University of Houston Small Business Development Center
By: Tatyana Parham
Founded in 2016, TikTok has gained immense popularity over the last few years, providing a wealth of content, entertainment, and information for over 800 million monthly users in over 150 global markets. As one of the five most downloaded apps in the world, TikTok provides small businesses with an opportunity to expand their reach and connect with an engaged audience. By incorporating TikTok into your small business's marketing strategy, you can solidify brand recognition and messaging, highlight product and service offerings, and connect with a growing and influential audience that has the potential to become loyal and lifelong customers.
As internet usage has dramatically increased since the beginning of the pandemic, people are finding new ways to consume content and engage with forms of entertainment as a way to remain productive, aware, and connected throughout lockdown. TikTok provides marketers with a direct way to reach target audiences and foster real-time conversations that shape relevant thought and interests as a community. Utilizing TikTok can greatly expand your small business's reach, therefore attracting more potential customers and resultantly generating increased sales and supporting your bottom line.
Here are a few ways small business owners can leverage TikTok marketing to boost sales:
Create Authentic and Interesting Content
In the digital age, creative, short-form video is taking over the social media marketing landscape. Consumers are increasingly seeking engaging, fun, and authentic content that is relatable and provides value. Today's users desire trustworthy interactions online from real people with real experiences, so it's important to build a platform that is transparent and responsive to evolving trends and consumer interests. Once you are acclimated to the app and understand popular trends and messaging that resonate with your audience, you can begin making videos that support your business's branding in a creative and modern light.
Further, marketers shouldn't stray from their company's branding and messaging in order to engage with potential consumers - don't worry, your marketing team doesn't need to join the latest dance challenges in order to succeed on TikTok! Instead, you can stay on brand and become an authoritative thought leader on the app, providing useful expertise that is relevant to your niche market and connects with users in a genuine manner. For example, a cake decorator can create short videos showing behind-the-scenes clips of their upgraded kitchen, five tips for making the perfect icing, baking their famous strawberry shortcake recipe, or even footage of their cakes from their latest catering event. Don't forget that audio selection and effects can go a long way in transforming mundane tips and tricks into fun and entertaining video content.
Connect With Your Target Audience
TikTok provides small business owners with an opportunity to tap into what content their target audience really wants to see, without spending a lot of money in advertising. If you can create exciting content consistently, the TikTok algorithm will display your content to more and more people, just like on Instagram. Think of the most pressing topics that your audience shows an interest in on other channels dedicated to your niche, and brainstorm content ideas based around those conversations. Build stronger relationships with your following by actively engaging users to spark dialogues on the app and boost brand awareness.
The most popular way to easily attract potential consumers is to incorporate popular hashtags that are relevant to your niche. Small business owners can use TikTok SEO to optimize your channel so people increasingly find your content on the Discover or For You pages. Another effective method to increase user engagement is influencer marketing. Influencers and micro-influencers typically have sustainable credibility with their local following, and are ideal for startups that want to target specific customer groups. Creating effective TikTok content really boils down to authenticity, creativity, and paying attention to relevant topics for your business, audience, and niche market.
Scale With TikTok Ads
One of the biggest advantages of using TikTok for small business marketing is not needing to spend large amounts of money on videographers or editors to create polished and effective content, like on YouTube. Money typically used for production can instead be better utilized on TikTok advertising, which can be filtered by age, gender, and location to give small businesses a direct pathway to communicate with target audiences. After setting up an ad campaign, reaching your target audience should be fairly quick and easy. TikTok provides a step-by-step guide for creating ads in TikTok Ads Manager.
TikTok offers five different types of ads:
- In-feed ads
- Branded hashtags
- Top view ads
- Branded effects
- Brand Takeovers
You can learn more about the different types of TikTok ads for small business here.
You can reach your target audience on TikTok through interest targeting or behavioral targeting, as well as with custom or lookalike audiences. Similar to Facebook ads, interest targeting allows you to select topics relevant to your audience, and TikTok will directly target those groups based on common interests. Behavioral targeting allows you to target audiences based on their behavior on the app within the past seven or fifteen days. Custom targeting allows you to provide a customer email list to reach people who have already interacted with your brand, and lookalike audiences reach people similar to an existing audience. By using these methods, small business owners are able to directly reach audiences who are actually interested in your niche content and are more likely to engage and convert into paying customers.
Small business TikTok advertising is a fun way to engage with potential customers and boost overall brand awareness. To learn more about social media marketing and strategy for your small business, click here.
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