Looking to diversify your ad spend? Wondering if TikTok ads could reach your target audience?
In this article, you’ll discover how to use TikTok Spark Ads to amplify authentic user-generated content that promotes your business and products.
Why Advertise on TikTok?
We’ve heard from plenty of social media marketers who are reluctant to advertise on TikTok.
They don’t think the platform is ready for ads. They don’t think the platform has the right demographics. They don’t think they can create the right kind of content.
The thing is, we’ve heard those excuses before. People said exactly the same thing about Facebook 15 years ago. (Feeling old yet?)
Those excuses are as wrong as ever. TikTok offers a surprisingly flexible ad platform with many different ways to create or source content that works for your brand. It’s now a serious competitor with Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and other social platforms that offer paid advertising.
How TikTok Became a Major Competitor for Other Social Media Platforms
TikTok has actually been around for longer than most people realize but under a different name. The earliest prototype of the app, Musical.ly, was released in 2014. While TikTok has been through mergers and rebrands since then, the basic formula is the same: short, selfie-style videos with added backing track.
In the last few years, the social media network has grown exponentially. TikTok has begun to focus on monetization. They’ve borrowed a lot of tricks from other social media platforms to set up TikTok advertising offerings. You’ll recognize the basics from Facebook Business Manager: campaigns organized by objectives, creating custom audiences, using pixels to track ad results, and so on.
The combination of innovative content with established ad practices has been very successful. Recently, TikTok beat Google to the number-one spot for web traffic in the United States. Other social media platforms have responded to the competition by pivoting to short-form video and investing hundreds of millions in creator funds. But at the moment, TikTok still has the edge as a fresh, young platform.
Who Does TikTok Marketing Reach?
Most people think of TikTok as a teen app. They’re not wrong… The TikTok demographic does tend to skew younger.
However, that could be about to change. The fastest-growing demographic on the TikTok platform right now is the over-30s. Millennials, Gen Xers, and even Baby Boomers are joining the social network.
It’s taking a while for advertisers to catch up. Many brands aren’t using TikTok marketing. That’s especially true for brands that focus on older age groups. So now’s a very good time to start running TikTok ads while there’s less competition around.
TikTok Marketing Campaigns Offer More Reach for Less
Here’s one more argument in favor of TikTok and it’s a very persuasive one.
TikTok ads are much cheaper than anything on Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube right now. Every social media marketer knows that Facebook ad costs have gone through the roof, while targeting and return on ad spend have become weaker.
The Conference You've Been Waiting For
As a small business marketer, you can probably only pick one or two events to attend each year. Get an unbeatable conference experience and expert training at Social Media Marketing World in sunny San Diego, California—from your friends at Social Media Examiner.
🔥 As a valued reader, you can save $650 on an All-Access ticket if you act now! Sale Ends Tuesday! 🔥CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE
On average, a TikTok ad campaign offers about half of the cost per lead that Facebook does. It doesn’t have higher conversion rates, but because ad inventory is so much cheaper, your net sales figures will look healthier on TikTok.
If you’ve seen good results from Facebook ads, then TikTok will amplify your social results even further. But a word to the wise: you can’t run the same content on TikTok that you run on Facebook. You’ll need different content and different methods of targeting for a successful TikTok marketing strategy.
Let’s get into it.
How to Create a Native TikTok Ads Strategy
The TikTok app isn’t difficult to use but it is very different from other social networks. It’s entirely focused on short-form video. The right sound is more important than high production values and the way that the TikTok algorithm surfaces posts is different, too. Instead of focusing on getting followers, your goal is to make the most engaging, relatable content possible.
#1: Video Ads on TikTok
TikTok’s ad platform is pretty sophisticated so you don’t need to get into the weeds of selecting placements, times of day, and targeting parameters. The automated suggestions usually work just fine.
Instead, you need to focus your efforts on creating content. Lots of content. Then set the system to optimize for the lowest cost per view or cost per engagement, and see which of your TikTok videos performs best.
TikTok ads have a minimum spend of $20 per day, per ad campaign. However, you can spread that $20 across a lot of TikTok videos. Each campaign can contain multiple ad groups, with multiple ads inside. You’re aiming for a cost per view of around 1 to 5 cents. Look at which videos get the best results and try to find out what makes them work.
What Should Your Videos Look Like?
When you’re creating ads on TikTok, you can run videos of up to 3 minutes. Lately, the platform has been experimenting with videos of up to an hour.
But you really don’t need to make content that long. Keep your videos under 30 seconds so you maintain a high video completion rate. This is one of the key metrics that TikTok uses to assess your content. You want people to watch all the way through.
Does that seem too short? Don’t worry about it. The trick is to pack a lot into each clip. If people end up looping the video so they can gain more from it, that’s even better news for your video completion rate.
The best-performing videos on TikTok are brief, witty, and down to earth. Use selfie-style angles, jokes, and popular audio to connect with your audience.
You can use editing tools to cut different clips together or add effects. However, try to do most of your editing within TikTok. The algorithm rewards users for in-app editing… but punishes them for repurposed or non-native content.
How Targeting Works for TikTok Ads
TikTok offers less precise targeting than most other social marketing platforms. Until recently, you could only target audience on a national level.
But that’s not a problem. Why? Because the TikTok discovery algorithm is extremely powerful.
TikTok is really, really good at serving up content based on people’s interests. It also uses some next-level technology such as AI for background recognition. This means that if you include local landmarks in your videos, your content will be shown to more people near you.
So instead of worrying about location targeting or optimal post times, you just need to focus on content. Create and share videos that are relevant to your brand, industry, and audience’s interests. The TikTok algorithm will pretty much do the rest for you.
Which Type of Ads Should You Use?
There are several different ad types available on TikTok.
For now, we’re going to focus on the two most useful ad types: spark and lead ads.
Attention Agency Owners, Brand Marketers, and Consultants
Introducing the Marketing Agency Show–our newest podcast designed to explore the struggles of agency marketers.
Join show host and agency owner, Brooke Sellas, as she interviews agency marketers and digs deep into their biggest challenges. Explore topics like navigating rough economic times, leveraging AI, service diversification, client acquisition, and much more.
Just pull up your favorite podcast app, search for Marketing Agency Show and start listening. Or click the button below for more information.
- Spark ads are great for increasing reach, working with user-generated content, and raising brand awareness.
- Lead ads are great for converting views into leads and sales.
The two types work very differently. As we’ll see, for some ads, you may not even need to create content at all…
#2: Using TikTok Spark Ads
Spark ads are a bit like boosted posts on Facebook. You identify a video that’s performing well, and put ad spend on it to reach a wider audience.
What makes these ads special is that you can do this with any video. Even if it’s from a TikTok profile that has nothing to do with your brand or you don’t have a TikTok profile yourself and just set up a TikTok ad account.
This makes spark ads a great solution for brands of all sizes. Small businesses sometimes feel intimidated about producing content. Large companies and agencies sometimes struggle to work on something as small-scale as a short-form video. But with spark ads, you don’t have to create any content yourself, unless you want to.
According to TikTok, spark ads now account for 70% of all ad spend on the platform. Brands are using this ad format because it’s an effective, low-effort way to reach more people.
How Do Spark Ads Work?
To turn someone else’s content into a spark ad, you’ll need their consent.
Here’s how it works:
- You contact a creator and get their permission to boost their post.
- Next, they’ll need to opt into spark ads by turning on the Ad Authorization toggle in their privacy settings.
- Once that’s active, the creator can generate a unique code for the video in question.
- You use the code to import the post into TikTok Ads Manager, where you can set up ad spend and choose whether to add a call to action.
Once a post has been boosted with spark ads, it will have a small “Sponsored” tag at the bottom of the screen. The original organic content won’t change in any other way.
How to Choose Videos for Spark Ads
There are several different ways you can source content to use in spark ads.
- Social listening. Search for key terms that are relevant to your brand and industry, and then reach out to people with relevant content. You can also use TikTok’s analytics to look for any creators who mention you.
- TikTok Creator Marketplace. This search tool from TikTok is designed to connect creators with businesses. However, the creators on the marketplace tend to skew toward an older audience and charge more. This won’t be the right fit for every brand.
- Create your own content. You can boost videos from your own TikTok account with spark ads, too. If you’re just starting out, use spark ads to get more reach and see which videos perform best. Once you’re more established, you can be more selective, and only boost the videos that are most successful organically.
When you look for videos posted by other TikTok users, watch out for a few key characteristics:
- Instant hook. Does the video engage you immediately? If it doesn’t grab attention right away, it probably won’t succeed as an ad.
- Not too long. Remember, you want to maintain a high video completion rate. Clips under 30 seconds will perform best.
- Authentic style. The whole point of spark ads is that they don’t look like ads. You’re looking for genuine organic content, not high production values.
Many creators will be happy to work with you. After all, spark ads mean their content gets more attention, too. You can offer free gifts or gift cards as extra incentives. However, be wary of creators who ask for high fees. Real customers or employees with small followings will often have more impact than expensive influencers.
How to Edit and Use Videos for Spark Ads
Spark ads require minimal editing because the content is already created. And the targeting is already taken care of because your target audience created the video itself. It doesn’t get more precise than that.
However, you do need to be careful about copyright. You won’t be able to boost a post that uses copyrighted audio in the background. Fortunately, TikTok gives you the option to switch the audio out. You can replace the copyrighted music with audio from TikTok’s free library of ad sounds. Alternatively, go into the sound settings of the post, then turn down the music and turn up the original audio.
Once your post is ready to go… what are you aiming for?
Spark ads are usually best for top-of-funnel marketing. They’re great for brand awareness and word of mouth, but less good for conversions. The metrics you really want to focus on are the number of views and video completion rate.
You do have the option to add a call to action and landing page link when you boost a post with spark ads. This can work well for eCommerce businesses. However, if you’re focused on lead generation or work with a B2B company, lead ads will be a more useful conversion tool.
#3: Using TikTok Lead Ads
Once again, most social media marketers will be familiar with lead ads from Facebook. TikTok’s lead ads work similarly but they have to convince users to click with just a few seconds of short-form video.
How Do Lead Ads Work on TikTok?
A TikTok lead ad includes a link at the end of the video. When users tap it, they’re taken to a form that’s pre-filled with personal data they’ve already shared with TikTok. You can then extract that data to your CRM to start nurturing the lead.
Your cost per lead on TikTok will probably be around $3 to $4. That’s much higher than the average cost per view but still favorable compared with other lead sources for professional services.
How to Create Videos for TikTok Lead Ads
Your most important job in a lead ad video is to show people that the ad is relevant to them. If it’s a location-based offer, state the location in the video and use visual clues. If it’s a time-sensitive offer, use audio and text to emphasize that.
Even in a short video clip, you can tell a story that your target audience relates to. Show them what you do and what their experience with you will be like.
For example, a chiropractor might edit together clips of the initial consult, adjustment, and results. A subscription box service might show the process of packing, delivery, and unboxing at home.
Then you can take people to the lead form and encourage them to experience what they’ve seen for themselves.
Over to You
TikTok offers a range of ad options that are cost-effective and reach a wide audience. Although some social media marketers are intimidated by using TikTok for digital marketing, it couldn’t be easier to create ads, especially since you don’t even have to create your own content!
Other Notes From This Episode
- Connect with Michael Stelzner at @Stelzner on Instagram and at @Mike_Stelzner on Twitter.
- Watch this interview and other exclusive content from Social Media Examiner on YouTube.
Listen to the Podcast Now
This article is sourced from the Social Media Marketing Podcast, a top marketing podcast. Listen or subscribe below.
✋🏽 If you enjoyed this episode of the Social Media Marketing podcast, please head over to Apple Podcasts, leave a rating, write a review, and subscribe.
Stay Up-to-Date: Get New Marketing Articles Delivered to You!
Don't miss out on upcoming social media marketing insights and strategies! Sign up to receive notifications when we publish new articles on Social Media Examiner. Our expertly crafted content will help you stay ahead of the curve and drive results for your business. Click the link below to sign up now and receive our annual report!
3 Days of World-Class Training—Zero Travel!
Travel to Social Media Marketing World off the table? Get all of the great content at a fraction of the price with an On-Demand ticket.
That’s full access to recordings of every keynote, workshop, and session—the ones people travel thousands of miles to see. Don't wait. Get your On-Demand ticket and enjoy actionable content that you can watch anytime, anywhere.