The marketability of TikTok can no longer be underestimated. The short-form video format app nearly broke the internet last year when it beat out Google as the most-visited website in the world. Exploding in popularity during the Coronavirus shutdowns and stay-at-home measures, unique visitors to the app spiked more than 30 percent from January to March of 2020, and by the end of 2021, it climbed from the 7th most visited website in 2020 to beat out Google, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, holding the top spot for the most cumulative internet traffic of any domain in the world.
Now a far cry from the original viral dances and challenges, the content on TikTok has evolved with the complexity of its user base. Users can uncover a treasure trove of niche information and content on TikTok – from vegan cooking videos, to relationship advice from licensed therapists, to political activism – content creators have leveraged the power of TikTok’s bite-sized, addictive “snackable” videos to reach audiences of hundreds of millions of users.
What is “snackable” content?
Snackable content is short, sweet, and extremely filling. As the name suggests, snackable content refers to bite-sized pieces of digital media – anywhere from memes, to short videos and infographics that immediately grab users’ attention due to their eye-catching mobile-friendly character. In contrast to long-form content, this irresistible, easily consumable content will cause users to stop their endless scrolling and share it upon impact, increasing your engagement.
On TikTok, snackable content is king. Grabbing, bite-sized nuggets of information will grab the short attention spans of our generation.
Okay, why TikTok?
Compared to its rival social media platforms, TikTok’s meteoric rise and organic reach represents a huge opportunity for brands. It also has some of the best engagement rates out there, outperforming its social media platform counterparts. For example, the average engagement rate of micro-influencers on Instagram is about 3.8%, while on TikTok it is as high as 17.9%. Add to that the fact that 50% of the top brands do not have a presence on TikTok, and what you’re looking at is a level playing field rife with opportunity for small businesses.
How can I use TikTok for My Small Business?
If you are an older marketer, you may be thinking: Should I jump on the TikTok bandwagon? Isn’t it a platform mainly for teenagers? Is the recent popularity of the app just a fad?
TikTok is here to stay, and it’s not only for big brands.
The reality is, TikTok is here to stay. There are currently 689 million active users on the app currently, and it is projected to surpass 1.2 billion in 2021. Also, it isn’t just teenagers who are addicted to the platform. Adults, celebrities, and brands alike are spending hours on the addicting short-form video app. According to a demographic report, teens account for only 25% of the active user accounts, while users in their twenties accounted for over 22% of users, and users in their thirties accounted for over 21.5%.
Tiktok marketing can help your business:
- Increase brand awareness
- Build engaged communities
- Sell products and services
- Get feedback from customers and audiences
- Provide Customer service
- Advertise products and services to target audiences
You may also be thinking, isn’t TikTok only for large brands? People flock to TikTok for imperfect, catchy videos. In fact, perfectly-curated, high-budget corporate advertisements are usually the videos that get the most skips on TikTok. Instead, brand pages are full of raw, behind-the-scenes content that emphasize authenticity, personal connection, and their human sides. TikTok is all about authenticity, and that is something that small businesses can take advantage of.
Here are the main methods of marketing brands use on TikTok:
When it comes to social media, users will subconsciously scroll past any content they perceive as ads. Indeed, as true digital natives, Gen Z are particularly ad-averse and shrewd in identifying ads and are most likely to avoid advertising, use ad blockers, and skip ads as fast as they can when given the option.
TikTok offers In-Feed ads that will be embedded into the user’s feed. This type of ad format generates high ROI (Return on Investment) and garners the most positive feedback from users as it appears to be similar to authentic TikTok content.
In-Feed ads are short videos that appear in a user’s feed for 5-60 seconds. Compared to traditional high production-value advertisements that users will detect right away and scroll past, these native ads, or ‘user-like’ generated content, will slip past the user’s impulse to scroll because they look very similar to authentic, user-generated content in their feed.
In native ads, the focus is not on the product or its characteristics, but rather, utility or entertainment. They use real people, not supermodels. They’re filmed on an iPhone and in your house, not with expensive cameras or in a big-budget studio. Remember, authenticity is key!
Utilize Trending Audio: Music and Lip Syncs.
As the successor of the short lip-sync video app, Musical.ly, lip syncs still remain a central feature of TikTok’s content. TikTok’s algorithm rewards accounts for participating in trends and using their features such as stickers, sound effects, hashtags, and more. By hopping on sound trends, you are giving your video the opportunity to be seen by more viewers and land on the Discover page for that particular sound.
You can discover which songs are trending right now by simply pressing the ‘+’ icon to post a new video, and press “Add Sound.” Typically, the hot and trending songs or sounds will pop up on the “TikTok viral” playlist. You can also alert yourself to the trending sounds and songs of the day by following the hashtag “trending” on your For You page.
TIP: Make sure that the sounds are still trendy – you can click on sounds to see when the latest video was posted under the sound to make sure it’s still relevant – the last thing you want to be is an out-of-touch brand late to the party.
Educational videos perform very well on TikTok. TikTok users are always hungry for quick, snackable knowledge – be it a skill, hack, or tip under a minute. Think about a knowledge byte you could share with TikTok users under your brand umbrella. For example, if you are a local winery, you could make a quick video with a sommelier explaining to TikTok users how to impress their friends with wine vocabulary such as type, body, acidity and texture, like this video. If you sell digestive products, you could share signs of an unhealthy gut, or if you’re a beauty brand, you can share a daily skincare routine.
Educational videos can increase traffic to your brand while simultaneously providing useful content users are interested in. After your educational video, you can encourage your viewers to visit your website for more knowledge to boost brand awareness and traffic.
Pack an Order.
For small businesses, especially in retail, a great way of going viral can be packing one of your orders for a customer to show the care and thought put in to each personalized order. Authenticity reigns supreme on TikTok, and users love seeing small business owners pick and package orders, a process that is unique to the personalized process of buying from a small business. By posting a video of you packaging an order, a customer gets to see exactly what they should expect from buying from you. It’s an especially great idea if you include things like freebies, thank-you notes, or special packaging.
In fact, many small businesses have gone viral on TikTok whose main content is their creator picking and packing orders. Small-business owner OliveLynn Designs consist of her choosing personalized orders for her customers. In this video, OliveLynn peels back the curtain of behind-the-scenes order packing, responding to a thoughtful customer comment by showing her process of her choosing sweatshirts from her warehouse, personalized stickers, and a branded card all to be included in her customer’s order.
Incorporating influencers into your marketing strategy can be very costly, especially if you are setting your sights on the marquee names in the influencer world, such as Charli D’Amelio, Addison Rae, or Zach King. Influencers will do the legwork of promoting your brand for you, and know the app best. If you decide to go the influencer route, be sure to do research on the influencer you decide to partner with and ensure that their audience is the correct fit.
Thankfully, TikTok’s Creator Marketplace can be a great resource to you if you’re looking to get paired up with an influencer to promote your business. Use the marketplace, which ‘cuts out the middleman’ by pairing up brands with creators, helping brands to discover smaller influencers from varieties of categories, styles, regions, and follower counts. Collaborations with these smaller influencers (usually less than 50,000 followers) will typically run you about $100-300 per video.
Utilize TikTok features: Duets, Stitch, and Video Replies.
TikTok is unique for its highly interactive features. Users and other content creators can interact with each other’s and their own content using Duets, Stitch, and Video Replies.
Duets allow you to post a side-by-side in split-screen format video with another content creator, allowing for you to ‘react’ to the video in real time.
In fact, the San Diego Zoo used duet challenges to increase its audience reach and engagement. They gave Tiktok users a chance to sing or duet with one of its lovable animals, Crikey, the noisy bird. Their original video was tagged with the hashtag #sandiegozooduetssweepstakes, challenging users to come up with the most creative duet video in order to win free zoo passes. The viral challenge led to millions of duet videos that helped boost the brand visibility of the San Diego Zoo.
Stitch is a feature where users can take cropped parts of another content creator’s video and add it into their own video to create one seamless piece of content. Since the launch of the Stitch, open-ended questions have led to an explosion of content creation.
For example, when user Jess Marciante posed the question, “What’s a video that’s lives in your head rent-free?” Videos poured in featuring a snippet of her video for context followed by their answer.
The quickest way to stitch videos is with TikTok’s in-app tools. Here is how to stitch videos like a pro:
- Find a TikTok video and tap the send arrow.
- Tap stitch.
- Drag the ends to select up to five seconds, then tap next.
- Record a video and tap the red checkmark.
Once you’ve finished editing your video, you can tag it with #stitch and the username of the original content poster. This way, if a user is looking for all replies to a video that is stitchable, your reply will be easily discoverable.
The NBA has used the stitch Tiktok feature to create the viral “Tell Me You’re an NBA Fan Without Telling Me You’re An NBA Fan” trend where fans of the NBA were able to band together by sharing their identifying traits as NBA fans and increased NBA’s engagement and brand reach in the process.
Video replies are very similar to instagram replies. They allow a user to respond directly to a comment made on one of their videos with a new video. This can be a great opportunity for you as a brand to engage with your customer base directly.
In line with TikTok’s theme of awarding authenticity, many small businesses whose brand founders have taken up a social creator role have found great success on the app. In contrast to Instagram, where polished, static photos of products have attracted potential customers, low-quality, unfiltered videos where brands use their own employees or founder as the face of the company in their content have experienced more viral success.
People will love to get to know the people behind the product. You can make a ‘get to know me’ video introducing yourself as the founder of your small business in a casual, coffee-chat style. Your unique story and brand’s personality will help you stand out from the crowd!
TikTok can be fickle and knowing what the best time to post on TikTok is important. We don’t pretend to have a crystal ball on the perfect marketing strategy to magically make your videos go viral. Some videos will work, and some won’t—never stop trying new ideas and experimenting. You never know when you’ll make it big. There’s always a chance something simple and unassuming will go viral.