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If you've made it this far into the article, just the mention of TikTok clearly hasn't put you off.

It's the buzz word in social media marketing, but it also feels like a bit of a taboo platform for anyone not specifically targeting teenagers. We're here to put a new spin on things.

Yes, if you open TikTok, you're likely to see videos of people dancing, meme videos using clips of Gemma Collins or tv shows from days gone by, but it is also a powerful selling tool for business of all sizes.

Nearly half of all 'TikTokers' are buying from brands they see on the platform.

This isn't simply from adverts, based solely on this writer's opinion, people swipe past adverts, but brands are creating unique content which people are engaging with. TikTok's own strategy for brands is "don't create ads, create TikToks".

Users are also generating their own content in reviews, unpackaging and more, which has the opportunity to send a brand viral through no fault of their own (Little Moons anyone...?).

TikTokers are no longer just the younger generation. 30% of adults currently have an account on TikTok, granted that does leap to 71% for Gen Z. But with 500 million users, there is untapped potential here.

15% of all adults have made purchases based on TikTok content, but 49% of all TikTok users have bought solely from what they've seen on TikTok. This makes it, potentially, the most active group of buyers from social media, forget Facebook and Instagram!

There is an undeniable generational divide at this point in time, but this is diminishing, week by week. TikTok is no longer a passing trend, it's here to stay, so might now be the time to try it for your business?

The beauty of TikTok is that ultimately, views mean orders, and there are so many trends that businesses can hop onto.

There are four main categories of TikTok videos:

  • Guilt Trip; not the way to go for longevity but pity pleas for small business support have gone down surprisingly well on the platform.
  • ASMR Packaging; there's something weirdly hypnotic about many products being made. Slow motion, small detail, timelapse... all will create a unique take on something that might seem incredibly dull to you.
  • Day in the life; people like seeing "behind the scenes".
  • Free extras and a personalised service; Etsy shop owners are seeing real success here by demonstrating that by buying from an independent retailer, you often get something a little more special than a simple shop purchase.
  • Small business success; the antithesis to the guilt trip - people love a success story, it provides something to emulate and hope for, plus online, you're part of a community - a room full of packaged orders or a trip to the post office can be interesting content.

People buy from people, more so now than ever before. The effect of the pandemic on smaller businesses has been felt by the general public who want to support those who work hard, it's as simple as that. But when you consider personal relationships with brands online, you can go further... personal reviews are taken as gospel.

When you are part of a community supporting an independent retailer online, the purchase becomes an experience in itself. And when brands and sellers replicate that experience and share their customer journey, the customer feels valued, acknowledged and recognised - it's why loyalty cards and birthday freebies have long been successful marketing devices.

It's easier than ever to interact with your customer base, so try it out! Share their purchases, their likes, your most popular products and reviews, your audience will thank you for it.

As technology continues to evolve, the adoption of social e-commerce can only grow. The use of AI and intuitive coding on platforms like TikTok can create truly targeted content streams; helping users find new brands that suit their style, size and age.

By 2024, the social shopping market is likely to exceed $2 trillion. The platforms are free, so why let the big brands take all the glory? Try something new! And remember, with more brands starting to engage here, more business owners are - so don't rule it out for B2B marketing, even Sage Accounting is using it!

If you need some inspiration to get started, here are a few of the team's favourite small business accounts on TikTok, or search #smallbusinesscheck.

  • coconutlaneuk
  • Ellecreate_
  • Originaldiddidancer
  • Browniegod

Sources: Retail Insight and Adweek