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Community Spotlight: Reaching New Audiences Through TikTok

July 29, 2020 | Community Spotlight: Reaching New Audiences Through TikTok | 

Left: Soaps for Día de las Muertos at ARTESANA Soaps; photo courtesy of ARTESANA Soaps. Center: Limestone Coffee and Tea; photo credit: April Duda Photography. Right: Charles Town Now in Charles Town, WV used TikTok to promote their curbside offerings; photo courtesy of Charles Town Now.

Since its dance trend beginnings, TikTok has evolved into a powerful platform that allows users to tell their stories through engaging videos. For Main Street programs and small businesses in particular, launching a TikTok account can be an impactful way to connect with new and existing audiences. According to a recent Business Insider article, what sets TikTok apart from other social platforms "is the video app's unique ability to make videos go viral," even for accounts with a small number of followers. This provides a great opportunity for small businesses to get their name and products in front of a larger customer base. While expanding your social presence onto a new platform can be a daunting task, many Main Street businesses organizations and small businesses are already finding success on TikTok. Keep reading to hear more from Main Street businesses and local Main Street programs about their experience using TikTok.

Plus, Main Street America has teamed up with TikTok for Business for a fun and free virtual workshop on Thursday, August 5 from 1 - 2pm EDT. At the Small Biz Block Party, small businesses will learn how to tap into TikTok's massive popularity and create scroll-stopping content to grow their business. While TikTok Small Biz Block Parties are primarily for small business owners, Main Street programs and other organizations that serve small businesses and are curious about what TikTok can do for their communities are welcome to register. If you're on the fence about getting a TikTok, or if you've just been convinced to try it out by your intern, this webinar is for you!


Charles Town Now: Charles Town, WV

How long have you been using TikTok?
Elizabeth Cook, Executive Director: We have been using TikTok since February 2021

How has TikTok helped your program?
Elizabeth Cook: I think TikTok has brought a new audience and a new way to communicate our true identity. TikTok allows a business or Main Street program to have a personality. This personality, being relatable and fun, shows the other side of our downtown/community. I think, in small part, it has encouraged business owners to also step outside their comfort zone to have fun, and even start their own account. 

What's one piece of advice you would give to a small business or Main Street program about how to succeed on TikTok?
Elizabeth Cook:
  1. Identify your audience. Make sure your content is catchy and appropriate for said audience.
  2. Stay on trend. Find out what’s hot and make it happen quick (easier said than done, but can be effective).
  3. Have a plan to post frequently.

Check out Charles Town Now on TikTok!

Limestone Coffee & Tea, Batavia MainStreet: Batavia, IL

How long have you been using TikTok? 
Leah Leman, Co-owner: We have been active for about 6 months.

How has TikTok helped your business?
Leah Leman: It has helped us educate the community of different drink options we have. For the non-coffee drinkers, they were excited to learn through our TikTok videos that we serve fun teas, Italian sodas, etc. It has also made our customer base aware of fun drink offerings and monthly specials. We recently added a new line of Sweet Teas to our menu based on positive feedback we received from our TikTok videos. 

What's one piece of advice you would give to a small business about how to succeed on TikTok? 
Leah Leman: Learn the format of the app. Watch other small businesses’ TikTok accounts that do well, but also have fun with it! TikTok is a wonderful way to show off the personality and uniqueness of your shop. We also designated one of our baristas who was already active on TikTok to manage our TikTok account, both to make our business’ TikTok videos and to interact with viewers and commenters. 

Check out Limestone Coffee & Tea on TikTok!


Page 158 Books, Downtown Wake Forest: Wake Forest, NC

How long have you been using TikTok? 
Sue Lucey, Co-owner: Since May of 2020.

How has TikTok helped your business? 
Sue Lucey: We’ve actually sold books through TikTok. We tag the book with a hashtag, tag the publisher or the author, and sometimes they share it, which has helped us get a following. Now people know they can go to our channel for book recommendations or to watch absurd things we do around the store. 

What's one piece of advice you would give to a small business about how to succeed on TikTok?
Sue Lucey: I’d say to have fun with it and see what’s trending, and then hashtag it or replicate it on our own channel. Sometimes we try to reproduce dances that are popular. Doing something absurd can get you a lot of views, too. Sometimes I roller-skate, or one that got a lot of traction was us singing and dancing with an umbrella and an author. TikTok attracts a lot of young people, so if you have a product that appeals to young adults, definitely go with TikTok.

Check out Page 158 Books on TikTok!

Curate: Natural Wines,
The Milk District: Orlando, FL

How long have you been using TikTok?
Matt Uva, Co-owner: We downloaded TikTok about a year ago and started posting as @curateorlando. We didn’t really run into it with a strategy other than having a content and engagement history whenever we decided to get serious.

How has TikTok helped your business?
Matt Uva: We’ve gotten some feedback from our few educational posts, like how to open a bottle with a waiter’s corkscrew, that have translated to a little more brand recognition. 

What's one piece of advice you would give to a small business about how to succeed on TikTok?
Matt Uva: As social media platforms go, it’s still a baby, but large companies are starting to get involved. Organic and authentic content from smaller folks can still go quite viral. Our “non-business” account @jackthewinecat has seen many more views in a smaller amount of time because we put more effort into the posts. Using songs that are trending on the app is huge, as is using hashtags with over a billion views. Check in once or twice a day to respond to any commenters, but more importantly to engage with a likeminded community as your brand.

ARTESANA Soaps, Downtown Camden: Camden, Arkansas 

How long have you been using TikTok?
Cecilia Davoren, Co-owner: Since May 2020, as we had to close our doors of our storefront and looked into TikTok as an alternative platform to reach potential customers.
How has TikTok helped your business?
Cecilia Davoren: It has been so amazing. The great response and support from our followers actually is what kept us afloat during the pandemic. It has also expanded our target market in impressive ways.
What's one piece of advice you would give to a small business about how to succeed on TikTok?
Cecilia Davoren: Be truthful and be yourself; do not copy other people’s ways. You can get inspired, but put that twist to your videos to make them your own. Listen to your followers and ensure that you follow up on the inquiries. Connect with your customers and be genuine.

Check out ARTESANA Soaps on TikTok!

Learn more about using TikTok  by registering for the Small Biz Block Party, co-hosted by Main Street America, on Thursday, August 5 from 1 - 2pm EDT! Share this event with your local businesses by downloading these graphics and language