Unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably heard about TikTok and its rising popularity. It’s known to be the platform of choice for younger audiences and many influencers.
But did you know that TikTok is ripe for budding Shopify brands that want to increase traffic and sales?
There’s a lot to unpack if you want to fully understand this growing platform and the impact it could have on your Shopify business.
Let’s dive into it:
- What is TikTok and how does it work?
- How can you connect Shopify to TikTok?
- Why selling on TikTok is a great idea
- How to start selling on TikTok with Shopify
- 4 Ways to market your brand on TikTok
- 8 TikTok marketing tips to help you increase sales
What is TikTok and how does it work?
TikTok is a social media platform on which its users can share short videos. It’s designed in a way that makes it easy to:
- Add entertaining filters
- Stitch your video to someone else’s video to make a response
- Add a variety of sound effects or music to your video
- “Duet” with other videos, which lets you add a video side-by-side with someone else’s original video
Unlike platforms like Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter, TikTok has a unique algorithm that helps users discover new content. This means that anyone has the potential to go viral, even if they’re brand new on the platform. Users with few followers can make a video blow up with the right blend of strategy and luck.
While it may have started as an app that teens used to do lip sync videos and viral dances, it’s evolved way beyond that. It has become a powerful platform on which influencers and brands can cultivate an audience.
So if you think TikTok is a waste of time for anyone but teens and young adults, think again.
Can you connect Shopify to TikTok?
One of the biggest benefits of using Instagram to sell ecommerce products is the direct integration to Shopify. It’s become the platform of choice for several Shopify brands in the past several years, thanks to this useful tool.
So can TikTok do the same? Ever since August of 2021, the answer is yes.
Now it’s easy for any ecommerce brand that uses Shopify to add their products directly to TikTok. The new shopping tab lets users browse for products without ever having to leave the platform. It’s social commerce at its best.
This means that it’s easier than ever for new brands to get discovered. And because TikTok wants its users to spend more time on the app, brands that use this feature are working towards a common goal with the tech giant.
Just like on Instagram, TikTok business accounts now have the option to add the Shopping tab to their profiles:
This means you can create a complete catalog of your Shopify products directly on TikTok without too much additional effort. Any user who visits your profile can browse through your products and purchase what they like with ease.
Why you shouldn't overlook TikTok as an ecommerce marketing platform
Ecommerce brands have so many marketing platforms to choose from — so why should you consider using TikTok? Sure, the platform isn’t perfect, but it’s filled with potential for a wide range of Shopify store owners.
First off, the way TikTok was designed makes it perfect for new potential customers to come across your content by pure chance. Unlike other social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube, you don’t have a traditional “feed” to go through.
Sure, there’s a section where you can scroll through content from people you’ve followed — it’s called the “Following” tab. But by default, when a user opens TikTok, they land on the “For You” tab. That’s where they can easily discover new content from literally anyone in the world based on their past viewing history.
So, unlike other platforms, TikTok is hard-wired to make new content easily discoverable by anyone.
For brands, that means a better chance at expanding your reach and increasing your audience.
TikTok already has a billion users worldwide. But, if your ecommerce brand wants to market to a younger audience, TikTok is especially interesting. That’s because 47.4% of its users are aged between 10 and 29 years old. In total, 25% are between 10 and 19, and 22.4% are between 20 and 29.
And there’s no reason to discount Gen Z as a customer base. Consumer spending for Gen Z in the US was $819.6 billion just in 2015. And this is only going up now that they’re older and are getting more disposable income. Additionally, 75% of people in this generation use smartphones as their electronic device of choice.
Another great reason to use TikTok to market your Shopify brand? Half of TikTok users buy products from brands they see on this platform. That’s huge! This means the app is choc-full of engaged users who are willing to spend money.
The New York Times resumes another reason why ecommerce on TikTok is booming right now — it’s all about the feel of the app:
“One source of TikTok’s power, however, is how unprofessional it still feels. Even when people are trying to sell you something, their messages seem off-the-cuff, like trustworthy recommendations rather than sponsored shilling.”
Creating content on TikTok is also a great way to share your content elsewhere. For instance, Instagram has a native link to TikTok. This means you can painlessly upload your TikTok content to Instagram without having to go through extra steps.
This is great since you can still benefit from the reach you can get on Instagram without pouring all your eggs in that basket.
But its format also works well for Youtube Shorts. So your TikTok content goes a long way!
Relying on Instagram alone is more and more difficult for brands
Instagram is an amazing platform for new and established brands who want to expand their reach, grow their email list, and make more sales. I’d still recommend that all brands create an Instagram account if they have the bandwidth to post on the platform regularly and consistently.
But make sure you don’t rely on Instagram alone if you’re a brand new Shopify brand. If you’re already established, there’s a good chance you can still succeed on Instagram. But if you aren’t, getting to a point where your efforts are profitable could be a struggle.
The truth is that Instagram is getting more and more saturated. It has been used as a platform to grow brands for years and years now.
Because of the saturation of content, creating high-quality and engaging content is getting more and more expensive. Ads are also more expensive than they used to be since there’s a higher demand for them.
All in all, the platform isn’t as efficient to make sales as it used to be.
Many ecommerce business owners are also unhappy with the algorithm since they struggle to get a good reach organically. The same thing happened with Facebook before, and now Instagram is experiencing a similar problem.
Brands also experience constant hurdles when they’re trying to purchase ads. Ads get disapproved for reasons that brands struggle to understand. Some brands even get their ad accounts disapproved — and when this happens, it’s difficult to get it back again.
If you still want to use Instagram, you can do so even if you switch to TikTok, but creating content for Instagram alone isn’t efficient. Photos from Instagram don’t transfer to other platforms like TikTok or Youtube. Meanwhile, TikTok videos can work on any platform. On Instagram and Facebook, they’re called Reels. On Youtube, they’re called Shorts.
Get started on TikTok with Shopify: how to create your brand account
If you’re convinced that TikTok is a platform that has the potential to work for you, here’s how you can get started.
1. Create a business account
First, you’ll need a TikTok for Business account. You’ll need a business account if you want to be able to use paid ads and showcase your products via TikTok Shopping. If you don’t intend to use paid ads or the product catalog at all, you can skip steps 1 through 3.
Go to TikTok For Business and click Create Now to create your account.
You’ll get redirected to ads.tiktok.com, where you can fill in your information and create your account.
If you already have a personal TikTok account for your brand, you can sign up with that same account so that both are connected. Just select the Sign up with TikTok button on the Sign Up page.
2. Choose an Ads Manager mode
When you’re done creating your account, TikTok will ask you to choose between Simplified or Custom mode for your Ads Manager.
You can always switch between these options later, so don’t overthink it. If you don’t have a ton of experience with other ad managers, start with the simplified version.
3. Walk through the first ad creation process
Whether you want to create an ad right away or not, TikTok will walk you through the creation of your first ad. Think of it as a tutorial when you start a new video game.
If you don’t intend to create an ad right away, just go through this process without putting too much thought into it. You can delete the campaign later.
4. Connect to your personal account — or create a new TikTok account
A TikTok account isn’t the same thing as a TikTok For Business account. When you post organic content and comment on other people’s videos, you’ll be using a regular TikTok account. But when you’re managing your ads, you’ll be doing that from your TikTok For Business account.
If you’re in the ad creation process, you can make your ads show up from your regular account by connecting it once you’re at the Create Ad step.
But if you’re not running ads, just go to TikTok.com and create your account.
On your brand’s regular TikTok account, you’ll want to add:
- A profile picture that represents your Shopify store, like a logo
- A short, engaging bio with your slogan
- A link to your website, link landing page, or for your latest promoted item
Keep in mind that most of these options will only be editable on the mobile version of the app. So you can go through the account creation process on a desktop, but expect to customize your profile on your phone.
And you’re done! Now you have a TikTok brand account from which you can post content, engage with other users, or launch some ads if you wish.
4 ways to market your Shopify brand on TikTok
Now let’s explore the four main ways you can expand your reach and make more sales for your Shopify store using Tiktok.
1. Add your Shopify products to TikTok Shopping
Remember that one of the great things about using TikTok if you’re a Shopify brand is that you can directly showcase your products on your own personal catalog! To do so, you’ll need to go to your TikTok Ads Manager — not your personal profile.
Click on Assets on the top bar and select Catalogs.
From there, you’ll be able to walk through the Catalog creation process.
Be careful with your settings, since you won’t be able to change anything except the name of the Catalog once you create it.
Once you have a catalog, the world is your oyster! You can manually add products from your Shopify store, or you can create a data feed schedule, too. Your products can be added individually or in sets.
Play around with these settings until you’re happy with how your catalog looks. You can even add a pixel — a piece of code that tracks events from your website — so that TikTok will know when you get purchases.
Keep in mind that TikTok limits your product descriptions to 34 characters. So if you have long product descriptions on your website, you’ll need to set some time aside to make them snappier.
2. Implement an organic content strategy
Paid ads and catalogs are great, but organic content is much cheaper to create. You’ll have to factor in the labor cost for the people on your team creating the content — or the time cost if you’re the one handling it all. But because of the way the algorithm works, it's still a great time to use organic content on TikTok.
Whether you’re doing it all on your own, paying someone on your team to create the content, or hiring contractors or agencies, make sure you make the most of your marketing budget by leveraging the organic algorithm.
This means you should post consistently and regularly. The more you post, the higher your chances of getting discovered by new users — and new potential shoppers!
3. Run TikTok ads
Ads can give you a much wider reach much faster than organic content can. You don’t have to rely on going viral. However, it does cost more than organic content. Not only will you have to produce the content, but you’ll also have to pay to get people to see it.
Because TikTok is a video platform, you can only upload video ads. This makes them more time-consuming to create than image ads.
But the good news is that ads that tend to work well on TikTok have a low production value. So there’s no need to purchase expensive equipment and go through a rigorous editing process.
Instead, try using a format that’s similar to what you’d see with organic content. This type of ad will blend it more naturally with the rest of a user’s feed.
That’s why ads you’ll see usually look like they’ve been filmed on a mobile device in someone’s homes.
When you’re creating ads, make sure to choose the most appropriate goal for your campaign. If you’re using the Simplified Mode, you’ll have three options:
- Connect with customers: Useful if you want to get more followers and create engagement on your TikTok brand profile
- Get website visits: This goal focuses on getting the most traffic possible to your link
- Generate customer leads: You can gather contact information using a form
The menu will also show you the option of driving conversions as a goal. Conversions are events like purchases, opt-ins, app downloads, etc. For your Shopify store, conversions should be purchases or email opt-ins. But to choose the conversion goal, you’ll have to switch to Custom Mode.
Choosing the right goal will let TikTok know how they should optimize your campaign. So, if a certain audience is clicking a lot but not buying — and you set your goal to conversions — they won’t show your ads to that audience too much. People who click aren’t necessarily the same type of people who buy.
4. Partner with TikTok influencers
Ads aren’t the only way you can pay for exposure on TikTok. Just like any other platform, you can pay TikTok influencers to create sponsored content for you.
That content will get shared with their followers, but it will also get seen by other users thanks to the algorithm.
You’ll have to reach out directly to influencers or their brand managers to negotiate a sponsored deal. Keep in mind that it’s against the law for influencers to create sponsored content without disclosing it to their audience, so make sure you never ask anything to do this for you.
8 TikTok marketing tips to help you increase your Shopify sales
Now that you know the four main methods to market your store on TikTok, let’s explore how you can make the most of the platform — especially if you’re banking on organic content. But keep in mind that most of these tips apply to content you’ll promote as ads, too.
1. Keep it casual — but upgrade your sound
TikTok users don’t really connect with videos that have a high production value. The best content feels like an individual created it from their phone.
And now that so many brands hire their teams to work from home, this has become even more true! Social media managers can create content for their employers from the comfort of their own homes.
So don’t feel like you have to scout “professional” locations or get the best-looking videos.
However, quality sound does matter. Consider investing in a microphone that you can connect directly to your mobile devices. Low-quality sound can get irritating or even difficult to understand.
2. Stay on top of the trends
To succeed on TikTok, you’ll have to understand what makes people ‘tick’ on this app.
Spend time on the app and consume content regularly. Take notes on what people are doing and what trends seem to be surfacing.
Take notice if anything goes viral. You’ll know something is viral if it has tons of views.
Trends are constantly evolving on the app. You don’t have to follow every single trend. But do keep yourself in the know for what people enjoy looking at. You’ll have a better chance of developing viral content if you create what people want to see.
3. Create authentic content
Spend any amount of time on TikTok and you’ll notice that ads on this platform are quite different from what you’ll see on other sites. Blatant sales pitches don’t work well on TikTok — even with paid ads. That’s why they have such a different feel.
This is especially true with ecommerce ads. Most of the ones I’ve seen involve people who don’t look like actors (even if they are). They’re usually in what looks like a real house or apartment. In other words, it feels authentic.
Focus on entertaining your audience first and foremost. If it’s not entertaining, they’ll just scroll past your content.
Your content can (and should) include your products. But not every video needs to tell your audience to buy the product — unless it’s an ad, in which case you should make the call to action as clear as possible.
Here are some examples of content you can post to entertain and engage your audience:
- Showcase the best ways to use your product: tips and tricks, hacks, features your customers may not know about, etc.
- Show people doing or performing something fun while wearing or using your product
- Use trivia questions
- Host a live sale to promote a new product, collection, or just connect with your audience
- Visualize relatable situations that your target audience will understand
Remember that not every video needs to be a hit. You can try out different variations and see what your audience responds to.
4. Make use of the platform’s editing features
Don’t edit your TikTok videos on a desktop! If you’re trying to create TikTok-worthy content using editing software like Premiere Pro, you’ll put in much more work than necessary for content that may not even be a hit.
TikTok comes with its own editing tools. They’re what other users take advantage of to create the viral content you’ll see on your feed.
Make use of the functionalities that TikTok gives you. The style you can get from these tools is what users enjoy.
Some popular tools you can use to edit your videos on TikTok include:
Filters: new filters get added every day. Some are simple, like those that add an effect to the screen. But others are highly complex — you’ll find everything from green screen options to interactive games and so much more. Have fun with these!
Music and sound effects: TikTok started as a musical app (musical.ly), so it only makes sense that its music and sound effects bank is so expansive. Add a soundtrack to your content, have fun lip-synching songs or conversations from other videos, or add fun sound effects to give your videos the right mood. You can even add sound on top of existing videos if you forgot to add them in before.
Transitions: You can create easy transitions using the built-in effects, but TikTok also allows you to create manual transitions. You’ll need to record your content using the Camera mode instead of the default Quick mode to do this. This mode lets you record a clip, then switch locations and start recording again.
Speed: You can adjust the speed setting on every video your record. This lets you create slow-motion or time-lapse videos.
Built-in clip adjustor: You can adjust the length of your video clips individually once you’ve filmed them.
Stickers: The TikTok stickers can create a visual appeal for your TikTok videos, but they can also help you engage with your audience with tools like polls. Some stickers even allow you to do minor edits, like a face zoom.
Titles and captions: I’ll go into more detail about these later, but there’s so much you can do directly on TikTok to add these to your videos.
5. Add baked-in titles in your videos
Many users decide whether or not to watch a video based on a split-second decision. This short attention span can make it difficult to engage your audience.
That’s why you should consider adding baked-in titles to your videos. There isn’t a feature called “baked-in titles” on TikTok, but they’ve become a popular technique to let users know what to expect from a video.
In short, you can use stickers or text to give your video a descriptive title. Users can see what your video is about in a single glance. If that topic interests them, they can stop scrolling and watch.
It’s important to add that description to your caption, too. But many users don’t read captions as they’re scrolling. They’ll only read captions once they’re already engaged. So that’s why baked-in titles work better than the captions.
6. Add captions to improve accessibility
- Not all users can hear well
- Some can hear well but don’t have the sound on
- Captions fix both issues
- You can even rely on captions only instead of speech
7. Be consistent
You’ll find it difficult to grow your brand and establish a loyal following if you don’t post consistently on TikTok.
Consistently doesn’t mean five times a day. Being consistent only means that you establish a posting schedule and keep up with it. So, if you decide you’ll post once a day, then keep doing that no matter what.
Consistency will help you develop an audience of loyal followers. Most people who view your content won’t become loyal followers. But those who do will start expecting your content. When they see you pop up in their feed, they’ll almost always watch and engage with your videos.
To make sure you stay consistent, consider creating a content calendar. Plan out your videos in advance and batch the process. Just make sure you don’t develop your videos too early since trends tend to come and go quickly.
8. Stitch or duet with users who feature your products
TikTok has two features that Shopify brands should take advantage of: the stitch and the duet.
A stitch is when you take a section of someone else’s video and put it at the start of your own video. For example, if you’re a brand selling smartwatches, you could find someone working out with your product. You could then stitch part of that video and follow it up with a video explaining the benefits of working out with your watch.
A duet, on the other hand, is a side-by-side edit. When you duet with someone, their video appears on the left of the screen while yours appears on the right. For example, you could film yourself or someone on your team having a funny reaction to someone using your product in an awesome way.
Both stitches and duets are awesome ways of featuring people who use your products ‘in the wild’. Doing so encourages your customers to create content for you. It solidifies the relationship you have with your most loyal customers — and helps you get new ones, too!
Grow a Shopify empire using TikTok
TikTok provides an amazing opportunity for ecommerce brands that are just starting out. But one aspect that all brands should remember is that purchases aren’t everything. Imagine spending a ton on ad spend and content creation only for all your first-time buyers to never shop at your Shopify store again!
That’s why you should consider optimizing your website to get people to opt into your email list. Once people go from TikTok to your Shopify website, Getsitecontrol helps you capture more potential customers and grow your email list using pop-up promos and forms. Try it for free to test it out for yourself.
Charlene Boutin is a freelance content writer & email marketing strategist for hire specializing in helping Ecommerce and SaaS businesses increase conversions by growing authentic relationships with their audience. She loves helping business owners tell their unique stories to capture the hearts of more customers.
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