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Creating and Advertising on TikTok

Whether you've heard it over and over again from Toby or from your younger brother or niece, there is no denying: TikTok is the latest hottest, craziest craze, and it is the fastest-growing app in the world.

So what's it all about? What's going on with the TikTok Algorithm? How do you access it and how can you be a part of it? The question of 'should you be on TikTok' has long-passed.

It's still early enough and we want to bring you in where businesses and creators are spending an average of 850 minutes per month.

TikTok is an app you download on your phone. There is also a desktop app, but you will likely just be using it on your phone.

Phone screen lit up displaying TikTok app
Are you ready to start creating TikTok videos?


It’s time to download TikTok and spend time there. It is being downloaded more than any of the other top social media apps, including Facebook and Instagram.

TikTok has 1 billion monthly active users. The average user is spending more than 14 hours every month watching TikTok videos, most of which are 1-3 minutes long.

And did you know? TikTok has higher engagement rates per post than any other platform.

Organic reach on Facebook and Instagram is declining. We see this on our own Cat's Cove accounts. Despite having a strong presence on the traditional social media platforms and a large follower base, we get about the same organic reach on TikTok, where we have under 100 followers.

TikTok remains the platform with the highest engagement rates.

If you need a bit more convincing, check out these stats.

The secret of getting ahead is getting started.

Ready? Let's go! Step-by-step, we're right here with you.

1. Getting Started on TikTok

Before you start posting and creating on TikTok, you need to watch videos on the platform.

Consume, consume, consume (within reason, of course).


Before you can use the platform you need to understand how it works.

If you have a successful Instagram account, you can’t simply take your Instagram strategy and use it for TikTok. This is a different ball game.

(You can, however, start taking your TikTok content and sharing it on Facebook and Instagram.)

Don't let what you're seeing overwhelm you. As you get started, you will see the top videos, which will likely seem quite creative. You don't have to be a stuntman or the best dancer. You can just be you, we promise.

And we'll give you some insider information on how the TikTok algorithm works, so stay with us.

As you consume videos, scrolling through the content, don't be afraid to tap icons just to see what they do. The worst thing you can do in one tap is like a video or follow someone. And who knows, they might follow back!

2. Understanding the Algorithm; The For You Page

On Instagram and Facebook newsfeeds you see content from accounts you are already following, and only who you're following (as well as hashtags you follow).

The reason TikTok allows for greater reach is because most of us on the app spend time scrolling the For You page.

This is the page of videos that the TikTok algorithm has curated for you and continues to curate for you based on the kinds of videos you watch, the length of time you watch them for and whether you watch them more than once.

This gives you greater reach because these are not necessarily videos from accounts you follow. Only about 1 out of every 10 videos you see on your For You Page are accounts you actually follow.

Very few people spend time on the Following list of videos, so already you have the opportunity to reach many more people than the number of people following you, so if your follower number is slow to build, don't worry.

You’re actually more likely to see more from people you don’t know.

The TikTok algorithm creates a great opportunity to reach people who haven’t heard of you.

The For You Page curates videos, for you, based on the following:

  • Accounts you follow

  • Creators you’ve hidden, kind of like blocking someone

  • Content you leave comments on

  • Videos you’ve shared

  • Videos you’ve added to favourites

  • Content you’ve created

If you’re a retailer selling men’s shoes, you will see more shoe-related videos on your For You page than the average person.

How does TikTok determine what a video is about?

TikTok uses at least five criteria to determine what content is being shared in a video:

  1. The hashtags that you use, if any.

  2. Your caption, looking for keywords.

  3. The auto-generated captions on TikTok (which you should definitely be using!).

  4. Your profile, if you have a description there, a link, and if your videos have a running theme or niche.

  5. Comments that you receive.

All these things help determine what your video is about and who TikTok is more likely to push it to in the algorithm.

3. Setting Up Your Business Account

This is most important if you’re planning to create ads on TikTok right away and if you want to see how the app is working for you by seeing your analytics.

The one drawback of a business account is that it does prevent you from using commercially-licensed sounds.

So it does limit you a little bit with that, but with a business account you can see how many people your video is reaching and how long they are watching your video on average. The analytics provide helpful information as you’re learning what works and what doesn't.

A TikTok business account will also give you access to resources that will help you with creating.

One of the major benefits of having a business account on TikTok is that it allows you to include a link on your profile so you can send people to your website, blog, YouTube channel, etc.

So here is how you set up your business account from your initial, regular account:

Step 1.

On your TikTok profile, tap the hamburger icon (three horizontal lines) on the top-right of your screen

Step 2.

Tap 'Manage Account.'

Step 3.

Tap 'Switch to Business Account.'

Screenshots of Cat's Cove TikTok profile shows steps to switch from personal to business TikTok account
Switch your personal TikTok account to a Business account to access data and advertising opportunities for your business

Now that your account is set up to see analytics, let's get some content on there. We will walk you through steps to create simple videos, and then the TikTok algorithm will do the rest for you.

4. Creating Videos

A TikTok motto: you get to be you on TikTok

With so many sounds, effects and features, it's no surprise that TikTok is the most creative app. There is so much you can do with it, if you choose.

But it really doesn't need to be complicated. It can be as simple as you need it to be, and then, if you want, you can build slowly.


Hit the + sign to start creating. You can upload photos, video, both, or you can record something completely new.

We will go through some of the main functions so it's a little more familiar to you.

Screenshots of TikTok profile showing creative options
TikTok allows you to upload existing content from your phone, record new content, add effects and sounds and more.

Record Button

Before you hit record, we like to switch from Quick video to Camera, and you can change the time length from 15 seconds to 60 seconds or 3 minutes.

In some cases, 5-minute videos are an option and soon you will also see a 10-minute option as TikTok tries to compete more with YouTube.

Once you have your time limit, you can hit record. If you've selected 60 seconds, it doesn't have to be the full minute. And remember that you will have the option to trim it after if you don't like how it starts or ends.

Adding Sounds

Choose any sound you want, and try to pick a trending sound.

Using trending sounds can help with your reach because people can search videos that are using a particular sound.

Keep in mind, again, that with a business account you will be slightly limited in the sounds you can add when it comes to songs, however most lip-syncing sounds are available as well as some other great stuff.

As you're watching videos you can save sounds to search and use later. When you're in Create mode, you can search all sounds and ones you've added to your favourites by tapping "Add Sound."

Pro Tip:

Once your video is recorded and your sound is added, you can scroll down in your options on the right until you see Volume.

Here you can adjust your added sound and maybe lower the volume so it doesn’t interfere with you talking if that’s what you’re doing in the video.

Another great thing with these added sounds is that you can use a trending sound and add it to your video because you want to use it as a way for people to find you.

However, if the sound has nothing to do with your video or it’s too over-powering, just adjust the added sound volume to zero. The sound is still attached, but no one will be able to hear it.

Don’t try to make it perfect

You can also use other video, you don’t have to create inside the TikTok app. You can use your phone camera if that’s more comfortable for you, and then you can upload it. You can also get started with videos you’ve already done for other platforms.

We like to encourage you over and over again to use what you have, to post it everywhere, post it multiple times because reach numbers are low on Instagram and Facebook, and because you’re reaching many new people on TikTok who haven’t seen your content before.

5. Find your subculture

For Cat’s Cove, we want to “win” small business TikTok. This doesn't mean we want to go viral, or even that we will go viral.

This just means that the videos you see will often be similar to your niche. We want to see small business accounts on our For You page so we know who you are and how to help.

We also want to see other accounts that are helping small businesses because this will also help us determine what our audience needs.

On every platform we ask you the same question:

Who is your audience?

You can find them by searching hashtags in your niche.

Like and comment on videos that come up that are related to your business and your ideal customer.

The TikTok algorithm will use these to determine what videos to show you and you will start seeing more of the same types of videos that feature similar content.

6. Maximize Your First Moments

Use a Hook to start your videos off with a bang. A hook is a phrase that will draw your audience in and make them want to keep watching.

TikTok rewards the videos that keep people watching until the end, so you want to start out by grabbing their attention.

Here are some examples of hooks you can use on your videos:

  • Here are 3 things you probably didn't know about _____.

  • What I learned about _____ from ______.

  • Want to know the secret to ______?

  • Stop doing these 3 things

Keep them hooked by keeping the “secret” or “tip” until the end.

These probably sound a lot like click-bait, and that's because they are. You need "watch-bait" in order to retain the attention of your audience.

7. Write An Engaging Caption

Your two chances to hook a viewer are in the first few seconds of your video and in your caption. Give people an idea about what your topic is and try to hook them in with the caption.

That’s a lot of pressure, and this is where it helps to watch other videos and see what others are doing, and then it just takes practice.

We at Cat’s Cove are very much still practicing this as well, some of us (*aka Toby*) are a lot better and more comfortable on video than others. BUT both Bonnie and Joy have been getting much more comfortable with TikTok and you can, too.

8. Engage With Others

As you’re watching video, you can double-tap to 'Like' the videos, and you can even tap-tap-tap the screen a bunch of times on a video you really like. But you also need to be commenting on other creator’s videos.

This will help you to stand out more in your niche community and build brand recognition.

Another way to engage with other creators is to Duet or Stitch their videos.

You’ll see those options on other creator’s videos when you tap the arrow near the bottom of the right side.

These can only be done with videos that are under one minute long.

A Duet creates a split screen with the other video so you can react to what they’re doing as they do it. This is handy if you want to either agree or disagree with their video, or maybe show surprise.

It allows you to share content from someone else, but to add your own face and brand to it.

A Stitch shows just a scene from another person’s video, which you can proceed to explain, reinterpret or build onto. While Duets are more visually reactionary, Stitches allow you to add your own two cents.

It also provides a link to the original video so people can refer back to it, watch the whole thing and see what it was all about.

9. Just Make Stuff

If you’re a business in a small town there’s a good chance that you will be one of the first few businesses interacting on this platform. This will give you first mover advantage.

Consumers are looking to support local, and with the fastest growing user base, TikTok is where you're likely to meet them.

Using Effects

When you press the + sign to create, you will see Effects on the bottom left. If you tap Effects, you can brows what’s trending which is another great way to create.

Not only will people be searching for videos that use these effects, you can search through them to see what others are doing. It could help to give you ideas for creating content and putting your own spin on it for your brand and your niche.

Just like with Sounds, as you watch other videos you can save effects they’re using as well.

Then when you go back to your create (+) screen, tap on Effects, and you can find any effects you’ve saved under Favourites.

You don’t need to use effects, but it can give inspiration and they are a lot of fun to play around with.

10. How to Start Running Ads

So you’ve created some TikToks, and you want to push through the algorithm to reach even more people. And you’re ready to spend money.

Go to the hamburger icon (for a description of this and more digital marketing basics, click here.).

Tap Business Suite (see image).

From here, you can check out TikTok's Promote like a Pro feature which will help you with lots of tips and tricks for advertising on TikTok.

Simple steps to advertise your business on TikTok

When you're ready, you can choose a video from the options (all your public videos), and we recommend choosing a top-performing video, or one that provides the most value and best identifies your brand.

What’s your goal?
  • More video views

  • More website visit

  • More followers

Select your goal from the list.

If you want more people to go to your website, you can add a Learn More button.

From here, make sure you enter in your full, clickable website link (the best way is to copy/paste the exact link you want).

You can choose your audience

Your location is based off of where you’re creating from. TikTok knows if you’re posting from Perth Ontario and assumes you want to advertise to people from Perth Ontario automatically.

You can choose the age-range, and gender of your audience and you can narrow down your target audience to specific interests, just like advertising on Facebook and Instagram.

Set your budget

Choose how much you want to spend and how long you want to set it for. Remember to be patient, just like with Google ads.

TikTok will tell you what it costs, and then you choose your tax region. From there, you pay and start your promotion.

This is essentially TikTok’s version of boosting a post, which is why you want to choose a post that has already done well, or one that you want more people to see because of its relevance to your business.

TikTok is learning from Facebook, Instagram and YouTube and it's learning from their mistakes. The newest social media platform is creating a space that’s very beneficial for business owners. We don't want you to miss out.

Make this Day One.

This is your Day One of creating an account and watching videos (if anyone asks why you're scrolling TikTok, Cat's Cove told you to! This is important research!)

See you on TikTok!

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