Everyone from tweens to grandparents is jumping on the TikTok bandwagon to show off their version of the CitiRokk dance move. In fact, TikTok was the most downloaded app of 2021, with 656 million total downloads!1

What does that mean for small business owners? Attention is a precious commodity these days, and TikTok is getting a lot of it. But TikTok is not just for lip-syncing and comedy skits. Now is a great time to take advantage of the platform’s surging popularity to reach your customers in a new, fun, and creative way.

Not sure where to start? Here’s a complete guide on how to use TikTok ads to promote your business.

Why should you advertise your small business on TikTok?

TikTok is a smart place to advertise your small business because of its large, diverse, and rapidly growing user base.

So, just how many people are using TikTok?

  • TikTok has over one billion monthly active users.2
  • TikTok is predicted to become the world’s third most popular social media app worldwide in 2022.3
  • TikTok ranks fifth globally for average time spent per user, with an average of nearly 20 hours per month.4
  • TikTok is not only for Generation Z. Here’s the age breakdown of U.S. TikTok users in 2021:
    • 25% are 10 to 19 years old
    • 22.4% are 20 to 29 years old
    • 21.7% are 30 to 39 years old
    • 20.3% are 40 to 49 years old
    • 11% are 50 or older5
  • Over half of TikTok users in the U.S. make over $75,000 per year.6

But it’s not just about how popular TikTok is now. It’s important to look at how usage is trending. In January of 2018, the platform had just 11 million monthly active users. However, by August 2020, that figure grew by almost 800%.7

Further, TikTok allows you to reach receptive users who are in a curious mindset while scrolling. According to a recent study with 25,000 participants, 72% of respondents found TikTok ads inspiring, and 70% considered them more trendsetting than ads on other platforms.Furthermore, people who have shared, liked, or commented on a TikTok brand video are 150% more likely to buy that brand’s product or service.9

As a business owner, you can use TikTok ads to create a campaign that helps you reach and earn the business of an engaged audience. The platform’s broad user base and detailed segmentation abilities also mean that you can target your ads to your ideal customers.

What are the options for advertising on TikTok?

If you want to advertise on TikTok, you can choose from a few options, including:

  • In-feed video ads: In-feed ads feature autoplay videos that blend into the “For You” feed of TikTok users. They can be up to 60 seconds long and are created by users through the TikTok Ads Manager.
  • Top view ads: Top view ads place up to 60 seconds of video on the best and most prominent feeds on TikTok.
  • Branded effects: TikTok enables you to make customized stickers, augmented reality filters, and special effects that users can add to their own videos to help you gain brand awareness.
  • Branded hashtag challenges: This strategy involves launching a challenge that invites TikTok users to create content around your campaign theme and hashtag. You can choose between a three or six-day duration, and the program includes creative guidance, help with setup, and supporting media placements.

While TikTok offers a variety of advertising options, only the in-feed video ads are self-service. The remaining formats require you to work directly with TikTok’s ad sales team.

How does TikTok rank ads using algorithms?

TikTok’s algorithm determines which ads it serves to users. Other factors besides your bid influence the ads as well. (Basically, your bid is how much you’re willing to pay for clicks, conversions, and total impressions.)

While the details of the algorithm itself aren’t public knowledge, the quality of your ad and its ability to engage is also likely to be important factors. Higher quality, highly relevant ads are displayed more frequently because they’re more likely to get better user engagement which, in turn, helps the platforms make more money.10,11

What is a TikTok ad campaign and how do you create one?

TikTok categorizes ads into three parts: campaigns, ad groups, and ads. Once you have a TikTok ads manager account set up, the first step to creating an ad is to create a campaign.

To do so, click on “Campaigns” from the top menu and then click the button that says “Create.”

TikTok ads manager

On the next page, select an advertising objective. (In other words, set the goal you are trying to reach with your ad.) You can choose from various objectives such as reach, traffic, app installs, video views, lead generation, and conversions.

TikTok advertising objective

Next, you’ll name the campaign, decide if you want to run a split test, and decide if you’ll place a limit on your ad spend.

TikTok ads manager

Once you click “Continue,” that’s pretty much it for the campaign setup. You can have up to 999 campaigns in your TikTok ads manager account.12

What are TikTok ad specs?

When learning how to use TikTok ads, you’ll need to meet the following specifications:13

  • Aspect ratio: 16:9, 9:16, 1:1
  • Video Resolution: Greater than or equal to 960*540px, 540*960px, 640*640px
  • Video file type: .avi, .mp4, .mov, .mpeg, .3gp
  • Video length: 5 to 60 seconds (9 to 15 seconds is recommended)
  • Size of file: Less than or equal to 500 MB
  • Bitrate: Greater than or equal to 516 kbps
  • Descriptions: Up to 100 characters
  • App Name: 4 to 40 characters
  • Brand Name: 2 to 20 characters

If you’re having trouble, TikTok offers optimization tools that can help.

Steps to set up a TikTok ad

Ready to get started but wondering how to use TikTok ads? Here’s what you need to do step-by-step.

1. Set up a TikTok Ads Manager account

First, you need to head over to the TikTok for Business page and click “Create Now.”

TikTok for Business

Then, set up your TikTok Ads Manager account. If you already have an account, you can just log in.

TikTok for Business

Once you’re on your main dashboard, click “Create an Ad.”

Tiktok Create an Ad

2. Set up your ad campaign

Next, you’ll be taken to the first step of the process, which is creating your ad campaign. We talked about how this is done above. You’ll pick your campaign name, objective, and budget.

Tiktok ad campaign

3. Set up your ad group

The next step is setting up your ad group. This involves making various decisions about the ads you plan to run, including:

  • Placements: Select your placement preferences and decide whether users can comment on and download your ad.Tiktok Ad Placement
  • Creative Type: Decide whether to opt in or out of an automated creative optimization service that generates combinations of the ads you create.  Tiktok Creative Type
  • Targeting: Define your audience parameters, including location, gender, age, languages, interest, behaviors, and devices. You can also target “lookalike audiences” by sharing data about your existing customers that TikTok will then use to segment its own user base for your promotions.Tiktok Targeting
  • Budget and Schedule: Set your daily or monthly budget. It must be at least $20 per day or $600 per month. Set a start and end date or choose to run the ad continuously. Further, choose whether you want the ad to run all day or at a specific time.Tiktok Budget and Schedule
  • Bidding and Optimization: Set a frequency cap to control how often the same people see your ads. Additionally, you can choose between TikTok’s two different types of bidding strategies, “bid cap” or “lowest cost.” With a bid cap strategy, you set the maximum price you’re willing to pay for your goals, such as individual impressions or clicks. The lowest cost strategy, on the other hand, allows you to set the maximum you want to spend for your entire campaign and then gives Tiktok the ability to maximize your overall performance within that budget.Tiktok Bidding and Optimization

That’s it for the ad group. Depending on the objective you set for your campaign, there might be slight variances in your setup experience.

4. Create your ad

The final step is to create your actual ad. You can use an existing TikTok post or create the ad from scratch. If you want to use an existing post, you’ll upload it into the Ads Manager. Then, you can add text, a website URL, and a call to action such as clicking through to your website.

Tiktok Create ad

If you want to create a post from scratch, you’ll upload or create the video. The Ads Manager includes a TikTok Video Editor so you can add music and edit the video with other popular TikTok features. Once complete, you can add the display name (your company), text, a website URL, and a call to action.

TikTok Video Editor

Click “Submit” and your ad will be sent to TikTok for approval. If you’re not sure where to start with your ad creative and need some inspiration, TikTok provides a massive library of top-performing ads. The platform also advises creators to make ads that look like regular TikToks.

So what kind of TikToks are working well? Here are a few post examples of small business owners who have gained sizeable followings with their posts:

Express Landscape runs a landscaping business and has gained over 15,000 followers:


#foru #landscapedesign #landacapebusiness #landscapetip #diy #diylandscaping #trees #planting #plantingtips #lawncare #construction

♬ Monkeys Spinning Monkeys – Kevin MacLeod

Renati Fit is an online personal trainer who’s gained over 309,500 followers:


If you like my content on here, you might like my insta content too 🙂 @renatifit

♬ Sixty Second Commercial 1 by Michael Reynolds – malcolm

California Wedding Planner is an event planner that has earned over 90,000 followers:


#duet with @mrs.broadway #letgoandletsarah #sarahblindreact #californiaweddingplanner #weddingplanner #wedding #weddingtiktok #katespadenyonthemove#fy

♬ Can’t Help Falling In Love – Elvis Presley

Grow and protect your small business

TikTok can help you raise awareness about your small business so more customers can find you. Plus, you can have some fun along the way.

TikTok is constantly evolving the way brands can interact with customers through ads. For example, it just rolled out a feature that allows brands to include interactive add-ons (like popups and stickers) to their ads.14

Before you begin working on your TikTok dance moves, however, make sure you have the right coverage in place to protect your growing business.

Don’t worry, Thimble has your back. Our small business insurance offers you several options so you can select the coverage most appropriate for your business by the job, month, or year. Just click “get a quote” here or on our app. It only takes a few minutes to get your quote, buy your policy and share your Certificate of Insurance. Now, happy TikToking!


  1. Apptopia. Worldwide and US Download Leaders 2021. 
  2. Hootsuite. 24 Important TikTok Stats Marketers Need to Know in 2022. 
  3. TechCrunch. TikTok to rank as the third-largest social network, 2022 forecast notes.
  4. Hootsuite. 24 Important TikTok Stats Marketers Need to Know in 2022. 
  5. Statista. Distribution of TikTok users in the United States as of March 2021, by age group. ​​
  6. Marketing Charts. TikTok U.S. User Distribution by Age and Income. 
  7. CNBC. TikTok reveals detailed user numbers for the first time. 
  8. Social Media Today. TikTok Shares New Ad Strategy Tips, Based on Responses from 25,000 Users. 
  9. Suzy. TikTok User Survey of U.S. 
  10. Influencer Marketing Hub. How TikTok Ads Work. 
  11. Digiday. How TikTok Ranks Ads. 
  12. TikTok Business Help Center. Set Up a Campaign. 
  13. TikTok Business Help Center. Video Ad Specifications. 
  14. Search Engine Journal. TikTok Introduces Interactive Add-Ons for Feed.