Woman posing for a phone with a ring light in front of a pink background.
Marketing your brand on a social media platform like TikTok means you need to identify your target audience and figure out when they're most active on the app. — Getty Images/wagnerokasaki

Before investing a lot of time and resources into marketing on TikTok, it's essential to learn about your target audience and what they're interested in. These details help you decide what type of content to produce and hashtags to use. Understanding your base demographics is a great first step, but narrowing your audience based on a TikTok niche and your potential customer's pain points is even better.

There are several ways to find your target audience on TikTok, including market research, TikTok analytics, and hashtags. Here's how to put your audience targeting plan together.

Consider your brand's overall target audience

Use your existing market and audience research to get a general idea of who buys your products or services. Typically, this includes an age range, location, and language. You may also target people who work in certain industries or fit into various categories, such as parents or young professionals. But TikTok says to "stop thinking about "who" your audience is and to start thinking about "what" interests them."

Discover their interests — and how those relate to your brand — by considering their pain points. What problem does your company solve, and how does that relate to TikTok categories and subcultures? There are 12 TikTok industry categories, including beauty and personal care, tech and electronics, and vehicles and transportation. According to TikTok, subcultures are communities of people "that have beliefs or ideas that differ from those of mainstream culture."

Lastly, talk to followers on other social media platforms about their TikTok experiences. Ask a question or run a poll on Instagram or Twitter to see if your audience prefers content with trending songs or videos that tell a story. Or request recommendations for who to follow in your niche. Don't forget to encourage fans to follow you on TikTok, too.

[Read more: 5 Tips For a Killer Small Business TikTok Strategy]

Your follower activity details the hours and days when your audience is most active. Take note of when your fans are online and how their activity and engagement levels vary throughout the week.

Check out TikTok analytics

Business accounts can access TikTok analytics. There are four tabs, including Overview, Content, Followers, and Live. Check out the Followers tab to learn about your current audience. It shows demographics like gender and location. You can also view their interests.

Your follower activity details the hours and days when your audience is most active. Take note of when your fans are online and how their activity and engagement levels vary throughout the week. Under the Content tab, take a look at what videos are most popular. Does certain content or sound clips generate more comments or likes than others? If so, look at the format and topic to see if you could emulate that again.

Do a hashtag search

TikTok subcultures bring together people from many age groups and locations. People looking for content in niches share a passion or interest. And one of the best ways to find them is by doing a hashtag search. Type a keyword, hobby, or topic into the search bar. Look at how many views different TikTok hashtags get and how they're being used in conversations.

This is also an excellent time to research your competitors. Look at a few of the top videos under the hashtag. Do the followers for these videos overlap with yours? If so, consider adding these hashtags to your TikTok post to get in front of your target audience.

[Read more: 6 Social Savvy TikTok Strategies for Small Businesses]

Optimize your timing

To find your target audience, you need to know when they're on the platform. If you consistently post when your potential followers are offline, they won't see your content. Optimizing your posting time increases your chances of getting clicks, likes, and comments. And each engagement gives you a better shot at being featured in the "For You" section.

According to SocialPilot, the optimal times for posting on TikTok are "6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., Eastern Standard Time (EST)." In addition, Hootsuite said, "The best time to post on TikTok for maximum engagement is Thursday at 7 p.m." Hootsuite also provides a cheat sheet with the most promising times for each day of the week. Compare these periods with your TikTok analytics data to determine when to post.

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Published June 10, 2022