“If you’re not on TikTok doing the latest trending lip-sync, dance move or hack, are you really in the digital age at all?” That is what I’d imagine someone aged 21 and younger would say. And honestly, they might have a point.

 

Who Tok

Since its creation in 2017 off the back of its sister platform, Dǒuyīn owned by Chinese company ByteDance, TikTok’s popularity has been growing and evolving like anything we’ve barely seen before. In September 2021, TikTok surpassed 1 billion monthly users, a feat that took social giant Facebook 7 years to achieve.

Everyone seems to be getting on the TikTok train, especially Gen Z teenagers and young adults (62% of US TikTok users), who are just getting their first taste of disposable income. This demographic of people are setting the trends, inventing memes and buying the products. TikTok allows SMEs and independent businesses to sell directly to customers, straight from device to device.

Megan Duncan’s SME Meg Ann Co. went viral overnight, causing her to wake up to see one of her videos amassed over 400k views. Looking through Megan’s early average video views, it can range from 3k to 9k. Until around May 2021, when no video performed under 10k views. Megan sells through Shopify and Etsy, all documented through her social media – primarily through Instagram and TikTok. It’s obvious to see that Megan’s authentic and transparent content, using Tiktok trends and tools to her advantage, have turned views into sales. Meg Ann Co. is only one example of many SME success stories.

TikTok small Business Hashtag Front Page. Dentons Digital. SME.

How Tok

TikTok is different from other social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and even Twitter, due to its fast-learning algorithm. TikTok’s recommendation on the user’s For You page is uniquely curated based on several factors wholly individual to the user. No two For You pages are the same. TikTok themselves layout some of the ranking factors to make the algorithm choose the right videos for the user:

  • User Interactions
  • Video Information
  • Device and Account Settings

All this information and more help build a video’s value to the user. However, unlike other platforms, one creator’s video success is not wholly necessary on the account’s follower number or previous video performance. That means, theoretically, each video has a unique chance of high-performance success.

TikTok has allowed SMEs something Facebook and Instagram has not; Highly affordable social media marketing. Analiese Ross, CEO and founder of AMR Digital Marketing, told Business Insider that social media as a marketing tool “can really level the playing field for all the businesses, specifically all different sizes and income levels… you see the big players on there – Nike, Coca-Cola – and then you see small businesses that have a fraction of the budget, but are actually doing way better on social… that really doesn’t happen in any other area of marketing.”

TikTok small Business Hashtag Front Page. Dentons Digital. SME.

Why Tok

"41 Minutes the average time spent on TikTok a day." TikTok small Business. Dentons Digital. SME.

In a recent study by Nielsen, commissioned by TikTok, the number one reason why TikTok is so popular is its authenticity. According to the study, 64% of users say they can be their true selves, with 56% of users saying they can post videos they wouldn’t post elsewhere. With Instagram’s (owned by Facebook) recent controversial news of knowingly being harmful to teenagers’ mental health, 31% of TikTok users included “lifting my spirits” as one of the top three reasons for using the app.

 

You may have heard, read or been in a part of a particular ‘Tok’ community; #WitchTok, #CottageCore, #PlantTok, #RugTikTok and more. Niche communities are what helps at least 50% of users feel a sense of community, belonging and authenticity. Users have even reported they feel more positivity towards businesses and brands on TikTok compared to other platforms. Look at the TikToks of small businesses you follow, your competitors and see which hashtags they are using. Most likely you’ll see #SmallBusinessTikTok #SmallBizTikTok #SmallBusinessChallenge.

 

Where Tok

If you’ve never used TikTok before, wanting to take the leap from Instagram Reels to TikTok or just felt it was ‘something for the kids,’ take a deep breath and select Install. Before you plan to create anything, have a look through the app. It may seem like the Wild West but after a few searches to give the algorithm time to learn your likes and dislikes, you’ll be far more comfortable. The best way to learn is by exploring. Select every icon and see where it takes you, try all the filters and have a laugh. You’ll soon see why it’s so addictive.

Thankfully, TikTok has a treasure trove of amazing resources to help creators plan and execute successful organic campaigns as well as extensive resources for paid ads in their business centre. The internet is full of guidesideas, and inspiration to help you create TikTok videos that have the most potential for high-performance success.

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