| Sep 12, 2022

Don’t Let the Lip-Syncing Teens Fool You, TikTok Can Help Your Business

TikTok is not all about the dopamine hit of quick amusement. The user-generated video platform may be the new frontier of digital marketing.
By Edward Kost |

4 minutes

You’ve likely heard of the app TikTok. You may have even installed it to deconstruct its popularity. But like most entrepreneurs, you have probably since uninstalled the app, concluding that it’s not the right platform for your business. That assumption is worth challenging. Though TikTok is popular, it’s still an untapped potential for growing a business — even one as niche as @brandpierre, a company that went from making rings from old spoons to growing to a multi-million-dollar empire, thanks to TikTok.

No, TikTok Isn’t Just for Lip-Syncing Teenagers

From singing cats to grandmothers crumping at Walmart, at first sight TikTok’s home feed makes the app seem like it is explicitly designed for quick bursts of amusement. But that is all part of TikTok’s brilliant user onboarding strategy. Retention rates are more likely to increase if new users experience a positive emotion as easily as possible. Due to this tears-of-laughter-inducing customer funnel, the app has experienced wave after wave of explosive popularity. As of July 2022, TikTok’s growth reached a record peak of over 1 billion Monthly Active Users (MAU). 

No matter how niche your business is, your target customers are likely to be already on the platform; all you need to do is help them find you. Even if your target market has a tiny footprint, there are plenty of younger users who may eventually grow to become your customers.

Let’s look at the numbers.

You would think that teens dominate TikTok’s user base but in fact 75% of users are over 20 and 53% of users are over 30. If TikTok endures in popularity, it may be the future of marketing to the younger generations. In the meantime, two-thirds of TikTok users actually have a social security number and a job, leading brands to increase their ad spending on the platform. According to estimates by Insider Intelligence, US TikTok net ad revenues in 2024 are expected to reach $11.01 billion — an 84% increase from 2022.


The Surprisingly Simple Formula for Success

Search “how to grow your business on TikTok” on YouTube and you will plunge into an endless stream of ostentatious thumbnails promising hallucinatory results. From a “secret strategy” that gets you 100k new followers in just 10 minutes to an “algorithm hack” that will generate over $70,000 in 36 seconds, it seems like everyone is finding easy success on TikTok.

While trends indicate that TikTok is the new frontier of digital marketing, the giant cogs driving entrepreneurship aren’t designed for shortcuts. All of the real TikTok success stories have leveraged hard work and value-centric content. Emulating their best practices may not be a shortcut but can offer faster results. Here are the three key habits that most successful businesses on TikTok have in common. 

1. Be Entertaining

TikTok isn’t a video search engine like YouTube; it’s an entertainment platform. Users tap on the neon-outlined music note for one reason — to be entertained. Intrigue is the lifeblood of entertainment: It can instantly captivate users and give them a good reason to keep watching. 

Try starting each video with an intriguing statement. It could be a bizarre fact about your industry or a pressing question your audience would want to have answered. Personal brand advisor @karaebei does this very well in one video by promising to reveal the branding strategy that led to Nike’s success.

To further fluff up the entertainment quotient, include graphics that make information easier to digest, such as numbered points and relevant illustrations. This can easily be done with a free online design tool like Canva.

If your business involves manufacturing, you could film the end-to-end production process. An irresistible desire to see the final result usually compels users to stay for the reveal. The success of leather goods company @nobleleatherco was sparked by a simple TikTok of the company’s founder making a leather belt from scratch. Noble Leather Co. now has over 1.5 million followers on TikTok.

Whatever form of intrigue you choose, try to seem genuinely happy about the wisdom you are contributing to the universe, even if it requires multiple takes. TikTok users can see right through the dead eyes and forced smile of an obligatory post.

2. Lean Into Trends

The clever use of intrigue wasn’t the only reason Noble Leather Co.’s leather belt-making video garnered over 30 million views. The company’s founder, Kyle, also leaned into a rising trend on the platform — ASMR (the tingling sensation people experience when listening to stimulating audio.) By using trending hashtags like #ASMR and #OddlySatisfying, Kyle transformed a usually mundane leather belt-making process into a spine-tingling form of stress relief. Refer to this post to learn how to find trending hashtags on TikTok.

3. Don’t Obsess Over Hashtags

Gone are the glorious social media marketing days of 2016 when all it took for your post to go viral was a carefully selected list of hashtags. Every social media app has evolved away from a mechanical framework for success. This is actually fantastic news for business. By filtering out more low-quality content with each successive update, social media apps are paving the way for value-centric content creators to rise to the top.

Contrary to any social media advice you may have been told, the fewer hashtags you use the better. Companies using every trending hashtag under the digital sun are essentially telling the TikTok algorithm that they have no idea what their video is about. The most effective strategy is one that proves that there’s a human publishing the video, not a hashtag-regurgitating bot.

Choose just a few hashtags that accurately describe your video and maybe a couple of relevant trending hashtags.

The Swell is Rising to Seize the Moment

Producing content for TikTok can help cultivate some of the skills of a successful entrepreneur. Filming yourself will reduce discomfort with public communication, while maintaining intrigue may force users to refine their messaging and fine-tune their copywriting skills. Most importantly, the negative user comments that inevitably pepper every growing channel will teach users to focus on the passion that birthed your business during the dark periods of entrepreneurship. The formula for success in the digital age can be summed up in a single sentence — identify a growing trend early and ride the rising wave to victory. Time is ticking … TikTok.

Edward Kost

Opinion Contributor, Strixus

Edward has been fascinated with the potency of written words since his humorous essay caused his teacher to leave the classroom in a fit of laughter in eighth grade. view profile


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