This post originally appeared on startupnation.com/grow-your-business
TikTok’s slogan reads “make your day,” but what about “make your business”? The social media platform has risen to new heights in recent years with its short-form videos. TikTok is now available in over 150 markets across the globe, in 39 languages, and has over 500 million active monthly users.
During the current COVID-19 crisis, internet usage has spiked, and TikTok’s app has consistently been in the top five most-downloaded apps in the world. As people seek online entertainment as a way to stay productive, healthy and aware in quarantine, brands are considering ways to harness their reach and shape new conversations on platforms like TikTok. Even news outlets have joined the TikTok trend! The Washington Post uploads exclusive breaking stories and videos, and now has more than 550,000 followers.
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Prior to the pandemic, TikTok was already helping businesses achieve real growth. Now, the platform’s potential to facilitate scaling up is even bigger. One of the most significant advantages of TikTok is that its primary demographic is people aged between 16 and 24, so businesses that target these younger users have greater potential to garner long-term customers.
Here’s how startups and entrepreneurs can use TikTok to grow their businesses
Build stronger relationships
Studies show that 64 percent of consumers want brands to connect with them. Gone are the days where businesses operate in a separate silo from their customers.
In 2020, consumers care about culture, communication and ethics. As a result, audiences want authentic interactions from real people with real experiences. They want to know that companies are owned and run by people just like them, and that they can relate no matter the industry.
Especially during the COVID-19 crisis, brands that convey empathy and practical ways to stay healthy and positive are proving to get the most traction. In these current circumstances, TikTok offers a space to be creative and fun, to use video as a way to bridge the gap between people who are physically separated. Entrepreneurs have had to stay at home for months just like everyday consumers, so why not seize the opportunity to empathize?
For example, TikTok influencers have been posting photos of themselves wearing masks, completing online workouts and offering tips to keep occupied during lockdown. Not only do these videos increase their popularity, but also conveys that they are responsible and grounded.
It’s important to note, however, that startups shouldn’t compromise their style or messaging to fit in with the wackier videos on TikTok. It’s better to stay true to company values and be transparent with audiences to build trust faster.
For instance, rather than chasing trends, the World Health Organization has been using TikTok to post informative videos about how to wear masks and recognize symptoms of COVID-19.
Increase user engagement
Part of building stronger relationships is actively engaging users. TikTok offers a variety of ways to not only reach but also spark dialogues with people. For one, hashtag challenges are where brands ask followers to recreate content and share it with a specific hashtag. The challenge boosts brand awareness and designates brand ambassadors who promote products or services on behalf of a company.
For example, Chipotle recently asked followers to record themselves dancing on National Avocado Day with the hashtag #GuacDance. The campaign ended up being the highest-performing branded challenge in the U.S., earning over 250,000 video submissions and 430 million video starts across six days. A host of influencers also joined the craze, fueling its international momentum.
In fact, influencers are ideal for startups looking to leverage large followings and target customer groups. Influencer marketing is often cheaper than traditional forms of advertising, as well as more effective. A reported 63 percent of consumers admit that they trust what influencers say about brands more than they trust brand advertisements. For early-stage companies (those that don’t yet have a solidified reputation, nor a disposable income), influencers can use their position as mediators to spread the word about emerging startups.
One of the most notable perks of TikTok is not needing to spend money on specialist videographers or editors. You can simply pull out your phone and start recording, because on this platform, the more “real” a video is, the better. Whether a tour of the (home) office or a tutorial on how to use your product, content that gives viewers an insight into the general day-to-day of the company performs best – and is free to make!
Additionally, startups with offices in multiple locations can create localized marketing campaigns, where they upload content in different languages, featuring places from the local area. They can also develop promotions based on local holidays, sentiments or customs, therefore building strong ties with small communities around the world.
Alternatively, micro influencers are useful for startups with only one location. Micro influencers have a deep understanding of where they’re based, as well as credibility among those populations. These types of influencers don’t have the same mass followings that influencers have, but they speak to more niche groups.
Interestingly, TikTok only introduced advertising capabilities on the platform in 2019. Running ads is a big part of many startups’ growth strategy, and on TikTok, ads can support metrics like website clicks, app downloads or improved online visibility. There is even the option for brand takeovers, where businesses design images, videos, GIFs and embed links to landing pages across the platform. Another plus is that TikTok advertising can be filtered by age, gender and location, giving startups a more direct pathway to communicate with the customers they want.
Connect, engage, grow
In the digital age, TikTok is a powerful resource to better connect, engage and grow users among startups. Companies can target specific segments, extend their reach overseas, and present their brand in a modern light.
Particularly for startups, TikTok is a medium to experiment with and apply inventive ways to scale without spending large amounts of money. No doubt, TikTok will be an essential social media and business tool in the “new normal.”
The post How Startups and Entrepreneurs Can Use TikTok to Grow Their Businesses appeared first on StartupNation.