Home Articles Three entrepreneurs reveal how startups can use TikTok to grow their brand

Three entrepreneurs reveal how startups can use TikTok to grow their brand


It’s hard to ignore TikTok’s meteoric rise. But what started out with Gen Z’s dance and lip syncing challenges has evolved into a go-to platform for startups to build and grow their businesses.

Its fabled algorithm, coupled with a focus on authentic, unpolished content has given even the smallest of brands unparalleled opportunity to reach large audiences quickly and form genuine connections with their customers.

While the company itself has released a number of products and partnerships to help startups establish themselves on the platform, there is an untapped goldmine of knowledge to be found in the new cohort of entrepreneurial influencers on TikTok.

But, what is it exactly about the platform that startups should care about? And how can they use it to build their brands?

99designs by Vistaprint spoke to some of the biggest and best entrepreneurs on TikTok right now to get their top tips on how startups can find their niche on the platform, achieve staggering social reach and see instant results.

Terrance McMahon @terrancemcmahon

As a best-selling author, podcast host, business strategist, former CEO and TEDx speaker, Terrance is no stranger to coaching entrepreneurs to success.

His knowledge of the business world spans over three decades and TikTok has enabled him to teach and mentor aspiring business owners on a global scale.

The main advice Terrance has for founders and startups getting started on TikTok, is to hone in on one specific idea that will help a small audience solve a common problem.

This offers the chance to create authority and trust on the matter before then expanding your ideas. For example, if you’re a fintech for small businesses, Try creating content that addresses cash flow concerns.

Or, if you know your audience is comprised of freelancers, helping them navigate client conversations could be a winner. 

When creating content he suggests this winning formula: “Make sure you use a hook in the beginning (tell them the big idea), support it with 3 or fewer small concepts, (ideally in story form) and then give them a walk way (a call to action or take action tip).”

“Spend 50% of your time generating familiar valuable content and 50% experimenting with the unfamiliar. For example, I teach on a Kamelleo Flip White board.  It’s my signature process, it’s now recognisable and everyone seems to love to learn that way.”

Sam Ogborn @marketingwithsam

Expert marketer Sam Ogborn uses TikTok to share the extensive knowledge she has collected over the years in corporate jobs working for Fortune 500 brands.

Having worked with the likes of Kraft, Bike, Red Bull and Walgreens, Sam uses this experience to help startups and SMBs to think, act and market like big brands.

As an “older millennial” Sam was at first intimidated by the younger demographic that seemed to be attracted to TikTok.

But after making the leap, her passion for marketing has helped her create a focused and purposeful niche. Her advice for entrepreneurs toying with the idea of TikTok? Don’t wait as long as she did!

“Stop making excuses or putting it on the backburner. Put yourself out there, test different pieces of content, and see what happens.”

“In 6 months, there’s a high likelihood that you’ll be grateful you started as the platform is still new for most brands.”

“Understand how TikTok plays into the bigger picture for your brand. I use Campsite in my bio which gives clickers many “next steps” they can take if they want to engage with my brand further. This helps me see how TikTok impacts my brand at a larger scale.”

Evan Van Auken @vanader

Originally a firefighter and paramedic, Evan jumped on the TikTok bandwagon at the beginning of the pandemic out of curiosity.

An entrepreneur at heart, he started sharing advice on business development, investing, finance, cryptocurrency and personal growth.

His content skyrocketed and he quickly realised that there was a huge gap for his particular expertise and style of content.

Rather than teaching hypotheticals, Evan uses his own experiences as an entrepreneur to teach his followers and says value should be prioritised over all when creating content.

“If you can bring value in any way, get on TikTok. Nobody cares about how you sound or how you look—just start. If you are authentic, and real, you will be successful,” Evan suggests for founders looking to begin their TikTok journey.

“Pick 3 subjects and stick to those subjects. Make at least one TikTok a day for 90 days. TikTok needs to learn what you are so it can serve your content to the right viewer.”

“So use hashtags that describe your ideal customer/viewer. Do not use hashtags that describe you or your brand.”

TikTok is still uncharted territory for many startups and, as with any new social media platform, knowing where to even start is a hurdle that stops many of us in our tracks.

But what’s clear is that the platform provides a place for startups and founders to share authentic stories and allows customers to connect with the human heart of a brand.

There’s a niche for everything and everyone on TikTok and with the platform showing no signs of slowing down, there’s never been a better time to start exploring yours!

Shayne is Head of Marketing at 99designs, the global creative platform that makes it easy for designers and clients to work together to create designs they love. He is a wrangler of collaboration, diversity, and creativity, helping bring more opportunities to people all around the world.

Shayne Tilley, Head of Marketing at 99designs

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