While Tiktok was launched in 2016, it has recently become extremely popular, and this popularity has allowed it to become a great advertising method for many small business who cannot afford to pay large amounts on advertising.

Time and time again, we see small businesses on Tiktok going from reaching an audience of sometimes less than a hundred people to reaching thousands of people and selling out their products. This has been an extremely successfully method for people who are selling art, clothes sellers, jewellery and makeup, including eyelashes and lipglosses. I have even bought jewellery of a seller after seeing their products advertised on Tiktok, as I liked the look of their handmade earrings, and I never would have purchased from that seller if I hadn’t seen the business on Tiktok.

Many of the small businesses who advertise on Tiktok focus on Customer Service and add an extra touch to their packages such as personalised thank you notes, packinging and treats such as scrunchies or sweets. This helps them stand out to consumers even if they are selling the same products as larger businesses, and usually at a higher price than those same businesses as their customer service allows them to charge that extra bit. Many businesses also show themselves packaging people’s parcels if requested and these videos alone are capable of reaching tens of thousands of people, and some people buy with the hopes of getting their product packaged on Tiktok, as they are interested in the experience of buying from these smaller businesses.  

A Small business I have seen apply these tactics is an American brand, is Beauty_holics who sells an assortment of products including  a bundle which is two pairs of eyelashes, and applicator, a spoolie and a scrunchie for $30.00. This item is regularly sold out despite being very expensive compared to competitors.

Examples of packaging brands like Beauty_holics use

This is mainly because of the packaging – the products are put into a miniature suitcase instead of a box which is fun and exciting to people and makes them want to buy the product. One of her videos has received 9.1M likes and has been viewed by 62.1M people which is an astonishing reach for someone running a small niched business out of their home, and immediately following this video going viral she completely sold out on her website.

Another reason a lot of Videos from small businesses go viral on Tiktok is because people are generally interested in a glimpse of other people’s lives and businesses and this is why brands that do ‘come to work with me’ or show people how they make some of their products are so successful.

A small business near me, XXI ice in Dundalk, reached an audience of 5.2 million people on one of their 1 minute long videos showing how they make their strawberry rolled ice cream, and has reached a similar audiences on more of their videos, and this advertising reaches places all over the world – not just in Ireland, and has left an impression on all of them from watching such a simple video. There is very few Social Medias which let you easily gain 5.2 million views, as easily as can be done from going TikTok viral.

Chicken Nugget ice Cream from XXI Ice Tiktok video

 The account also makes ice cream with other stranger items such as chicken nuggets which is controversial enough that it helps keep people intrigued as to what they will do next, and so people will be encouraged to follow them on Tiktok.

Many people who promote their business on Tiktok also offer a personal touch such as a mystery pack option. People like these products as it is exciting to get a package in your style but you don’t actually know what you’re getting. The business asks for a few of your likes or dislikes and works from there to personalise your product. One brand who does this well is ‘hissyfitclothing’ who has different kinds of mystery packs, such as pastel, dark, and rave themed ones, her brand is sold out of the mystery packs on a regular basis because they are so popular. The brand is also very responsive on tiktok so it is very popular for their customer service, and she is very open about how she sources and makes the clothing and so it popular for her ethical clothing. She was also able to turn a customer compliant into a viral video, she had a customer go viral by making a video complaining about how the 3 items in her mystery pack didn’t go with each other – which they hadn’t been marketed to do. In response to this she made a video called ‘styling that mystery pack’ where she styled the items from that pack in many different ways.

There is, however, is a downside to Tiktok as a marketing device as while you may get a lot of attention for a while after going viral, it is a very fast moving app and you need to work very hard to keep the attention as the spotlight is very quick to move onto the next viral videos and so it is very difficult to receive sustained attention, and you have to be prepared for the constant up and down of views and sales you receive from advertising through Tiktok.

Aoife McCreesh is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on: Twitter and LinkedIn.

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