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Many brands have plunged right into the world of TikTok, and they're lighting it up with stellar content.

Duolingo, for one, is doing it through snarky owl mascot videos. Netflix, meanwhile, brings the humor, and Tottenham Hotspur highlights its most exciting young players.

Their popularity is growing fast, and they're posting frequently. But they're all B2C brands.

In the world of TikTok, is there room for businesses to connect with other businesses?

We've seen B2B providers make great strides on TikTok. Mega-companies, such as Adobe and Apple, are leading the way with product guides and how-tos, and plenty of other brands—from tech startups to HR consultancies—are using TikTok as a way to tap into new audiences.

But does that mean TikTok is right for your B2B business?

Ask yourself these three questions as you decide how to invest your effort into building a community on the fastest-growing social network.

1. What's driving you to be active on TikTok?

Do you have corporate executives who keep stopping by your office and telling you how great their teenager's TikTok following is and how "we really oughta be on there"? That's not necessarily the right reason for jumping on a new social platform.

If you're considering getting your B2B brand on TikTok, you should have a good reason for being there, along with a good plan for how you'll make the most of your presence.

Zoom is a great example. The company had a meteoric rise in visibility about the same time that TikTok did, because of COVID and our abrupt switch to technology-driven work and social connections. The company has done a great job of creating clever content that taps into the work-from-home tropes we've all been living since 2020. Zoom has also used influencers well, including music legends Elton John and Stevie Wonder and TikTok-fueled star Lil Nas X.

Before jumping on TikTok, consider polling your audience and influencers who might be a fit for your brand. (Note: If you want to pick an influencer's brain, please treat it as a business proposition and pay them for their time.)

Also, before you choose to get on TikTok, ensure your organization is willing to invest the time and resources needed to be successful. TikTok is driven by unique, creative content. You can't just repost the same image and messages you 've shared across your other platforms. Instead, you have to be committed to create content on a regular, ongoing basis.

If you don't have the bandwidth in your internal team, influencer marketing can help fill the gaps.

Influencers can create a stockpile of content for you. They can also help you run contests that pool together user-generated content so you have a full slate of good content to work with and so you can keep your channel running smoothly.

2. How will you communicate?

Although most brands have an overall tone and voice, they know how to switch it up for audiences on different platforms. Regional burger chain Whataburger, for example, airs television commercials that are people-centric and traditional. On its Twitter account, though, it has no qualms about jumping into rapper's beefs and dishing out its own sick burns—much to the delight of its B2C audience.

In your B2B marketing, instead of sharing the same content across all your platforms, think seriously about your audience on each one and what it's looking for.

On LinkedIn, for example, you might choose to stick closest to the company's traditional voice and guidelines. Your content may be more brand-heavy and formal because you know your followers are thinking about work, business, and professionalism while they're on the leading business platform.

On TikTok, you have the opportunity to do something different. When users access TikTok, they're not looking for brand marketing. They're looking for something that's engaging, personable, and authentic.

Your content should remain true to the essence of your brand, but you can also have a little more fun with it. Some possibilities:

  • Share user-generated content (even across other platforms, as more than 80% of TikTok influencers regularly repurpose content cross-platform).
  • Find ways to participate and highlight your brand in appropriate trends and challenges.
  • Show off your product or service, as TikTok's short video format gives the perfect opportunity to highlight key product features and tantalize your viewers into wanting to learn more.
  • Answer user questions about your product and highlight its benefits.
  • Use real people in your content as opposed to sticking with safe brand messaging and stock imagery.
  • Infuse humor into your posts (for example, you can repurpose more traditional content from your other social channels and give it a lighter take on TikTok).

Canva, a platform for graphic design resources, does a great job with creating personable, interesting content by bringing its users, employees, and influencers together to create content that's clever and compelling. It also deepens users' relationship with Canva's platform: Small business owners can see its additional features and develop a greater propensity to eventually shift to a paid version from the initial free offering.

3. How will you build your team?

TikTok's easier path to virality gives you a better chance of increasing your visibility. However, to really deepen relationships and move viewers down the funnel, you need to ensure your prospects are hearing from others—not just from you.

You can increase your visibility and connection with your target audiences by partnering with influencers in your field. TikTok users place a high value on authenticity, so seeing your brand collaborate with the influencers they follow and admire can give you a competitive advantage.

For B2B influencers, in particular, you may find that the people who fit with your brand don't have to be the biggest or boast the most followers. If your brand offers a product that streamlines office productivity, Miss Excel might be a shining example of an influencer to partner with. In fact, Microsoft has done so on its wildly popular and surprisingly funny TikTok page.

Drilling down, you might find an influencer with a much smaller following than her million-plus. Smaller influencers might be a great fit because they cater to the ideal customer you're trying to target—and they might also be more affordable.

You can use an influencer marketing platform to narrow down the best influencers for your niche. Once you've created a good list, look at their profiles and review their content to ensure they're a good fit—well-aligned with your brand, knowledgeable about B2B marketing, and strategic enough to play an active role in campaign planning and development.

When you find influencers who are a fit for your brand, consider developing longer-term partnerships with them rather than doing one-off campaigns. It can take some time for an influencer to experiment with different approaches and get in sync with your audience. By working together with influencers for a longer period of time, you also give their audience a better chance to get to know you and to start following and engaging with your brand through those influencers' promotions.

* * *

Behind every great marketing initiative lies a lot of planning, strategy, and partnerships. It's no different with businesses seeking to use TikTok for B2B awareness and interest-building.

As you get ready to launch or grow a B2B TikTok account, know your why, what, and how. You'll have a better chance of success when you're sharing the right thing with the right people on the right platform.

More Resources on B2B TikTok

Four B2B Event Marketing Takeaways From TikTok

How to Know Whether TikTok Is Right for You or Your Business: Wave Wyld on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]

Four Things TikTok Can Teach Us About Presentations

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image of Ismael El-Qudsi

Ismael El-Qudsi is CEO and co-founder of influencer marketplace and employee advocacy tool SocialReacher. His digital marketing experience includes roles as head of SEO and social media at Havas and project manager for Microsoft Bing in his native Spain.

Twitter: @elqudsi

LinkedIn: Ismael El-Qudsi