February 20, 2023

The TikTok Marketing Mistakes You Don't Want to Make

The TikTok Marketing Mistakes You Don't Want to Make

The fast-paced, creative landscape of TikTok continues to draw in brands and businesses, where marketers and creators can find a thriving community of more than 1B monthly active users.

While the platform is especially popular among younger age groups, more than 50% of U.S. users are in the 30 and older demographic. This user distribution, combined with the fun, engaging nature of the platform, makes it ideal for brand awareness and lead generation. 

With more than 94M downloads in the United States and over 650M worldwide, TikTok reigned supreme in 2021 as the most downloaded app – for the third year in a row.

As one of the fastest-growing social media platforms that continues to rise in popularity, this is one channel brands definitely want to incorporate into their marketing strategy.  And this means that the platform is vital, and that the last thing you want to do is unknowingly make a critical TikTok marketing mistake that could keep you from getting the results you want.

8 TikTok Marketing Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make 

The last thing you want to do is put time, energy, and money into TikTok marketing only to make even a seemingly minor TikTok marketing mistake that can impact your results and your ROI.

Whether you’re new to the app, still growing followers, or managing an established account, keep the insights below in mind to ensure you’re avoiding common TikTok marketing mistakes and maximizing your visibility, engagement, and success. 

1. Leaving Out the Hashtags 

Like other popular social media platforms, using hashtags on TikTok provides a critical opportunity for account discoverability. A strong hashtag strategy allows you to reach new viewers, gain followers, find and connect with a niche audience, and maximize the mileage of viral trends.

How to Avoid This TikTok Mistake 

  • Conduct keyword research in advance.
  • Pay attention to hashtags being used within your niche or subculture.
  • Seek out trending hashtags (but only use them when truly applicable).
  • Work hashtags into your caption carefully to account for the character limit.
  • Aim for 3-5 hashtags per post.
  • Leverage a mix of popular, relevant, trending, and niche hashtags for your content.
  • As the new “friends” tab takes place of TikTok’s long-standing “discover” feature, plan to lean more heavily on the search icon at the top of your screen, as well as on third-party resources, like trending hashtag newsletters and round-ups.
  • Consider using TikTok's hashtag generator for custom hashtags

2. Skipping TikTok’s Trends 

Trends and challenges offer a fun way to create content, in addition to providing an opportunity to grow your audience and build community.

Trends move fast, and this means viewers can get fatigued while a trend is still making the rounds. If you can get in early, you’re likely to see the best results. Remember, not every trend works for every account – if you’re struggling to create a video for a trend, or if the trend deviates too much from your brand identity, it isn’t a good fit. 

How to Avoid This TikTok Mistake 

  • Try to participate only in trends that are still growing (if you’re tired of seeing something, your followers likely feel that way too). 
  • Take time to understand a trend and how it functions to ensure your content hits the mark.
  • Deviate from a trend only if it truly makes sense for your brand and message.
  • Jump on trends within your niche, industry, or subculture whenever possible.
  • Find trends by following popular accounts in your niche, scrolling your “for you” page, and exploring #trendingnow within TikTok’s search feature.
  • You can also follow channels that provide lists of up to date trends, like this one

3. Posting Content That’s Not Mobile-Friendly

To appease the TikTok algorithm, it’s ideal to shoot content natively within the app using the create button (that’s the plus icon in the middle of your footer navigation menu). This can also help ensure your content stays mobile-friendly. 

How to Avoid This TikTok Mistake 

  • Record content within the app whenever possible.
  • Film in portrait mode, with an ideal size of 1080 by 1920 pixels (this is the default for most smartphones) and a 9:16 aspect ratio.
  • If you’re using pre-recorded content, be sure to watch the entire video before posting, and to drag and scale where needed to get the right fit and keep subjects in the frame. 
  • Pay attention to the navigation menus at the top and bottom of the screen and be mindful of leaving buffers for these when adding on-screen text to your videos.
  • While TikTok is best as an audio-on experience, remember that not all users will watch with sound, so use clear, concise, and well-positioned on-screen text to help convey your message.

4. Not Staying True to Your Brand Voice 

TikTok still carries a reputation for silly videos, viral challenges, and trending dances. While these styles are popular, there’s plenty of informative, educational, and heartfelt content found across the platform as well. No matter how strong your TikTok game might be, inauthenticity always shines through. Hopping on popular trends can be a great way to grow your brand presence, but only if that presence conveys the true identity and message that you want it to.

How to Avoid This TikTok Mistake 

  • Clarify your brand voice and tone as part of your TikTok strategy.
  • Don’t be afraid to evolve your identity and messaging as you learn what works, but stay true to your brand as well.
  • Don’t feel the need to jump on every trend, especially ones that aren’t a good fit.
  • Consider ways you could take a popular trend and make it your own, if possible.
  • Weigh the option of sharing a video that explains why you won’t be participating in a trend, especially one that’s controversial or harmful. 

5. Forgetting to Offer Value 

Being funny is a win in its own right, and brands shouldn't shy away from being humorous, silly, or playful as they’re creating content.

One of the best ways to rack up those shares and saves, though, is to provide value. Making someone laugh is just one way to provide value – other ways might look like breaking down a complex topic or common misconception within your industry, giving a product or feature review, or sharing tips and insights that followers can use in their day-to-day lives.

Resources, tutorials, and how-to guides can be crucial for brands looking to reach or grow their target audience, and they absolutely have a place on TikTok.

How to Avoid This TikTok Mistake 

  • Aim for a mix of entertaining, informative, and trending video content for your account.
  • Look for ways you can share vital information while also being funny or incorporating a trend (but avoid shoe-horning, of course).
  • Consider frequently asked questions about your product, service, or niche, and address these topics in informative, conversational videos.
  • Create timely content by seeking out news or other relevant updates pertaining to your industry.
  • Think of entry-level information to use for primers and how-to posts for beginners or new adopters.
  • Go in-depth in bite-sized pieces to create a video series – this can offer value and builds urgency at the same time.

6. Not Having a Complete Profile 

Optimizing your account profile is a secret weapon to ensure the right followers find your content. Elevate a weak or incomplete profile by following best practice tips, and keep in mind that there may be specific trends, formats, or keywords for your niche, so pay attention to how popular accounts within your space have set up their profiles as well.

How to Avoid This TikTok Mistake 

  • Be unforgettable: Consider a short, memorable username that effectively conveys your brand or offering (ideally this is a name that’s consistent across all social media platforms as well).
  • Use a strong image: This might be a logo if you’re creating a business profile or a professional headshot if you’re leveraging a personal brand. 
  • Share your value up front: Describe yourself or your brand in your bio and, most critically, explain what viewers might gain from following your account. 
  • Include a CTA: End your bio with a strong, clear call to action that aligns with the goal of your account. This might be to grow more followers, to drive traffic to a website, or to boost visibility of a specific product or resource.
  • Fit the culture: Remember the overall tone of TikTok is personable and playful. Stay true to your identity, but consider using emojis and writing bios (and post captions) in a way that’s casual and accessible.
  • Count carefully: Stay within your character count (80 max) and be sure to include a link to a relevant home page or landing page for people who want to learn more.

7. Only Trying to Sell 

Social media is a fantastic marketing and sales tool, and TikTok is no exception. However, social isn’t the best medium for 1:1 selling, especially for organic content. Instead, think of sales as a byproduct of good content, which means that your primary goal is always to create something that serves your audience.

How to Avoid This TikTok Mistake 

  • Aim for an approximate 80-20 content ratio, with no more than 20% of posts that hard sell or directly promo a product or service.
  • Feature diverse content, with plenty of informative, entertaining, or brand awareness videos mixed in with sales posts.
  • When you are selling, be as personable, entertaining, and enjoyable as possible.
  • Avoid using trends to sell, which is a move that can elicit backlash from viewers.

8. Staying in a Bubble

You don’t exist in a bubble, and your social media marketing shouldn’t either. Like other platforms, it takes engagement to get engagement. In addition to researching hashtags and trends and creating quality content, make sure you take time to interact with other users, build a community, and pursue partnerships for shared content and promotions.

How to Avoid This TikTok Mistake 

  • Use hashtags and the search function to find similar accounts in your subculture.
  • Make following, commenting, and engaging with other users part of your regular TikTok routine.
  • Consider partnerships with other brands, influencers, and creators (both large and small) for opportunities to reach a broader audience and grow brand awareness.
  • Remember to follow accounts outside of your niche too, especially users who have a good handle on popular trends and other best practices.

Final Thoughts

Taking care to avoid the eight TikTok mistakes discussed in this post can go a long way to help you get the results you should be getting, both on- and off-platform.

Building a strong TikTok account with engaged followers that successfully represents your brand takes time, consistency, and patience. By implementing these best practices for avoiding common TikTok marketing mistakes, from creating a stronger profile to determining how you’ll react to video trends, you can get more impact from your effort.

As you refine your strategy, you’ll see results in how your account performs, and your followers will most likely take notice too. 

Want to learn more from social media industry leaders? Explore our Diploma of Social Media Marketing here.

Ana Gotter

Ana Gotter

Social Media Marketing Specialist

Ana is a strategic content marketer specialising in business, finance, and marketing writing, though she's worked across a range of industries. She works from her home in Orlando with her three dogs.

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