Small businesses are now turning to TikTok, the popular social media platform focused on video-sharing clips to promote their goods and services by making videos of either them creating products, packing them or having other TikTok users highlight their products in their TikToks. Many of those who use this app enjoy the short clips ranging [...]


Taking to TikTok to showcase their wares


Small businesses are now turning to TikTok, the popular social media platform focused on video-sharing clips to promote their goods and services by making videos of either them creating products, packing them or having other TikTok users highlight their products in their TikToks.

Many of those who use this app enjoy the short clips ranging from 15 seconds to three minutes that entertain, educate and inspire others. Those who upload videos are able to interact, share tips and even earn money if they become very popular.

Essentially used by a majority of Gen Z (16 to 25-year-olds) with about 55% male and female making up TikTok’s demographic, the fastest growing segment currently is the 25 to 35 year olds. TikTok is thus not just seen as an app for teenagers but a diverse app for content creators from all ages and countries as Nipun Liyanapathirana discovered early last year.

 “When the first COVID-19 wave hit Sri Lanka, one thing that we noticed was that there was a big bump in terms of user onboarding on TikTok. TikTok was on our radar but  we never really thought that it would be a platform for brands because we used to think it was just a place where people come and dance,” explains Nipun.

 Nipun founded Tikable, Sri Lanka’s first ever full service TikTok marketing agency with a small team as a subsidiary of Blendmedia Pvt Ltd.  After a month and a half of strategizing, Nipun and his team realised that there was a niche that was untapped which was TikTok marketing from strategy to production of content and management and execution as well as influencer marketing.

 “The reason that lots of small business owners are moving into TikTok  is because of the high organic reach that they can pick up. If you are someone who’s a home-based baker, gift supplier, etc, if you create a Facebook account or Instagram account, you can’t really rely on organic traction but you always have to make sure that you promote your content through monetary means,” Nipun says adding that TikTok can reach even a million views overnight.

Tikable right now works with big name brands such as Dominos, Dialog and Motha as well as a few small businesses., etc. Check them out on TikTok – @tikable.srilanka and on Instagram as well.

Many users of TikTok like Pravin Jayasundere are realising its value for businesses that don’t have a huge marketing budget.  “I’m on the platform both as a small-time creator but also as a consumer – and that means I not only see but also understand the value that TikTok has for brands and businesses to grow their reach,” shares Pravin.

There is little correlation between the number of views you get and the number of followers you have, or the length of time you’ve been on TikTok. You could have 50 followers but have one of your videos reach thousands of people which leads to you being exposed to pages and businesses that you have not even heard of beforehand, he adds.

If you get to the right crowd or more like the right side of TikTok, it can be really inspiring, says Tashiya Rajasingham. “One of the reasons TikTok has influenced me to buy stuff is because the videos are generated by real people, people who love the brand and people who use the brand.”

Pink Flamingo launched in November 26, 2020 is an example of a small business that has taken to the TikTok platform to promote their clothing using trending local TikTokers who either dance or use transition videos to show different ways of styling the outfits.

Dhiyana Silva who runs Pink Flamingo with help from her mother says she turned to TikTok as she believes that it is the “trend of our era” and it helps spread the word across the country about their brand.

Currently completing his A’ Ls at Royal Institute, Colombo, when the pandemic hit, Ammar Fazeel  experimented with a variety of hobbies and crafts including tie dying going on to start his own small business, Dyetastic.

 “ I am the model, owner and sole employee,” Ammar laughs. Almost a year and half later, his products range from tie dye t-shirts, shirts,  caps and even baby rompers and if orders pile up he has his siblings or friends come in to help.

 “TikTok has been the major emerging social media platform in the past year and it’s important for a business to be present in such a platform if we are to gain more customer attention and for customers to get to know us. In the beginning we did not have much attention but as we continued to make videos, we realized there were more interactions for creative videos,” Ammar shares. From time-lapses of how he creates his products, dye-balloon fights and aesthetic dye pouring videos, Ammar has hit the mark with his videos on TikTok.

20-year-old Shenali Rathnayake currently studying for her Bachelor’s degree in commerce is the owner of Angel Store creating handmade resin products and accessories.  Shenali launched Angel Store last year in July and while her most popular items are phone cases, she also has keytags, coasters, notebooks, rings, earrings, hair clips, jewellery boxes and more.

 “It was difficult for me to promote my business through instagram but then I started posting TikToks, and after a couple of weeks I started getting 10k views, sometimes more than 50k views on my videos. There were times where I was unable to even write down the orders because my TikTok messages were full,” Shenali says happily, thankful for the love and support given by her mother and sister.

She gets a lot of attention and orders through TikTok as people enjoy her videos that include the manufacturing process, de-moulding the product videos and her introducing new products.

Always conscious of slow fashion and sustainable living, 19-year-old Tara Wickramasinghe began her own sustainable brand, Derana by Tara last year.  From homemade coconut shell candles, upcycled scrunchies (made out of repurposed fabric which would have otherwise been thrown away) and earrings made out of upcycled plastic bags that they collect from households, Derana by Tara focuses on upcycled, repurposed or thrifted products.

 “I launched it properly after I was done with my A’Ls. Currently, my team is just me, a friend of mine, Roshintha Perera who manages marketing and operations with my family helping me out a lot.”

As her target audience centres around those who are in their late teens and early twenties, Tara knew that TikTok was the way to go to promote her products online.

 “ TikTok is a platform for creativity and fun and really great when it comes to raising awareness. I post product based videos from making my products, upcycling old fabric into clothing, packing orders as well as posting about climate change, slow fashion, sustainable living, etc, because raising awareness and encouraging Sri Lankans towards sustainability is my reason for starting Derana by Tara,” she says.

These young entrepreneurs can be found on TikTok and Instagram by simply typing in their brand name.


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