This article was updated on March 15, 2023
As Square’s 2023 Future of Commerce Report found, retailers today are experimenting with multiple ways of meeting the evolving needs of their customers. Social commerce is playing a huge role in this change, with 91% of retailers reporting that they are now selling on social media. As for consumers, 58% report being open to trying newer, digital methods of shopping — including on TikTok, the vast social media network that currently sees 3.2 million Canadians each month. Known for its short-form videos recommended based on what users like, watch, and follow, TikTok has an algorithm-powered ability that serves up the exact content users want to see. This feature has helped make it massively popular.
The platform’s popularity with younger generations (43% of 18-29-year-olds and 30% of 30-39-year-olds) is poised to grow in the coming years, particularly as Gen Z uses TikTok as a search engine to do everything from finding new restaurants to discovering new products.
TikTok is a smart place for your business to be and can help open the door to a new and younger customer base. Here are five tips for success when selling on TikTok.
1. Set up a TikTok Business Account and a TikTok Shop
TikTok Business Accounts and TikTok Shops are cornerstones for selling on the platform. Here’s how they work and how to set them up.
TikTok Business Account
Business Accounts are public profiles that allow businesses to use TikTok marketing tools. TikTok encourages businesses to consider their account a “home base” to build connections and share content. A TikTok Business Account lets you access performance and audience data analytics, a 500,000+ piece commercial music library, post scheduling, a business suite for your support needs, and a creative hub offering guidance on content creation.
To create a Business Account, set up a personal account and edit your settings by clicking Manage Account. From there, you can switch to a Pro Account, choose Business or Creator, and then pick a category for your business. To complete the setup, add a link to your website or online store and an email address where customers can reach you — both appear on your profile and are essential to driving commerce through the app.
You can start posting content once your account is ready to go. How-tos, funny videos, informational or educational content, and videos based on trending hashtags or challenges tend to perform well on the platform. Everything you post should align with the values and image of your brand.
Using TikTok Shops, you can display and sell products directly on TikTok through in-feed videos, LIVEs, and the product showcase tab. Available in a growing number of markets, TikTok Shops facilitate direct, end-to-end eCommerce on TikTok — from product discovery and product detail pages to shipping, billing, purchases, and returns.
To set up a TikTok Shop, you must upload several business documents and wait for one to two days. Once approved, you can add products and link your bank account. From there, you can manage your shop, inventory, orders, promotions, creator partnerships, and customer service in one place.
Another avenue for showcasing your products is a TikTok Storefront. With a TikTok Storefront, you can create a product catalogue through your business account and direct users to check out on your app or eCommerce site.
2. Showcase your products with captivating content
According to TikTok, soft-sell videos typically appeal to viewers more than hard-sell videos. Tag your videos with products from your catalogue, but don’t overdo it. Otherwise, your audience may turn away from heavily commercialized content.
When you want to showcase your products directly, it’s wise to do so in ways that drive up their appeal. How? Use good lighting, take close-up shots, and ensure that what’s in the background helps the product pop (like brightly coloured products over contrasting backgrounds). Also, don’t forget that all TikTok videos automatically play with audio, so you’ll want to include a voiceover, music, or audio clips.
LIVE Shopping Ads are another option to connect with TikTok viewers in real-time videos and share shoppable links to products and services. By extending your reach on the platform, LIVE Shopping Ads help shoppers discover your products and are a valuable tool for guiding customers through their purchasing journey. To create LIVE Shopping Ads, visit TikTok Ads Manager to create a new campaign and start your livestream from the Ads Manager.
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3. Use TikTok Ads
TikTok offers various advertising options, including In-Feed Ads, TopView (the position of the first ad a user sees when they open TikTok), Branded Hashtag challenges, and Branded Effects.
The platform also offers different advertising formats. Spark Ads is a TikTok ad format that boosts your organic posts or relevant posts from creators, turning them into In-Feed Ads or TopView content. Spark Ads can help create ads that maintain an organic and authentic approach.
TikTok Promote, one of the more traditional advertising formats on the platform, is an easy way to generate more video views, website visits, and followers. TikTok Promote allows you to amplify any organic TikTok video by turning it into an ad; Promote also offers insights into how your video performed at the end of your campaign. To use TikTok Promote, select a video you want to promote and choose the campaign’s goal, budget, and timeframe.
4. Leverage influencers and user-generated content
Canadians use social networks as essential information sources when making shopping decisions. Expanding your TikTok presence to include influencer- and user-generated content can authenticate your brand and grow your audience.
Partnering with influencers — or creators, as TikTok calls them — helps expand your reach and feature your brand in new kinds of content, which can keep your brand top of mind for new and different audiences. You can quickly request access to TikTok’s Creator Marketplace to find and collaborate with influencers. Simply filter the creator catalogue for topics, location, reach, and more.
If you’re looking to repost user-generated content to build your brand awareness and audience, use hashtags or search to find content that aligns with your brand. When you discover product reviews or other brand mentions using hashtags, contact the account owners for permission to repost.
5. Connect with shoppers and provide customer support
Your Business Account and TikTok Shop are powerful tools for posting and reposting content and building meaningful relationships with your audience and potential customers. Invest time in connecting and establishing trust with shoppers by using the two-way communication that the platform provides.
If you use TikTok for commerce (through a TikTok Shop or TikTok Storefront), read and respond to customers’ comments and direct messages immediately. Use TikTok Q&A to give customers a formal way to pose questions to which you can craft video responses and post on your profile or Storefront. By incorporating TikTok customers’ feedback into how you do business on the platform, you ensure they continue to trust your brand and shop with you.
Build a social commerce strategy on TikTok
As TikTok tests, expands, and brings new commerce features and shopping experiences to Canada, businesses have plenty of opportunities to reach the app’s widespread audience.
Building your social commerce strategy, creating content that resonates with shoppers, and leveraging eCommerce tools can help drive awareness of your businesses on TikTok and reach a new base of engaged customers.
Want more insights on how retail store owners are innovating in 2023? Get a deeper look into these popular trends in our 2023 edition of the Future of Retail report.