How to Optimize Your Advertisement Strategy for TikTok

Some only know TikTok as an app where people record themselves dancing, participating in fad challenges, or talking about whatever is on their minds. However, TikTok has quickly become one of the most popular video-sharing apps on the internet. According to a report by data analytics firm AppAnnie, the average TikTok user spends around 24 hours consuming in-app content per month, and in 2020, Tiktok saw 1 billion dollars of revenue

TikTok, operated by its parent company ByteDance, focuses on user-generated, short-form video content. The app is frequently compared to the now-defunct video platform Vine, but its collection of niche communities also garners it many comparisons to the blogging site Tumblr. In just a few years, TikTok has become a hub for community, creativity, and connection for millions of people. At the same time, it’s also become a major opportunity for businesses to gain large followings and humanize their image. Many larger companies across a wide range of industries—like Chipotle, Duolingo, and The Washington Post—have also tapped into the app’s expansive user base for brand promotion. 

Promoting your business on TikTok can be a game-changer—small businesses that previously struggled with moving inventory out the door can suddenly find themselves with an engaged audience who’s excited about their products. But how can businesses make the most of advertising their brand on an app known for its ever-changing trends and highly-targeted algorithm? Here, we’ll break down the many ways that you can optimize your business’ advertisement strategy for TikTok.

How Do TikTok Ads Work?

TikTok lays out their official policies for advertising on their website, but here’s the breakdown: essentially, TikTok offers businesses to buy space on the platform to advertise their products in a variety of ways. This includes:

  • In-Feed Video: which are ads that appear at random times across a user’s primary video feed, the For You Page (FYP)
  • Brand Takeovers:  full-screen advertisements which are displayed upon opening the app
  • Hashtag Challenges: branded hashtags that encourage user engagement through video trends and challenges
  • Sponsored Video: Brands can hire Tiktok influencers to post videos featuring their products, made in the influencer’s style.
  • Spark Ads: Turning organic content into an ad. Similar to boosting on Facebook, a brand can use an already successful organic post and put money behind it to reach a wider audience.

An algorithmic shift in mid-2020 saw an influx of sponsored videos on the app, which shows how many businesses understand TikTok’s influence. However, advertising on TikTok without a solid strategy can do more harm than good to your brand. So how should a business promote themselves to capture their audience’s attention? In the realm of TikTok, users respond best to entertaining, genuine content that speaks to their interests.

Organic vs. Paid Ads

Any business looking into TikTok advertising should know the difference between two key ad types: organic ads and paid ads.

Organic Content 

Organic content consists of unpaid advertisements that attract potential customers through engaging content. Rather than paying for ad space, organic advertising involves creating and posting original content to your TikTok that is meant to reach your target audiences. Organic content simulates word-of-mouth advertising by allowing your business’ reputation to build over time. 


  • Shares your brand’s voice
  • No additional cost for ad space
  • Builds brand credibility


  • Takes time to build a reputation
  • Making content is time-consuming
  • Unpredictable results

For businesses on the leading edge of TikTok marketing, you can work to improve your organic visibility through a TikTok SEO campaign. As the platform is still relatively new, there are opportunities abound for brands that know how to optimize their content for TikTok’s FYP and search algorithm.

Paid Ads 

Through paid ads, brands can pay for their business to be seen by more consumers through the purchase of ad space. These ads are clearly marked as ads on TikTok’s platform, but appear in-feed as any other content would. 


  • It’s easier to target your audience
  • You have trackable data
  • Doesn’t require you to build a following
  • Doesn’t require you to create content as often
  • Doesn’t need constant monitoring


  • Campaign costs
  • Constant analysis to remain relevant
  • Requires understanding of metrics tracking

Both advertising methods have their strengths and weaknesses, and both have proven effective at growing businesses on TikTok. As such, many find combining these methods in a way that suits their business gets the best results. Whatever methods are used, seamlessly integrating your promotional video into a user’s FYP is the best way to ensure that your ads are impactful.

Tips to Creating Engaging Ads

Understand The Algorithm 

Like with any social platform, it’s necessary to understand the types of content your ideal TikTok audiences enjoy and regularly interact with. 

When you upload a video on TikTok, the FYP algorithm shows the video to a small group of users that the app has determined will be likely to engage with the video, either due to the subject matter, hashtags, the audio used, or more. The app then analyses the engagement based on a points system that measures user interaction, video information, account settings, and other metrics. If this initial group shows favorable interaction, TikTok distributes the video to others with similar interests, beginning the process over. The algorithm also calculates the number of times the video is shared between users as increased interest. If this positive feedback gains enough algorithmic points, the video has the chance to spread to a much wider audience. Therefore, understanding what will be both eye-catching and interesting to your demographic is key. 

Be an Ad Chameleon 

TikTok says it best: “Don’t make ads. Make TikToks.” To get engagement on your ads, you want to make ads that look like regular TikTok content, allowing the ads to integrate themselves naturally among the content that your audience already watches. To do this, keep up to date with TikTok trends and adapt them to make them relevant to your business. Whether it is a certain dance, a trending sound, or a unique take on a trend, creating content that keeps up with pop culture and other niche trends keeps your business’ content relevant, and updating regularly ensures your audience stays engaged. Trends come and go more quickly on the internet, and participating in a trend early increases your chances of gaining traction.  

The biggest draw to TikTok is that it’s organic, unpolished content that can be made by anyone. Users respond well to brands that make fun, entertaining videos, but you still want your content to truly communicate your brand. Getting staff involved on the latest dance trend or showing off a cool life-hack inspired by your product or service can help drive engagement and keep your branding at the forefront of your content. 

Keep It Short 

Speed and efficiency are the key to engagement and views. Though a recent update expanded the TikTok time parameters from 60 seconds to 3 minutes, completion rates are best on videos that run between 10 and 15 seconds. The algorithm calculates the number of times a video is watched to completion in their point values. Short, catchy content is what TikTok is known for, and what its users respond best to. While integrating longer-form TikTok content is not a bad idea, try to prioritize shorter videos in your creation strategy first.  

Partner with Popular Users

Part of what makes TikTok unique is its capacity for building connections between creator and audience. Because TikTok is built around user-generated video content that displays across an entire phone screen, many users feel a more natural connection to the people and brands whose content they enjoy on the app. And with a quarter of TikTok’s US user base under the age of 19, a large portion of the app’s users have grown up with the Internet, and tend to respond to messaging that feels directly personalized to their interests.

TikTok users with large fanbases, or those who are popular with niche demographics you want to reach, can have a big impact on how your product or brand is received if it appears in their content. Partnering with popular TikTok users is also a great way to show audiences how your products work in real-time. Videos involving real-time application or testing of the product can show audiences how your product really works.

Is TikTok Your Next Frontier? Let Online Optimism Help You Grow!

Thinking about tapping into the world of TikTok advertising but don’t know where to start? Every day, Online Optimism’s Social team helps brands target their key audiences across TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and more. Contact us today and get optimistic about your marketing!