The Meteoric Rise of TikTok and its Business Implications

Cheryl Lawson

A Brief History of TikTok:

TikTok, initially launched as Douyin in China in 2016, entered the global market a year later. In 2018, after acquiring the app, TikTok merged its platforms, quickly capturing the hearts and screens of millions, especially Gen Z. Known for its short-form videos, catchy soundtracks, and user-friendly editing tools, the app has transformed from a fun platform for sharing lip-syncs and dance challenges into a significant force in social media marketing.

The ‘Keith Lee Effect’ – An Exemplary Success Story:

One of the most fascinating success stories emerging from TikTok is that of food critic Keith Lee. His journey began with heartwarming content centered around cooking for his postpartum wife, and it evolved as viewers got a front-row seat to her pregnancy cravings with their second child. Today, Keith’s reviews have taken a charitable turn. He’s turned the spotlight on small mom-and-pop restaurants, often struggling with marketing budgets.

The “Keith Lee Effect” is a real phenomenon in the TikTok world. When he graces a restaurant with a favorable rating, it isn’t surprising to see lines stretching around the block the very next day. Keith’s organic and genuine approach to food reviews has made him a beacon for local businesses. His story is a testament to the power of authenticity on TikTok and how the platform can rapidly amplify a message or a brand.

@keith_lee125 Pretty Soul Kitchen taste test 💕 would you try it ? 💕 #foodcritic ♬ original sound – Keith Lee

Harnessing TikTok for Business:
While TikTok’s spontaneity is its charm, there’s a method to the madness for businesses:

Educational Content: Much like YouTube, TikTok has become a hub for ‘how-tos’ and tips. Brands can leverage this by sharing expertise in bite-sized clips.

Trend Integration: TikTok’s algorithm places a heavy emphasis on trending sounds and challenges. Brands can use these trends, integrating them smartly with their message. It not only displays cultural relevance but can also boost visibility.

Authenticity Over Polish: While high-production value videos are appreciated, the TikTok community has always leaned towards raw and genuine content. Brands should not shy away from candid moments.

Engage, Don’t Broadcast: Unlike traditional advertising platforms, TikTok is about two-way communication. Engage with your followers, participate in challenges, and respond to comments.

Exercise: Dive into TikTok for Your Business!

Leverage a trending sound on TikTok to create a promotional video for your school or project business. Analyze and understand the dynamics of engagement based on your video.


Research Trending Sounds:

Open the TikTok app.
Go to the ‘Discover’ tab. Here, you’ll find current trending sounds and challenges.
Listen to a few and select one that resonates with the message or vibe you want to convey for your school or business.
Plan Your Content:

Think about how the sound can be integrated with your business or school’s promotional content. Does it evoke humor, sentimentality, motivation, or any other emotion that aligns with your brand voice?
Draft a storyboard or jot down the primary elements you want in the video. This helps in ensuring that your video is cohesive and in sync with the sound.
Shoot Your TikTok Video:

Utilize the external tools discussed in the previous chapters for shooting and editing if needed. Remember, while quality is essential, TikTok appreciates authenticity. It doesn’t have to be a high-production video.
Incorporate branding elements subtly, like wearing branded merchandise, including the business logo, or showcasing your product or service.

Upload & Analyze:

If you have a test account or are comfortable with your main account, upload the video.
Add relevant hashtags, an engaging caption, and ensure the video is set to ‘public.’
Monitor the engagement over a period. Look for likes, shares, comments, and new followers. This will give you insights into what works and what doesn’t.
Reflect & Discuss (For those not uploading):

Share your video concept with the class or a group.
Discuss why you chose the particular sound and how it complements the business voice.
Get feedback and refine your strategy for future videos.

Note: Engaging with your audience is crucial on platforms like TikTok. If you receive comments or questions, make an effort to respond, as this can foster community and enhance brand loyalty.

Good luck, TikTokers! Remember, consistency and authenticity are key. Happy filming!



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Intro to Social Media Copyright © 2021 by Cheryl Lawson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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