The original social hub for lip-syncing, dancing, and all things synchronized has now become one of the industry leading platforms for small to medium business marketing. The number of consumers spiked after the national state of emergency of Covid-19 was declared in 2020, and the only interaction people could manage was through their devices. However, throughout the entire yo-yoing of alert levels, TikTok has earned and retained its space on the home page of billions of gadgets over the world.
TikTok is a social media platform that is limited to video content. Anyone can create a profile and any user can create a video, as long as the graphics and sounds fit within the TikTok content guidelines. Over time, TikTok has been recognised as a platform for individuals to express themselves and their talents through dancing, singing, telling jokes, miming, or even recording short food recipe videos. Small businesses have used this to their advantage as they too are able to express their brand personality through similar content, while also incorporating their products or services in creative videos.
There have been attempts to make similar platforms in the past (e.g. Triller & Musically) however, none have stuck quite like TikTok. In terms of small businesses, the platform has essentially provided a space for them to show their audience what they're capable of and have potential customers in their niche relate to what they offer in one way or another. The trends that TikTok initiates have most definitely impacted the world of digital marketing, at least for the Gen-Z target market.
What has this meant for small business marketing? Well, let's start with engagement. The top secret algorithm of TikTok has blown minds time and time again, providing consumers with content that they not only care about, but can actually watch from start to finish. One thing evident about marketing clips is that there are never two the same, even if the same idea is used by both, they aren’t each filmed in an identical way. The content is always different and the uniqueness is what stands out.
The successful branded TikToks are those that land on a consumer’s ‘For You’ page offering a solution to their problem. It may only take one video for a small business to blow up, however, consistency seems to be key.
You can even calculate the engagement rate of your content on TikTok. This is done by adding up the likes, comments, and shares on a video, then divide it by the number of views. For example, if I posted a clip and 1,000 people viewed it, 250 people liked it, 45 people commented, and 5 people shared it, I would add 250 + 45 + 5 equalling 300, then divide that by 1,000. My engagement rate of the clip would be 30%.
Two features that enable small businesses to boost their reach on Tiktok are hashtags and collaborations. Kind of like authoritative backlinks in SEO, collaborations with influential people are what will make your audience think your content is trendy, valuable, and trustworthy. When a specific hashtag (such as #CatsOfTikTok) is inserted in your caption, your video will appear in a filtered Cats of TikTok search, with the highest viewed video usually appearing at the top.
As well as jumping on existing trends, creating a new trend is just as rewarding, but keep it light hearted. You could start a new challenge or upload a new sound, and if you nail the synchronizing, the more satisfying your clip is to watch, and the more people will want to try it themselves in their own creative way.
Generally, a small business will already be within a particular niche, however there are many micro-elements to one niche. For example, I could own a small jewellery business, but could produce content to do with modelling my jewellery, fashion, or even entrepreneurship. TikTok provides viewers with the content they WANT to see, so if your niche is specific enough, and you've produced consistent content, the algorithm will know what kind of ‘for you page’ your content belongs on.
Unlike most digital marketing content, TikTok is primarily a raw and organic marketing platform, plus the app can be navigated by almost anyone. Standard marketing processes could involve 5 different specialists and hundreds of dollars to create one advert or campaign, whereas the administrator of a small business TikTok could quite possibly create authentic and consistent content with products and props found in the corners of the office, and for a quarter of the cost.
TikTok has recently launched paid advertising in New Zealand, providing a very affordable way to advertise on an under-utilised app. As this is a very new platform to advertise, we are seeing a very high yeild from the ads as there is much lower competition compared to Facebook and Instagram.
Judging by statistics and personal experience, TikTok has paved the way for organic marketing, and will continue to do so in years to come. Many small businesses have accredited the platform for their boost in sales and an influx of new customers. Although it takes time to learn the functions of content creation and establish your niche, once you're confident, the world of social media becomes your oyster.