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TikTok isn’t new anymore. And it’s certainly not small. So while it’s not clear how small businesses can benefit from it, there are a few places to start:

  1. Hop on trends
  2. Tell a story
  3. Be authentic

Let’s dig in and explore all that a bit more.

Jumping on trends will equal more views

When you choose a popular or trending song for your audio on TikTok you fast forward your way into feeds. Not because your content is amazing, but because of the song you chose. One way that TikTok delivers more views is via trending audio. So if you pick a song from the trending list you are already giving yourself a better chance. And because TikTok also favours content made by people local to you – or at least in the same country – it will test out your content in front of local people first. Which, if you’re a local business serving a local audience, that’s a bonus. The trouble comes about, though, when you choose a popular trending song and don’t do something interesting in your visuals. Just simply dancing, miming or pointing to signs and logos won’t cut it. So if your TikTok is 15 seconds long and people are swiping away as little as 5 seconds into it, your score on TikTok starts dropping fast, which means you won’t get in as many For You feeds. Which defeats the purpose of having to choose a trending song altogether. If you’re going to choose a trending song, first, look at what others are doing with it. Then work out what you can do with it that matches the music and the themes you’re seeing. Whatever you do, please stop pointing at text. TikTok users know almost immediately that you’re trying to advertise something to them and just start swiping away the second they see it.

Start a story, then tease the next episode

One popular format on TikTok is the serialised story. You start with a 15 second to 1-minute story beginning and then you continue the story in the next episodes. These work best when you plan them out around something interesting. That means you’ll have to plan ahead beyond just one or two episodes. You’ll need a beginning, a series of short middle episodes and an end. Which will be a challenge if you don’t exactly fancy yourself as much of a writer. The story can be about almost anything, but your challenge will be to make it about something to do with your business, your products or what you do. And this is hard. Especially if you don’t have the most interesting product in the world. While it might be easier to write about your adventures whilst wearing a new perfume product, it’s not so easy telling a story about repairing domestic plumbing.

There’s something about watching someone being themselves

One of my favourite TikTokkers is Mallee Boy. He runs a sheep farm in Victoria’s Mallee region. His constant yelling at sheep, birds and an alpaca named Patrick makes for hilarious viewing. The star of the show isn’t doing anything special though. He’s just sharing the frustrating parts of his day on a semi-Outback farm where things rarely go according to plan. Rather than planning an epic movie based on a made-up story, he just brings TikTok into what he is already doing. The result is hilarious, not because of its production values, but because of its authenticity.

The message here is to be yourself. If you are a bit of a deadpan personality, then be deadpan and logical. Veteran comedy character, Elliot Goblet was known for his deadpan, expressionless telling of stories of his woes. While this character was not a real person, it was based on one. Likewise, Jane Turner and Gina Riley created Kath & Kim based on real-world people they knew. All they did was highlight the quirks of those people and the characters of one of Australia’s most loved comedy series were born.

If you don’t think you’re all that expressive or have much to offer personality-wise, then don’t try to put on an act. Just be yourself and grow your online personality from there. Everyone has something that is very “them” that can be honed in on as a personality trait that people will love.

I will say, though, that TikTok is not for everyone. For some, it’s just too complicated, or too hard to find a path to a return on both money and time investment. But it is now a little too big to completely ignore, so I’ll be watching carefully what the best creators out there are doing that will either direct the rest of us towards a goal, or at least inspire us to come up with our own twist on it.

Listen to this article on the podcast

Dante St James is the founder of Clickstarter, a Facebook Blueprint Certified Lead Trainer, a Community Trainer with Facebook Australia, a digital advisor with Treeti Business Consulting, an accredited Digital Solutions advisor and presenter, and the editor at The Small Marketer. You can watch free 1-hour webinars and grow your digital skills at Dante’s YouTube Channel.