August 3, 2022

10 things to know about getting your brand started on TikTok

Your brand is ready to take the plunge to run paid social TikTok but what are the rules, and where do you even start?

Pollenary specialise in campaign marketing, content creation and paid media that unlocks growth for our clients. Here we outline how consumer and e-commerce can thrive on TikTok, starting with…

Why Tiktok?

TikTok boomed into the mainstream in 2020 and it has enormously influenced culture ever since; in fact, TikTok has surpassed Google and Facebook as the world’s most popular web domain.

It’s evolved from dancing trends into a serious platform for all ages and backgrounds that come together to create many communities and micro-niches. New statistics suggest that 37% of users are aged 30 and over, which means TikTok continues to mature.

Source: App Ape

With such a large user base TikTok can be a hugely cost-effective advertising platform compared to competitors like Google and Meta. TikTok has considerably lower CPMs so you can reach quality users and drive traffic for a fraction of the cost, lowering your CPA (cost per acquisition). Our own experience has shown us that TikTok traffic can be up to 5x cheaper than Meta, therefore allowing us to reach much larger audiences on a smaller budget.

10 things to know about getting your brand started on TikTok

1. Think about your cost and consideration time.

The general rule of thumb is: the more expensive the item, the longer the consideration time. A low cost item is much more likely to be an impulse buy and requires very little consideration.

Selling an item costing £500+ is a completely different matter. A consumer is much more likely to do their research and weigh up the pros and cons of various different models before purchasing. They may even decide that item isn’t a priority for them at the moment.

If you launch ads for a low-cost item you'd be more likely to get same-day purchases, whereas for a high-cost item it may take weeks (or even months!) before the consumer decides to take the plunge. The higher the product cost, the longer you’ll need to wait for accurate results.

For TikTok therefore, lower cost items with a shorter sales cycle are better suited to the platform.

2. Make “TikToks” not ads.

This seems like the opposite of what you’re supposed to do. Surely I'm running ads so I should be making ads? Well, only kinda!

TikTok users value authenticity and homemade content, so user-generated or influencer ads will resonate more with audiences. Ideally your content should blend in so well that users don’t initially realise it’s an ad. TikTok is not simply a platform that you can re-purpose existing content onto, thinking you can just take advantage of lower CPMs and CPCs.

The TikTok platform is so different from everything else that it requires its own content style and strategy. This is something we’ve been doing with our client NUE Hoops by latching onto existing trends and content style, and then incorporating this in our ads. Crucially however, we’re not just churning out TikToks in an attempt to “go viral” with content that may or may not drive sales volume. The trends used in the ad creative allow us to “fit in” to the platform, but creative is still tailored to touch upon consumer pain points, educate them on product USPs and how it can provide a solution and to invoke action-taking.  

The advantages of this are creatives that drive greater thumb-stop, better watch time, and overall higher conversions, at a lower cost.

3. Be a TikTok native.

Understanding your audience, how they think, and the content they consume is vital to succeeding in social advertising. It is vital to TikTok yourself on a regular basis to become familiar with the overall style and trends, and be aware of the relevant hashtags on the platform. Look at what’s working, what’s not, what gets good engagement and what flops, and if there are any prominent trends or hooks that consistently tend to perform well.

If you want more ad-specific data you can use the TikTok Ad Library to find the ads that are performing best in your product category.

4. Low-fi is best.

TikTok is largely a user-generated content space for people to share information, memes, and life experiences. It’s a platform for everyday people, and the content reflects that too.

In order to gain success here you’ll need to create content that goes along the grain. If you grab your phone and sit in front of a light source, you’re good to go! So you can create much more content in a short amount of time for your brand.

5. Expect under-tracking.

Since iOS14, attribution challenges have become the norm on all social advertising platforms. TikTok’s iOS users outnumber their Android counterparts by two to one, so under-tracking is a bigger issue here. Additionally,  TikTok’s tools are less advanced than Meta’s, lacking an equivalent to Aggregated Event Measurement, for instance, so there is less of an ability to mitigate this.

A recent experiment we ran showed that up to 75% of conversions were not attributed back to TikTok's platform, inflating our tracked CPA, despite customer orders and revenue looking extremely healthy.

You’ll need to be creative with how you measure success as a result – as the ads platform will be missing more data than you’re used to, even compared to Meta. Incorporating a specific sale code such as ‘TikTok30’ for exclusive discounts, running on TikTok only, will allow you to easily measure which users came from the platform. We’ve also been experimenting with geolift tests, where we target ads in a specific geographical location, and measure if sales increase within this area.

6. Act natural.

You need to be  incorporating a person into your TikTok ads and it’s vital it is someone who is comfortable on camera and not overly sales-y or unconfident. TikTok is all about being your authentic, comfortable, honest self, and users can easily detect if you’re faking it!

And be honest. Audiences don’t want perfection, we want to be mirrored and see ourselves represented online. If your hair is a mess and your dress isn’t ironed that’s okay – it makes you more relatable!

7. Incorporate sound.

If you’ve been in social advertising for a while now you’ll know that this is the exact opposite to the ‘sound off’ mantra that’s been drummed into Facebook advertisers.

However with TikTok 88% of users believe sound is essential to the TikTok experience. This may mean users are more likely to use TikTok in evenings and weekends and check their other social media throughout the working day.

A good soundtrack can really elevate a piece of content; either by reinforcing the brand tone of voice, or creating a personal touch with a voice over. This is something we did for our client New Gen – the ad still works without the sound, but the music really hammers home the attitude of their brand.

8. Can you demonstrate your USP?

TikTok, even more so than other social media platforms, is primarily an audio visual platform, so text isn’t able to do any of the heavy lifting.

Ideally you need a physical product where you can demonstrate the USP in 15 seconds or less. Your audience will have seen hundreds of products advertised throughout the day acrossTV, billboards, email marketing and radio, so you want your product to really stand out as something unique in a way that can be demonstrated without relying on text explainers

We did this with our content for Nue Hoops by showing a charm going onto the earring hoop. Whilean extremely simple tactic, in a world of “fixed” jewelry, this helped us to demonstrate clearly the concept of customisable jewelry and helps them to stand out from every other jewelry ad in thefeed.

9. Perfect the hook.

Our time is precious, and we are incredibly selective about the pieces of content we choose to watch. We put a huge emphasis on creating ads that capture people's attention instantaneously, as this is even more vital on TikTok,We measure the percentage of viewers who watched at least 3 seconds of the content, which we call the 'thumb stop' ratio.

Your video could be the funniest, most exciting, attention grabbing piece of content in the world; but if the first couple of seconds aren’t strong enough no one is ever going to see it! This is why at Pollenary, hooks are probably the thing we test most, because if you have the right hook that’s more than half the battle!

10. Test and iterate!

If you’re running TikTok ads and they’re performing well that’s great, but the crucial part is knowing why. It could be the hook, the copy, the text on screen, the soundtrack, the model, or even the opening frame. Which is why it’s necessary to iterate on best-performers and test them, only then will you truly know what is resonating with your audience.

Which is why at Pollenary we work in sprints, constantly iterating and testing so that our best-performers just keep on getting better!

I hope you enjoyed our top 10 for getting your brand on TikTok and believe you now have the knowledge to add a TikTok marketing strategy into your marketing practice. If it sounds confusing and you’d like our help, get in touch with Nick via

Nick Boyce

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