Last Updated: Jan 14, 2022

In 2020, Ocean Spray, a 90-year-old cranberry juice brand, and Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 hit song Dreams made major waves, suddenly becoming relevant again. The secret behind their newfound success? A viral TikTok video. A user-generated video posted by Nathan Apodaca became a hit viral sensation which resulted in Ocean Spray doubling its stock value and Dreams breaking streaming records and reappearing on the charts. 

If you’re not optimizing TikTok for your ecommerce business, you could be missing out on a valuable marketing tool and a huge market. TikTok has become an indispensable social media platform for many businesses, with large companies like Disney and Nike spending money on TikTok advertising. 

There’s great news for Square and Shopify merchants, too. TikTok is moving into the social commerce space with its recent partnerships with the two ecommerce platforms, allowing ecommerce entrepreneurs to sell directly on their TikTok accounts.

The app has 689 million active users worldwide and 100 million of those are in the United States. Additionally, its user base is highly engaged, with 90% of users visiting the app at least once per day and spending an average of 52 minutes on it daily.

The hashtag #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt has over seven billion views and skyrocketed sales for items like the classic Gap hoodie, Cat Crack, and Goldfish crackers.

If your brand’s target audience is Gen Z or Millennials, you need to be on TikTok. However, marketing and selling on TikTok can be tricky if you don’t understand the platform and the TikTok community. In this article, I’ll be talking about how to optimize your TikTok presence to grow your ecommerce business. 

What Makes TikTok Great for Ecommerce?

Unlike other platforms, TikTok specializes in one type of content: short videos of up to three minutes long. People love entertaining content that looks spontaneously shot and natural in bite-size bits.

Companies have to be comfortable taking a more authentic, value-driven approach to marketing on TikTok. People come here for entertainment, not to see in-your-face product ads.

There’s an element of community, light-heartedness, and fun on TikTok, which you can see in the popularity of challenges and entertaining content. It’s a great platform for raising brand awareness on a large scale and building engagement. 

Another thing that makes it unique from other platforms is that it captures a large part of a very specific age demographic. Some 41% of users are between 16 and 24 and roughly half of the global audience is under 34. Companies who target this age group can readily access this user base, and with the right content will be able to find their target audience and connect with them.

The secret sauce of TikTok’s popularity among users is its next level algorithm which knows exactly what kind of videos to recommend. No two people will have the same “For You” feed, and it changes over time depending on viewing history and preferences. 

TikTok Tips for Ecommerce Businesses

TikTok has many fun features that help boost engagement and brand recall. Here are some of them: 

External Links Feature

Users can take advantage of external link-sharing features. Make sure to display your ecommerce shop’s link or any page you want to advertise on your bio section. External links to Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Wikipedia can be added directly on video clips, and TikTok is currently doing trials on adding ecommerce links in the future.

Tiktok for Good and Small Gestures

Gen Z and Millennial consumers prefer brands pursuing social or environmental causes. They’re also most likely to stay loyal to them in the long run, which is great for customer lifetime value. TikTok For Good and Small Gestures are programs that focus on social impact and doing good. Use these features to talk about advocacies you support and let them know what you care about. 

Provide Entertainment and Value

Maximize engagement through entertaining content and be as creative and original as you can. Here are some TikTok content ideas for businesses:

  • Tell your brand story by showing your process and work behind the scenes.
  • Provide value by sharing educational, non-promotional content. Ask yourself, at the end of this video, what will the viewer take away?
  • Videos that are promotional but are still helpful include demo videos, Q&As, and showing your product used in everyday life.

Hashtag Challenges

Hashtag challenges are a great way to boost brand awareness and recall. It encourages users to create content using your brand’s theme and is one way to get people to participate in your brand’s community building initiatives. Take a look at this #SwagStepChallenge which Pepsi ran to encourage brand engagement and a sense of community.

It got 5.4 billion views and over 100,000 user-generated videos in four days, breaking the world record on consumer engagement during that time. 

(Source: Sociality)

Working With Influencers

People trust the influencers they follow and won’t hesitate to try out products seen on videos. If you don’t have a big following yet, leverage influencer partnerships to get access to markets and communities that resonate with your brand. You can reach out directly to influencers you’ve identified or search for content creators on TikTok’s Creator Marketplace.

You can read my related article on how to find the right influencers for your brand for more information about Influencer Marketing.

TikTok Ads

TikTok ads are available in the US, UK, Australia, France, Spain, Italy, Korea, Russia, India, and South-East Asia. Here are the types of ads on TikTok: 

  • Branded Hashtag Challenges (HTC) are ads where brands can sponsor a hashtag challenge, which is an effective way to get your brand seen on a large scale. It engages users by getting them into the action, literally. TikTok claims that the median engagement rate for their paid HTC ads is much higher than on other platforms:

(Source: TikTok)

  • TakeOver Ads appear as soon as a user opens the TikTop app. It can show either a three second image or a three to five second video from advertisers. Only one advertiser can take over a category per day.
  • Top View Ads work Like TakeOver ads and appear at the top of the For You feed when a user opens the app. However, these are videos up to 60 seconds long with the sound on. 
  • Branded Effects are ads where brands and advertisers can work with TikTok’s team to create 2D animated filters that users can use on their own videos.
  • In Feed Video Ads are five to 15 second video ads shown in-feed for one day only. It shows up fourth in users’ feeds. 
  • Spark Ads allow you to leverage organic and user generated content to be used as sponsored posts.

Creating TikTok Content that Clicks

Don’t have a massive TikTok following yet? Don’t let that discourage you. Hootsuite says that TikTok does NOT base recommendations on follower count or previous success with a high-performing video.  Creative, funny, and helpful videos are most likely to pick up traction and get shown to more people.

In some cases, one really well-made TikTok video is all it takes for a brand or creator to gain hundreds or even thousands of followers quickly. 

Check out this video featuring Carpet Repair Guys, who say their secret to TikTok virality (and increase in sales) is being funny and authentic in their videos.:

(Source: TikTok for Business)

Here are some tips on how to create Tiktok videos that resonate with your audience:

Use Your Customer Persona

Good content is made with the customer persona in mind. What do they like? What are they dreaming about? What are they worrying about? And how can your video help solve these? Talk in their language and be aware of trending topics or issues in your niche.

Make Every Moment Count

The short format of TikTok videos means that you need to deliver your message FAST. Ideally, you should use the first few seconds of your video to elicit a strong emotion. Using powerful emotions such as surprise saw a 1.7x boost over content that started with a neutral expression.

Check out Acome’s use of surprise and quick transitions in their TikTok videos: 


(Source: TikTok for Business)

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Captions and Hashtags

TikTok captions are limited to 300 characters, hashtags included. That’s not a lot so be sure to craft your messages and call to actions well. Participate in social listening by regularly checking influencers in your niche. Checking your competitions’ hashtag practices is also one way of looking out for trends.

Learn with Shopify has a tip: to catch viewers’ attention and keep them engaged, ask a question on your caption and answer it on the video. 

Use Built-in Features like Effects and Texts

For your content to blend in with the platform’s look, use TikTok effects and texts. TikTok says, “These native features help keep your content feeling native to the platform which can also help get it on more For You pages!” 

Take a look at this example of Japan-based business Yakitori Don’s fun use of TikTok effects: 

(Source: TikTok for Business)

Background Music

Music is extremely important on TikTok. Some 68% of users say they remember a brand better and 58% feel a stronger connection to the brand after hearing videos with music. 

Pro Tip: A trending sound also helps you get on more “For You” pages. Does your video have spoken dialogue? You can still add background music, but make sure to adjust the volume. You can pull down the music volume to a minimum and turn up the video’s native sound level.  

TikTok Video Requirements

Videos shot on phones are preferred because they have an authentic feel. You don’t need to splurge on fancy video equipment, but make sure you have good lighting and sound. Here are also some TikTok formatting information to keep in mind:

  • Shooting in vertical format is recommended so it feels native to the app. It also gets 25% higher views than those shot in horizontal mode
  • Recommended aspect ratios are: 9:16, 1:1, or 16:9
  • Resolution options in the app: 720 x 1280 px,  640 x 640 px, and 1280 x 720 px
  • Accepted file formats: MP4, MPEG, MOV, or AVI files in ads
  • File size should be less than 500 MB

How to Link Your Shopify Store to TikTok

Social commerce is the process of selling products directly to customers through social media, removing some of the friction in the buyer’s journey. TikTok’s partnerships with ecommerce platforms now allow online merchants to link their Square or Shopify store products to videos on Tiktok, where potential customers can purchase without exiting the app. Business accounts will also have a shopping tab on their profile which syncs their product catalogs to the app. 

Shopping features already exist on Facebook and Instagram but many businesses claim that the growth they’ve seen on TikTok is much faster. Kyle Jiang, founder of Juno&Co, tells Inc that they’ve seen 10 times more sales on TikTok than what they’ve had on Instagram or Facebook. 

To unlock the full potential of Tiktok for your business, use a TikTok Business Account. You get access to ad performance metrics, audience insights, plus other tools and resources for businesses.

  1. First, look for the TikTok app on the Shopify App Store


  1. Click on Add app to install.


  1. You’ll see the TikTok channel on the left side of your Shopify Admin Dashboard.


  1. You can connect your Tiktok for Business account to your Shopify store from this panel. 


While Tiktok is definitely a must-have tool in your ecommerce business strategy, it has some limitations. If your market is an older age group, you might not see immediate results, as the platform is currently dominated by younger audiences. 

TikTok’s social commerce functionality is still in its early stages and isn’t perfect yet, but getting in early is a great way to master the platform. As a marketing tool, it’s definitely proven that it helps businesses reach more people, drive sales, and establish brands as subject experts and thought leaders.

Are you looking for new ways to improve your ecommerce marketing strategy? Reach out today for your FREE 20 minute consultation call and we’ll find solutions to help you grow your business, fast.

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