How Do You Advertise on TikTok? 5 Small-Business Owners Weigh In

TikTok is one of the newer social media platforms—which means it’s also one of the newest platforms for small-business owners looking to increase their customer base.

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Are you interested in TikTok ads but unsure of how to capitalize on its unique platform? We asked five small-business owners to explain how they found success with advertising on TikTok—let’s get to it!

User engagement

“Rather than displaying an ad that you can’t skip, or one that you must watch briefly before skipping, TikTok seamlessly interweaves ads among user-generated content to create a less jarring transition between the two. Users can also like and comment on ads. Promote engagement by using a spokesperson instead of using text on a screen, use recognizable 'TikTok music,' and consider asking your audience a direct question. These are all great ways to imitate the look and feel of regular user-generated content, which keeps people viewing and interacting with your ad.”

-Paul Sherman, Chief Marketing Officer at Olive

Start with a visual hook

“On a platform like TikTok, where users can swipe and scroll at whim, every second counts. To heighten engagement and maximize your interaction potential on the platform, start by including a visual hook at the beginning of your ad. Let your creativity run wild—you might use artwork, a satisfying clip, or even a viral meme. Find a way to neatly transition that visual hook into the product or service that you're advertising, and users will be more likely to keep watching.”

-Vincent D’Eletto, founder and CEO at WordAgents

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Mimic the look and feel of a typical TikTok

“TikTok ads are all about blending in. On Facebook and Instagram, you can get away with professional-looking ads, but on TikTok, these rarely work. The ads we've had the most success with look and feel like a normal TikTok post, and the ones we've put some good production into didn't. People on TikTok are there for entertainment, so you have to entertain them—and the only way they'll give you a chance is if you blend in with the rest of the content.”

-Andrew Maff, founder at BlueTuskr

Keep it short

“The most successful TikTok ads are punchy, quick, and to the point. If your ad is too long, users might scroll past before really getting to grips with what you're selling. The best length of an ad is between 10 and 15 seconds. That way, your ad won't get trimmed by the platform, and users will learn all about what you do before they even realize they're watching an ad.”

-Mike Grossman, CEO at GoodHire

Update frequently

“While high-quality content should be constant in all forms of marketing, on TikTok, you need to add the quantity factor. The app has over 1 billion users and tons of short videos, so creating less content means your brand gets lost in the vast market. To stand out, businesses should post high-quality content regularly. For us, posting three times a week keeps us visible.”

-Mia Greens, COO and co-founder at FindThisBest

The takeaway

TikTok is a fascinating, unique platform well-suited to advertising—as long as you tailor your content to the app’s audience. The tips above can help you get started!

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Kylie McQuarrie
Written by
Kylie McQuarrie
Kylie McQuarrie has been writing for and about small businesses since 2014. Prior to writing full-time, she worked with a variety of small-business owners (from freelance writers to real-estate solopreneurs), which gave her a front-row look at small-business owners' struggles, frustrations, and successes. Currently, she’s Business.org’s accounting and payroll staff writer. Her work has been featured on SCORE.org, G2, and Fairygodboss, among others.
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