How I got my first 40,000 followers on my small business' TikTok by balancing fun videos with self-promotion

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How I got my first 40,000 followers on my small business' TikTok by balancing fun videos with self-promotion
Daphne Youree
  • Jen Glantz has operated her own "bridesmaid for hire" business for the past eight years.
  • She created a successful TikTok strategy to grow her audience, garnering over 2.9 million likes on her videos.
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For the past eight years, I've been a full-time entrepreneur running my business Bridesmaid for Hire. Before this gig, I was working as a copywriter at a tech startup and had no idea how to run my own company. I spent the first year trying to stay afloat, from finding ways to advertise my services to offering a variety of packages to bring in new business.

It was during the second year of running my business that I learned the power of tapping into social media. By creating valuable and interesting content, any entrepreneur can build an audience of people who might become customers or unofficial brand ambassadors. These people will share details of what you offer to their network just because they find your social media presence so engaging.

Like everyone else, I started from zero on TikTok

I found ways to successfully promote my business using Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and then I decided to start building a presence on TikTok.

In just a year, I went from having 1,000 followers and 2,500 likes on TikTok to having more than 39,000 followers and over 2.9 million likes. My engaged audience has also helped me increase my website traffic during a six-month period, and it's contributed to a lift in revenue since the start of 2022, compared to 2021.

I was able to make this happen thanks to a clear and strategic plan that any entrepreneur can follow to build a big audience on TikTok.

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I understood how the platform was different from others

On other platforms, like Instagram or YouTube, the quality of your video footage or photos really matters when trying to capture an audience's attention. However, I've found that on TikTok it doesn't really work like that.

From doing tons of research and spending endless hours on the platform, I've found the videos that perform well aren't always the ones shot on fancy cameras. It's often the ones that look real and relatable that are successful.

When I began creating content for TikTok, I ditched my professional camera and bought a tripod for my phone

This also allowed me to create content faster since videos didn't require a ton of complicated editing, and I could shoot content in my living room or by my desk instead of setting up a whole film studio.

I also noticed content that does well on the platform is shot vertically, often includes text on the videos and has audio, whether original or trending.

In order to learn the platform, I devoted an hour a week (spread out across a few days) to watching other people's videos. I saw which ones had the most engagement and recorded test videos to learn the different platform features.

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I also read articles on Social Media Today and watched TikTok editing videos on YouTube so I'd be better prepared to start creating content.

I strategized my own brand position

Just like on any other social media platform, your content needs to have a strong brand position in order to build an audience and get them to become customers.

I made sure to do this when I created the bio that would live on my TikTok profile so that when people discovered my page, they instantly knew what my business was about and why they should follow me.

I also decided to create four categories of videos that I wanted to focus on: stories from working as a professional bridesmaid; advice and tips from working this job; must-have products I could recommend and make affiliate money off of; and frequently asked questions. Having these four categories keeps me organized when it comes to brainstorming what kind of content I want to create.

It also helps teach my audience about my business in an engaging way, and it entices them to want to learn more after watching one video. This usually leads them to watching more videos or clicking my call-to-action button in my bio.

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Even though there aren't many businesses that provide the same kind of service that my business does, I did spend time doing a competitor analysis. I picked five other businesses in the wedding space that I admire or that my customers really love and studied their TikTok strategy.

I wrote down what they do well, what I can do better, and which of their videos performed the best in the last 30 days. By doing this, I was able to generate more ideas on how to have a strong brand position and stand out on the platform.

I batched content

While learning how to use the app, I realized how content appears on people's TikTok feeds. Unlike other platforms that you go on to see posts from people you're following, TikTok is all about watching random videos that are curated for you. The algorithm factors in what videos you've watched, liked, and previously shared, among other determinants, to generate content new for you to view.

This means your content has the chance to reach a larger audience and can appear on a person's page weeks or even months after you post it. This makes it different from Instagram, for example, where content is usually prioritized on people's newsfeed by how recently it was posted.

I took this information and made the decision to create as much content as I could so that it had a good chance of appearing on more people's pages. I set a goal of releasing three to four videos every workday for the first three months. The outcome was a big lift in followers on the platform, from 1,000 to 10,000, and an increase in likes.

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After I set the goal of posting multiple videos every day, I decided to only film videos for TikTok twice a month. Before the filming days, I'd sit down and write a summary of all the videos I wanted to film. If they were videos based on trending audio or popular dance moves of the week ,which I found by searching this thread on TikTok, I wrote down how I wanted to put my own twist on it and what text to use on the video.

By organizing my content this way, I could block out two hours and shoot enough videos for two weeks at a time.

I had clear offerings

Once I had a clear content position and knew how many videos I wanted to put out every week, I had to make sure my services were well-defined for people who wanted to go from being a TikTok follower or viewer to a customer.

I decided to use LinkTree to create a landing page with a list of call-to-action buttons. I put links to small purchases like my book and card game, to big-ticket items like my $2,000 wedding services.

Putting this in my bio helped me convert people from TikTok to my website landing pages, where some became customers and others subscribed to my businesses email list (which is another great sales tool to convert interested people).

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In an effort to not be overly promotional on TikTok, I only created four to five videos a month about my products and services. The rest of the videos are about my main content focuses (answering frequently asked questions, sharing tips, and giving wedding advice) and that information turned curious TikTok viewers into website viewers and some into paying customers.

As an entrepreneur, learning how to tap into the power of social media is not only a free way to build your audience but, if used strategically, can also help generate more income and find new customers just like it did for me.

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