TikTok influencer marketing can be a goldmine for small businesses, but only if you use it correctly. This article delves into the platform’s pros and cons, showing you how to reap its benefits and master its drawbacks.
TikTok Influencer Marketing Pros and Cons for Small Businesses
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You’ve heard about TikTok influencer marketing, and you’re thinking of giving it a try, but you’re not sure if it’s worth the investment.
It can be hard to gauge whether or not investing in TikTok influencer marketing is the right decision for your business. After all, you don’t want to waste your time or money on something that’s not going to work.
We’re here to help.
This article will break down the pros and cons of TikTok influencer marketing so that you can make an informed decision about this channel’s fit for your business.
Let’s start with the sore point:
Cons of TikTok Marketing for Small Businesses
Perhaps TikTok really isn’t the right platform for you - no social media platform is ideal. Here are some reasons why you should look
1. Your Audience May Not Be on TikTok
While TikTok has over one billion active users, that doesn’t mean all of them are potential customers for your business.
Gen Z users have dominated the app since it first launched in 2016, and it shows no signs of slowing down. That’s not to say that older users haven’t taken notice of TikTok, but most brands that have found success on the platform appeal to a younger demographic.
Your products matter, too.
TikTok is known for its lighthearted and fun content, so mundane or serious products struggle to find an audience on the platform.
Here’s the thing:
Ultimately, TikTok is all about entertainment and raw emotion. So, if you want to use the platform, tap into that energy – even if you’re selling hearing aids.
This TikTok video and hundreds of others prove it.
And here’s one eliciting a lot of engagement on retirement planning:
As you can see, these clips attract attention because they speak about poignant issues for their audience, using raw emotion. Yes, even the second clip, which is apparently very down-to-earth and logical, relies on emotions. People planning their retirement want to feel empowered, decisive, and secure, which is what they get from following this video (along with the financial info, of course).
2. TikTok Ads Might Not Get Your Point Across
TikTok advertising can be a great way to reach a large audience with a short, attention-grabbing message. However, there are certain situations where TikTok ads may not be the best option:
- You need to convey a lot of information or present complex data in an easily digestible format.
- You’re targeting your competitors’ highly engaged audience.
- Your campaign requires a more sophisticated audience or would benefit from more static content, like infographics.
*Note: Surface-level information has many advantages, from raising awareness to piquing curiosity and eliciting desire.
For example, Tosky is a TikTok influencer discussing subjects like cryptocurrency, the metaverse, and NFTs. This video starts with a question (the best cryptocurrency to buy) but quickly evolves into showing the audience SwitzyManOnTikTok’s actual wallet on his actual phone.
That action, along with the intentionally poorly filmed clip, creates authenticity and:
- Attracts both influencers’ audiences.
- Strengthens the bond of trust between them and their followers.
- Creates curiosity even for non-followers – people who randomly see this clip on the For You Page.
The objective results are:
- 109.400 views
- 3,262 comments
That’s about a 30% engagement rate (considering that Tosky has 323.5K followers).
Those results stem from the intangible consequence of authenticity and trust: suspending rational judgment. Seeing with “your own eyes” that someone is buying Ethereum successfully strongly impacts undecided crypto investors.
Pro tip: The wisely chosen hashtags and revving McLaren help as well.
3. The App Can Be Too Expensive
The cost of advertising on TikTok can be prohibitive for small businesses.
The main reason is that TikTok ads are produced by professional video editors skilled at creating short, attention-grabbing videos. While TikTok has in-app editing tools, they are not as sophisticated as those used by experienced editors.
Here’s how you can still make awesome videos with a small budget:
- Use TikTok’s in-app editing tools.
- Find a content creator who is willing to partner with you.
- Leverage user-generated content
- Use a clear CTA.
- Keep your videos short and sweet
- Repurpose other videos you might have already made.
- Use industry-relevant hashtags to reach the For You Page and your audience’s feeds.
- Make your content shoppable by adding links to your product pages. You want your audience to be able to buy within one or two clicks.
4. You Can Ruin Your Reputation
US TikTok users spend an average of 45.8 minutes on the app per day. That’s a lot of time for businesses to get their message in front of potential customers.
It’s also a lot of time for brands to make serious mistakes.
Small companies often try to stand out from the crowd on TikTok, and sometimes they go too far in their attempt to be different. As a result, they can end up making tone-deaf, offensive, or just plain cringe-worthy videos. When this happens, it can quickly ruin the business’s reputation on TikTok and beyond.
You may also create the wrong image for your company.
Let’s say you have a small accounting firm. You want to show potential clients that you’re fun and approachable, so you post videos of yourself lip-syncing to popular songs. However, instead of coming across as fun and approachable, you come across as unprofessional and juvenile. As a result, potential clients may be less likely to take your business seriously and even go to your competitors instead.
Another mistake would be partnering with the wrong influencers.
For example, a skincare company may partner with an influencer known for being controversial. While this may help you gain some attention, it could also backfire if the influencer says or does something that reflects poorly on your brand.
For example, Nazy Rafaeil, CEO of a fashion brand Jovani, says that their brand researches influencers for months before making a decision to pay someone to promote them. "Our values need to align and we need to make sure this person does not slip up - you can't fix poor reputation", says Rafaeil.
5. You May Get Lost in the Crowd
For small businesses, standing out on TikTok can be a challenge. The solution is to develop creative and engaging content that tells a story and catches people’s attention. Use relevant keywords and hashtags, and post regularly to stay top of mind.
Pro tip: To ensure your success, you need a well-thought-out strategy proven to work. To reduce the risks as much as possible, many small businesses partner with marketing or influencer agencies.
DBL Jewelry is an excellent example.
Instead of simply showcasing their jewelry online, they created a video showing the making-of of a cheater’s anniversary gift. The scorned girlfriend sent her request to DBL Jewelry, emphasizing that the gift necklaces should have the names of all the girls he cheated with.
This video garnered 46,200 views even though DBL Jewelry only has 5,958 followers at the time of this writing. That’s a 775.42% engagement rate!
Pros of TikTok Marketing for Small Businesses
Now that we’ve seen the potential risks, let’s take a look at some of the potential benefits of TikTok marketing for small businesses:
1. Reach a Wider Audience
TikTok hit 3 billion global downloads in 2021. That’s a lot of potential customers for businesses of all sizes.
Let’s say you have a small business retailing scarves.
Until now, you’ve only focused on medium to upper-class women over 30. But TikTok allows you to show young men some scarf hacks – although they’re not the usual audience for silk scarves.
Passeggiata Company offers an excellent example, using vibrant music in the background and a (very) charismatic model at the forefront.
2. Engage with Your Audience
TikTok encourages users to interact with the content they see. Therefore, businesses can connect with their target audience in a way other platforms don’t offer.
Let’s say you have a small B2B business offering accounting software or services. There’s not much that could elicit feeling in that business.
However, TikTok can help:
You can show off your company culture, tell behind-the-scenes stories, or even crack a few jokes.
Pro tip: Ensure your content captivates people’s attention within the first two seconds and that you have a clear CTA.
Ross Pomerantz’s TikTok videos are an excellent source of inspiration for SaaS companies. But take them with a grain of salt because he is a comedian too.
3. Increase Brand Awareness and Authority
While it may seem like an unlikely place to do so, the fact is that TikTok offers a unique opportunity to share your expertise with a broad audience. Whether you’re a fashionista, a foodie, or an expert in any other field, there’s a good chance you can find an audience for your content on TikTok.
For example, Vessi is one of the small businesses rocking on TikTok. Its videos helped build its reputation online because they show:
- Vessi footwear is genuinely waterproof.
- The company’s culture is tight-knit and progressive.
- The employees wear quality Vessi shoes and socks.
- Various sales and discounts take place throughout the year.
- And more.
Basically, Vessi took the time to understand its customers’ needs and responds to them through relevant, engaging TikTok clips.
4. Generate Leads
TikTok can also be used to generate leads for your business. For example, Thera Ice uses a pack of influencers to tap into a broad market of very different customers.
From young fitness addicts to parents with migraines and on-the-spectrum people, Thera Ice has partnered with many content creators. However, their products can genuinely solve these audiences’ needs, so it’s not just marketing hype.
Also, notice how the videos are created:
- The right background (music or explanations)
- Plenty of written explanations inside the videos showcasing the products benefits (not its features, but the benefits)
- A content creator demonstrating how you can use their products
- A 15% discount code with the specific link that people can quickly access to purchase Thera Ice products.
5. Boost Sales
TikTok marketing can help boost sales for your small business. If you create engaging and creative content that resonates with your target audience, you can encourage them to make a purchase.
Here’s how to do that in two easy steps:
- You identify reasons people aren’t buying (if you’re doing this research right, you’ll find plenty of hiccups along the sales funnel).
- You make clips with solutions that eliminate those problems. Remember that short videos perform better on TikTok, so focus on one solution per clip.
That’s what Sani Sisters do.
For example, this TikTok video starts from the premise that many customers don’t know the available outfit colors. So, they’re presented with an impressive palette that gives them more options, thus leading to:
- More time spent on the website leads to more exposure to the products (aka purchase options), memorability, and chances to return for other purchases.
- (At least) a buying decision.
6. You Can Leverage User-Generated Content
TikTok users are also creators, and all the stats show that user-generated content plays an essential role in online advertising/ marketing:
- UGC ads have a 400% higher click-through rate, though they cost 50% less than traditional ads.
- 90% of people base their buying decisions on user-generated content.
- 93.4% of people read/watch product reviews before buying.
In addition to being relatively inexpensive to produce, UGC is also highly credible, as it comes from real people with firsthand experience with your brand. Furthermore, UGC has the potential to reach a wide audience, as it can be easily shared across social media platforms.
Here’s one compelling example:
The #ChipotleLidFlip devised by the Mexican restaurant challenges people to flip their Chipotle meals’ lids. The campaign worked because:
- It has a clear, memorable hashtag.
- People have the instinctive need to show off and receive praise for their skills.
- It builds a community.
7. You Can Leverage Influencer Marketing
In recent years, influencer marketing has become one of the most effective ways to reach consumers because people trust recommendations from their peers.
Besides, why spend heaps on advertising when you can get someone to promote your product for a meager amount?
Pro tip: High engagement rates are more valuable than large followings.
If you need some inspiration, you can always go back to what Thera Ice is doing on the platform. When it's time to pick your influencer, make sure you do a fine background profiling or search for people on TikTok and filter through profiles before deciding on one.
8. You Can Use the TikTok Analytics Tools
The app gives companies that opened business accounts detailed insights into their audience, including demographics, location, and interests.
In addition, TikTok’s analytical tools can help businesses track the performance of their videos and identify which ones are resonating with users. With this information, companies can adjust their content strategy accordingly and continue growing their platform audience.
So, combining these two tools offers you access to relevant insights to adjust your campaigns.
9. You Can Repurpose Content
As any small business owner knows, time is money.
And when it comes to content creation, time is often in short supply. That’s where TikTok comes in. This short-form video app is perfect for creating engaging, bite-sized content that can be repurposed for other channels like Instagram, marketing e-mails, and even outdoor ads.
Not only does this save time, but it also ensures a consistent brand message across all platforms.
Therefore, you can stay relevant and top-of-mind with your target audience while saving time and money.
So how can you repurpose TikTok content?
- Look at the types of videos that perform well on the platform. Chances are, videos that are creative, funny, or both will do well on your other channels.
- Think about how you can adapt the content to fit your new channel.
- Link back to the original video (if you can) so people can check it out for themselves.
10. Your Creative Muse Never Dies on TikTok
If you’re ever feeling creatively stifled, TikTok is the perfect place to turn for inspiration.
First, the platform is constantly churning out new trends and challenges for users to take part in. Therefore, there’s always something new to jump on, and businesses that are quick to adapt can reap the benefits of being “trendsetters.”
And if you can’t find anything that inspires you, you can always start your own trend.
With TikTok, the sky is the limit when it comes to creativity - think “Hey what's up, it's 616..” TikTok song, Tell Me Without Telling Me trend, or the lip-syncing challenge. Businesses are quickly catching on to this fact and using the app to reach new audiences innovatively.
Even a dermatologist like Dr. Shah can show you how it’s done. From react videos to duets, advice, trials, and challenges, his TikTok account is never dull.
The key is to first identify the formats that work best for your audience.
TikTok can be a goldmine for small businesses. Even the possible disadvantages can be turned around in your favor if you have the right strategy and know-how.
And that’s the sore point.
The small companies above have grown to become very popular on TikTok, but they have a lot of hard work behind them. That’s why you need the right automation tools and an agency that would tailor the right TikTok campaign.
After that, the sky’s the limit.
David Morneau is the co-founder and CEO of inBeat, a hybrid micro-influencer marketing SAAS/agency that helps brands scale their marketing efforts. He has helped over 200 DTC brands to date.
Published on Jun 28 2022
WRITTEN BYMile Zivkovic
Mile is the head of content at Whatagraph in charge of all content and communications for Whatagraph’s marketing data platform. A marketing heavy with almost a decade of SaaS industry experience, Mile has managed multiple content marketing teams without losing an ounce of his writing passion. The author behind some of the most-read pieces on our blog.
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