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How to Use TikTok for Small Business Marketing

Learn how TikTok marketing can help restaurants, liquor stores, grocery stores, and other small businesses can reach new customers.

12 min read
2023-04-20
Florals and phone TikTok marketing

How does TikTok help small businesses reach new audiences?

For a small business, TikTok presents a huge opportunity. TikTok can quickly connect you with potential customers who are a great fit — including ones you may never have come across online on any other platform.

In 2022, TikTok was the most-downloaded app worldwide, with 672 million new users in a year. People simply love using it: The platform’s algorithm is more accurate than that of any other social app, so users are served more targeted content as they go. A SensorTower report said that on average, users spent 95 minutes a day on the app (as of  Q2 of 2022). 

And many young people, 36% of Gen Z and 22% of Millennials, actively want to learn about products through short-form videos like TikToks. That means they’ll be open to learning about your business and what you offer if you start posting videos about your offerings. 

TikTok marketing strategy for small businesses

Part of what sets TikTok apart from all other forms of social media is that it’s home to some of the most relatable, light-hearted, authentic content online. Advertising on TikTok looks very different than it does on Instagram or on TV. As you’ll see in the examples below, TikTok isn’t a platform where anyone takes themselves too seriously — including businesses. And it really works. 

When planning your TikTok business strategy, brainstorm as many ideas as you can for TikToks you want to film and post in the next month. Then, whittle down the list to the best ones, and plan who will be in charge of creating and posting these videos — and when they’ll go live. According to HubSpot blog research, the best time to post a TikTok is ideally between 6-9 pm local time, then 3-6 pm, then 12-3 pm, and posting on Fridays can yield the best results. 

It’s also helpful to balance your content between evergreen content and trending, timely content. 

Trending and timely content includes using trending sounds, putting your own spin on a trending filter, dance, or activity, and generally doing whatever people on the app are doing — ask your Gen Z employees for guidance. But it can also include posting a video about a sale or promotion you have going on right now that is only for a limited time.

Evergreen TikToks are the ones you’d want to show a prospective customer so they can get to know you. A video of your cooks preparing one of your signature dishes is perfectly evergreen. Same goes for a walkthrough of your store, or a video of you packing an order — these can be very popular on small business TikTok. 

Another example of evergreen TikToks are those that answer a question, because Gen Z and Millennials are increasingly using TikTok as a search engine. For example, you could create a video that answers the query of “best restaurants in [your city]”, and include your business as #1.

Evergreen videos may take a little more effort, but these brand-focused, entertaining videos are a big part of how companies have been standing out on TikTok, shared Andrea Casanova, also known as Latinapreneur in the 2023 TikTok What’s Next trend report. 

Finally, keep in mind that the ideal length for a TikTok video is currently 17-24 seconds, so keep your content brief — and especially if you’re shooting food, make sure to use natural light as much as possible. 

How to do TikTok marketing for small businesses

TikTok marketing for restaurants 

Marketing a restaurant on TikTok is relatively easy, because TikTok users love to look at delicious food and learn how to make it or where to get it. Posting videos of your cooks preparing their favorite dish, prepping a big pile of veggies, packing DoorDash delivery bags, or showing off a weekly special can do extremely well on the platform. 

People also love to see the silly side of running restaurants. Here are some great restaurant TikTok examples: 

Dear Bella Creamery, a Vegan, gluten free dessert shop in LA, has amassed over 250K followers and over nine million likes thanks to their hilarious and trendy TikToks that range from relatable content about their top ice cream flavors, to jokes on strange customer combo orders, to well-timed trending sounds paired with visuals of their delicious flavors

Chef Mo, from Mo Thai in Mississauga, ON, has 40K followers and over 1 million likes thanks to her funny TikToks that range from giving personalities to her dishes, educating Canadians about cooking Thai food, and — so meta! —  proving that she can reach thousands of customers for free on TikTok without hiring a marketing agency.

And over in Chicago (and around the country!), Portillo’s Hot Dogs creates tons of videos highlighting their food, showing off their famous Chicago style hot dog. They also share funny and timely videos with current memes, and feature their staff with some behind-the-scenes content.

Here are a few more restaurant TikTok ideas: 

  • Show cooks preparing a dish step-by-step.

  • Film a competition among servers of who can roll their cutlery fastest.

  • Do a tour of the restaurant when it’s empty and contrast with how it looks at peak hours.

  • Show off the satisfying prep processes behind your dishes, like blending a sauce until smooth, packing jars full of pickled veggies, or showing a box of tomatoes going from whole to perfectly slices.  

TikTok marketing for liquor stores 

There are certainly fewer liquor stores on TikTok than restaurants, but that means there’s less competition to get in front of local audiences. If you live in an area with independent liquor stores, you can get especially creative and reach new customers on TikTok.

Diamond Liquor & Mini-Mart in Diamond Bar, CA, has a great TikTok with a range of videos — they’ve grown to over 30,000 followers and have nearly a million likes. And it makes sense why. The Diamond Liquor & Mini-Mart team has developed a signature item — “Lunchbags” — where they pack up speciality cocktails, like the Guayabaneada, in pre-made bags

Harbour Liquor Store in New Westminster, BC, has a great TikTok with a range of videos. This one features one of the liquor store’s favorite wine brands, along with a trending Miley Cyrus song. 

Liquor stores can also market their businesses on TikTok by trying any of the following ideas:

  • Show off drink recipes made with their products.

  • Spotlight various team member’s favorite type of wine, beer, or liquor.

  • Share about limited-time promotions or sales.

  • Teach viewers how to taste flavor notes in wine.

  • Show off the proper technique when shaking a cocktail.

  • Spotlight newly added products.

TikTok marketing for grocery stores

Sprouts Farmers Market has a great presence on TikTok that aligns with their health-conscious, sustainable, environmentally-aware audience.  

They feature healthy recipes using their products, relatable content about grocery shopping for specialty diets like gluten free, and hacks for shoppers

Joe and Val’s No Frills in Aurora, ON is huge on TikTok because of the many videos they post of shenanigans in the store, including employees trying out TikTok dances and Joe or Val themselves jumping on a trending sound

More supermarket TikTok ideas:

  • Post weekly videos showing off sales and promotions.

  • Post staff spotlight videos.

  • Share unique food combinations that work.

  • Share grocery hauls that show off the breadth of your offerings and the affordability of your store.

TikTok marketing for pet stores

The team at Mishka Dog Boutique has created a completely new type of TikTok presence, showing how your pets deserve a little (or a lot of) luxury, too. They’ve developed an experience for dogs, from their dog treat packaging to their website, encouraging customers to share their photos and videos. 

At Pet Valu in New Liskeard, Ontario they’ve got a relatable TikTok presence, sharing funny videos about everything from getting attached to every pet that comes through the store, to videos introducing the pets available in the store right now:

Pet stores looking to market on TikTok are at a great advantage, because there are few things the internet likes more than cute animals. 

More pet store TikTok ideas:

  • Show staff with their favorite pets in the store.

  • Have staff show how they take care of the different animals.

  • Share videos highlighting promotions and sales.

TikTok marketing for convenience stores 

You don’t see many convenience stores on TikTok — but that means there’s tons of room to grow a following for your store, and have some fun with it!

RaceTrac creates funny, engaging TikToks, including testing out and ranking viral convenience store combos and using popular memes for funny road trip content.

And Ô Dépanneur in Montreal shares everyday moments like this prize wheel TikTok where a passer-by is happy to win a free Nerds Gummy Clusters — and they’ve amassed over 37,000 followers on the platform.

Use TikTok to show customers how they can order online

No matter what kind of business you run, you can use short-form videos to walk potential customers through the process of ordering online with DoorDash — tag us if you do! This is especially useful for businesses that people might not know deliver, like liquor stores, convenience stores, or pet stores. 

Using TikTok for business can help you reach new audiences

Get creative, and when in doubt about what to post or what’s trending, consult the Gen Z staff members on your team. 

To reach even more customers and increase your sales, get your business on DoorDash to  meet customers wherever they are.

Author

Alex Campanelli

Alex Campanelli

Content Marketing Manager

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