TikTok as a Sales Channel: Unleashing the Potential of Short-Form Video Commerce

TikTok’s Influence:  From Social Engagement to Social Revolution

Social media platforms have become increasingly influential in shaping consumer behaviour and driving sales. Among these platforms, TikTok has popped up as a powerful force. It revolutionised the way businesses reach and engage with their target audience. TikTok evolved beyond a platform for entertainment and self-expression, now acting as a thriving sales channel for businesses large and small.

Wolfgang Digital found that TikTok has a big impact on both brand awareness and sales. There is up to a 10% increase in brand searches that linked with starting TikTok activity, as well as 25-35% in-store sales uplift on products that were only promoted through the platform. 

And as of Feb 2023, TikTok has overtaken Instagram and Facebook as the most shopped social channel. TikTok has over 1 billion monthly active users, who each spend on average 95 minutes per day on the platform. From this, it’s clear there has never been a more perfect time to join the revolution. Want to find out how to leverage TikTok’s short-form videos and unique features to showcase your products or services and drive revenue? Then read on.

If you’re thinking about using TikTok for your business, you probably already have some knowledge of the platform. But, just incase you don’t, here’s a quick breakdown:

  • TikTok focuses on short-form video, typically 15-60 seconds in length.
  • It’s one of the fastest growing social media platforms of all time.
  • Users can create and share a wide range of content, from dancing and lip-syncing to educational videos and cooking tips, and everything in between.. 
  • The platform provides users with an array of creative tools and filters to enhance their videos.
  • It uses an algorithmic feed that tailors content to each user’s preferences. This is based on their interactions and viewing history.
  • It offers various opportunities for businesses to reach their target audience through influencer collaborations, advertising, and even in-app shopping features. 

So, you know what TikTok does and how it works. Maybe you’re considering selling your product or service using the platform. How exactly do you do that?

Step 1: Understand your audience

This is the most important step when trying to sell something. If your audience isn’t on the platform, it would be pointless investing your time and money here. You should analyse demographics, interests and trends to identify the audience most likely to be interested in your products / services. This will help you to tailor your content appropriately.

Don’t worry if your target market isn’t Gen Z. Despite 39% of TikTok’s demographic being aged 18-24, its appeal is widening. There are people from every generation represented on the app, in a wide array of communities. Explore the niche communities relevant to your business.

If Gen Z are your people, it is worth noting that for them, TikTok is the new Google. In their own research, Google found that almost 40% of young people don’t go to Google Maps or Search for discovery. They turn to apps like Instagram and TikTok instead. If you’re promoting a product or a business that might appeal to the younger generation, TikTok is certainly a good place to start. 

TikTok content

Step 2: Create authentic, compelling content

Make engaging and entertaining content that aligns with your brand identity and values. This is particularly important if you are targeting Gen Z; they are sticklers for integrity.

However you choose to display your content, focus on two things:
1. Capturing attention within the first few seconds of your videos
2. Providing value for your audience.
You can do this by utilising TikTok’s creative features. Some examples are filters, effects and music. It is also worth considering experimenting on the platform. What normally works for your business on other platforms, may not be as successful on TikTok (and vice versa). 

Step 3: Collaborate with influencers

Influencer partnerships can significantly amplify your brand’s reach and impact on TikTok. Identify influencers – called creators on TikTok – within your niche or industry who have a substantial following and align with your brand values. This is vital; collaborating with someone who doesn’t fit with your business or vision will be obvious to your audience. Collaborate with them to create sponsored content that showcases your products or services organically. Influencers’ credibility and rapport with their audience can help drive sales and increase brand awareness. A study by Kantar in 2020 found that 35% of users purchased a product or service after seeing it promoted by an influencer on TikTok.

Bear in mind though, that for many influencers there has to be something in it for them too. So, you may need to build your following before attempting a collaboration. 

Step 4: Utilise TikTok advertising

TikTok offers various advertising options to promote your products or services effectively. In-feed native ads, branded hashtag challenges, branded effects, and brand takeovers are popular ad formats to consider. As an audio and video-based platform, use of sound is essential. Voiceovers, background music, and special effects audio can help make your ads more effective.

Determine your advertising goals and budget. Then, leverage TikTok’s advanced targeting options to ensure your ads are seen by the right audience. You can also use hashtags in your targeting too. This allows you to easily focus on the communities you identified in Step 1.

Make sure you continuously monitor and optimise your ad campaigns based on performance metrics to drive maximum ROI. Currently, TikTok ads are running at a much lower cost than Meta; because TikTok has the scale of other platforms, but isn’t saturated with advertisers, it can be more affordable to generate results.

Step 5: Make use of your profile

Your bio is the first thing people will see when they visit your profile, so use it to its full potential. Introduce your brand and products to your audience with clear, accurate information about what you do.

The large majority of the TikTok audience are Gen Z and Generation Alpha, therefore it’s important to speak their language. Emojis are the perfect way to do this. They’re eye-catching, colourful and act as visual guides to your products and services. This means you can save some of the 80 characters you have to give more relevant information to your audience.

You can also include a call to action (CTA) to lead your audience towards actions you want them to take. For example, directing them to your e-commerce store, your blog or another social channel where you sell products, which can help increase conversions. It is also ideal for promoting discount codes or sales.

TikTok shopping

Step 6: Incorporate TikTok Shopping

Take advantage of TikTok Shopping to enable seamless in-app purchases for your products. Integrating with e-commerce platforms, such as Shopify, to tag products directly in your videos, allows users to shop without leaving the app, providing a smooth and intuitive shopping experience.

With 2 in 3 shoppers on TikTok saying they get inspired to buy something even when they’re not actively shopping, making this process as easy as possible makes sense.

If you can leverage creative and engaging videos to showcase your products in action and provide compelling reasons for users to make a purchase, you may well find your product joins the #tiktokmademebuyit tag, which currently has over 54 billion lifetime views.

Step 7: Encourage User-Generated Content (UGC)

User-generated content (UGC) refers to any form of content,  created and shared by individual users rather than professional creators or organisations. It empowers individuals to contribute and shape the content landscape, fostering a sense of community. UGC also serves as authentic testimonials for your brand, building trust, engagement, and social proof.

The old adage ‘people buy from people’ rings true here. Showing real people using and enjoying your offerings helps to drive sales.

TikTok’s branded hashtag challenges are one of the most effective ways to do this. A business creates a paid-for branded hashtag and establishes a challenge that asks users to create UGC related to their product or services. Through this, users will purchase products to use in the challenge. The challenge will also show on the Discovery page, which drives more views, and, in turn, more sales. 

Step 8: Engage and interact with your audience

Building a strong relationship with your TikTok audience is essential for driving sales.

Make it a habit to engage with your followers by responding to comments, acknowledging their feedback, and addressing their questions.

Leverage TikTok’s features, such as duets and stitches, to collaborate with users and create interactive experiences. By fostering a sense of community and personal connection, you can build brand loyalty and drive repeat purchases.

Step 9: Track and analyse performance

Regularly monitor and analyse the performance of your TikTok sales efforts utilising TikTok’s analytics to gain insights into key metrics. These are views, engagement, and conversions.

By measuring the effectiveness of different content types, advertising campaigns, and partnerships you can refine your strategies and allocate resources effectively. 



If you’re considering promoting your business or product through TikTok, we hope this article has been useful to you. If you want to develop a more comprehensive social media ad campaign that includes TikTok, but need help doing so, reach out to us at TDS. We’d be happy to help.

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