TikTok is the newest addition to the roster of social media apps that are taking the world by storm. What started out as a platform for teenage dance videos has quickly evolved into a video streaming platform for everyone. Looking for home renovation tips? Conspiracy theories to keep you up at night? Harry Potter parodies that are almost as epic as the originals? TikTok’s got you covered. It’s also become an extremely valuable customer acquisition tool for small business owners and entrepreneurs.
“67% of users said TikTok inspired them to shop even when they weren’t planning to do so.” TikTok for Business
Businesses across the globe, both big and small, are incorporating TikTok into their marketing strategies. That’s because millions of customers are being influenced by TikTok videos to make purchases. The hashtag #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt has over 10.7 billion views. So if you’re not using TikTok to acquire new customers, it may be time to start.
Let’s take a look at 11 ways you can use small business TikTok marketing to acquire new customers and some small businesses that have made big moves by doing so.
1. Jump on trends or sounds
One of the best ways to get discovered on TikTok is by using trending sounds or joining in on popular trends. This allows you to be discovered both on the discover page through trending hashtags and sounds, and through a sound itself when users click on the sound from another video.
@blissdough That’s classified information🤫🍪 #blissdough #ediblecookiedough #cookiedough #smallbiz #guelph #ontariomade #smallbizcanada #minieggs #eggies ♬ Big And Chunky - Juan Torres 🤠
Edible cookie dough brand, Bliss Dough, shows exactly how you can take a trend and adapt it for your small business. They hopped on this fun trend by giving their customers a sneak peak at a new flavor they are releasing soon. By using this popular sound, relevant hashtags, and creating exclusive content, Bliss Dough was able to gain over 25k views on this short 7 second video. Talk about value surpassing effort there.
2. Be a trendsetter
On the flip side, instead of jumping on trends, you can create your own. This can be a great way to get other TikTokers to use your sound, increasing visibility to your own page. It’s hard to predict what trends or sounds will take off on TikTok, so if you’re on the fence about posting a video, we say post away!
@aaronspivak I can hear this sound in my dreams…. #shopifysmallbusiness #smallbusiness #hushsleep #entrepreneurship ♬ Small Business Owner Funeral - Smile Rewards 🙂
We’re not usually in the business of tooting our own horn, but our community manager has done a fabulous job of being a trendsetter on our newly launched TikTok account, @smilerewards. The small business funeral sound has been used by over 60 small business owners who found it relatable. We love this example from the co-founder of Hush who added their own sticky note for dramatic effect. When you understand your target audience, creating content, trends, or sounds that are relatable to them is a great way to get your followers involved.
3. Go behind the scenes
Call it being nosy or being genuinely invested–either way, people love getting exclusive behind the scenes access into the lives of the brands they follow. For many small business owners, your brand is a significant part of your life. This is why going behind the scenes on small business TikTok by showing things like creating a product, or packing an order can perform very well.
@xxl.scrunchie Mom appreciation—she helps me out SO much ❤️ #smallbusiness #scrunchies #smallbusinesscheck #familybusiness ♬ A Thousand Years Piano - Twilight Piano for Films
This small hair accessory brand may create beautiful extra extra large scrunchies, but what we love most is the XXL amount of passion this founder and her family have for the brand. XXL Scrunchie founder shares a touching appreciation video to her mom who helps her create every product. By sharing her emotional story, the post gained over 550K likes and 3000+ comments. Customers like brands that are relatable so don’t be afraid to show off the face, passion, and inspiration for your small business.
4. Engage with your customers
Social media has changed the way you interact with your customers. Marketing used to be a one-way communication channel, but it is now an ongoing two-way communication network. Therefore, a “post it and forget it” mentality won’t cut it on any social media platform. This is why engaging with your customers in a human way is essential. Replying to comments or acknowledging user-generated content about your brand are two easy ways to engage with customers on TikTok. Or you can get a little more creative…
@yaboy_chamoy Welcome to team gushers!❤️ let’s beat team sour patch kids and yaboychamoy! #yagirlchamoy #teams #gushers #win ♬ Up Beat (Married Life) - Kenyi
Mexican candy brand, Ya Boy Chamoy, engaged their customers in a fun TikTok competition. Each of the founders, Ya Boy Chamoy and Ya Girl Chamoy, created a voiceover on a video of their candy. With two teams: Sour Patch Kids and Gushers, the videos immediately explains that they are invited to take part in the competition and comment on whichever video they see first on their For You Page (#FYP). This is a low-lift, fun way to get your customers excited about your brand and gives them something to connect with each other about, building a strong brand community.
By the way, sorry #TeamSourPatchKids–we’re totally #TeamGushers.
5. Show off what makes your brand unique
If you’re thinking “How am I ever going to stand out with millions of other small businesses on TikTok?”, don’t worry–you’re not alone. But the answer is simple, show off what makes your brand unique. Small business TikTok marketing is all about telling your unique story. Did you create a spin on a timeless product? Or have you designed a never-before-seen revolutionary product? Either way–tell everyone about it since nobody knows your brand better than you!
For you avid TikTokers, it’s no secret that candles and wax melt videos are all over the app. Bearded Yorkshireman Candles understood this and took the opportunity to show off what makes their products different in a fun way. This video acknowledges what people expect from a wax melt brand and then “adds a little bit of spice” to show off their spooky Halloween-themed melts. It certainly got our attention, and apparently 9 million other people’s too.
6. Use hashtags to get discovered
The beauty of TikTok is there is a niche for practically everything. With an algorithm that is designed to produce a curated feed for every individual user based on their interests, you can get your content in front of the exact, right people. One small business marketing tactic to accomplish this is using relevant hashtags. This allows your videos to be discovered when users search for a specific hashtag or keywords.
@outtire support a queer, black-owned business plss? 🥺👉👈 #blackownedclothing #lgbtownedbusiness #thrifting #fyp ♬ original sound - Chas.godfrey
LGBTQ+ clothing brand, Outtire, uses hashtags on a video that shows off both their products and their founders’ personal attributes. As a queer, Black-owned brand, the hashtags #BlackOwnedClothing, and #LGBTOwnedBusiness immediately signals what the video is about. Combining these hashtags with an audio encouraging LGBTQ+ community members to engage with the post allowed Outtire to gain over 42K views on the post, allowing them to acquire new customers and followers.
7. Share your inspiration story
As we mentioned, emotional content is a great way to immediately connect with potential customers. You know why you started your brand and the inspiration behind your business, but maybe nobody else does. Well that is, unless you tell them. TikTok marketing is a great way to visually show your customers your products and explain why you do what you do to get them to rally behind you.
@cheekbonebeauty Every Warrior Liquid Lipstick is named after an incredible Indigenous woman! 💪 Let us know your favourite down below!#indigenous #indigenousowned #conciousbeauty #mindfulbeauty #sustainable #cleanbeauty #veganbeauty ♬ r&b loop - Official Sound Studio
Female and Indigenous-owned beauty brand, Cheekbone Beauty, does a great job of instilling their inspiration into all aspects of their brand, TikTok being no exception. In this one minute video, the brand is able to show off nine of their liquid lipsticks which are each named after an influential Indigenous woman. The video accomplished two goals: showing off their lipstick colors and educating followers about the accomplishments of various Indigenous activists, entertainers, and changemakers. The comments are full of praise about their meaningful naming process, from existing and new followers.
8. Show off your products
Another huge trend on TikTok is the use of autonomous sensory meridian response, more commonly known as ASMR. For those of you who are unfamiliar, this refers to those oddly satisfying, calming videos full of gentle movements and sounds like tapping, wrapping, or pouring things. Sometimes on TikTok the best videos are where you stay silent and let your products do the talking.
@hellogolde sometimes being lazy pays off 🤝 #starbucksdrinks #whitechocolatemocha #coffeetok ♬ instagram - vic
Golde does an excellent job at subtly showing off their products with this aesthetically pleasing morning coffee ritual video. With subtle calming music and ASMR sounds, Golde shows off how to use their Coconut Collagen Boost product to make a White Mocha drink. Even if you’re not interested in buying the products right away, followers may choose to follow for more satisfying, peaceful content. Take it from us–we had this video playing on a loop while writing this post ;).
9. Share product tips and tricks
You never know who might see your content on TikTok. Therefore, even if you create a video with the intention of providing value-added content to your existing customers, it’s a good idea to mention your brand name for those followers who might not know you yet. Sharing product tips and tricks is a great way to meet both of these marketing objectives simultaneously.
@theplantroomsgf Houseplant watering how-to for beginners! #Watering101 #plantsplantsplants #planttok #plantroom #rareplant #houseplanttok ♬ original sound - The Plant Room- Springfield MO
The houseplant industry really took off during the pandemic. With everyone spending more time at home people really invested in making their space nice and collecting plants took off as a hobby. Houseplant ecommerce store, The Plant Room, took advantage of this by creating a video addressing one of the most common questions, “How much am I supposed to water my plants?”. With a simple video demonstration and clear audio instructions, the video was able to reach 330K viewers on #PlantTok.
10. Use a brand mascot
If getting in front of the camera is not your thing, get someone else to do it for you! And no–we don’t mean your next-door-neighbor or a marketing intern. We mean a brand mascot! While the likes of DuoLingo and GEICO Insurance come to mind with their owl and lizard mascots, there are tons of small brands that are using fun characters on small business TikTok.
@sukoshimart love all things sukoshi mart? join our affiliate community today! 💛 #sukoshimart #affiliateprogram ♬ original sound - NintendoNostalgia
Take this example from Sukoshi Mart, a Japanese and Korean skincare, snack, and cozy lifestyle brand. They’ve brought one of their plushies to life as Rilakkuma, their adorable brand mascot. This video shows Rilakkuma exploring one of their retail locations and admiring all of the products. The cuteness practically oozed out of this video and we’re not the only ones who thought so. With over 107K followers and 2.0M likes on TikTok, Sukoshi Mart has attracted new customers by using TikTok marketing to get customers excited about Rilakkuma’s adventures.
11. Share your milestones
Not to sound like a broken record, but TikTok is the perfect platform to humanize your brand. People don’t expect perfectly edited photos like they do on Instagram, or long-form informative videos like they do on YouTube. Small business TikTok is all about sharing those raw, unedited moments that make your brand relatable. This is why sharing your excitement about reaching a milestone is a great way to get people to follow your brand and help you achieve the next one.
@pogospeppers 3 years since lock down and now we have a successful hot sauce company 😍 #pogospeppers #passthepogos #hotsauce #baconeggandcheese #lockdown #dejavu #covid #time ♬ deja vu - sp33dsongsx
Pogo’s Peppers Hot Sauce Co. shares a glimpse of its brand journey in this quirky 5 second video. With a caption that references its 3-year brand anniversary, a video showing a recipe using its hot sauce, and a song titled "Deja Vu", Pogo's Peppers gives customers a quick peak into its business life. This video is the perfect combination of pride for their accomplishments without crossing the line of being too salesy or boastful.
It’s time to start Tok-ing about your brand
If you’re a small business looking to grow and you’re not on TikTok yet, it’s time to start creating. TikTok is a great platform for acquiring new customers and forming personal connections with your followers to keep them around for the long haul. Whether you’re looking for a way to show off your products or share your brand story, TikTok marketing allows you to do both. So get your phone out, hit record, and post away!