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TikTok Marketing: The Ultimate Guide for SA Businesses

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TikTok Marketing: The Ultimate Guide for South African Businesses

Need help with your brand’s TikTok? Check out what our TikTok experts have to say

The latest and greatest in social media platforms that teenagers all over the world pray their parents don’t discover, TikTok has blown up in popularity in recent years. 

TikTok has 800 million active users as of last year, eclipsing established platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn and Snapchat. 

Despite this, it’s too often been dismissed as a serious digital marketing platform for two main reasons. 

Firstly, there’s a preconception that only young people use TikTok.

Recent stats show, however, that only 32% of users are between age 10 and 19, with the rest being above that. 

Their second largest demographic, 20 to 29-year-olds, is not far behind that at 29,5% of the user base. 

We can see then that you can reach demographics with some actual buying power attached, contrary to popular belief. 

Secondly, the platform can be a little harder to understand, especially for older marketers who aren’t “digital natives”. 

It’s not as straightforward to understand as sites like Instagram or Facebook, but we’ll give you the rundown below. 

What is TikTok and How Does TikTok Work?

So what is TikTok, exactly, and how does it work? 

Put simply, it’s a short-form video content app where users create and share 15-second videos.

The app has a huge number of built-in video and sound editing effects to help users create interesting content.

Where it can start to get confusing for some users, is the kinds of videos that are created and shared on the platform. 

A popular misconception is that TikTok is only for creating fan-made music videos by lip-synching and/or dancing to songs featured on the platform. 

This is an incredibly popular “lane” on the platform, but it’s grown to become much more than that. 

The misconception comes from the app, which was acquired by TikTok and then merged with the platform in 2018.

The lip-synching and dancing lane can be seen as a holdout of this app, but it’s far from the only type of content made and shared on TikTok today. 

From short comedy sketches to serious political commentary, and an absolutely huge number of niche communities, TikTok has grown to encompass videos about almost any topic imaginable. 

Can (or Should) TikTok Even Be Used for Marketing?


That was easy, wasn’t it?

To elaborate, TikTok is still a relatively new platform so there is limited research on its effectiveness as a marketing platform. 

What little there is, however, is extremely promising. An Influencer Marketing Hub study found that TikTok has higher follower engagement rates than both Instagram and Twitter

This is likely because, unlike these other platforms, TikTok is not yet saturated with advertising and branded content. So, if you do it right, it’s much easier to stand out from the crowd. 

The second reason we think it’s worth it as a marketing platform is that TikTok themselves are pushing to monetise the platform via the “Facebook model” of marketing integration. 

As of last year, TikTok launched TikTok for business, a self-service ad platform much like that run by Facebook and other leading social media sites. 

This shows their commitment to making the platform a viable marketing platform, which means it will (hopefully) only become more effective over time. 

How to Use TikTok as a Marketing Tool 

When you’re considering adding TikTok to your arsenal of marketing platforms, there are three main options on how to do that right now. 

Firstly, you can run TikTok ads on the platform. 

Secondly, you could engage with popular creators on the platform as part of an influencer marketing strategy.

Lastly, you could create your own branded content on the platform as part of your content marketing strategy. 

We’ll explore each option in a bit more detail below. 

TikTok Ads

A very recent development, TikTok ads may lack some of the more refined features boasted by competitors like Facebook or Twitter, but they make up for it in reduced competition. 

Since they’re such a new development, many businesses may not even be aware of them or their potential yet. 

This means you can “Get in on the ground floor” and benefit from reduced bidding competition. 

Currently, TikTok Ads are available in the following major formats: 

  • In-feed ads

Ads displayed in the normal TikTok feed. They can be up to 60-second long video ads followed by an end card with a CTA attached. 

  • “Branded takeover” ads

A short full-screen video shown on opening the app. A relatively expensive ad format that can have great results because of the high impact.

  • “Top view” ads

A mixture of in-feed and branded takeover ads. This will be the first in-feed post the user sees after three seconds. 

Influencer Marketing on TikTok 

Relatively self-explanatory if you understand the concept from other platforms, influencer marketing involves partnering with popular creators on the platform to advertise your brand.

Typically brands will sponsor certain types of content made by the creator, in exchange for exposure to their audience or delivering a CTA. 

Since the platform has had such explosive growth, it’s a great opportunity to target creators within niches relevant to your brand for influencer marketing opportunities.

For example, a make-up brand could collaborate with a popular beauty guru on the platform to create awareness and interest in their product. 

TikTok’s main strength, and what sets it apart from other platforms, is the variety of ways you can link your influencer marketing strategy with your content marketing strategy. 

We’ll go over some content marketing strategies next. 

Content Marketing on TikTok 

  • Branded content

The first, and most obvious, opportunity for content marketing on the platform is creating your own business TikTok account and posting content to it. 

This can be tricky, however, for a variety of reasons. 

Matching the existing tone and intent of the platform is crucial. 

You don’t want to sell too hard, and come across as “annoying” or “desperate”. 

At the same time, you don’t want to pander too hard to your audience with what you think they like. This can come across as out of touch or like you’re simply trying too hard. 

Instead, you want to find a “sweet spot” of branded content relevant to your niche, where you can provide real value or real entertainment to your target market.

A great place to start for many businesses is treating TikTok like an extension of your blog. 

Think of the kinds of helpful content you’d share there, and adapt it into easily digestible content that can live on the platform.

There are plenty of businesses focused niches, like SEO or digital marketing, emerging on the platform that are ripe for brands to get involved in. 

  • Branded hashtags

Another opportunity on the platform is the use of branded hashtags. 

These work like any other hashtag, allowing people to take part in a conversation or topic by posting your hashtag at the end of their post. 

This is a great way to create community involvement if you can convince people to take part in your hashtag. 

There are paid methods for doing this, but they are probably prohibitively expensive for most small to medium-sized businesses. For instance, you can rent out the top of the TikTok feed for your hashtag.

This strategy can also work organically, however, if you can give people a compelling reason to take part. 

You want to either give people some sort of incentive for taking part, like a competition or create a compelling content campaign that people want to take part in.

  • Branded effects 

Similar to Snapchat, brands can also have their own “branded effects”; 2d or AR filters people can apply over their TikTok videos that incorporate your brand.

Right now these are also incredibly expensive, but over time could be added to the ad auction system and become more affordable. 

How to Develop a TikTok Marketing Strategy 

Developing a TikTok marketing strategy isn’t that different from any other digital marketing platform. 

There are just a few things you want to keep in mind, which we’ll outline below. 

1. Consider Your Audience

Before you start advertising on TikTok, you must know your audience. 

Not the people you think you want to reach, but the people who are your real customers. The people who are really most likely to engage with your brand.

One of the downsides of TikTok right now is that their demographic and analytical data isn’t as comprehensive as a platform like Facebook.

This means if you’re not one hundred percent sure who your audience is, you might be better off starting your marketing strategy elsewhere. 

If you do, though, and you’re certain they’re on TikTok, great. 

Make sure you align your content and marketing with their interests, so they want to engage with your brand. 

Consider the types of content they’re already engaging in, and how you can add value or fun to their lives. 

2. Establish Your Goals, Timeframe and Budget 

The second thing you want to consider is your overall goals, timeframe and budget for the campaign. 

This is going to heavily inform the strategies you pursue, so it’s important to consider upfront.

If you want short-term sales, you’re probably best off running ads with attached promotional strategies.
If you want long-term growth or brand exposure, a content strategy incorporating TikTok is probably better for your brand.

Think about what you want to achieve with the platform, that you can’t do elsewhere, and that’ll guide which strategy you pursue. 

3. Choose the Right Message and Medium

Once you know who you’re targeting, and what you want to achieve, the next thing you need to consider is your message. 

This should come somewhat naturally because you should know who you’re talking to and what you want them to do.

What you always want to consider, however, is how you’re adding value to their lives. 

Like we’ve said before, hard-sells on the platform almost certainly won’t work. 

You want to craft your message around showing off the benefits or features of your products in an engaging way.

A secondary consideration is also which medium you use within TikTok. As we covered there are a variety of formats available to you. 

Whether you use video ads, a content strategy or influencer marketing, the medium should match what your customer responds to and the message you’re trying to get across. 

4. Measure and Optimise 

Lastly, as with all marketing strategies, you must measure the tangible results of your campaign and optimise them on the fly. 

Measuring results is the best way to ensure you learn from your mistakes and continue to improve, as well as being able to prove the tangible marketing ROI. 

Continual optimisation means looking at what’s working and adjusting on the fly.
Not sure if something is going to work?
Try it out with a tiny budget, and scale it up if it works. 

That’s the strength of digital marketing, you’re not tied to one strategy. 


We hope this helped you decipher the developing world of TikTok marketing. 

We think it’s a platform with a lot of potential, and we’re excited to see where it goes. 

Stay tuned right here where we’ll keep you updated with any new developments or trends in the world of TikTok marketing you should know.


If you enjoyed this article or found it helpful, check out more e-commerce marketing content on the inSyte blog or listen to the inSyte Podcast.

This article was brought to you by Syte.

We’re a specialist e-commerce digital marketing agency dedicated to driving up your bottom line.

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