As a small business owner, you are probably always looking for new ways to reach potential customers and grow your business. Chances are you’re utilizing one or more of the usual channels to try and attract new customers, but there’s probably 1 channel you’ve overlooked: TikTok. With over 1 billion monthly active users and growing, TikTok is a powerful platform that can help you engage and attract new customers. In this article, we’re going to explain more about how your small business can turn TikTok into a revenue-generating machine!
What is TikTok?
TikTok is a short-form video app where users can share creative and entertaining videos. Most small business owners think that the only people making money on TikTok are influencers hawking the latest fad products. The reality is that no matter what product or service you offer, there’s real revenue to be generated on TikTok for your small business.
What makes TikTok unique is its algorithm, which tailors content to each individual user based on their interests. There are numerous virality features that give you the chance to get in front of new audiences at cost-effective rates in comparison to other digital marketing channels such as Google, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. In fact, TikTok ads can be a fraction of the cost of Facebook ads despite being as effective or even more effective.
We recently surveyed consumers about their habits when patronizing a small business and found 33% of 18-29-year-olds reported to have supported a small business due to a TikTok ad they saw.
We also surveyed small business owners to get a better sense for where they distributed content and found that 93% of them posted content to Facebook while only 60% posted to TikTok.
Given this discrepancy it’s clear there is a massive opportunity for small businesses to connect with a new generation of consumers and build a lasting brand as younger demographics enter the workforce and increase their purchasing power by interacting with them on TikTok.
How to use TikTok
Like virtually every other social network, TikTok gives you an opportunity to engage other users organically and through paid ads. Whether you are selling products or delivering a service, properly utilizing TikTok can be an incredibly powerful channel for your small business.
Organic posts are videos you create and post on TikTok without using any paid promotion. These posts can be on any topic within your business’ niche and it’s the best way to get started with using TikTok. You can have a content writer or copywriter script your organic posts or you can choose to do them unscripted if you have a personal brand. With organic posts, you can educate and entertain your audience in the hopes of making them aware your company exists….think of it as a wonderful introduction, where users can get a peek at your personality and interests.
In the example above, which has been viewed over 3.5 million times, you’ll notice that the video itself isn’t promotional in any way. The Farmer’s Dog sells healthy dog food, but the video itself has nothing to do with dog food. But if you hope to eventually convince dog owners to buy your dog food, what better way to make them aware you exist than by creating a video watched and loved by millions of dog owners?
Organic posts are great, but it will likely take months before you build a meaningful audience. Businesses can bypass this by using TikTok’s paid ads. Paid ads on TikTok work similarly to other social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. You create an ad and target a specific audience.
There are three types of paid ads on TikTok:
In-feed ads: In-feed ads appear in between users’ organic content. These ads can be up to 60 seconds long and are the most popular type of ad on TikTok. These ads allow you to add a CTA at the bottom of the ad and they also have a sponsored tag to let users know it’s an ad. These ads are great because they naturally blend in with the content users are already watching.
Brand Takeovers: Brand takeovers are full-screen ads that appear when someone opens up their TikTok account. It’s the first video they see and it’s usually a 3-second image with a CTA. The CTA is generally something that entices users to follow a certain account or join a TikTok live stream.
Embedded Video Explainer of Brand Takeover
Spark ads: Spark ads enable businesses to promote their existing organic videos instead of creating new videos from scratch. After posting a number of videos, businesses can see which videos are performing best and they can use spark ads to promote those videos.
Branded hashtag: A branded hashtag is a hashtag that you create and promote to get users to post videos using your hashtag. This is a great way to increase brand awareness and get user-generated content. Many of the top businesses use this and it can compound quickly to bring you thousands of views and clicks.
Above is a timely example of a hashtag challenge launched by Aerie showcasing users wearing their leggings while sharing something they are grateful for while in the midst of Covid lockdown. Their brand aims to empower all women to love their real selves, and what better way to inject some of that positivity into the TiKTok community than hosting what amounted to a massive gratitude exercise?
It’s worth noting, their challenge wasn’t around their product. They didn’t ask people to say what their favorite thing about their products were. They instead asked people to share in a positive experience, one their brand was able to engender. There’s a massive difference between those approaches, and one you need to understand if you want to effectively engage users on TikTok.
TikTok Ad targeting:
While TikTok doesn’t quite have the granularity present within Facebook Ads, it does provide you with various targeting methods to ensure you’re able to effectively reach the right audience you’ve identified in your TikTok marketing strategy.
- Location: You can target ads to users in a specific city, state, country or region. This is great if you’re a brick-and-mortar business or if you’re targeting a specific market.
- Interest: You can target ads to users based on their interests. TikTok has a number of interests you can target including music, fashion, beauty, fitness and more.
- Behavior: You can target ads to users based on their behavior. This includes content they like, accounts they follow and even other ads they’ve interacted with.
Cost of ads:
TikTok ads start at $10 per CPM (per 1,000 views). The cost of ads can vary depending on the type of audience or niche you are targeting. For example, ads for the music niche are have much cheaper CPMs in comparison to ads in the finance niche. There are some minimum spend requirements by TikTok depending on the type of campaign you are running.
For example, TikTok requires a minimum of $50 per day at the campaign level and $20 per day at the ad group level. Ad costs can also vary depending on the type of ads you run. A brand takeover ad will likely cost much more than a branded hashtag. Additionally, TikTok ads are not as simple as just buying the cheapest type of ad. You need to select the best type of ad (e.g. brand takeover, in-feed ad, etc.) for your niche. It’s best to start with one type of ad for one persona and A/B test it against other ad formats.
TikTok business case study: Buccal Fat Removal Chicago
Dr. Benjamin Caughlin runs a buccal fat removal & jawline sculpting clinic in Chicago and has amassed over 270,000 followers on TikTok. When businesses think of successful TikTok brands, a buccal fat removal clinic typically isn’t what comes to mind. Dr. Caughlin has leveraged TikTok’s viral sounds and trends to bring attention to his brand and services. He posts original content, stitched content and videos with popular sounds to garner attention from his audience and to position himself as the authority in his niche.
His TikTok audience also drives traffic to his website. In fact, during a particularly active stretch in November and December of 2021, TikTok represented his largest source of appointments and revenue!
From the several thousand visitors who visit his website, roughly 50 of them convert into appointments and paying customers for his clinic. That doesn’t include visitors that submitted their contact form nor picked up the phone and called their office! With the appointment bookings alone, TikTok generated over $200,000 in revenue for him in December of 2021. Since all of the traffic is organic, the only costs that go into TikTok as a marketing channel is the time spent making videos.
The best part of this is that the traffic from TikTok will only continue to increase as Dr. Caughlin builds his brand on TikTok. This is just one part of his clinic’s marketing strategy to generate organic leads for the business. As you can see below, TikTok continues to remain a large part of his overall TikTok marketing strategy.
TikTok is one of his fastest-growing marketing channels and he has only been publishing content for about 18 months. This is a great example of how you can add TikTok into your marketing strategy and leverage an organic audience to drive significant revenue.
Do’s and Don’ts:
There are some guidelines you should follow when posting on TikTok to maximize your organic and paid reach. These guidelines will help you avoid things that can minimize your reach and increase your costs and effort to market to your audience. Most importantly, they’ll help ensure you can be an authentic presence within the TikTok community that other people enjoy engaging with!
Do: Post creative and entertaining videos that are relevant to your business
Creativity and originality is what sets good TikTok accounts from great ones. Make sure to keep up with the latest trends and sounds on TikTok to maximize your organic reach.
Don’t: Post videos that are overtly sales-y or promotional
Don’t pitch your products and services immediately. Instead, use TikTok as a top of the funnel platform to generate awareness for your brand. The more creative and entertaining your videos are, the more reach you’ll generate.
Do: Use TikTok’s algorithm to your advantage by creating content that your target audience will enjoy
After you post for a few months on TikTok, revisit the videos that performed well and double down on them. This is what TikTok’s algorithm rewards you for, so do more of it and get more views on your content.
Don’t: Post videos that are not relevant to your business
You can confuse your audience if you create a ton of non-related content to your niche. Be willing to experiment, but stay within your general niche (e.g. fitness, marketing, health).
Do: Use TikTok to drive traffic to your website or landing pages
Make sure to add your links in your profile to capture the traffic you’re generating. Add your highest ROI pages in your profile bio and drive your audience to your offer.
Don’t: Post low-quality videos
The TikTok algorithm favors high-quality videos with good production value. If you’re just starting out, make sure to invest in a decent camera or use your smartphone to make videos. The bar for high-resolution videos on TikTok is very high. Most iPhones are good enough to capture high-quality videos, but don’t use low-quality computers, phones or cameras to do your videos.
Do: Experiment with different types of content to see what works best for your business
The best TikTok creators are ones who constantly experiment on the platform. There are many brands who’ve generated millions of views simply by riding the latest trends. The more you experiment, the more types of successful content you will find.
Growth marketer Zach Grove has seen that testing different hooks (i.e. the first 3 seconds of your video) is the best way to improve your Tik Tok creatives.
“Testing new attention-grabbing hooks—such as “Hey [your local city], check this out…” or “Tik Tok made me buy it: [your local city] edition”—is the best way to get traction and maximize your views. Make sure you’re always testing hooks to see what works for your niche”
Don’t: Be boring
If you have a new account, you can’t afford to be boring. This doesn’t mean that you have to have the most crazy and engaging videos in the world; it just means you need to capture the audience’s attention. You can use hooks, images and other tactics to get your viewers to watch your videos.
Do: Use hashtags, challenges, and trends to get more views on your videos
Hashtags, challenges and trends are one of the highest leverage points in your TikTok content marketing. Make sure to leverage these and allow users to promote on your behalf.
Don’t: Be inauthentic
TikTok has by far the most tech-savvy user base out of all social media platforms. The engagement on the app is high because most users can spot inauthenticity from a mile away. If you’re not being genuine, your videos will perform poorly and you’ll have a hard time building an audience.
These are just a few guidelines you can use as you start your TikTok creator journey. The best way to learn is by experimenting and seeing what works for your business. Get started on TikTok today by posting content in your niche and leveraging TikTok’s features to maximize your organic reach and audience growth. To learn more about how you can use TikTok to grow your business, check out this blog post.