Each month, 80 million people spend an average of 24 hours on TikTok. This new opportunity has revolutionized how B2C brands interact with their customers. Can TikTok for B2B marketing unlock the same potential?
Quite a few brands are trying to answer that question for themselves. Not all B2B companies can capitalize on those instant #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt B2C conversions, but that doesn’t mean they won’t get any value out of the network. When it comes to awareness, TikTok may be just what a B2B social media strategy needs.
The path to success for businesses on TikTok isn’t totally uncharted. We spoke with three B2B marketers who are experimenting with and finding success on TikTok. Here’s what we learned from their strategies.
But first, why you need to try B2B marketing on TikTok
The impacts of TikTok can be felt all around us, from the fashion trends we’re talking about to the music we listen to.
Headlines surrounding the network typically discuss how it’s impacting consumer behavior from a retail perspective, but the full picture is much larger. With more than one billion active monthly users, buyers of all kinds are flocking to TikTok for inspiration, entertainment, education and more.
TikTok for business can help you establish deeper connections with target audiences. If you’re still skeptical, here are the top three reasons your brand can benefit from a TikTok business strategy:
It’s a powerful awareness driver
Polished video production has its time and place, but research shows that consumers enjoy the quick and scrappy approach just as well.
We surveyed over 1,000 US consumers for the 2022 Sprout Social Index™ and found that more than one-third want to see more authentic, less produced videos from the brands they follow. On top of that, consumers also find short-form video 2.5x more engaging than long-form video.
Keeping up with these social trends isn’t just a B2C priority. A study from the International Data Corporation found that 75% of senior and influential B2B buyers use online social networks throughout their purchase process.
“The thing about B2B marketing on TikTok is that you’re always dealing with the customer behind the business. At the end of the day, whether you’re promoting a marketing toolkit or selling inkjet printers, you’re talking to a person.”
— Maria Kalyadina, Head of Social at Semrush
A TikTok business strategy can help you keep up with consumer preferences on social. In doing so, you’ll stay connected with potential buyers, too.
It’s where your prospects go to discuss their pain points
If you look through the hashtag #corporate, you’ll find TikTok videos poking fun at everything from email signature norms to video chat blunders. This light-hearted, snappy approach to discussing the idiosyncrasies that come with working a 9-to-5 is essential to a rising TikTok subculture: Corporate TikTok.
Other corporate TikTok hashtags like #9to5, #WorkFromHome and #WorkLife have amassed over 20 billion views combined. This means your buyers are already flocking to TikTok to vent about their day-to-day work problems. That’s your cue to swoop in with a solution.
It can breathe new life into your social strategy
TikTok trends are notoriously inventive. There’s practically a new one popping up every other day. This constant stream of inspiration can help you look at your cross-network social strategy with fresh eyes.
Plus, posting multiple times per day is the network norm. Thanks to the algorithmic For You Page, it’s impossible to overwhelm your followers with content. This limitless playground for experimentation could be where you strike gold on social.
Advice from 3 brands getting TikTok for B2B right
You probably have everything you need to start making your first batch of TikTok content. Sometimes, all it takes is a little inspiration to jumpstart the process. To help, we spoke to three marketers to find out how they’re approaching TikTok for B2B and what they’ve learned along the way.
Smartsheet is a work management platform on a mission to improve the way teams collaborate. It’s no wonder collaboration is what makes their TikTok presence shine.
“The social team gets ideas from our customers, colleagues and from watching—probably too much—TikTok,” says Brian Bosché, Director of Product Marketing at Smartsheet. “We use Smartsheet to organize video concepts and then decide on our favorites. From there, we’ll write out an outline for the video and go through revisions until it’s in a good place to shoot.”
Bosché is one of many volunteer content creators for the Smartsheet TikTok account. The Smartsheet social team recruited talent from across their business so they always have someone to call on when it’s time to hit record.
Together, they create TikToks that share a behind-the-scenes look at how people and organizations accomplish their work. Anchoring their brand presence to a wider theme creates variety in their content, which ranges from skits to tutorials to the latest TikTok trends. It also gives them room to elevate customer stories and user-generated content while maintaining consistency.
“TikTok gives you the ability to interact with your community in a bunch of different ways, including dueting and stitching videos,” says Bosché. “We love it when people create videos about Smartsheet and will duet and react to them pretty consistently. We commented on someone’s video about how they use Smartsheet, and they created another video about what they loved about Smartsheet as a response.”
The Smartsheet social team has tried out quite a few video formats and tools since launching their TikTok presence in April of 2022. That experimentation is the root of Bosché’s advice for other B2B brands looking to get started with the network.
“Try stuff,” says Bosché. “You never know what is going to work on TikTok, and things are always evolving, so try different formats and topics to see what works.”
You don’t have to be the only one stepping in front of the camera. Recruit video talent from across your organization to disperse the workload.
Encourage engagement by amplifying user-generated content on your own feed.
People search for the darndest things, and no one knows that better than the team at Semrush. They’ve mastered the art of using wacky search queries as social content inspiration, and now they’re capturing that magic with their TikTok presence.
“Marketing can be fun, and it’s even easier to do with Semrush—that’s the message we want to convey on our TikTok,” says Maria Kalyadina, Head of Social at Semrush. “We use humor as a way to do this because it’s integral to Semrush’s tone of voice. It also just so happens to be one of the best ways to appeal to audiences on TikTok, according to our study.”
The study also found that 37% of viral TikToks focus on a person speaking and in more than half of those videos, the person is speaking directly to the camera.
These findings align with the video format used in Semrush’s “You searched for WHAT?” content series. Each video kicks off with a direct-to-camera intro on the search topic, then transitions into a skit inspired by the query.
The finished product combines everything people love about TikTok content. It’s engaging, it’s funny and it’s informative. There aren’t any cues it’s coming from a B2B brand and that’s the point.
“The thing about B2B marketing on TIkTok is that you’re always dealing with the customer behind the business,” says Kalyadina. “At the end of the day, whether you’re promoting a marketing toolkit or selling inkjet printers, you’re talking to a person.”
A little humor can go a long way. If “funny” is an element of your brand personality, test different video formats and punchlines to find out how that can work for you on TikTok.
TikTok is your opportunity to connect with the end users of your product. Prioritize connection with that audience to create more internal champions during the sales process.
Shopify is crushing it on TikTok, and with good reason. They’ve been building their presence on the network for more than two years.
For Saad Khan, Brand Social Lead at Shopify, joining the network was a no-brainer. “Social marketing has less to do with whether you’re B2C or B2B because ultimately you’re both in the awareness game. Every other brand out there is competing for real estate on people’s feeds.”
Since joining TikTok, the Shopify team has been testing video formats to figure out what works for their brand. The time spent iterating on their TikTok strategy has left them with reliable content topics that resonate with their target audience
Now, entrepreneurs and business owners turn to the Shopify TikTok account for tips, advice and reviews. While the video formats may differ, the overarching theme is incredibly consistent.
“The biggest brands on TikTok have learned this way,” says Khan. “They all do one very specific thing that’s uniquely theirs and they keep iterating and reiterating on that same concept in different executions.”
Gaining a following takes time and testing. Small tweaks can make a major difference in video performance, so focus on iterating until you find what works.
Once you Identify a content theme or format that resonates with your audience, run with it. That consistency will create more audience recognition over time.
It’s your time to try TikTok for B2B
TikTok is a marketer’s playground. It’s a space to experiment and connect with the people behind the contract. Establishing this brand recognition and affinity can be the differentiator that gets you more deals.
If you need a little more inspiration before you get in front of the camera and hit record, check out this guide to TikTok marketing campaigns. In it, you’ll find examples and insights from brands that are already present on the network to inform your TikTok business strategy.