Can TikTok Grow Your Business Internationally?

updated April 27, 2023
Reading time6 minutes
Guest Author

Though there are still some companies inclined to avoid them, today’s leading businesses are quick to capitalize on the potential of social media platforms (and chat platforms like WhatsApp) to reach wider audiences and increase brand awareness.

And despite widespread mockery (albeit from older folks) and criticism (honing in on data collection and a perceived inanity), the short-form video sharing app TikTok has swiftly secured a position as a dominant player in this space, boasting a massive user base — and that user base happens to span the globe.

This naturally leads to the titular question: can TikTok help grow your business internationally? It’s often used frivolously, but there’s plenty of great marketing being done there (plus some frivolousness can work wonders in marketing).

In this blog post, then, we’ll explore the various ways in which TikTok can be used to expand your business, focusing on the unique aspects that make this platform especially effective for reaching international audiences. Let’s begin.

The power of TikTok's global reach

TikTok has over 1 billion monthly active users worldwide. That’s not quite at Facebook levels, but it’s astonishing given the form of the content, and it reflects the platform quickly becoming a hotbed for viral content and cultural exchange. After all, short video clips cross cultural divides very effectively. Music, facial expressions, dances: they function universally.

The global nature of the user base is one of the key reasons why TikTok can be an invaluable tool for businesses looking to expand internationally. Because users from different countries and cultural backgrounds come together on the platform, the businesses that step forward to showcase their products and services get to reach huge swathes of potential customers.

Moreover, TikTok's algorithm is designed to promote content to users based on their interests, meaning it doesn’t simply prioritize content from users’ own countries or regions. This means that a well-crafted and engaging TikTok video has the potential to reach users far beyond their local markets.

By creating content that appeals to a diverse range of interests and cultural preferences, your business can leverage TikTok's global reach to attract new customers and increase brand awareness around the world.

Cross-cultural content strategies

To successfully grow your business internationally using TikTok, though, you first need to develop a content strategy that effectively engages users from different cultural backgrounds.

One effective approach is to create locally relevant content for different regions. By working with local influencers and/or incorporating culturally specific elements into your content, you can demonstrate a genuine understanding of (and appreciation for) a target audience's culture.

If you’re making a concerted effort to do well in a specific overseas region, it might even behoove you to hire someone raised there, allowing you to draw upon their cultural knowledge and have them engage with the aforementioned influencers for you.

You can easily work with a freelancer from a site like Upwork. Alternatively, you can almost as easily hire someone full-time through an employer of record (EOR) service, particularly if you use one with local experience (e.g. like Remote has in Spain). Cultural knowledge is valuable and worthy of investment.

The more you cater to audience preferences, the more strongly they’ll become attached to your brand, fostering growth in new markets. At the same time, though, you should look to create universally-appealing content: tapping into global trends and memes will help you reach people who consider themselves more multicultural.

Collaborations and partnerships

Collaborating with international influencers and content creators on TikTok can be an effective way to expand your business's reach. By partnering with influencers with strong followings in the regions you’re targeting (tapping local knowledge as mentioned earlier), you can effectively promote your products and services and build trust and credibility with potential customers.

Additionally, collaborations can provide valuable insights into the preferences and tastes of international audiences.

By working closely with influencers and content creators from different cultural backgrounds, you can gain a deeper understanding of what resonates with people, helping you refine your content strategy and tailor your offerings to better suit their needs. After all, influencers have access to rich follower metrics that can reveal interesting trends.

Leveraging TikTok ads for international growth

TikTok's advertising platform offers businesses a powerful way to reach international audiences. With a variety of ad formats, such as In-Feed Ads, Branded Hashtag Challenges, and Branded Effects, businesses can create targeted campaigns that effectively engage users in different regions. Even if you’re not into PPC, this is something you should consider trying.

It bears noting that TikTok's ads platform also provides detailed targeting options, allowing you to reach users based on demographics, interests, and behaviors. This level of targeting ensures that your ads are being shown to the most relevant people, maximizing your return on investment. If you like to get granular, you can do just that.

And when it comes to gauging results, you’re in luck: TikTok Ads Manager provides detailed analytics, allowing you to fully track the performance of your campaigns and make data-driven decisions for future marketing efforts.

By analyzing the data provided, you can identify which regions and demographics are responding best to your ads, helping you to further refine your international growth strategy. If a particular region shows strong engagement, it may be worth investing more resources into that market with a focus on creating additional localized content.

Challenges and considerations

Though TikTok clearly offers significant potential for businesses seeking international growth, you shouldn’t rush into it, as there are challenges and considerations to keep in mind.

As noted, cultural knowledge is a serious concern: if you don’t put your full effort into understanding the markets you’re targeting, you’ll struggle. And it isn’t just about including the right cultural references. It’s also about avoiding embarrassing cultural faux pas.

Another challenge is managing the complexities of operating a business across multiple markets. If TIkTok succeeds in driving qualified leads, you may need to adapt your supply chain, customer support, and pricing strategies to suit different regions.

Ensuring that your business is prepared to handle these challenges is essential for long-term success. If you bite off more than you can chew, it’ll hamper your business, possibly leaving you worse off than you were before you decided to commit your ambitions to TikTok.

In conclusion, TikTok can indeed be a valuable tool for businesses looking to grow internationally. Its global reach, combined with the platform's unique content-sharing features, make it a powerful tool for engaging with diverse audiences and increasing brand awareness. But it isn’t a magic bullet.

If you’re prepared to commit to a cross-cultural content strategy, collaborate with international influencers, and leverage TikTok's advertising platform, you can thrive in new markets and drive huge growth. Just be careful. It’s better to take your time and get it right than rush in and get your brand nowhere.

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