? For example, if you are selling burial plots, TikTok’s user-base may be a little young for your average customer. Also, TikTok content tends to be humorous, light-hearted, quirky, and fun [1]. A reminder of inevitable death may not fit into that style. That said, still, consider TikTok. The platform has many users and just may work for your business! (Side note, if you are successfully selling burial plots on TikTok, tell us your secrets for success!)

Where do we start?

The first step is to do your research. Get a feel for the application and the types of videos users share. On the app is a magnifying glass with the word “discover” underneath at the bottom of the screen [1]. This feature allows you to see the top videos and hashtags on TikTok [1]. Since little is known about the algorithm of the site, this can help you learn what seems to be working [1]. Here is a hint from Social Media Examiner: “The two ingredients that generally lead to TikTok content going viral are pets and children” [1]. If you can show pets or kids in your content, do it! But even if there are no kiddies or puppies around, know your content can still go viral.

In addition to scanning the “discover” page, research other businesses using TikTok. Here are seven organizations using TikTok recommended as role models by HubSpot: Chipotle, NBA, United Nations’ IFAD, The Washington Post, Guess, The San Diego Zoo, and NBC’s Stay Tuned [4]. Chipotle boasts over 55,000 followers on TikTok and the NBA (National Basketball Association) has 5,100,000 to name a few [4].

How do we create an account?

The TikTok cellular phone app is downloadable via the App Store and Google Play [1]. Download the app and sign-up with an email address and phone number to start [1]. If you prefer, you can sign-up using another social media platform, such as Facebook, Twitter, or Google [1]. Make sure if you do this, that you connect with another account for your business. You will create a password for logging in and TikTok will assign you a username; don’t fret, you can change the username later [1]. Once your account is created, go to the “me” section. Select the large “edit profile” button to make additional edits to your account. Here you can change your profile photo, change your video, add a name, change your username, add a bio, and connect to Instagram and YouTube accounts. Your bio can only include up to 80 characters, so make sure you are putting the need-to-know information about your business upfront and simple space-saving language. Once this is complete, congratulations! You are now officially on TikTok!

How do we create a video?

Now that your business is an official TikTok user, you will want to, well, use TikTok (obviously!). Creating videos is going to be your natural next step. Here’s your step-by-step guide:

Start by clicking the plus sign in the center bottom of your screen in the app. You will need to give TikTok permission to utilize your camera, photos, and microphone; once that access is granted, you will be ready to start [1]. There are many buttons on this screen, so let’s briefly go through all of them.

At the very bottom, there are three options: 60s, 15s and photo templates. 60s and 15s stand for either a 60 second or a 15-second video. Photo templates are for uploading pictures into a pre-made slideshow. If you use a photo template, you will choose one of the ten options and upload pictures from your phone’s camera roll. If you choose 60s or 15s, you’ll be working on a video you create.

Moving up the screen, you’ll next see three buttons side by side, the left-most button is for effects while you record your video. There are TONS of effects, but they can be sorted by ones you have saved, trending, new, interactive, editing, beauty, funny, world, and animal. Select an effect to try it out. Once one is selected, you can add it to your favorites or click the cancel button to remove it. Tap the screen to exit the effects section. To the right of the effects is the record button (the large red circle). Tap the record button to begin recording. To stop recording, press the red button again. Now you have three new options: you can move to the next step by clicking to smaller red circle on the right with the checkmark in the center, you can delete the segment you recorded with the back X button between the record and next step circles, or you can record another segment/clip for this video by clicking the record button again. TikTok allows you to shoot multiple segments in one video, which is great because probably 99% of the videos we see are more than a single shot, even the short videos.

Now, let’s go back to cover the rest of the features. The upload button to the right of the record button allows you to upload pictures or videos to your video in case you previously created content that you wish to share. Moving above the effects, record, and upload buttons, we have 0.3x, 0.5x, 1x, 2x, and 3x. These are video speeds. For most videos, you’ll use 1x (normal speed), but you can experiment with the other speeds to either slow down or speed up your video.

Moving to the right-hand side, there are six tools. Flip allows you to change which camera are you are using, either front or back. Speed has two options: on or off. Turning the speed button off removes the video speed settings toward the bottom of the screen mentioned earlier. If you know you only want to shoot in regular time, you can go ahead and turn the speed feature off. Beauty is meant to touch-up your subject in real-time, essentially make your subject look more beautiful. Speaking of making your subject look more beautiful, filters can help as well. Filters are different lenses you can film with. For example, you can film in black and white, or with a grainier feel. The filters are organized by portrait, landscape, food, and vibe categories. Once you select a filter, you can edit the intensity (0-100%). Select the Cancel button to remove a filter. Tap the screen to go back. Under filters, there is a timer tool. You can select either 3s or 10s until the video begins recording. Then you can also mark the stopping point when the video should stop recording. Flash turns the phone’s flash feature on or off.

Okay, just one more feature to cover! At the top, there is a music note followed by the word “sounds.” This allows you to add music or soundbites to your video. You can use the search bar or explore suggested options. There are MANY options to choose from so you may want to take your time browsing here.

All that said, there are SO MANY great editing features TikTok provides that you can play with. Don’t be afraid to experiment.


TikTok is still a relatively new, up-and-coming social media platform. We are excited to see where TikTok goes in the future, but even in its short life, it has grown so far. With its over 500 million active monthly users, TikTok may be a social media your business can use to reach people [1]. Make sure you consider your target audience and do your research before creating a profile and adding videos. Once your business becomes a user, don’t be afraid to experiment with the myriad of features the site offers. All in all, we are loving TikTok and hope your business loves it too!