TikTok for Brands

February 18, 2021

Last update


10 MIN.

A Beginner's Guide to TikTok Marketing

TikTok has gone from non-existent to a near necessity for brands in the past months. No one wants to be left behind, however starting from scratch is terrifying

Emily Marsh

Emily Marsh

A Beginner's Guide to TikTok Marketing

TikTok Marketing – the two words don’t appear to go together in the same sentence… right?

If you’re wondering which rock you were living under when TikTok suddenly became a legitimate place for business, you’re not alone.

TikTok marketing has jumped from non-existent to almost a necessity for brands in the space of a few months. No one wants to be left behind, however the thought of having to start from scratch on a new platform can be daunting… No, actually, it’s terrifying. 🤯

Never fear, Emily’s here. I’m going to walk you through the basics of getting started with TikTok marketing, if you’re a social media marketer at a bit of a loss.

Get ready, here goes!

What is TikTok (and why should you be on there)?

TikTok is a video sharing social media platform with a mission:

“…to capture and present the world’s creativity, knowledge, and precious life moments, directly from the mobile phone. TikTok enables everyone to be a creator, and encourages users to share their passion and creative expression through their videos.”

Originally aimed at Gen Z and a younger demographic, the app is progressively becoming more and more popular with older generations, as well as brands, although 41% of its users are aged between 16 and 24. TikTok was launched worldwide after merging with the Musical.ly app in August 2018. In August 2020, just 2 years later, TikTok surpassed the 1 billion user mark.

So, I think we can agree the potential for business is there. But where to start? 🤔

Let’s start with the basics.

Where to start on TikTok

First things first. If you want to jump into TikTok marketing for your business, you need to have an account set up and ready to go. Pretty simple, but if you’ve zero experience on the platform, follow this little guide to get it done quickly and move onto the next stage.

Setting up your account

Start by downloading the TikTok app on your smartphone and tapping Sign up.

You can use your phone number, email address, Facebook account, Google account or Twitter handle to create your TikTok account, so think carefully about which of these profiles you want to be associated with your TikTok.

You’ll also have to enter your date of birth, but don’t worry, it won’t be visible on your profile!

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Filling out your bio section

Once you arrive on your brand new TikTok profile page, you’re immediately prompted to create a video. BUT hold your horses, there are some important steps to take before you go shooting TikToks out into the world!

Start by filling out your bio for example. Now, as you probably know from Instagram, the bio section of your profile is where people arriving on your page get their very first impression of you and your business. You want your bio to be short and concise – and this is made easy on TikTok as the bio space is limited to just 80 characters.

My advice? A few words on the problem your product or service solves and which audience you’re addressing, i.e: Eco-friendly cosmetics for mothers and babies.

Straight to the point!

To add your bio from your profile page, tap here:

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The next step is to convert your account into a brand account. This is a good idea as it will set your account apart from the personal profiles which dominate the platform, and (drumroll, please 🥁) it allows you to place a clickable link in the bio section of your profile. Let me show you how to do that right now!

Switching to a Pro (Business) account

To switch to a Pro account, you need to click on the three dots on the top right of your profile page (your Settings and Privacy menu) and then on Manage my account.

The Settings and Privacy menu also allows you to tweak many other options, but for now let’s just focus on creating the Business account. 😉

From there, simply tap on Switch to pro Account for the next step to display.

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Next up, you’ll have the option of choosing between a Creator account and a Business account.

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As you can see on the screen, Creator accounts are best for public figures, artists and influencers, while Business accounts are directed at brands, retailers, organiztions and service providers.

Select the Business account option and you’ll be asked which type of business you are.

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There aren’t many options, so if you’re not sure what to choose, I’d recommend just selecting Brand.

And that’s it – your business account is all set up and ready to go! Waste no time in getting your account settings just the way you like them, adding a profile picture and a clickable link to your bio, to take advantage of the extra traffic you’ll be creating.

You can do all this by clicking on Edit profile from your profile page, and then on Website link to add a clickable bio link.

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If you’re unsure which link to put in your bio, consider a tool that groups your most important URLs together under one, custom link. Like Omnilink! This tool, created by Iconosquare, is totally free and will allow you to create a personalized landing page where you can host all of your links and content. Feel free to check it out!

Now your account is set up, you need to get down to the nitty gritty – creating content for your Business account!

How to create content for TikTok

Now comes the tricky part of the guide. Creating engaging content for TikTok is the single most important part of your TikTok marketing strategy. Get this right and you’ll build an engaged community in no time and get the traffic flowing to your website. Get it wrong and you’ll simply be invisible on the platform.

But don’t worry. If you’re creating your own brand content for TikTok, I’ve got a couple of tips to help you get it right on your very first try! 💪

Here are a few steps to follow before you begin creating:

Step 1: Check out your competitors’ accounts

I recommend taking the time to list your competitors and find as many as you can on the TikTok platform. Once you’ve found a handful of accounts who are actively using TikTok within your industry, you can begin to take inspiration from the content they post.

Make a list (I love lists) of the different types of content they post. Maybe there are tutorials on how to use their products, maybe there is some UGC (user-generated content) on there, and perhaps a few funny videos too? Anything your competitors are doing is worth a shot – and their content may even give you inspiration to try something totally different too!

Step 2: Do some hashtag research

Pay close attention to the hashtags on your competitors’ Tiktoks. These are the tags they use to reference their content within the platform, so they’re probably the ones you’ll want to be using as well. Again, any inspiration is good inspiration!

Once you’ve compiled your list of hashtags to use for your content, you can also go ahead and check out how other accounts are using those hashtags on TikTok. Search for them individually for yet another dose of inspiration for your content strategy.

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Step 3: Take inspiration from current trends

We’ve all seen the recent trends from TikTok – if you haven’t, pretend you have 😉 – which are mainly challenges to perform dance moves to specific music or funny lip-syncs, all the rage with Gen Z! Look up #wipeitdownchallenge and you’ll see what I mean.

You’re probably thinking these trends are simply incompatible with brand content (even on TikTok) and you’re right, a lot of these trends are forbidden territory if you’re a business on the app. However, there are challenges which are more accessible for brands, like #womensupportingwomen for example.

You need to remember that these TikToks get billions of views. That’s right, billions.

And the hashtags that go along with the challenges are like gold. I recommend that you – at the very least – take inspiration from these trends, even if it means mixing up the challenge to make it more compatible with your brand image, in order to still take advantage of the hashtag.

So get into some good lighting and make your own version, adapt it however you like, but make it popcorn-worthy 🍿, engaging and don’t forget, this kind of content is what the platform was made for!

Step 4: Monitor and analyze your performance

Using a tool like Iconosquare to measure your results, keep an eye on current trends and better understand your audience and its behavior is absolutely essential if you want to succeed on a platform like TikTok.

Third party apps offer more, and easier-to-understand stats than the native analytics up for grabs on the social platforms themselves, so it's always worth checking out a 14-day free trial with a tool like Iconosquare!

Step 5: Have fun!

Probably the most important tip you’ll read in this guide, and your reward for reading to the end is this: you need to have fun and be laid back on TikTok, if you want to survive.

TikTok users are used to consuming content, they know what they like and what they don’t like. If they sense your content isn’t genuine TikTok material, they simply won’t want to see it anymore.  It’s a ruthless world. 😅

So relax, breathe, throw out your Linked in hat, and put on your funky TikTok sombrero. 🔥 It’s time to have some fun with filters, audio, effects and more!

If you’re not comfortable creating the content yourself or simply can’t find the inspiration, another fantastic option is to work with influencers on the platform. Along with advertising, influencer marketing is a paid option which if done correctly can get you great results.

Something to look into if you want to test out TikTok in your industry!


And there you have it! A complete starter kit for TikTok marketing.

Don’t be afraid to mix these tips up a bit and see what works best for you and your team – once you hit the sweet spot, there’ll be no turning back!

the writer
Emily Marsh

Emily Marsh

Head of Marketing @Iconosquare

Emily is Head of Marketing at Iconosquare and also Podcast Producer! If you'd like to be interviewed for the esm² podcast she hosts, don't hesitate to get in touch via emily@iconosquare.com


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