Editor's Note:

This article is one of our four-part series called The TikTok Revolution. In this series, we cover the changes and ascent to influence that TikTok has experienced, the significance of its algorithm, and how you can create effective TikTok ads for your practice's needs.

Here are links to all parts of the series:

Part 1: The Revolution is Here
Part 2: How Practices Can Find TikTok Success
Part 3: How to Dominate TikTok Ads and Increase Leads
Part 4: What Makes TikTok's Algorithm Tick?

If we were to ask you what you wanted to get out of your advertising campaign, your answer would likely fall into one of the following categories:

    1. Bring new patients into my office
    2. Increase the number of followers I have on social media
    3. Increase the amount of interactions I have on social media
    4. Generate more leads via phone calls and emails
    5. Other metrics that make you feel warm and fuzzy inside

Now that we have the answer to your question, let us ask one of our own: what is your strategy for making those happen? We hate to say it, but we already know the answer to that question too. “What do you mean? That’s what I hired you to do.”

You’re right, but social media, especially TikTok, operates differently than things like website development, search engine advertising, or other forms of digital marketing. Let me explain…

Don’t Fall Into Ad Traps

See, these social media conglomerates want you to think that with only $25 and a mediocre understanding of your patient personas, you can create, run, and manage advanced advertising campaigns and get excellent results no matter what. 

But the truth is that if you try running ads without knowing what makes good content, how an audience in your industry engages with said content, and if you even have the infrastructure to make the most of what you are producing, the result will not be a successful one.

The truth is that by making it as easy and widely available as possible, social media companies can cash in on our desire to replicate our peers’ success… even if they know deep down you’ll most likely fail.

(Wait, are you saying social media is… disingenuous?)

Social Media Success vs. TikTok Stardom

This image was generated by Midjourney.

So, what we are trying to articulate is this: yes, you do pay us for social media content, strategy, management and all the little details in between. (If not, you should start.) We can optimize your page, create tailored content, build your voice and brand, and all the other things you need to be successful on social media. Most people would consider that a win!

But there is a big difference between being successful on social media and becoming the next big TikTok sensation. And if being TikTok famous is, in fact, your goal, then you need to understand how to dominate ads so that when you create content on your own, you are well-practiced in the game. 

Not All Content Matters (Glad Someone Finally Said It)

It might be a hot take, but it shouldn’t be. Your ad’s performance largely depends on how well you’ve gotten your message across to your audience. When trying to decode how important your content is, we’ll put it like this:

Good content can overcome bad targeting, but even perfect targeting won’t be able to carry bad content.

Platforms will tell you what you can expect from your spending based on your targeting before the campaign even starts, but it’s important to think beyond the numbers you’re directly paying for.

They don’t account for the extra engagements that come from the initial targeted audience sharing your content with their networks for free, i.e., the method by which content goes viral (according to their algorithm). It starts small and spreads; the better the content, the faster and more effective the spread. (Is it too soon after COVID-19 to be making references to virality and effective spreading?)

This image was generated by Midjourney.

Anyway, think of paid ads on TikTok as the match that starts the flame, not the conflagration itself. If your content is weak and boring without hitting any of the right notes, you’ll get what you pay for and not much else.

Tips on Creating Good TikTok Ads

Looking at the data, there are several significant factors to consider when making or choosing content for your ads. 

  1. Video ads can be up to 60 seconds long, but after about 21-34 seconds, most of your audience will look at the next video. 
  2. 93% of top-performing videos use audio, and 73% of users would stop and look at ads with audio. 
  3. Choose your music wisely. Don’t just throw in whatever trending audio you saw your niece use.
  4. A quality audio choice will elevate and complement your creative. Choosing the wrong one distracts from it and muddies the message you’re trying to get across.
  5. TikTok suggests tracks above 120 beats per minute for the highest view-through rate.
  6. 40% of auction ads with the highest view-through rate include captions allowing users to still engage with the sound off. 
  7. Mind the current social climate, keep with the theme and don’t lead with a negative message.
  8. Make sure you’re being “positive, authentic and inspiring.”

Determining Your Ad Budget

When planning your budget, you must take two sets of numbers into account. The first is the amount of money you need to spend to pass what is called the “learning phase,” and the second is the amount of money you’re personally comfortable spending on growth.

The learning phase is when the AI system explores new customers to help the ad group reach the most suitable audience. This is the slowest and most crucial part of your ad campaign. The data collected during this stage trains the system to optimize delivery and give you the best chance of finding the right audience for your message. 

Here is a visual representation from TikTok itself of these mechanics at work:

Set aside a budget to generate at least 50 conversions. TikTok reports that reaching 50 conversions is the best measurement to know you’ve passed the learning phase. To reach this goal, aim for at least 25 conversions per week for a period of two weeks. 

If you spend time on Google looking for a recommended TikTok ads budget, you may find yourself frustrated because apparently no one — and we mean no one — wants to be responsible for telling someone the number they need to spend in dollars. 

Instead, you’ll get suckered into a video with a fantastic clickbait title like “I sold a kidney and spent all the profits on TikTok ads, here’s what I learned” just to be confronted by someone who is only here to tell you a cliché like “user-generated content is important.”

How Much You Should Spend on Your TikTok Ads

Since no one else is going to say it, we will.

For your initial campaign, you should spend a minimum of $500 at the campaign level and $50 at the ad group level. These are the minimum requirements set by TikTok and, in most cases, ensure that your ad will have enough funding to reach its objectives.

(This is assuming you aren’t working with a professional team.)

The minimum requirements are exactly just that minimums. For any successful campaign, you should allocate a minimum of $1000 and have that split between no more than three ad groups. TikTok loves to spend your money, but this isn’t roulette, and you shouldn’t bet it all on red. Make sure you spread out your ad budget over at least two weeks in order to be able to review performance across different times of day, and days of the week.

Once your first campaign is over, immediately analyze the results. How did your creative perform? Do you need to make any changes to the targeting? Before starting your next campaign, evaluate your approach’s strengths and weaknesses. You want to optimize every dollar spent as you move forward.

Be Resilient, Stay Nimble

If your campaign did not reach 50 conversions for some reason, that’s okay. TikTok and plastic surgery don’t go together like peanut butter and jelly, at least not yet. The amount our industry has to spend to get a conversion is likely going to be higher than it is for the snacks, toys and gadget ads the audience is more accustomed to.

Even without hitting those benchmarks, your initial investment provides some crucial data — a temporary North Star, if you will. The biggest metric we can analyze from the initial campaign is the CPC, or Cost Per Conversion. This is the amount of money it took to get one conversion through the advertisement.

Now remember, our goal here is to hit 50 conversions to leave the learning phase. Armed with that info, we can create a simple formula to figure out how much money you need to invest to get out of the “50 conversion” learning period. 

CPC × X = Z

CPC = Cost Per Conversion in initial campaign

X = Number of Conversions we are aiming to hit

Z = Total Cost needed to leave learning period

So let’s say, for example, your average spend per conversion was $15*, a nice whole number. 

Your formula would look like this:

$15 × 50 = $750

So now you know, if all other factors remained the same, it would cost you roughly $750 to get your advertisement out of the “learning phase.” There are two important notes about any money you invest after this $750 amount:

  1. Your ROI will likely increase, now that the algorithm has learned your key audience.
  2. There is no right or wrong amount to invest, but you should invest whatever you can into this now-optimized ad. 

Essentially, you want to treat any investment after your learning period cost similarly to how you would treat gambling in Vegas: bring enough to have a good time, but also not so much that if things go south, you’ll be left doing Botox injections from a van.

*Note – there is no way your cost per conversion will be $15. If it is, stop doing medicine and join our team immediately.

Targeting, But In Metaphors

This image was generated by Midjourney.

Targeting is a critical and complex part of your advertising program. Think of it this way: if content is your engine, your ad budget is the gas and your targeting would be Google Maps. (Or, you know, Waze, Apple Maps or MapQuest. Whatever you’re into, boomer.)

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of different routes you could take to get from point A to point B, but the better you know your route, the better you can optimize your results. TikTok has plenty of GPS tools to help you navigate toward your audience, such as Lookalike and Custom Audiences. 

This means you can target people more inclined to interact with your content simply by using data from existing users.

Suppose you’re starting with a clean slate. In that case, you can still input your targeting manually with a plethora of interest and behavior options that allow you to create a customer profile for your targeted audience. When choosing your targeting, you’ll see that TikTok suggests you choose at least 15 interest or behavior categories.

The big questions are now how micro or macro you should target, how to get the best results, and a dozen other questions that can be found across the Googleverse. With your time and sanity in mind, we’re going to break it down into a few choices so you can decide which direction is best for you. 

Choice A: Lookalike and Custom Audiences

With Lookalike and Custom Audiences, much of the hard work is done for you. The most complex part of getting this campaign started is learning how to export a list or connect specific plugins. The beauty of this method is that it’s not only easy but incredibly efficient. You set the budget, goal and placements, and then the algorithm does the rest. This method will be fine if you have a curated email list.

Choice B: Manual Targeting

Manual targeting and manual transmissions aren’t too different. Yes, a manual is superior in nearly every way to the auto aficionado, and if you ever ask why, you’ll hear about how you get better control, a more connected experience, and about a dozen other very dad-like responses. Are some of the claims true? Absolutely! It’s just that you need to drive stick for some time before you get to appreciate those advantages. You’re going to stall out, grind some gears, and go through setbacks, but that’s all part of the learning curve. If you take the time to learn from your mistakes, this method can be leveraged to great success.

The choices and combinations for manual targeting is quite extensive. In order to be successful with this set up, you will need to know your patient personas in depth, and be able to construct manual targeting based on these indicators. This really is not for the casual ad spender. But the rewards can be oh so satisfying!

For the everyday user, you’ll get more consistent results while spending less time managing your campaign with Lookalike and Custom Audiences, but if you want to go for the checkered flag right out of the gate, hey, more power to you. 

Start Building Your Own TikTok Leads

You can spend a medical degree’s worth of time learning about ads and still not be at the finish line. If you need some help, as usual, our educators are here to answer any questions you have, anytime, for free. Give us a call at (800) 949-0133 or schedule a one-on-one.

Of course, the one thing we didn’t cover is the kind of content that really gets the people going. Don’t worry, in Part 4, we go into the details about what makes TikTok tick — that beautiful, beautiful algorithm.

Max Gottfried

Incredible Marketing

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