TikTok’s footprint in the social media space exploded in 2022, as the short-from video site became the favorite of Gen-Zers and younger users. Its flexibility and popularity encourage creators and consumers to turn to the site for engaging, entertaining content spanning everything from humor to social trends to education—and beyond.
Unsurprisingly, businesses are looking to tap into the platform’s popularity to reach its wide and youthful audience, including the younger generation of business leaders. But just because TikTok captures a big share of social media users doesn’t mean business marketing content posted to the site will automatically succeed; it’s still essential to tailor your message and methods to the TikTok platform and audience. Below, 15 members of Forbes Agency Council discuss some of the common missteps business marketers should avoid when posting on TikTok.
1. Ignoring TikTok Culture And Style
One big “don’t” when it comes to using TikTok for business marketing is ignoring the unique culture and style of the platform. Success on TikTok requires creating authentic content that resonates with the TikTok community, using catchy music and visual effects and incorporating humor and trends. Simply treating TikTok like any other social media platform will likely result in a lack of engagement. – Kenny Tripura, Edkent Media
2. Reusing Creative Assets
Don’t try to reuse creative assets that aren’t TikTok-first. TikTok videos should be created with a platform-first approach in mind. Recalibrating creative assets that were originally produced as Instagram Reels, for example, does not work on TikTok. But an interesting fact is that the reverse can drive performance (lower-funnel sales). – Steven Lambertink, The Circle
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3. Burying The Lead
Brands should not bury the lead in a message and take forever to get to whatever point they’re trying to get to on TikTok. The platform is for people with short attention spans who want to be entertained, don’t sit and wait forever to learn something at the end of a post that’s a minute long. – Nicole Rodrigues, NRPR Group, Inc.
4. Posting Overly Produced and Polished Content
The biggest mistake brands make using TikTok is treating it like Instagram: using overly produced, polished, “perfect-feeling” content or pulling content that was previously used on Instagram. The content that works best on TikTok is real, unedited, raw, radically authentic and original. Leaning into that will breathe a crucial sense of fun, creativity and humanity into a brand. -Brad Zeifman, SHADOW
5. Post Promotional Or Self-Serving Content
Spamming users with unnecessary, irrelevant content is a big “no.” On TikTok, users want to be entertained and engaged with creative content, so if a business constantly posts promotional material or self-serving content, it will turn users off and damage its reputation. Businesses should focus on creating content that aligns with the values and interests of their target audience. – Frank Rojas, Qode Media Inc.
6. Representing Your Brand In A ‘Corporate’ Light
Do not repurpose other content for TikTok. Each channel has its own vibe, but creativity is paramount for TikTok. Content needs to be authentic; the TikTok audience craves uniqueness and entertainment. Don’t represent your brand in a stiff or “corporate” light. Show a different side of your brand’s personality and let your hair down. – Mario Mirabella, MSM Digital
7. Not Showing The Real You
Everyone knows that the demographic of TikTok is young. The one thing that young people cannot stand is when something isn’t authentic. You don’t have to hire a production crew and lighting specialists and have a script to go viral. Be real. Take your phone out and show the real you and how your company can help them. Speak to them like they are real people, not a demographic. Kids can spot a phony. -Jason Hall, FiveChannels Marketing
8. Jumping On A Trend Just To Fit In
Businesses using TikTok for marketing should stay away from jumping on a trend or challenge in order to fit in. If you know your product is not “cool” or a lifestyle product, any amount of trying to be that will only come across as trying too hard. Stick to your brand personality and bring value. If that can be done in a short and entertaining way, go for it. Above all, stick to your brand voice. – A. Lee Judge, Content Monsta
9. Not Boosting Paid Content
Not earmarking budget dollars for boosting the paid content you execute via a campaign is a huge miss. With the right partner, the right type of video and boosted content, your campaign can produce a high impact through sales and engagement. Gen-Zers love authenticity, so a copy-paste ad style isn’t going to perform. Tailor your content, and you’ll see a higher return. – Christine Faulhaber, Faulhaber Communications
10. Trying To Be Someone Else
In my opinion, brands must tread carefully when it comes to TikTok. Hopping on a bandwagon can help your brand go viral, but authenticity and realness are hugely important. So, don’t try to be someone else. It is important to remember your brand’s voice. Present content that is relevant to your clients and audience—that will ultimately resonate with your target audience the most. – Nataliya Andreychuk, Viseven
11. Trying To Force A Marketing Message
One big “don’t” when it comes to using TikTok for business marketing is being inauthentic or trying to force your marketing messages onto users. TikTok users tend to respond poorly to content that feels overly promotional or inauthentic, so it’s important to be genuine and authentic in your approach to marketing on the platform. – Zohaib Patoli, Lead Origin
12. Post Content That Doesn’t Relate To Your Brand
Don’t post irrelevant content that doesn’t relate to your brand or target audience. TikTok is all about creating unique and engaging content, so it’s important to stay on-brand and ensure that you create content that will resonate with your target audience. – Drew Urquhart, Banch Marketing
13. Not Carefully Vetting Micro-And Macro-Influencers
Brands and businesses should be very wary of how they spend their marketing dollars on micro- and macro-influencers. It’s critical they perform their due diligence by inspecting engagement metrics and overall audience fit. – Jordan Edelson, Appetizer Mobile LLC
14. Using a Hard Sales Push
One big “don’t” when it comes to using TikTok for business marketing is to try and push sales too hard. TikTok is all about entertaining and engaging content, not pushing sales messages. Trying to sell too much on TikTok can turn away potential followers and customers. – Justin Kline, Markerly Inc.
15. Not Considering Other Platforms
Test your audience and make sure TikTok is the right platform to use for the program in question. There are a variety of avenues available—LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and more—so make sure TikTok is the best place to showcase your campaign; otherwise, it will fail. – Leeza Hoyt, The Hoyt Organization, Inc.