Small Wins: How small businesses are unlocking the magic of TikTok

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TikTok is changing the marketing landscape by giving small business owners new ways to connect with audiences and drive business. As part of its ongoing efforts to support small businesses on the platform, TikTok today unveiled "Small Wins," a new initiative to help small businesses unlock the magic behind TikTok. Through a series of videos featuring small businesses from across the globe, Small Wins aims to highlight TikTok’s value to small businesses, educate them on how to use TikTok to grow, and demonstrate how small businesses are turning "small wins" into big success on the platform. From the bakery owner who turned 3,000 followers into two million, to the candlemaker who went viral without even trying, small businesses of all kinds are showing that on TikTok, small does win.


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TikTok is dedicated to small business

Small business owners wear a lot of hats. They are often the CEO, marketing strategist, operations director and product manager all rolled into one. They are the dreamers, doers and risk-takers who since last March, have had to overcome countless challenges resulting from the global pandemic.

At TikTok, we know that small businesses are an essential part of the community, so we're committed to helping them bounce back after a difficult year. In 2020, TikTok provided small businesses with $100 million in ad credits to help them get back on their feet and start rebuilding. This year, we partnered with the Hispanic Heritage Foundation to set up Creciendo con TikTok, a grant program for Latinx small business owners. We also launched the TikTok Small Biz Block Party, a series of 20 workshops that provide small business owners with the tools and tactics needed to grow their brand on TikTok.


User-friendly tools for small business owners

Whether setting up their first account or creating their 50th video, TikTok’s small business tools make it easy to get the job done—and get results. Smart technology, data-driven insights and key partnerships come together to form a next-level marketing strategy.


It all begins with a TikTok Business Account, which is specially designed for commercial organizations. TikTok Business Accounts are loaded with valuable benefits and tools, including access to TikTok's content management platform and Commercial Music Library. Businesses also get extra clickable features and data analytics to help them enhance and optimize their content.


When brands are ready to launch paid campaigns, they can start making ads in minutes with TikTok Ads Manager, TikTok's self-serve advertising platform. Affordable for businesses of all sizes, it’s simple-to-use thanks to clever features like Smart Video Soundtrack and TikTok Ad Studio, which basically do the heavy-lifting. And if sales are the primary goal, our partnership with Shopify means that small businesses can create shoppable TikTok ads and deploy them effortlessly to our worldwide community.


How small businesses are finding real success on TikTok

We’ve explored some of the things TikTok is doing to support small businesses, but how are they actually finding success on TikTok? In the following section, we’ll take a closer look at some of the businesses that took part in Small Wins, and how they are making an impact with TikTok.


Being authentic and creative

Marketing on TikTok is not about having the biggest budget, the hottest celebrity spokesperson or the slickest ads. It’s just about being yourself. It’s about being authentic and matching your content to your brand’s identity in a genuine way. Whether you’re a business owner that wants to star in your own videos or work with TikTok creators, businesses find the greatest success when they share and celebrate their true colors.


This is the case with Carpet Repair Guys, a Bay Area carpet repair business that has turned the easily-overlooked art of carpet repair into a true TikTok phenomenon—to the tune of 762,000 followers and 19.6 million likes. His oddly satisfying carpet videos now achieve hundreds of thousands of views each. But this didn't happen overnight. It took some trial and error for Carpet Repair Guys founder Josh Nolan to find a style that fit the brand's personality.


"I was doing no stories or narration—more effects to try to make it like a 10-15-20 second pan of the repair with some little slider/camera trick effects or whatever, and then I started seeing some other videos where I was talking do better with the numbers, so then I just started talking more, and then that's kind of my format for the most part now," said Nolan about the evolution of his content.


Like much of the most successful content on TikTok, Nolan likes to keep things light and humorous. For Nolan, this is just a natural part of his personality, so TikTok is the perfect platform for it to shine through.


"I had a sense of humor growing up. I mean, I learned the trade from my dad. He was always making jokes and things so this is what I know. Carpet and just having a good time go hand in hand, even with all the manual labor that we had growing up. So it's just what I know, it's who I am. We always had a good time. I mean, my best memories growing up with my dad as a teenager in high school were out on the carpet jobs with me, my brothers; we even had cousins. It was a big crew," said Nolan.


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Some of the most successful small businesses discover their authentic style by accident. Take, for example, Natural Annie Essentials, a Connecticut-based soy candle company with Jamaican roots. Like many small business owners, founder Annya Brown was a little unsure about using TikTok at first. Her first viral hit was actually a video that she accidentally recorded of herself trying to figure out the app. Since then, Brown has become a prolific TikTok creator, frequently posting candid videos about her life and business.


“Being a small business owner…we don't know fully the answer to TikTok or what strategy there is. But we're open to trying it and just showing the fun, crazy stuff that happens here behind the scenes at the studio,” Brown said. “I think we've been finding a new audience."


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For Indonesian tech retailer Acome, it's all about creating content that showcases the company's products in a fun and relatable way. Even though Acome's videos cover a wide range of formats, from unboxing videos to hilarious skits, all of them maintain a consistent down-to-earth style and recognizable brand identity. And when Acome works with popular creators, which they often do, they allow them to just be themselves, with very few limitations.


"Basically we will start from the selling point, but we will combine the selling points with our daily lives, so this is our guideline. We try to show the benefits and how it will help you in your daily life," said Anas Prambudi, digital marketing supervisor at Acome. "For influencers, some will tell a story and some will do a funny prank. We give them freedom."


It seems to be working, as Acome now has more than 239,000 followers. By partnering with TikTok creators, offering practical solutions for daily life, and not taking themselves too seriously, Acome has seen a huge boost to their business.


Sparking discoveries and new connections

TikTok connects people and businesses in a way that other platforms can’t. Its uniquely engaging format allows users to find and interact with niche brands that they would never have known about before. This leads to the discovery of new brands and products.


Melbourne-based home decor duo Josh and Matt Design understand the power of discovery; their creations have been discovered by more than 160,000 followers who now look to them for inspiration and joy. It all began with their true passion—and a pandemic lockdown inside a plain home with no decorations—which led to making videos about their artistic creations and being discovered by the TikTok community.


“We just wanted to share what we were making for our house personally because basically how it started is we were in lockdown in Sydney and we were in just some tiny ass white box with nothing, and we were like, ‘Well, damn we need some art.’ But we didn't really have any avenue to find art that's in our style,” said Josh Jessup, co-founder of Josh and Matt Design. “We started just creating it ourselves, experimenting with all different types of materials...then we showed TikTok and yeah, a lot of people were interested.”


Similar to Natural Annie Essentials, Josh and Matt were initially unsure about using TikTok, but once they realized the power of TikTok for discovering new content, personalized to people's interests, they identified a major opportunity for people to discover their art.


"Honestly we were a bit apprehensive at first because we didn't really understand it. It was not until a few weeks after using it and we realized the For You page is quite curated. It really just becomes your interests, and then that hooked us and made us excited about it because we realized, well, if the For You page is really curated then that should figure out our videos for people who would be interested in our content," said Jessup.


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Tokyo-based chicken jointYakitori Donwas also discovered by the TikTok community. Most of the restaurant's TikTok videos feature its charismatic owner (real name Hiroaki Higaki) performing funny skits poking fun at the restaurant industry. Hiroaki realized that a lot of young people have experience working in the food and beverage industry, and they might appreciate funny videos about life at a restaurant. This relatable concept combined with Hiroaki's natural sense of humor has been a recipe for success. Yakitori Don's TikTok account now has more than 173,000 followers and climbing, and the company is considering doubling down on its organic success with paid ad campaigns.


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TikTok is truly a global platform, which allows local small businesses to be discovered all over the world. Josh and Matt started in a small apartment in Melbourne, but their biggest market is now New York City. This is the same for popular Liverpool-based eyelash brand Tatti Lashes,which has been able to reach new audiences far from the UK. “[We] started out as such a small local Liverpool brand, and now we've got people in Australia tagging us wearing the lashes. We've got people in LA. We've got people all over…it’s just like a pinch-me moment,” said Molly Hadfield, head of social media and influencers at Tatti Lashes.


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Turning small wins into big results

TikTok doesn’t just help businesses succeed, it changes lives. Product lines sell out. Brands open new stores. Owners are recognized on the street. No matter what industry they're in, small businesses can see an impact when they use TikTok. Just ask Josh Nolan from Carpet Repair Guys.


“You can be an average Joe and still make it big…I'm just a contractor. But what you guys have done is allow some stardom-type level to guys like me. I was at Dunkin' Donuts, and some guy was like, 'You're that guy from TikTok,'" said Nolan.


Hiroaki also gets recognized on the streets. His TikTok followers line up outside the restaurant for his food (and for a picture with the famous Yakitori Don). They also contact him for employment opportunities. Even better, he says, TikTok is so easy to use that it leaves plenty of time for other things—like cooking his (now) famous stew.


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Dubai-based specialty bakery Uncle Fluffy also turned small wins into big success, attracting 3,000 followers in the first two weeks of opening an account—and almost two million followers since then. But the owner has gained something else too.


“I picked up a lot of skills from TikTok…a lot of tips…[about] making decisions, life decisions, business decisions. You meet a lot of great people who have amazing content," said Alaa Mohra, CEO of the Uncle Fluffy franchise.


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For Tatti Lashes, TikTok doesn’t just bring new sales—it brings people together with an inclusive vibe that’s of paramount importance to their brand (and to us).


“We feel like anybody can wear our lashes. We've got so many male influencers. We've got non-binary influencers. We've obviously got heavily female influencers as well. We like to bring that all together on TikTok, seeing all the different people using our products in so many different ways,” said Hadfield. “It's just such a varied community and it’s really nice to see our products being featured on so many different people's faces.”


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TikTok gives small businesses incredible opportunities to find new customers and grow. TikTok also helps brands make a real impact by connecting people around the world. It’s a place to get inspired, to learn something—and to have a lot of fun doing it.


Making TikTok work for your small business

Small businesses are finding big success on TikTok. All of the companies featured above were just normal small businesses before they joined the TikTok community; they had no TikTok experience or expertise. They just dove in head first. And any business can do just that, because TikTok has made it as easy as possible for brands to get in on the action. Ready to get started?


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For more best practices check out the rest of the Small Wins video series here.


Set up an account with TikTok Ads Manager or check out our Small Business Resource Center for more tips, success stories, and step-by-step instructions.


Not on TikTok yet? You can join the fun in minutes when you sign up for a TikTok For Business Account. Whether you repair carpets or bake cupcakes, sell fake lashes or design living rooms—the sky’s the limit on TikTok.