Question: I feel like I’ve waited too long to get started with TikTok because I didn’t originally think it would be a good social network for marketing to customers, it seems that’s not the case any more and now I’m wondering is it too late for me to start from scratch on TikTok? If not, how do I get started?
TikTok has already amassed over 1 billion active users, so it’s no surprise that businesses of all shapes and sizes have pivoted to include it in their marketing strategy. Research has found that TikTokers are 1.5x more likely to immediately buy something they’ve found through the app. So, creating a TikTok account if you run a business is definitely a good idea!
You may feel like you’re out of your element when it comes to the platform, but all types of businesses can thrive on TikTok. Even The Washington Post — a prestigious news outlet — has found great success via the platform. The Post recently made headlines when their TikTok hit 1 million subscribers.
The account first launched in May 2019 and garnered over 280K followers within its first six months. Initially, video producer Dave Jorgensen, who goes by “Washington Post TikTok Guy” on Twitter, was the sole creator all of the TikToks, making roughly 10 videos a week. Jorgensen covered everything from the Trump administration to COVID-19 to health care via bitesized videos with the intent to, “deliver the news in a unique way and reach new audiences.” These TikToks packaged breaking stories in a more palatable format for younger generations.
The medium became one of The Post’s fastest growing social media channels ever. The newspaper saw value in investing further time and money into the app in late 2021 and created new positions for their TikTok account. They now have an entire team dedicated to TikTok and have increased their output from ten videos a week to releasing over 4 videos in one day. The paper’s director of Editorial Video, Micah Gelman, said they’re expanding their TikTok, to, “… further grow, innovate and continue connecting with more people who may not regularly consume traditional news.”
While The Post was already an established media giant before launching its TikTok, smaller businesses with no prior exposure have also greatly benefited from the app. Jeremy Kim, cofounder of Nectar, a small business selling hard seltzer, spoke to Business Insider about the role TikTok played in their marketing strategy.
Originally, Kim was also worried that he was too late to TikTok but decided to post a story time video anyway, recounting how he and his partner started their business. To Kim’s surprise, the video received over 300K likes organically. Nectar’s online presence - coupled with on the ground efforts like pop up shops - eventually led to the seltzer company being acquired by BevMo. Their TikTok account now has over 50K followers and has amassed over a million likes. Nectar proves there’s no “right time” to start on the app — truly anyone can succeed on TikTok.
That a distinguished newspaper with an older reader demographic and a small mom and pop shop can both thrive on TikTok demonstrates the app is suitable for all kinds of businesses, no matter the product or service! And while you may think you’re late to join the party, there’s still time to create a thriving TikTok presence for your brand. The great thing about TikTok is the most effective content is generated organically, meaning creating your videos can be done internally and without a large budget. More often than not, videos can be made entirely on your phone!
Here are some guidelines to consider when creating a TikTok for your small business:
Set up your TikTok account
Make sure you create a free business account for your company — rather than a personal TikTok — to optimize your brand’s presence on the app. TikTok Business launched in 2020 as a way to provide large and small brands alike with marketing tools and metrics to increase their reach. Business accounts also have the option to run paid ads. Creating a business account is simple. Once you’ve answered a few questions about your brand, you’re good to start posting videos!
A business account also provides additional perks as well like access to TikTok’s commercial music library also known as the CML, which hosts over 500 songs you can use in your videos royalty free.
Figure out what type of content best connects with your audience
Now comes the fun part! Once you’ve set up your brand’s TikTok, you can dive straight into creating content. TikTok thrives off of creativity, so there’s no wrong or right answer when it comes to making videos. The most popular TikToks tend to be the most authentic and original.
While it’s great to emulate certain brands, remember that every business is unique and what works for one company may not be the right direction for yours. There will be some trial and error as you figure out what content best suits your target audience, and that’s OK! As you start making videos, you’ll begin to understand which types of material is a good fit for your company.
Here are some starting points when thinking about the different types of TikToks:
Share a look behind-the-scenes
An easy way to come up with content is providing a behind-the-scenes sneak peak of your business! Not only does this provide customers with a better understanding of your brand, but it’s an entirely organic way to create TikToks. Instead of going through the extra step of creating new content, you can simply highlight the work you and your company are already doing!
Nowhere Bakery, a vegan and gluten free bakery, regularly posts behind-the-scenes content giving viewers a glimpse into the kitchen where all of their cookies, brownies, and treats are made. This TikTok shows the team baking a variety of desserts.
Behind-the-scenes content is also a great way to introduce your staff! Nowhere Bakery is an entirely women-owned and operated business, and they’re able to showcase their teammates, specifically their founder Saphira, through TikToks. Through behind-the-scenes videos, Saphira also delves into the mundanities of running a bakery like in this TikTok where she assembles dozens and dozens of cookie boxes.
These kinds of behind-the-scenes moments can help your audience form a stronger connection with your brand.
Teach your customers a skill
Operating your own business means you’re an expert in your field, so why not create how to videos related to your products or services?
Jeremy Check runs a massively successful TikTok channel, ScheckEats where he posts quick and easy recipes featuring all kinds of cuisines. Scheck started his account in 2020 and now has over two million TikTok followers. A student at Cornell University, Scheck tailors his content for other young adults by including posts like recreating Taco Bell’s Crunchwrap.
What sets him a part from other foodie TikTokers, however, is his “how to” videos that are meant to teach college students basic cooking skills.
Watch as Scheck walks his followers through the process of caramelizing onions:
Here, Scheck comes through with another college hack as he teaches his followers to make coffee at home, specifically cold brew — a lifeline for most students.
No matter what you offer as a business or creator, consider producing informational “how to” videos that can be both entertaining and edifying for your audience.
Create a series
Before Nabela Nour became a sensation at @nabela, the author and entrepreneur had a YouTube channel with a relatively large following. But in a 2021 video, Nour addressed her absence from the platform and explained how she moved most of her content to TikTok. Specifically, Nour started a new TikTok series titled “Pockets of Peace.” The idea for the series was simple: showcase the positive moments throughout her day as a way to uplift viewers in wake of the pandemic.
Despite varying greatly in content, each “Pockets of Peace” video exudes calming vibes and is coupled with relaxing music. The series turned into an internet sensation and Nour gained millions of followers on her emerging TikTok channel — 7 million to be exact — surpassing the number of subscribers she’d amassed on YouTube over several years.
“Pockets of Peace” regularly showcased Nour’s home, especially her kitchen and decor, connecting back to her brand all along — specifically, her lifestyle and home brand Saara & Begum. Nour even included a sneak peak of her first product, a candle collection, in one of her TikToks before officially launching the item.
Your videos don’t have to be as elaborately produced as Nour’s. As long as you can find a creative theme that fits within your brands identity, preparing a series can lead to great material for TikToks.
Not sure how to kick off a series? Here are some prompts:
- Involve your team: Whether it’s your employee talking about their particular role, discussing new product launches, or even just introducing themselves, including your staff is an easy way to create content!
- Think about your mission and goal: How do you want your clients to feel when they use your products or services? Try to see if you can capture that essence in your videos. If you’re a candle company whose mission is to provide aroma therapy for customers, you could create videos diving into the healing properties of each scent. A Yoga Studio, on the other hand, might create a TikTok series around mindfulness, prompting users to engage in meditations.
- Ask your followers what they’d like to see: If you’re unsure of what content will be best for your series, you can always use interactive features on social media to get feedback from your customers.
Once you’ve landed on the content you want to create try to stay as consistent as possible when posting on TikTok. Frequent posts will increase engagement and help your brand become memorable to consumers. TikTok’s algorithm also favors accounts that produce a steady stream of content and have established themselves as experts within a certain niche, so make sure there’s a common theme amongst your videos.
While it’s totally okay to have different kinds of posts on your feed, some content will likely resonate more with your viewers. As mentioned early, The Washington Post found most success with its sketch-based news videos while Nabela Nour’s audience flocked to her TikTok for its tranquil atmosphere. Once you figure out your niche, include the relevant hashtags to your TikToks.
Posting consistently can be easier said than done, especially when you’re a small business owner wearing multiple hats. Here are some tips to help you develop a rhythm on your account:
Make a social media calendar
Making a social media calendar can help you stay organized and on top of all of your posts! A calendar not only details how often you’ll post onto certain channels like TikTok, but it will also delineate the specific kind of content. Having a granular view of all of your posts will also help your social media feed become more cohesive.
To get started, you can use Buffer’s social media calendar to have an easy and clear view of your content for the week and month!
Batch create content
Once you’ve figured out your TikTok schedule, it’s time to actually make the videos! As someone who might run a business, your plans are probably always up in the air as you have to tend to dozens of tasks as they arise. Instead of trying to find time to film TikToks everyday, it may be helpful to dedicate specific days or even weeks to batch creating content.
You can block out certain days in your calendar for filming multiple TikToks at once and then book another day for editing the videos as well. After these sessions, you’ll have created content for several days, rather than just one.
Have fun and experiment!
Most importantly, remember TikTok as a platform is all about having fun! As you start out on your channel, be open to trying out a variety of videos and feel free to experiment with trending content.
TikTok is known for viral trends — like the pet #blanketchallenge — and keeping up with these moments can optimize your brand’s exposure. Oftentimes, businesses can increase their reach by engaging with trending content.
Just remember, jumping on the bandwagon isn’t always a good idea. Though capitalizing on certain fads may help your business stay relevant, your content should always connect back to your brand’s core values and provide insight to your customers.
Hopefully this answered your question and showed that it’s never too late to start a TikTok account for your business! Though the app may seem a bit daunting at first, TikTok is a great marketing tool that can further your brand’s reach. Once your account is all set up, check out Buffer’s TikTok reminders where you can easily plan out your TikTok videos in one place.
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