Here’s How Small Businesses Can Win on TikTok

You’ve seen the hashtag TikTokMadeMeBuyIt while scrolling through your For You feed, and it’s not going anywhere. On Friday in Austin, Texas, SXSW kicked off day 1 with a myriad of panels. This one in particular, hosted by Becca Sawyer, global head of SMB at TikTok, focused on entrepreneurs leveraging the power of the TikTok community to grow their businesses.

It’s clear that for big brands the demand for product and not just entertainment is there. At Milan Fashion Week, for example, Adidas x Gucci was the collaboration that got everyone talking. The pair collaborated on updated versions of Adidas Originals Gazelle sneakers and co-branded knee-high boots. Today, there are more than 90.1 million views of the #adidasxgucci hashtag on TikTok.

But many emerging brands and new businesses often ask, ‘What is the first step to TikTok?’ The answer? Start now and just press post.

The panel on Friday at SXSW consisted of three small business owners ranging in industries that have all seen not just brand awareness but sales conversion on TikTok.

Ritika Shamdasani, co-founder of Sani Designs, for instance, said 30% to 60% of her company’s overall revenue is generated through organic TikTok posts.

“Prior to TikTok we used Instagram. How we talked completely transformed. It went from pretty pictures to seeing the people behind the brand. TikTok allowed people to connect with us on a deeper level,” explained 21-year-old Shamdasani.


It all started with a personal problem #SpotlightAPI #SupportSmallBusinesses #fashion

♬ Chicken Lemon Rice (Instrumental) – Priya Ragu

Sani Designs was first created to increase the visibility of South Asian craftsmanship and techniques, offering clothing for weddings, Shamdasani added. Her target audience was originally extremely niche, but because of TikTok, they expanded categories to offer loungewear for other consumers outside of the South Asian demographic to wear clothes inspired by their culture.

The same tactics resonate beyond fashion, too. Sawyer said the key to consumer connection is showing the behind-the-scenes of what you are offering.

“Shows your employees, use the app for storytelling,” echoed Qiana Allen, co-founder of Chicago-based Munchiez Restaurant. “People come for the product and the people. It engages them and it’s a win-win.”

Since starting her TikTok account, Allen said customers visit her business on a daily basis as a result of her videos. Because of this, Allen is currently looking to open her second location based on her TikTok followers.

Another tip? Be a consumer on TikTok yourself, said the panelists, which included Max Kruemcke who is gaining customers via the app for the Bastrop Cattle Company.

Exploring and discovering what your industry is doing can help inspire your own posts. And despite some small-business owners feeling like TikTok is over-saturated and it may be hard to stand out, Allen added: “No one is you. That is what sets you apart. Ignore the trends and just be yourself.”

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