How to Drive Sales from TikTok

How to Sell on TikTok

TikTok has over 1 billion monthly active users, was the first non-Facebook mobile app to reach 3 billion downloads globally and is available in over 150 countries.

It especially appeals to younger users, but not just teens:

Target audiences TikTok

While teenagers make up 25% of the users, 20-29 year-olds accounted for 22.4% of the video-sharing app’s user base on the Android platform.  

There are thousands of creators covering a vast array of niches, from which the average user consumes 52 minutes of content per day.

If you hadn’t considered selling through TikTok previously, now’s a good time to reassess the platform and see how it can work for you.


What is TikTok? 

TikTok is an iOS and Android social media app for creating and sharing short, looping 15 or 60-second videos. Similar to Snapchat, you can add musical overlays, sound effects, visual effects, and captions.

TikTok’s For You Page (FYP) is the first page you see when you open the app. It’s a curated content feed from creators you might not follow, but TikTok’s algorithm reckons you will like based on your interests and past interactions.

It’s a unique feature, similar to Instagram’s Explore page, that aims to engage users as they keep scrolling and watching more videos.

According to TikTok: “The system recommends content by ranking videos based on a combination of factors — starting from interests you express as a new user and adjusting for things you indicate you’re not interested in, too”.

TikTok’s algorithm does an exceptional job of serving people videos on their FYP based on similar content to what they have already watched and engaged with, even if they don’t follow anyone. 

For example, if someone watches lots of Japanese car videos, the algorithm will continue to show them Japanese car content. Some creators go as far as saying, “Welcome to CarTok!” – a portmanteau of TikTok and cars. 

The algorithm favors creators and users alike. Users can quickly discover new creators and content, while creators (even new ones without a following) can get in front of their niche audience by creating relevant content.


How to Drive Sales

If you want to drive sales from TikTok, you’ll need to follow this 3-step strategy.

Step 1.  Create your own presence

Your TikTok profile acts as your ecommerce home page, where you can capture people’s attention and bring them to your online store. Here are a few ways to optimize your profile:

1. Create a business account for free

First, if you haven’t done so already, you’ll need to create a TikTok account. 

Pro Tip: Try to keep your social media usernames or handles consistent across each platform so that customers can quickly identify your brand.

When you first create an account, it will be set to “Personal” by default. But you can choose to switch to two different types of “Pro” accounts: “Creator” or “Business”

  • Creator accounts are for users who are posting daily and trying to grow a following. Benefits include detailed analytics about your videos, such as viewer demographics. Once you have 10,000 followers, you can also join the Creator Fund to monetize your views. 
  • Business accounts cannot join the Creator Fund, but you’ll still get access to detailed analytics. Plus, you can add your business contact information and a link in your bio (see below) and access performance tracking and advertising solutions. 

If you want to promote your business or brand, the Business account is your best bet. 

2. Describe your brand in your bio and add a link to your store

When they visit your page, the first thing people see is your bio, so it’s essential to make a strong first impression and provide accurate information about your brand.

In a few words, describe what you do and who you do it for (i.e. your target audience). You can also include colorful and eye-catching emojis to appeal to TikTok’s young audience, like Crocs:

Crocs TikTok Creator Profile

TikTok also allows you to add a link in your bio, making it the perfect place to link to your ecommerce store and drive traffic and sales.

You can also add links to your Instagram and YouTube profiles, which could help with cross-promotion. For example, you might want to link to long-form YouTube videos from a short teaser video on TikTok.

3. Create content 

TikTok’s features allow you to create various types of video content.

Here are some of the ways creators use TikTok’s features:

  • Music videos – the Musical.ly roots are still there with people lip-syncing to their favorite tunes while others post original content.
  • Duets – staying on the musical theme, the duets feature allows users to record a music video reply to a post using the same music.
  • Comedic clipsmany posts aim to get laughs and often feature cringe-worthy content with users poking fun at themselves.
  • Visual effects – creators make the most of the built-in visual effects, including overlays, transition effects, filters, playback speeds, text options, and sounds.
  • Sound effects – creators can add sound to their videos from an extensive library of licensed music and user-created recordings. TikTok users like to spin original videos, often adding more comedic elements.

Hashtag challenges – like other social media platforms, TikTok users add hashtags to their posts for discoverability. But TikTok also has regular hashtag challenges where users have to record a video of themselves doing something unique or unusual to join the challenge.

Here are three ways to use the features:

(a) Hashtag challenges are an excellent way of generating brand awareness and increasing followers as well as driving sales.

Guess was the first brand to launch a hashtag challenge on TikTok. For the #InMyDenim challenge, users had to film themselves in unusual places while wearing Guess’ new denim line and use Bebe Rexha’s “I’m A Mess” song as the music overlay.

@danizvulunDo you love denim as much as I do? 💙#inmydenim @guess♬ #inmydenim I’m a Mess – Bebe Rexha

Getting users to promote your products through a challenge builds brand awareness and encourages new customers to buy your products.

(b) User-generated content (UGC) appeals to TikTok’s young audience because they love to get involved and experience products first-hand. (That’s another reason hashtag challenges are so popular.)

If you can find a way of encouraging your existing fans and customers to share videos of themselves using or interacting with your products, you’re likely to attract more interest and drive sales.

For example, Fortnite challenged people to create dances that they could turn into official emotes on Fortnite game characters using the hashtag #EmoteRoyaleContest:

@dscvr.twinsOur first dance video on TikTok 🤪Do you like it? 😅 #emoteroyalecontest #fortnite #fortnitedance♬ Dance Therapy – Fortnite

Pro Tip: You could work with influencers (see below) and get their followers to create user-generated content (UGC) and kickstart your hashtag challenges to support your brand.

(c) Sound effects play an important part in TikTok videos. You can use trending music or popular songs from TikTok’s Sound Library or add your own custom sounds. 

For example, @highsnobiety uses custom ASMR sound effects to showcase their products, like these sneakers stepping on various foods:

@highsnobietyStreetwear ASMR be like 😂 via @ericwhiteback #highsnobiety #sneakers #sneakerheads #supreme #streetwear #fyp #foryourpage♬ original sound – Highsnobiety

Pro Tip: You can find trending sounds and save your favorites by pressing the plus icon at the bottom of the home screen, tapping “Add sound”, and then scrolling through the recommendations and playlists like “TikTok Viral”.

4. Add Shopify shoppable feeds in TikTok

TikTok Shopping is the Shopify X TikTok for Business collaboration that brings organic shoppable feeds and shopping tabs to TikTok. You can add a shopping tab to your TikTok profile and sync your product catalogs to create a mini-storefront that links directly to your Shopify store for checkout. 

For example, Gymshark has a shopping tab in its profile so that customers can shop directly on TikTok:

Shoppable product on TikTok

Step 2. Use other creators

You don’t have to create content yourself, as you can tap into plenty of established creators.

1.  Try the Creator Marketplace

TikTok’s Creator Marketplace is one of the first places to head when looking for talented creators.

You can partner with creators in 3 easy steps:

  1. Search for creators
  2.  Invite to collaborate
  3.  View insights

Partnering with Influencers - TikTok Marketplace

There are also tools to help you plan, manage, and report on your campaigns.

2. Seek out and partner with influencers in your space (quality)

You can promote your brand on TikTok by finding and partnering with influencers in your niche. A quality influencer with a large following can put your products in front of a much wider audience. And as the content is organic rather than a blatant advertising campaign, it attracts more people who don’t like ads, like the Gen Zers. 

Pro Tip: 60% of TikTok users are Gen Zers. By 2022, 74 million people in the U.S. will be part of “Gen Z”, making it the largest generation of all.

3. Open a brand ambassador or affiliate program to attract potential TikTok partnerships (quantity)

Another way to build TikTok partnerships is through a new or existing ambassador or affiliate program. 

For instance, you could add a call to action (CTA) on your website specifically for TikTok creators and make it as easy as possible for them to approach you about marketing your product.

4. Follow influencers in your niche and engage with them

Finally, you can build relationships with influencers in your niche by following and engaging with them. For example: 

  • Avoid being overly promotional. Focus on authenticity and you’ll earn brand recognition.
  • Comment, duet, use hashtags, or make your version of a popular video. For inspiration, check out the content from @totouchanemu, like this video with @ironsanctuary:
@totouchanemu@ironsanctuary may have juicy thunder thighs, but I have a drone.♬ STAY – The Kid LAROI & Justin Bieber

Step 3. Use TikTok Ads

So far, we’ve focused on organic content, but you can also use TikTok’s paid advertising features to drive sales. 

TikTok ads let you add a clickable button such as “Shop Now” or “Visit Store” to your videos to drive traffic and sales from the app.

The TikTok Ads Manager lets you choose your goal, create a targeted audience, set a specific daily or lifetime budget, and helps you design the ad.

Advertising campaigns start at just $50/day with no long-term commitment, and there are various types of ads and targeting options to choose from:

1. In-Feed Ads

In-Feed Ads appear on the For You Page as regular TikTok videos that blend in with users’ feeds rather than looking like traditional ads. 

In-Feed Ads should be full-screen and enticing enough to stop users from scrolling past or skipping your content.

InFeed TikTok Ads

2. TopView Ads

TopView Ads ​​are the first in-feed post after 3 seconds. 

They appear at the top of the For You Page and can last up to 60 seconds of full-screen video with auto-play and sound.

Top View TikTok Ads

3. Branded Hashtag Challenge

Branded Hashtag Challenges are similar to the regular hashtag challenges on TikTok. They’re a great way to encourage user-generated content and build brand awareness.

When users click on a sponsored hashtag, they’re taken to a landing page on TikTok with the brand logo, link to their website, brief description of the challenge, and popular videos using the hashtag.

TikTok has also introduced the Hashtag Challenge Plus ecommerce feature, which has a separate “Discover” tab on the landing page where users can browse products from the campaign and purchase them directly within TikTok.

Hastag Challenge Ad TikTok

4. Branded Effects

TikTok’s Branded Effects – including branded shareable stickers, AR filters, and lenses – let you create custom filters in the app. Branded Effects are available for up to 10 days at a time and are a great way to encourage users to interact directly with your brand.

Branded Effects TikTok Ad


How to Drive Sales from TikTok, in a Nutshell 

TikTok’s short-form videos appeal to a broad audience, not only teenagers. You can take advantage of the fast-growing platform to reach your target audience with organic content and paid adverts. Better still, you can collaborate with other creators to expand your reach and drive more sales.

Just remember not to treat it like a sales pitch. Be authentic, engaging, and entertaining, and you’ll be a winner.

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