Marketing Through TikTok
By Jasmine Lee
In September 2016, ByteDance, a company based in Beijing, China, launched the first version of Douyin. One year later, TikTok was brought outside the Great Firewall and the app became extremely popular, even rivaling industry titans such as Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram.
In 2020, the world sank into social distancing and relied heavily on online media platforms. Small businesses found themselves facing the challenge of translating any in-person marketing strategies to online.
Even prior to the pandemic, platforms, such as Instagram and Facebook, offered online media interaction through still pictures and comments. They were popular marketing strategies for small businesses. However, in 2020, TikTok exploded in popularity and challenged small businesses to switch gears from still-picture marketing to adapting to its new 15-second video sharing experience.
Growth of TikTok
According to media entrepreneur Rebecca Fannin in the Harvard Business Review, TikTok reached one billion downloads in 150 markets globally and in 75 languages. In 2018, TikTok became the fourth worldwide top non-gaming and downloadable app. TikTok users are able to socialize with each other through short, 15 seconds video sharing and commenting. Forbes found that TikTok reached 53.5 million weekly average U.S. users during the first week of September in 2020, which is a growth of 75%from the previous year. This resulted in the company having 33 times more users than its closest competitor, including Dubsmash and Zynn.
Additionally, Forbes reported that because other social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat provide different user experiences, TikTok is not in direct competition with them. Facebook and Instagram observed TikTok’s explosive growth and launched their version of short video sharing functions; however, given that Instagram sees an average of 52 million weekly U.S. users, TikTok remains highly popular.
As social media usage skyrocketed during the pandemic, TikTok also became a celebrity incubator, bringing fame to social media stars such as Charlie D’Amelio and Addison Rae with 103.6 million and 51.3 million followers on their accounts respectively, according to Business Insider.
With the expansive user base, TikTok became an essential platform for small businesses to not only market and sell their products but also tap into the increasingly Gen-Z concentrated market; Fortune found that 28% of TikTok users are Generation Z compared to 21% of Millennials. This makes TikTok an unique opportunity for small businesses to grow even during difficult times such as the recent recession and pandemic.
Why and How to Market Through Generation Z-Targeting Platforms
Forbes found that 40% of the marketplace is made up of Generation Z consumers. This portion is expected to grow as Gen-Z becomes financially independent and stable. As a result, marketing via social media platforms, particularly those heavily used by Gen-Zs, is a critical strategy to effectively allocate limited resources and achieve the highest customer acquisition and retention rates.
TikTok, with billions of users and downloads, is one of Gen-Z’s most popular and beloved social media apps. While Millennials tend to prefer consuming content, Forbes learned that Gen-Z are passionate about creating content, and TikTok’s function to make short videos effortlessly feeds directly into Gen-Z’s interests. Similar to Facebook and Instagram, TikTok is users’ platform for showcasing the highlight reels of their lives. However, TikTok differs in its ability for users to collaborate on creating content and initiate challenges which may become viral and turn into social media trends.
McKinsey also discovered that Gen-Z prefers personalized products, and small businesses specialize in selling personalized and customized goods! Small businesses tend to have their unique styles, which oftentimes is heavily influenced by the owner of the store. For instance, small business owners in the jewelry industry tend to hand-make their products and those in the dessert industry tend to homebake their goods. There is always a special touch with small businesses products that heavily industrialized goods lack. Taking advantage of TikTok’s blooming success is a key to increase outreach and tap into the Gen-Z market at the same time. But how, specifically?
In 2018, TikTok launched an advertising pitch deck where businesses can submit their preferred type of advertising style. However, for smaller businesses, using the already available features on the app is faster and more efficient. Businesses can create content of their own, showcasing the various products available in store and examples of customers (or owners) using their store products. Take Haidilao, a China-based chain-store hotpot restaurant, for example. They use TikTok and Douyin to highlight their well-known hotpot soup and the friendly and caring atmosphere in the restaurant. For small businesses, content ideas such as a 15 second time lapse of how the owners make their handcrafted products is not only intriguing to watch for their returning customers but would capture the attention of Gen-Z who happen to be browsing the app. Small businesses that provide services rather than products may look into content ideas such as a quick vlog (video log) of their employees’ work day.
The hashtags and challenges on TikTok also gives small businesses the opportunity to start trends and if lucky, become viral. As the business gathers more followers on the platform, events such as giveaways or discounts can further increase customer engagement and acquisition. When hosting a giveaway event on any social media platform, those seeking to participate should be required to tag (refer) the business to other friends. This method helps spread the word and increases exposure of the business.
Lastly, the wide diversity of users in TikTok brings together communities of people with similar interests. Small business owners can follow each other’s account, comment on content and develop new ideas for future products through immersing themselves into the small business circle on TikTok. Additionally, TikTok allows users to customize their account: unique profile picture, small snippet of the user's introduction, etc. This allows curious users scrolling past the small business’ TikTok account to be aware of not only the products available but also the values and missions that are important to the owner. However, just creating an account on TikTok is not enough. Ensuring that the TikTok account is well-managed is also a key factor to successful marketing and outreach.
Blocklight is the Best Platform to Help You Market on TikTok
Blocklight is the perfect platform to help you organize your social media accounts, including TikTok. With the billions of users who are active on the platform, it becomes burdening to analyze and understand the type of content that people who get exposed to your particular account are interested in.
Blocklight is dedicated to small businesses. We are here to provide you with an insanely affordable method to understand your social media metrics, such as follower to following ratio, and allow you to venture further into your entrepreneurial career without fear of being overwhelmed.
Start by signing up to Blocklight for free! Then, as you watch your business’ social media presence grow, upgrade your account to Plus or Pro to get reports that are more detailed and informative.