Looking to grow your small business with TikTok marketing? TikTok is an amazing platform to reach new customers because you don’t need any followers in order to have your content seen by millions of people!
Just ask Vanessa Acosta, the one-woman show behind Wasi Clothing—made with textiles personally sourced from South America and handmade from scratch in LA.
In our new episode of Girlboss Radio, you’ll hear about Acosta’s journey of starting her own business after losing her job in fashion due to the pandemic, and how TikTok for your small business can be a major tool for growth (she single-handedly tripled her sales in 2020, and attributes her growth to TikTok marketing).
This episode is brimming with both inspiration and TikTok marketing tips for small business. Listen to the episode now on Apple Podcasts or Spotify, or get her TikTok for Small Business tips in the video and post below:
Why TikTok is So Amazing for Marketing Your Small Business
There are still people who don’t know TikTok well, so for those of you out there that don’t, the best way to explain TikTok is—and feel free to debate me on this—it motivates you to all get on the same page through trends or hashtags and it basically gives you instructions to create content, but also you’re rewarded for making it slightly different.
That’s a little different from Instagram, where you’re not rewarded for copying and tweaking—you’re a little shamed for that. Whereas on TikTok, it’s kind of embraced.
And when it comes to the TikTok algorithm, it’s *way* easier to grow on TikTok than it is on Instagram, because of TikTok’s “For You” page. The For You page will automatically serve you up content that it thinks you will like, which means that as a small business, you don’t have to have a huge following in order for your content to be seen by people.
TikTok Marketing for Small Business Tip #1: Create Your Account
The first step to growing your small business with TikTok is to create an account, which might seem easy, but I know there’s a lot of older folks out there. And when I say older I mean like 30-year-olds who don’t want to get on TikTok.
TikTok for Small Business Tip #2: Capture Video Content
Make sure you have video content to use. If not, start recording everything you do for your business. For example, packaging orders? Record it. Are you running errands? Record it all so you have content for future TikToks.
As mundane as that might seem, I still record walls of zippers because I actually love that behind the scenes stuff. People like to see how businesses are run. You may not know what you’re going to use those videos for, but it’ll come to you later on.
TikTok Marketing Tip #3: Curate a Small Business For You Page
Start liking content on TikTok that you would like to attract. The algorithm works with the type of content that you like, so follow small businesses and you’ll get on “small business TikTok.” This way you’ll attract the audience you want, based on what you like and who you follow. That’s how I got on small business TikTok.
By filling your For You page with small business content, you’ll see what other businesses are creating and can get inspired by different trends and find audio that you want to use for your own TikToks!
TikTok for Small Business Tip #4: Use Trending Songs & Hashtags
Vanessa: When you are ready to create your first TikTok, make sure you use trending songs and hashtags—they’re usually on the discover page. Using a trending song will help you garner a bigger audience as well as a following. So, it’s always good going through the discover page and seeing anything that’s trending to make your own and do that.
Puno: You do need to do quite a bit of research consuming TikTok before you understand TikTok. And whenever someone says “I don’t get TikTok” I’m like, well, get on it and just start looking at stuff because you’ll start getting it.
Do you go onto the explore page once a day and just look at what the newest one is and from there you choose whether or not you want to do it, or if you are inspired?
Vanessa: I’ll look to see if there’s anything I could make my own that will apply it to like what Wasi is. Some of the times it doesn’t apply to me, which is fine, but there’s always so many trends. So, even just swiping through the ‘For You’ page is also great research.
TikTok Marketing Tip #5: Edit Your TikToks in Apps
You can create your TikTok video on the TikTok app, or use editing apps Splice or Prequel—both great alternatives for splicing together multiple videos to create a TikTok and having the ability to add filters. Prequel has great trendy video filters, like two-tone color filters, or videotape nineties type of filter.
And then Splice is pretty much like TikTok but it just helps you splice your videos together. So, if you only need to use like two seconds of a video you can splice it through the Splice app. They also have transitions on there and other little features, it’s a little bit like Adobe Premiere Rush.
TikTok for Small Business Tip #6: Add Your Hashtags
When you are ready to upload the TikTok, make sure you use between four to five hashtags. No more than that—you will overwhelm the algorithm and it won’t know where to put your content. You’ll have a better chance to land on the ‘For You’ pages if you hone in on just four to six tags. Keep in mind that sometimes TikToks don’t immediately get virality.
So, don’t ever delete a TikTok, just set it on private if you don’t want it to show again, and then make it available at a later time and see if it does better during a different time.
Sometimes your videos can go viral within hours and sometimes they go viral within weeks or months after posting. So, have faith, people will eventually see your content.
TikTok Marketing Tip #7: Take Advantage of Your Virality
Not every TikTok is going to do great. If you do have a TikTok that does well, it’s always great to go live on TikTok.
Or if you have a TikTok that’s also doing well it’s always good to post another TikTok, answer questions that people are commenting on your videos, or do follow-up video.
What I’ve learned is that when you have a TikTok that’s going viral, and it’s still shooting up, going live shows your content to even more people. I don’t do it often enough but that does really help.
TikTok for Small Business Tip #8: Share Your Brand Story
A few things to note when you’re creating content on TikTok as a small business or a creative: people love to see behind the scenes content, educational content, conscious content, feel-good content, and inspirational content.
If you are a small business or creative, make sure to share your mission and what you’re all about. People love to hear that story.
They love to see how your business works, what you’re all about, but also, it’s important to be conscious of using also the right language on TikTok, because TikTok is very politically correct. Make sure you speak in a non-problematic way.
The TikTok community is actually really loving. They’re way more engaging: if they love something that they see, they will go through the effort of letting you know, and not only will they be supporting you with their wallet, they will also be supporting you on all platforms and will be vocal about how much they love what you’re doing.
TikTok Marketing Tip #9: Be Real
TikTok is a great platform that still has the power for organic growth. So that’s why the TikTok community is great, because they’re super supportive and engaging which I really haven’t seen on Instagram. As a small business, I have to work twice as hard on Instagram to even have an engaged audience.
Instagram is really curated and perfect. Whereas people gravitate towards TikTok more because there’s a sense of rawness to it. I feel like when people on Instagram see that rawness that isn’t shown as often, they’re like oh my gosh, yes. Like this, I can engage with. I don’t want that curated photo-shopped Instagram post. I want to have real, raw conversations which is why I think so many more people have moved to TikTok.
Because we’ve all been yearning for it, and we’ve all been fed this false idea on Instagram, which is why that way of social media is slowly dying because people want unfiltered, raw, and real content. Transparent content. So just have fun with it. Be real, do the viral dances, you’re going to be up really late having a lot of good laughs because that’s what I do every night, crying tears of laughter on TikTok.
How TikTok Marketing Tripled Sales for Wasi Clothing
On how Vanessa Acosta got started with TikTok Marketing
Puno: What got you on TikTok?
Vanessa: I’m tight with my niece and she was doing the dance trends and everything. I felt too old for it, but I was curious so I was like let me get on TikTok.
I was hearing all this TikTok stuff, I was like I can’t escape it so I might as well just download it. So I got on it then I realized, oh there’s a place for small businesses on here. Why don’t I just start doing stuff for Wasi on here too? And then I started researching just what TikTokers like Charli D’Amelio make. And then I started looking into TikTok houses. And then I was like, this is a completely different type of social media platform. I remember reading that Rihanna had a TikTok house and I was like okay, if Rihanna sees this as a profitable place, then I can try to do something with it.
Instagram used to have that landing page where you could go on a hashtag and see the top posts or locations. But with TikTok, you can literally on the discover page and see what hashtags are trending and you look through them and you’re like I can use this hashtag or whatever the TikTok trend is and like you said, make it your own.
Puno: That’s the difference though right? Is that on Instagram you’re not rewarded for copying and tweaking, and you’re a little shamed for that, whereas on TikTok it’s kind of embraced?
On creating her first TikTok video
Puno: So when you first started making content for Wasi, what was going through your head, looking back now?
Vanessa: The first TikTok I made was a procreate video of just something I illustrated and then I used a trendy song. But then I got onto the small business TikTok of things and I saw that people loved to watch folding and packaging, so I did a packaging video. But then the first video that blew up on TikTok was just me. I was like I should probably tell people what this business is about, and people love to hear a good story.
So was literally just me saying, ‘Hey I’m Vanessa, this is my business, this is what it’s about.’ Except I did a voiceover and it was before TikTok had the feature to do a voiceover, so I had to re-record and memorize what I was saying for a full minute without messing up. It took me like three hours to do this TikTok and I was still so new to it, and I was so upset. I remember I was in my studio with the door shut and like just repeating it over and over again and I remember leaving and going into the living room to my boyfriend and being like I’ve literally recorded this a billion times, I had like 30 videos on my camera roll and I was just like this is ridiculous, and then I finally did one that was good enough to post. I was like this TikTok better do well, and it did!
Puno: When I saw those TikToks of people voiceover-ing fast, and you do it fast because it has to be under 60 seconds, right? I was always like damn everyone talks so fast, and they know exactly what they want to say.
Vanessa: But little do you know. Now It’s way easier to do your voiceovers. You can pause and continue, but when I uploaded the app it was not like that.
Puno: They added that feature real quick. So do you record everything on the TikTok app or do you use another app?
Vanessa: No I actually just record videos while I’m doing stuff, and then I just upload them on TikTok and edit through there.
On just how much TikTok marketing helped her business, Wasi Clothing
Puno: So, how much did TikTok help your business?
Vanessa: It helped a lot. I had to do about 10 videos before the first one got any traction, and the beginning of April was when I got my first TikTok that did really well.
Puno: What does ‘really well’ mean for you?
Vanessa: I got like 100k views, and I could see an uptick in my viewers on the website and sales spiked. Last year was such a unique year that I don’t think will happen again because it was a combination of a lot of things. Then all the protests and the Black Lives Matter movement started to happen, so with being able to reach a bigger audience on TikTok than you can on Instagram, I made these posters to help raise proceeds for the Black Lives Matter movement and for people to use during the protests.
My brand already was the type of brand that embraced being a person of color and was a conscious brand. With people being more conscious about supporting people of color businesses, and shopping sustainably and ethically, that’s when it all just shot up like crazy.
I had like a 5k audience on Instagram at the beginning of 2020, and it grew to 31k, and then about an 86k audience on TikTok. So, collectively I gained like a 90k audience within the year which is crazy to me.
Puno: Can you see your TikTok on Shopify?
Vanessa: No. Shopify doesn’t recognize TikTok as a social media platform but the day that one of my TikToks blew up I remember checking my store and I think it shot up like 3000% in one day. Sales shot up like crazy that day, so I knew it was because of TikTok. I feel like TikTok is the biggest contributor.
Puno: So do you think that it doubled or tripled in terms of revenue?
Vanessa: It tripled it. Compared to 2019, it shot up like 300% last year. Which is great. A lot of online businesses shot up like crazy last year. It is crazy to look back at last year because it was such a unique year that won’t happen again.