A man in a dark blue suit sits on a beige couch and speaks to the tripod set-up across from him. The tripod sits out of focus in the foreground and holds an electronic tablet, which films him, and a small microphone.
Some ideas for potential TikTok content include introductions of your staff, tours of your workplace, and "a day in the life" of employees in various roles. — Getty Images/izusek

TikTok is a fast-growing social media platform and great for connecting with current and potential customers. However, it requires a different approach than Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest. Unlike other channels, TikTok content isn't perfectly curated. Instead, the videos are often less polished and more informal.

Likewise, TikTok isn't the place for heavily promotional content. TikTok users want to be inspired, not pressured. With that said, there are things you can do to improve your TikTok presence. Use these TikTok dos and don'ts to ensure a strong return on your investment.

Do engage TikTok users within three seconds

Sensor Tower Consumer Intelligence data found that "TikTok's audience is highly engaged—and that engagement is growing [year-over-year]." When TikTokers are inspired, they're more likely to comment and use the Stitch and Duets features. But first, you must capture their attention within seconds, as it affects your reach. According to Influencer Marketing Hub, "[t]he first 3 seconds of your channel's videos are crucial." Near-instant interest increases completion and watch time rates.

[Read more: 5 Interactive TikTok Features That Boost Engagement]

Do your research by watching small business videos

To succeed on TikTok, you should be active on the platform. Maggie Lower, Hootsuite's Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), told SCORE, "Spend time watching TikTok videos. Explore the different trends and features of the app. Find out what challenges and songs are trending."

One way to do this is with the Discover tool, which lets you view trending content and see what intrigues users. Plus, don't forget to check out TikTok's video series Small Wins to get ideas and inspiration for what's working for small businesses.

Do add music to your TikTok videos

TikTok is a "sound on" platform, meaning users watch videos with the volume on. "While Twitter is focused on text, and Instagram is centered around images, TikTok is all about sound and video," explained author, speaker, and Fractional CMO Neal Schaffer. Indeed, research from TikTok and Kantar found that "88% of TikTok users said that sound is essential to the TikTok experience." TikTok provides a free commercial music library, or you can create new sounds.

Spend time watching TikTok videos. Explore the different trends and features of the app. Find out what challenges and songs are trending.

Maggie Lower, Chief Marketing Officer, Hootsuite

Do establish trust and credibility with your content

According to findings from Adobe's Future of Marketing Research Series, 71% of surveyed consumers demonstrated their trust in brands by buying more, suggesting that consumer confidence in your company can increase sales. Your videos can humanize your small business and demonstrate your credibility by giving a sneak peek at your business operations, employees, and product creation or packaging.

TikTok content can also emphasize how your company connects to and supports the local community. "Mention your city or county in your videos and text as TikTok will show users videos made by people in the same local area as you," suggested Startups Magazine.

Do record videos showcasing your small business

TikTok said that "much of the most successful content on TikTok" is "light and humorous." So how does that fit into your TikTok marketing strategy? Try creating candid videos that highlight your company and products in a relatable way. Startups Magazine recommended posting "packing videos with an on-trend song playing in the background, or show[ing] how a product is made."

Record TikTok videos such as:

  • An introduction to your brand.
  • A tour of your workspace.
  • Product packaging and shipping.
  • Meet the owners and staff.
  • A day in the life of an employee at your company.

[Read more: How to Use Hashtags to Promote Your Small Business on Instagram and TikTok]

Don't use a personal account for your brand

You may be tempted to use a personal account on TikTok because you can access more sounds and music than business accounts (which are limited to Commercial Music Library tracks). However, this can open your company up to legal issues "from the use of copyrighted material for promotional purposes." Business accounts also provide data analytics and access to TikTok's content management platform.

Don't repost content from other platforms

Just because a video earned high views on Facebook or Instagram doesn’t mean it’ll do well on TikTok. In most cases, it’s better to create videos optimized for TikTok. But you don’t have to start from scratch. Instead, make shorter snippets from longer videos, add music, and personalize them for your TikTok audience.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published June 29, 2022