Woman sitting down and recording a video using her phone.
Creating content on TikTok differs from any other social media platform, and the key to success is authenticity. — Getty Images/FG Trade

TikTok’s rapidly growing popularity makes it an important focus for small businesses looking for authentic and creative ways to connect with customers. This platform, which favors short-form, audio-driven video content and pop culture trends, is different from any other popular social media channel, and if your brand wants to succeed here, you’ll need to take a thoughtful approach.

Below are five tips for developing an effective TikTok strategy for your small business.

Create authentic, relevant and informative videos

TikTok users are interested in discovering new trends and creators — which are suggested on their customized “For You” page by an algorithm that factors in user information and video details (i.e., hashtags and captions). Unlike other platforms that push content from accounts with more followers, TikTok brings lesser-known creators into its feed. Because of this, even businesses just beginning with TikTok have the ability to reach their target audience.

Many small businesses have success with videos that give their audience behind-the-scenes footage or expert tips that are relevant to their industries. Whatever your approach, the key to success on TikTok is authenticity. Even though the platform has features for editing, its content is more “real” than other social media — and users like it that way.

[Read more: TikTok Marketing: 8 Strategies Small Businesses Can Try]

Share user-generated content

Offering the ability to “stitch” and “duet” (post your own video alongside another video) user videos, TikTok is designed for sharing personal content. Keeping up with viral trends may bring views to your videos, but to engage your customers and keep leads warm, use TikTok’s sharing abilities to make your audience part of your brand experience.

Start by encouraging your customers to make their own videos. Ask your audience a question, prompt for tips and tricks or put out a call for honest customer testimonials. With more user-generated content to work with, you will be able to create an experience on TikTok that reflects your followers’ interests and values.

TikTok influencers aren’t mainstream celebrities, but they are some of the most followed and trusted creators on the internet.

Consider paid advertising

Because TikTok is still growing, it is a less competitive environment for paid advertising. TikTok ads vary by presentation and interaction. In-feed ads, which can be created with or without other creators, appear like a normal video (and can even be promoted content), showing up in users’ "for you" feeds. They are a good starting point to dive into the insights of TikTok paid ads.

When you’re ready to make your brand stand out even more, TopView ads — videos that play as soon as users open the app — are very effective at holding interest and creating conversions.

TikTok also offers ads that encourage customer participation, branded hashtag challenges and branded effects. These let your users have fun with your brand — and bring recognition to your business through user-generated content.

Research and use the right hashtags

By watching TikTok’s popular videos, you can get an idea of what’s trending and create relevant content. However, not all popular hashtags relate to your business, and chasing the possibility of going viral isn’t necessarily a viable social media strategy.

Instead, pay attention to the hashtags your target audience engages with. Because hashtags are part of the algorithm TikTok uses to make suggestions, adding keywords and phrases to your videos will make sure your target audience finds your content. To get started, consider some common hashtags used by small business TikTok creators, like #smallbusiness, #entrepreneur, #supportsmallbusiness and #smallbiz.

[Read more: How to Boost Engagement on Social Media: Small Business Guide]

Partner with TikTok influencers

TikTok influencers aren’t mainstream celebrities, but they are some of the most followed and trusted creators on the internet. TikTok has influencers for almost every topic imaginable, including beauty, fitness, food and home renovation.

By working with an influencer, you can share your business message with an engaged audience primed for inspiration. To find the right influencer for your business, browse profiles or connect with popular creators using TikTok’s Creator Marketplace. Look for creators who are already using your product or services, who fit the persona of your customers, and whose values and messages align with what your business stands for and how it communicates its message.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published February 25, 2022