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How to Use TikTok: A Complete Guide for SMBs

Whether you're on TikTok or not you've seen TikTok video trends.  Whether it be on Instagram scrolling through Reels or someone reposting it to their Stories, TikTok has influenced virtually every platform. We can’t deny the impact TikTok has on social media and pop culture. TikTok’s videos are not only highly entertaining, but easy to create without ever leaving the app. 

In this blog post, we're here to teach you the basics of TikTok like where to find videos, how to set up an account, and more. Let's get started. 

What is TikTok

Tik-Tok is a short video-clip-based platform with 1 billion users globally. It’s designed to keep users scrolling through videos relevant to their interests via a personalized “For You Page” (FYP). Think of the FYP as TikTok’s version of an Instagram or Facebook feed but with more emphasis on what users interact with rather than who they follow. For example, if you often like and share videos of cats and follow lots of dancers, your FYP will be filled with mainly cats, with dance videos and other targeted suggestions mixed in. Next to the FYP is your Following feed. This feed only displays content from the users you’re following. 

The main content on your FYP will shift depending on your behavior on the platform. Users often say they’re on cat TikTok, dance TikTok, foodie TikTok, and even small business TikTok. Lucky for you, that last one means there’s an audience for your content on TikTok. A user’s FYP is filled with videos from small businesses sharing their products, services, and day-to-day operations. 


How to Set Up a TikTok Account

  1. Download the app on Google Play or the Apple store.
  2. Once you’ve opened the app, go to “Me”. 
  3. Tap your username at the top of the screen. 
  4. Next, choose a method to sign up. You can do this by phone, email, or through another social media login option.Your email and phone number will be necessary for account recovery, so make sure you have access to them or you can get a local phone number and create a new email for the same.
  5. After this, enter your birthday and phone number then press “send code”. 
  6. You’ll get a code via text. Go back to the app and type in the verification code, and you’re all set.
  7. Once your profile’s up and running, add a profile picture and a short, informative, optimized bio. 

How to Create a TikTok video

Start with a trendy idea

TikTok is overflowing with trending sounds, challenges, and video ideas, making it a great place to start. Check out what trends are showing up within your industry and then pick your favorite(s). 

Film and edit

To create your first TikTok video, follow the steps below:

  1. Tap the + at the bottom of your screen.
  2. You can upload video content from your camera roll or use the TikTok camera to record a new video. You can choose to record for 15 seconds, 60 seconds, or 3 minutes. 
  3. Edit your video during filming using the built-in Sounds, Effects, Filters, and camera tools. 
  4. Make additional edits on the post page. Here, you can add more effects, filters, and a voice-over. 
  5. And with that, you’re ready to post! Save your video and repost on Instagram Reels to maximize your ROI. 

Related: Best Reels on Instagram: How Brands Can Create Engaging Reels

Features to Use
  • Flip- This switches between the front and back cameras. 
  • Speed- You can record a video at 3X speed and it will play three times faster once you’re done. You can also record .3X speed, it will play 3 times slower when you’re done. 
  • Beauty filter- Turn this filter on to smooth and perfect your face.
  • Filters- There are a bunch of filters to choose from. Because users will mostly be seeing your videos individually, you don’t have to worry as much about creating a cohesive look across all your videos, as you do in a grid, and can have fun with these. 
  • Timer- Use the timer to record hands-free. 
  • Effects- To use an effect on only one portion of the video, select the effect, tap the timer icon, and drag the red line to mark how long you want the effect to last. With this method, you’ll be recording the first section, switching effects, then recording the next portion of the video. 
  • Sounds- This is where you’ll find trending sounds to use. Click the sounds button at the top of the screen to browse or search for a sound. 
  • Text- After recording, select the text button at the bottom of the screen to add text to your video. You can customize the size, color, and font, move the text around the screen, and link the text to a specific time-stamp. 
Captioning Your Video

Captions have a 150 character limit, including hashtags. Because TikTok is video-based, your caption should be geared more toward keywords and hashtags that get it in front of the right audience. Keep in mind that you can’t edit TikTok captions unless you repost your video, so you’ll want to get it right the first time. 

When you add keywords to your caption, TikTok will provide hashtag suggestions and show the view counts for each. Popular hashtags tend to be oversaturated with content meaning your content can get buried with the millions of other videos posted with that overused hashtag, so it’s better to stick with lower competition hashtags (around 10,000 views) while you’re still growing. This approach will help you make a bigger impact. 

TikTok Examples to Learn From

  1. This small business owner shows a behind-the-scenes look at packaging orders to a popular sound. They match the video movements to the sound, include keywords and hashtags relevant to their target audience, and include a text title that shows viewers what the video is about right from the start. 
  2. This clothing store shows off its photography process by videoing the setup, then including shots from the photoshoot to a popular sound. Their video offers useful DIY tips to other small businesses while giving their customers an inside look at the photoshoot process. 
  3. This chai shop uses a trending sound to list out the acts of love common among children of desi immigrants. While the content isn’t directly related to what they sell (tea), it is super relatable to their target audience. They used this content to reach their audience without being overtly salesy.

Follow these steps, and you’ll be creating engaging, relatable TikToks (and making more sales) in no time. 

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Danielle Townsley

Danielle is the Social Media Manager at PLANOLY. She stays in the know of the latest industry trends and is always finding ways to create engaging and educational content for PLANOLY’s social platforms.

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