How To

February 17, 2023

How to get started on TikTok

With more brands jumping on the TikTok bandwagon, we look into how you can get started on the platform — and be successful in the long term

“TikTok has a reputation for being a Gen-Z platform — but the last couple of years has seen its audience mature and diversify,” says Oscar Mackenzie, the head of marketing at community-based investment app Shares. “You want to be where your audience already is — as a B2C app focused on people in their twenties and thirties, TikTok seemed like a good platform to experiment with.”

In our Startup Life newsletter, Oscar gave his top tips for getting started.

Forget about perfectionism

TikTok lends itself to play. There isn’t the expectation that everything should be polished and highly produced — TikTok is more forgiving of lo-fi content. Use your phone, opt for stock videos and music and use your team to front your videos. Your main focus should be executing simple videos and getting them out regularly. You don’t need to invest heavily up front to get going.

Figure out content themes

If your business is app based, your videos can’t just be of people using the app. No one will watch. Instead, figure out what problems you can help your audience solve whilst still being entertaining. For example, we are in investment — it’s a complicated, fast-moving and ever-changing world — so our content mission is to inform and educate our audience on public companies and current news stories.


Get comfortable experimenting

Work out what resonates with your audience. Experiment with different formats, types of content and lengths of videos. Our cornerstone strategy is educating our audience on public market investments, but we experiment with topics like investing in non-traditional goods (like shoes) to see if the general topic of “money” brings new audiences to us. Sometimes we have 500 views on a video and that’s fine, because others get 500k — that's just the way the platform works.

You’re definitely not going to get it right from day one — scroll back through any brand’s TikTok, like Duolingo (who are now killing it!), and you’ll see the evolution of their content.

Measure your traction

TikTok provides excellent analytics on the back end. For example, you can see that at 20 seconds there was a drop off in your viewership. Now you need to figure out why. Was it the length of the video? Was it what was showing on screen then? Find the pain points in the user experience and then adapt accordingly for next time.

If you’re not measuring, there’s no point experimenting. When you measure, you’ll get closer to really understanding exactly what you should be using the platform for.

Get the length of video right

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. Longer-form content, up to 10 minutes, is perfect if you want to create more documentary style videos. There is also trending sounds driven content, which lasts between five and seven seconds. Our sweet spot is between 30-40 seconds — it allows us to tell a story in a way that doesn't outstay its welcome. Make sure you know why you’re opting for a certain length of content — is it to try and trend on the platform, to tell a story or because your analytics has told you that that could be your sweet spot?

Repurpose your content

Create content for TikTok and make it work harder by repurposing it for Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts. Different content for different platforms can spread brand teams very thin — reusing it makes the investment of time and resources worth it.

Do it all in-house

It can be quicker to make decisions, create content and publish if you have a process that you own. We have an in-house content creator who does everything from scripting, writing, shooting and editing. Other team members join in for script writing strategy or to share ideas.

but don’t put it all on your social media manager

They may never have used TikTok before! Just because they have social media in their job title, doesn’t mean this is the role for them. Think about who on the team can do it: Is it, initially, a joint effort between a few parties? Do you need someone new to come in for a bit? Maybe your social media manager can take it on? Do they need an assistant of some sort to take on some of their workload?

On the subject of... getting started on TikTok

🐠 Fin-fluencers are on the rise. Influencer marketing can create brand awareness and buzz for new fintechs but, if a company is focused on profitability and not just growth, is it the best use of resources? One from the Sifted archives.

🌱 Grow your brand awareness. Swedish housing queuing app Dibz has grown quickly and TikTok has been a huge help — some of its videos have several million views (the article is in Swedish!).


📏 What you should measure. Views and followers are just vanity metrics. Instead, you want to measure brand awareness and reach. Here’s how.

🆙 Grow your TikTok account. Timothy Armoo founded (and exited) social media platform Fanbytes. In this podcast, he talks about how to use TikTok to grow your business.

📹 Get people to watch your entire video. This Twitter thread lays out a structure for your next video. Top tip: Get rid of all the fluff.

Anisah Osman Britton

Anisah Osman Britton is coauthor of Startup Life , a weekly newsletter on what it takes to build a startup. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn