Though it is primarily known as a social-media app, for small-business owners TikTok can represent access to an entirely new clientele.
- In the U.S., TikTok has nearly 150 million active users. Of those users, almost 5 million represent small businesses, according to TikTok’s data.
- For many of those millions of business owners, TikTok was a way to survive the pandemic shutdown and continue reaching out to customers who were not leaving their homes.
- Today, social media is still a way for small businesses to reach out to customers who would otherwise be outside of their market share.
- TikTok and social media platforms also have the advantage of providing free advertising for their business users.
- Along with the exposure can come new opportunities to partner with suppliers and different brands for sponsorship opportunities.
Why it’s news
When launching a business, establishing it as a known brand can be one of the greatest challenges. Many companies struggled to survive the pandemic shutdown, but TikTok provided one avenue for proprietors to continue reaching out to customers.
Strictly Apple owner Landon Mooney opened his first retail space in 2020 before the pandemic hit. His stores—which buy, sell, and repair refurbished Apple products—are located in central Ohio, but his customer reach extends much further.
During the pandemic, Mooney began posting videos of his repairs on TikTok. By August, his videos were gaining 100,000 views, but more importantly, he started getting interest from customers across the country. His business quickly grew, and “a lot of that growth came from social media,” Mooney says.
Now, Mooney’s store has three locations in the central Ohio area, and he has seven employees. Still, many of his customers find him on social media. Around “75% of customers are from social media,” Mooney explains. However, he adds that it is hard to know for certain since local customers who discover the store through TikTok may choose to come by in person.
Strictly Apply tries to provide several options for its video content. Though Mooney started by posting repair videos, he quickly found that his audience loved to watch him pack up products that would soon be shipped to customers.
In a recent video that gained more than 58,000 views, Mooney shows a Macbook that a customer brought in for repair. While the Apple store quoted the customer a high price for a fix, Strictly Apple was able to quickly resolve the customer’s issue. In another equally popular video, Mooney packs up a customer order, showing viewers the products before they get packed away in the box for shipment.
Mooney recently hired a video editor to help produce these videos and film more behind-the-scenes content.
TikTok promotes itself as one of the best ways for small businesses to spread the word about their products and services. TikTok global head of small business Becca Sawyer tells USA Today that the platform has many small-business owners who plan to use the app for digital marketing. The word-of-mouth style that the social-media platform provides creates an easy and relatively inexpensive way for proprietors to share their products.
Mooney himself has seen the benefits of TikTok’s benefits. “The amount of money you’d have to spend to have 13 million viewers would be tens of thousands,” he explains. Some of Strictly Apple’s content has recently gained millions of views, exposing the company to new potential customers.
But other benefits start to appear once a business builds a following, like Strictly Apple’s 811,000 followers on TikTok. Mooney says the exposure has prompted suppliers to reach out with better deals and prices on goods he needs to make his products.
Though Mooney has not accepted any deals, he has also been offered sponsorship opportunities from different electronics companies. However, he says, “I want people to know us strictly for Apple products.”
Leaders Media will produce similar content about other social media platforms in the coming weeks.