TikTok Creative Best Practices: How to Make Great TikTok Creative [Updated]

Author’s Note: We’ve given this blog post a refresh on November 2, 2023, complete with fresh information, new links, relevant data, and more.

In the past couple of years, TikTok has quickly become one of the top acquisition channels for startups and established brands. The platform now has 1 billion (with a B!) monthly active users total — Of which, the MAUs in the US have now passed 100 million, equaling 37% of America’s 267.6 million mobile internet users.

On most channels, it is relatively easy to repurpose your ad creative. With a few light edits, an ad created for Meta can easily become an ad for Display or an ad for LinkedIn But on TikTok, each ad needs to be created specifically for the platform and getting it right is critical. You only have a few seconds to grab your target audience’s attention before they scroll past your ad.

So how do you make the right asset for TikTok? How do you introduce a compelling hook within the first 3-5 seconds so your audience stays to hear the whole value proposition? How do you create a diverse suite of low-budget videos in-house (with an intentional range of messaging, formats, creators, and styles) that you can test quickly and learn from? 

This article is here to help you answer these questions. I will cover the mentality of the average user in-app and the basic details for TikTok ad creative, including the ad specifications, inspiration for ad hooks and high-converting ad archetypes. Then, I’ll walk through three examples from Tuff’s portfolio as a TikTok ads agency to help outline why and how they work on TikTok.

TikTok Mentality In-App

TikTok was an app designed for entertainment vs. a platform like LinkedIn that was designed for education and thought leadership or a platform like Pinterest that was designed for inspiration and planning. 

TikTok has continued to evolve into a place for people to be creative and express themselves – And because of that there is a variety of content on the platform. This makes TikTok an ideal platform for organic content to thrive, as well as for paid content for advertising across a variety of  industries. 

The allure for TikTok advertising is that you’re able to capture your audience’s attention while they’re in a creative and imaginative headspace and if you design the right creative, you’re able to heighten brand awareness, increase consideration, and ultimately drive users to convert (whatever action that is for your business!).

Video Ad Specifications

Before you start planning your creative, let’s talk about the boundaries that you’re working in. 

  • Sound: TikTok is a sound-on optimized platform – That means this is a hugely important element of your creative assets. Lean into the features that are available natively within the platform, like recording voice overs to narrate videos or selecting trending songs to have timely background music. 
  • Subtitles and Text Overlays: While TikTok is a sound-on optimized platform, subtitles and text overlays are also hugely important elements of the creative asset – That might seem counterintuitive, but many people watch TikTok videos on mute. Including captions or other text ensures you capture their attention no matter if the sound is on or off

Inspiration for Ad Hooks

We’ve talked about some of the detailed ad specifications for TikTok ads – Now, let’s dive into arguably the most important element of creative assets designed for TikTok: Hooks! 3-5 seconds is essentially all the time you have to hook your audience to convince them to stay engaged with your content and ultimately your brand. 

Some common and more effective ad hooks to lean into:

  • 3 ways to improve your… 
  • Did you know…?
  • That is why your [X] isn’t working and how [X] can help.

High-Converting Ad Archetypes 

At Tuff, we define an ad archetype as any popular style of ad creative that can be tweaked and tailored for any industry or product.  

These will look different depending on what audience you’re targeting. For example:

  • For prospecting cold audiences, you might lean into an ad archetype that initially draws them in with a listicle or a behind-the-scenes style video that gives your audience a reason to stay around. 
  • For retargeting a warmer audience, you might want to introduce an archetype that includes testimonials or social proof to inch them further down the funnel to convert.

TikTok Creative Best Practices: 

Telling your story and communicating your brand’s value proposition in less than 15 seconds is not easy, even before considering all the limits above. But it’s absolutely possible, and if you can crack the code, TikTok can be a huge growth driver for your brand. 

Let’s take a look at five successful TikTok creatives and explore what our team has learned from them as we develop more and more TikToks for our clients. 

1. Soona

TikTok Creative Here

tiktok ad example

Insight: This ad concisely explains how Soona’s process works, walking the audience through the key steps in working together. It clearly states the problem Soona solves, introduces various products, and highlights the key benefits brands can get from working with Soona. 

Despite the fact Soona is a photography business focused on creating beautiful images, this TikTok video has a production quality that’s more in line with other videos on the platform, helping it to feel more like organic content than an ad.

What to Do: To effectively introduce your brand to new audiences, focus on defining the key value drivers you need to convey in a short video. Consider incorporating them into a “how it works” ad creative like this one – these help potential customers understand the process much better, removing any uncertainties and boosting conversion rates. 

2. Fizz 

TikTok Creative Here

Insight: This ad introduces a story element within the first 6 seconds that highlights recent grad struggles and how he could not get a credit card. It starts with a person talking to the camera with very light branded animation to support the storyline, and the messaging throughout speaks specifically to an immediate need.

What to do: Use existing user-generated content that you have available to create a narrative that supports your brand’s mission. Lean into the TikTok-styled text and add in your brand’s visuals when relevant to increase brand recognition.

3. Sabio 

TikTok Creative Here

Insight: The ad leans on a strong value proposition for Sabio – “You won’t just learn how to code, you’ll learn how to solve real-world problems for real companies, so you’re job-ready on day one.” The idea behind this video was to combine a VP we know converts for Sabio with features within the TikTok platform that make creative assets feel more native to the platform, like on-screen text and trending sounds. We learned a lot from this specific video that we were able to incorporate into future rounds of ad testing.

What to Do: Isolate your brand’s key value propositions and highlight the problem, solution, and benefits to educate your audience and incorporate elements that lend themselves to longer video views (engaging in-platform features!). This should naturally hook your audience. TikTok moves FAST, and you have to ensure your messaging – Whether on-screen, voicing over, or in the caption – is sticky, intentional, and very clear.

Start Creating TikTok Ads Today

You don’t need a big media budget or a fancy creative agency to start producing TikTok ad creative – all you need is a smartphone and some imagination. Producing winning creative holds the key to a successful TikTok marketing campaign, but you might not get it right the first time. 

At Tuff, our media team is constantly testing out new Tiktok creative assets for our client. If it doesn’t work, we’ll drop it right away, and keep testing out new ideas until we land on the winning formula. 

Got some TikTok ad ideas you want to try for your brand? Hit us up – our team of TikTok experts has the skills and experience needed to supercharge your campaigns!