Still, stuck on Facebook and Instagram?

Ok, boomer. Zoomers think you’re OLD!

TikTok’s the newest social media platform in the game and it’s time to get your business on it.

Managing and marketing small businesses, especially in the unprecedented times of COVID-19, it is imperative that brick-and-mortar stores pivot their business strategies to reach out to a previously untapped source of consumers via the newest and most trendy social media app of the 2010s, TikTok. 

Ah TikTok, is it merely another fad that will die off eventually?

Perhaps, but with the current trajectory and its recent launch of TikTok for business (with a focus on small/medium enterprises), there’s no better time than the present to build your following and presence as an early-adopter of TikTok’s business medium.

With that, here’s your crash course on TikTok. 

What Is TikTok?

TikTok/Douyin was launched in 2016 in China and marketed globally in 2017. Similar to the now-defunct US-based app Vine, TikTok allows users to create short clips about 15 to 60 seconds in length with music and effects of choice. The app grew exponentially in popularity over 2018 and 2019 and estimates its user database at 500 million people worldwide. TikTok’s users primarily sit between the ages of 16 and 24 years old and 66% of its audience are under the age of 30. Simply put, the content is more targeted as it is always the same age group that’s creating the content (and viewing it), resulting in its distinctive ‘viral video’ style. 

Who’s On TikTok?

In 2018, a study showed that brands make up a mere 3.7% of users on TikTok – making the perfect time to strike before the platform is oversaturated. 

Stats of TikTok/Douyin 2018

Brands such as American cosmetic firm Colourpop – known for its affordable youthful products, targeted at millennials and zoomers – has a wildly successful TikTok page with over 10.1 million likes and almost 630,000 followers. Featuring attention-grabbing short-form content like “How to make a Supershock Shadow in 15 Seconds”, the page makes it a point to show off their products while creating exclusive behind-the-scenes peeks to encourage viewers to ultimately purchase from their e-commerce store or at Ulta. More viewers, more money. Kaching!


Part 1… How to make a Super Shock Shadow! Like for part 2! #colourpop #colourpopme #makeup #maquillaje #foryou #diy #worklife #viral

♬ original sound – ColourPop Cosmetics

Across the pond, UK e-commerce giant ASOS has also jumped on the bandwagon with over 134,000 followers and 2.3 million likes – giving young zoomers tips on styling their clothing, beauty inspirations and fun dance challenges from fellow Tiktokers wearing their merchandise. Down under, Australian brand Cotton On shows off its street-style and Co-ords on TikTok coupled with iconic OOTD jumpcut montages on its budding TikTok page. 


Monochrome vibes, c/o @iameverettwilliams ⚪️⚫️ #FashionEssentials #asos #FashionEdit #FashionFavorites

♬ Elephant – Tame Impala

Aside from fashion and beauty enterprises, chain restaurants like Taco Bell are also getting a head start on the game with its fresh take on presenting the stores newest offerings such as their eat-in sets during lockdown. 


Share your At-Home Taco Bar creation using TacoBellCreations. #fyp #foryou #tacobell

♬ original sound – tacobell

The global phenomena of TikTok are also slowly catching on outside of China, in certain regions of Southeast Asia. For example, Singaporean brand Love Bonito – who offers international shipping to the USA and other countries within the region – is taking to the app to reach out to larger audiences. 

Love Bonito’s content on TikTok commanding attention from a few thousand to over 100,000 views with only 3,266 followers – it shows that the algorithm on the platform works in the content creators favour. For now. So, make full use of it during your small business management.

Partnering with known influencers to reach out to Gen Z would also be a huge advantage for your small business’ budding TikTok page. For example, TikToker @Soprimp –known for her candid reviews of cult beauty products – promoted Makeup Revolution’s now-viral Pro Blur Stick. This video has garnered over 1.2 million likes and over 8 million views. The product sold out in America shortly after her TikTok review went viral. 

@Soprimp a.k.a Julie Kyles has said of TikTok in an interview: “I think TikTok is more fun and engaging form of social media. The fact that you can go live and speak to people and use music freely is a big plus. Also, the algorithm on Instagram has changed and made it more difficult to reach as many followers. It is easier to go viral on TikTok.” Julie started her TikTok account in December 2019 and as of this article, has over 230,000 followers on her page

Why TikTok Is Valuable To Your Brand

tiktok marketing

So, why should you join TikTok? You can get lots of eyeballs on TikTok even if you don’t have many followers on the account. I.e. You can still make it big on TikTok with clever small business marketing if you’ve missed the Instagram train. Have we got your attention? Good. Keep reading. 

Then what is the algorithm, you ask? Straight from the source, Tiktok’s system “recommends content by ranking videos based on a combination of factors – starting from interests you express as a new user, and adjusting for things you are not interested in” to form a personalised “For You” feed. 

And here are the three factors for successful TikToks: 

1) User Interactions 

2) Video captions, sound effects, and tags

3) Device type and geographical settings

Each of these data points is unique to the user, resulting in a curated recommended page resulting in a higher viewership. TikTok explains further that “neither follower count nor whether the account has had previous high-performing videos are direct factors in the recommendation system.

Dos And Dont’s For Marketing On TikTok

Aside from launching TikTok for business, the brand has also announced a “Back To Business” ad credit programme, available globally. With starter credits worth US$300 from small businesses valid until the end of December 2020, it’s time to create your TikTok Pro account (that allows you to monitor analytics on the back end, including popular timings and audience demographic) and get your video on with these steps.

1. Use #Hashtags To Your Advantage

tiktok hashtags

Do plan a storyboard and how you envision the video turning out after scouting the tags you want to target. Make sure it is snappy and trendy. You can also look at other video examples from the tags for inspiration and guidance on tonality.

Don’t film the videos focusing on purely promotional content without any comedic or community engagement value to the post. Zoomers dislike hard-selling, which is why they prefer TikTok to begin with.

ICYMI, the For You page is where content creators should aim to succeed. A glance at TikTok shows popular tags like #Foryou, #ForYouPage and #FYP (and all the various tags describing the For You page in other languages e.g. #pourtoi, but that alone is not enough to land your post front and centre.) Always check trending tags by tapping on the Discover tab, using these tags alongside the above can help your post ‘trend’ a lot quicker. Use the tags almost like a content brief and to start creating your posts. 

2. Keep Your Captions Simple But Engaging

tiktok caption

Do be funny, quick, and engaging with your captions while drawing attention to your key messages in a simple manner.

Don’t be a noob and place your captions at the bottom of your content, as the accompanying tags will block it.

Keep it simple and stupid.

Your captions on TikTok should be short and sweet and feature the complimentary hashtags. Use questions, jokes or up the ante with a “wait for it” type vibe. Being able to up your engagement by starting and sustaining conversations in your comments section would boost your post to the prime spot on the comments list, thus generating more conversation. 

3. Have A Plan Before You Post

tiktok content plan

Do plan a storyboard and timeline of shots for the clip. Choose the sounds you want in advance to make editing smoother.

Don’t shoot on the fly with no outline or focus. This will result in a lot of time spent piecing together usable content and in a lot of trial/error. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

To see the most popular sounds on TikTok, start up your screen as if you’re about to record. Then tap the Sounds button up-top to see trending music/sound clips, add your choices to your Favourites tab and bookmark them in one nifty page for future use for a lip-sync worthy battle.

TikTok videos have a very specific and signature style to them, think a seamless loop or a short skit. Consider your favourite viral videos to extract key elements that make you (and many others) come back to them again, and again. 

Final Tips To Guarantee TikTok Success:

  1. Quality over quantity – post at most 1-2 times a day 
  2. Consider Duets – dueting (a function on TikTok) with another viral video can boost your profile further with the side-by-side comparison style
  3. Play around with beta updates – using new features like voiceovers in TikTok can help boost engagement
  4. Shorter is better – 10 to 15 seconds is optimum and viewers tend to finish the content in its entirety

TikTok is still uncharted territory for most, but jumping on the platform early gives your small business an edge to gain real traction and build a brand new identity to appeal to a new generation of consumers.


Posted by Cheryl Chia