Social Media

TikTok Guidelines for Brands: Dos and Don’ts

Using TikTok as a business can be overwhelming. That’s why we’ve put together these TikTok brand guidelines and best practices to maximize your presence faster.

TikTok Brand Guidelines Cover Photo

Growing a TikTok presence from scratch is a daunting task for brands.

This is true even if you've already established your company on Instagram.

Because TikTok is so different from other social media apps at a glance. 

Don’t write the app off as a trend, though. Both paid and organic TikTok campaigns are booming.

As the go-to place for product research, consumer brands should establish their influencer presence on TikTok ASAP. Our own creators racked up a whopping 23 million TikTok loops last year!

Thing is, the best practices of TikTok are not the same as Instagram (or any other network).

Below we break down must-know TikTok brand guidelines to kickstart your growth.

Why Should Brands Be On TikTok, Anyway?

For brands, the benefits of using TikTok are crystal clear. Here’s a quick refresher:

Translation? TikTok’s audience is glued to the app and loves to discover products there.

Instead of disrupting viewers with ads, brands should balance entertainment value and promotion. Enter the era of “shoppertainment.”

Food for thought: most people on TikTok are there to watch and learn rather than create. Growing on TikTok starts by learning the app’s best practices and the mistakes brands make.

TikTok Dos and Don'ts for Brands to Know

Now, let’s dive into the most important must-dos (and don’ts!) for brands on the app.

✅ Do: Center Your Content Strategy Around Creators 

The positive impact of people-centric content on TikTok is well-documented.

From influencers to everyday creators, videos featuring people are what the app is all about. 

For brands, one of the biggest unwritten rules of TikTok is not to just post videos of your products on their own.  Besides, there are plenty of ways for creators to show off those products in action.

For example, Soko Glam’s account is brimming with creator content. Their feed is full of skits, tutorials and product showcases featuring real people.

Soko Glam TikTok creator content example

Source: @sokoglamofficial

It’s no accident that the best brands on TikTok keep customers and creators front and center. This illustrates the value of consistently earning influencer and user-generated content.

Consider also that the videos that tend to blow up for brands are often unpolished. Unlike Instagram where aesthetics are everything, TikTok’s audience totally loves off-the-cuff content. Videos score style points for humor and creative edits versus high production value. 

unpolished TikTok content example

Source: @faithsfresh

After all, nearly every TikTok video is filmed with a smartphone. The fact that lo-fi content reigns supreme levels the playing field for brands.

Hint: you don’t need to produce high-quality commercial content on TikTok! That's why brands partner specifically with micro-influencers on the app.

✅ Do: Experiment with Different Types of TikTok Videos 

Brands should never feel like they’re stuck in a box when it comes to video ideas. 

There’s no shortage of creative ways to promote products on TikTok. This is true for brands and creators alike. Off the top of our heads, here are a few ideas:

  • Unboxing videos
  • Life hack videos
  • Explainer videos
  • “Come shopping with me” videos
  • How-to videos and tutorials

That doesn’t even scratch the surface! TikTok sort of encourages experimentation for a few reasons:

  • The more you participate on the platform, the easier it is to learn what your audience likes

  • More content = fuel for the TikTok algorithm — this means more chances for you to trend

  • Trends evolve quickly on TikTok —  there are always opportunities to experiment with videos

Another big rule of TikTok for brands is not to just post the same types of videos over and over. Keep your followers anticipating how you’ll entertain them next.

TikTok planner for brands

✅ Do: Keep a Pulse on the Latest TikTok Trends 

Speaking of trends, TikTok is probably the most trend-centric social network we've ever seen.

A lot can change on the platform from week to week. New trends (and brands!) go viral all the time on TikTok. To keep yourself in the loop, we recommend keeping an eye on…

  • New features and video formats (think: voice effects, filters, Stitches, Duets)

  • Products that are going viral (think: posts blowing up on #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt)

  • Popular audio for trending skits or challenges (see below)

TikTok trending sounds example

Being aware of all of the above can help you tap into buzzworthy formats and trending topics.

This highlights another reason to work with creators, too. The best TikTokers know the latest audio, skits and formats. That’s because their engagement and growth depend on it.

Note: brands are often limited by TikTok’s music library and restrictions with copyrighted music. Business accounts should ideally obtain a commercial music license or create audio DIY. You can avoid these restrictions by working with creators with unrestricted access to trending audio.

✅ Do: Post TikToks Frequently and Consistently 

The fast-paced nature of TikTok means that consistency counts for brands.

Again, regularly publishing new videos means fueling the TikTok algorithm. 

There are no strict brand guidelines on TikTok in terms of publishing frequency. Conventional wisdom says “more is better.” 

But brands obviously shouldn’t sacrifice content quality for quantity. 

Still, the fact that TikTok recommends posting daily is notable versus other social media platforms. Anecdotally, we see a lot of companies that post daily (or near daily).

The pressure to keep up this sort of volume can be stressful. This is especially true for busy brands. Here are a few quick recommendations to consider:

  • Experiment with off-the-cuff videos you can film yourself
  • Repost and repurpose your influencer and user-generated videos

  • Double-dip your brand’s short-form vertical videos (when appropriate)
Note: Despite popular belief, Reels and TikTok are not the same! That said, some brands do successfully cross-publish Reels content to TikTok. This is fair game if your video is relevant to TikTok’s style and audience. Hashtags and captions should differ from what you post on IG.

❌ Don’t: Obsess Over Your Brand’s Follower Count 

Spoiler alert: follower count isn’t the be-all, end-all of social media anymore.

And honestly, it never really was in the first place for brands.

Think about it like this. Would you rather have 1,000 superfans that comment on every post…

or 10,000 TikTok followers that never engage? 

For both brands and creators, “bigger is better” doesn’t apply to follower count. Here’s some more food for thought when it comes to followers on TikTok:

  • TikTok’s audience loves “smaller” creators. Micro-influencers boast higher engagement rates than creators and celebrities with millions of followers. Everyday creators are the backbone of the platform and their engagement reflects that.

  • The app is still relatively new. Pretty much every brand on the platform is growing at different stages. For example, look at a brand like Glossier. The company is a powerhouse on Instagram with 2.7m followers. The brand’s 405k followers on TikTok are still super impressive. Still, this illustrates how each platform has a different audience. Also, IG has a 5+ year head start on TikTok.

  • Brands can still have a sizeable TikTok presence without thousands of followers. For example, Orgain currently has less than 1,000 followers on TikTok. However, they have multiple hashtags with millions of views (#Orgain with 4.1m and #OrgainProtein with 1.7m). Below is a sponsored video with a single creator that earned over 72,000 views and 3,500 likes by itself.

Oragin TikTok hashtag example

Source: @floridamomof3

The takeaway? If your follower count is small or non-existent, creators can make up for it. There are plenty of viral brands on TikTok that don’t even have an account (we’re looking at you, Dyson)!

Sure, building following matters and it’s great to grow your audience. Don’t tear your hair out if your followers don’t grow at the same rate as other networks, though. Think “quality over quantity."

❌ Don’t: Ignore Social Search 

The concept of TikTok SEO is growing for a reason. As consumers flock to TikTok to find new products, ranking for search terms should be a top priority.

For example, hashtags organize your content and make it discoverable for searchers. Ranking highly with industry or product-related hashtags is obviously a plus for brands. Doing so is a great way to introduce your products to potential customers.

hashtag search on TikTok

Likewise, there’s a ton you can learn from common search queries on TikTok. This includes trending searches that could serve as the basis for potential videos. For example, a beauty brand could come up with videos based on searches related to "makeup hacks."

makeup hacks search on TikTok

TikTok’s algorithm is still evolving and so are the platform’s search features. That said, the platform really seems to be leaning toward social search. Sprinkling hashtags and keywords in your videos can help you get ahead of the curve.

For more information on social search, check out our TikTok SEO Webinar.

❌ Don’t: Sound Too Sales-y When Talking to Your Audience

TikTok is unique when it comes to promoting products.

There are tons of consumer communities on the app. It’s fair game to put products front and center in your content. The catch? You can’t present your content as a sales pitch.

We know that brands are driving sales on TikTok. But “selling” doesn’t mean screaming “BUY NOW!” 

Arguably the most important guideline for brands on TikTok is to be authentic.

This applies to your content, voice and interactions with people on the platform. Be relatable.

Remember: the TikTok customer journey involves making multiple touchpoints with brands over time. Those touchpoints won’t mean much if your people can’t trust you. Brands can make positive impressions on people through relatability. That’s why humor and unfiltered content are so effective.

❌ Don’t: Leave Your Followers Hanging! 

Uploading a post and expecting engagement by default doesn’t work on TikTok. 

The best way to drive interactions is to take matters into your own hands. That means regularly engaging with your followers and never leaving them hanging. Make an effort to…

  • Actively respond to questions
  • Make reply videos that respond directly to customers

  • Engage in your videos’ comment sections

The good news for brands? TikTok etiquette allows you to be playful and fun versus totally suit-and-tie. For reference, check out how Chiptole goes back and forth with their followers.

Chipotle follower interaction TikTok

Source: @chipotle

Building an impactful TikTok presence means creating a sense of community. No matter how big or small that community might be, your followers are invaluable for…

  • Understanding the types of content people want to see
  • Learning your customers’ struggles and pain points

  • Uncovering which of their products are their favorites

Arctic Fox TikTok example   Arctic Fox TikTok comments example

Source: @arcticfoxhaircolor

Remember what we said earlier about “shoppertainment?” 

Whether it’s a current or potential customer following your brand, build a presence that entertains and informs them. Doing so builds loyalty and delights your audience.

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Building a Presence That Follows TikTok's Best Practices

We get it: learning the ins and outs of a new platform can be draining.

But TikTok represents a golden opportunity for brands to build awareness and loyalty.

The platform’s quirks are what make it so compelling but also difficult to get the hang of.

Our take? One of the best ways to build a TikTok presence is by partnering with authentic creators. Skilled TikTokers already know the platform's trends and best practices like the back of their hands.

If you're eager to earn more authentic creator content without waiting, we can help.

Our micro-influencer marketing platform is built specifically to help brands scale creator campaigns on TikTok ASAP. Unlike other influencer software, we match brands with vetted influencers from our own creator community using 250+ unique, first-party data points. 

Statusphere influencer targeting

This means you get guaranteed TikTok content in a fraction of the time it'd take to source in-house.

Want to learn more about how our software works? Get in touch with one of our TikTok campaign experts to see how we can grow your TikTok presence with creator content at scale.

This article was first published in June 2021. It was last updated June 21, 2023.

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