Social network rife with opportunities for small inventors and business owners

Eighty-three percent of TikTok users say the app plays a role in their purchase decisions.


TikTok has been on the scene for several years and keeps becoming more ubiquitous. Hootsuite compiled these statistics in May 2021 that provide some insight into the platform’s explosive growth:

  • As of August 2020, TikTok had been downloaded globally more than 2 billion times.
  • In January 2021, TikTok was the seventh-most used social network in the world, behind Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WeChat. 
  • TikTok had nearly 100 million monthly active users in the United States as of August 2020. 
  • TikTok’s user base increased almost 800 percent between January 2018 and June 2020. 
  • Forty-eight percent of adults in the United States between 18 and 29 use TikTok.
  • In the 2020 GlobalWebIndex survey, most respondents said they use TikTok to find funny/entertaining content.
  • TikTok notes that 46 percent of its users say they use the app to discover new things. 
  • TikTok ranks as the second biggest app in consumer spend, behind Tinder. 

As with any other social network, its growing popularity raises questions for businesses and marketers, including inventors.

Who uses TikTok? How do they use it? Are there opportunities for me to use TikTok to market my own business? If there are opportunities for me to use TikTok, what should I do and how should I do it?

Skateboard sensation

The Hootsuite survey also gathered information about how brands are using the app. For example, TikTok has reported that more than 63 percent of ads that put a product or message in the first three seconds of that ad have some of the highest click-through rates. The app has also stated that vertical videos have a 25 percent higher six-second watch-through rate than horizontal videos.

In some ways, TikTok is like the Wild West. The app’s provided insights give businesses a general idea of what works well, but some businesses see success by doing the exact opposite, or even by doing nothing at all. 

For example, Ocean Spray earned 15 billion impressions in less than a month after a viral video by TikTok star Nathan Apodaca (@420doggface208) showing his skateboard commute to work featured the brand’s Cran-Raspberry drink. The brand did nothing to get these impressions but saw an uptick in both reach and sales. 

For this reason, some brands, such as Walmart and Dunkin’ Donuts, have encouraged their employees to use TikTok to post videos while at work in hopes that a viral video will give them similar results. 

However, larger national and international brands aren’t the only ones finding success on TikTok. Many small businesses also report an exceptional return on investment on the platform.

To celebrate National Small Business Week in May, TikTok launched a series of promotions, ad tools and resources for small businesses to leverage the platform. This included a guide for small business marketing on the platform.

Reaching Gen T

If you are a small business or inventor with an interest in how TikTok can help your marketing, consider:

TikTok users want to engage with small businesses. TikTok refers to its user base as Generation T and says users view it as a safe space where “creativity runs free, with no limits or judgment.”

Generation T is described by TikTok as “contradictory, active, engaged and curious,” and a group of people looking to shop with small businesses. It notes an increasing popularity in hashtags such as #SmallBusinessLove and #ShopSmallBusiness.

 In fact, the TikTok community is 15 percent more likely to shop at small businesses compared to other social networks. Additionally, TikTok reports:

  • Sixty-seven percent of users say the platform introduces them to new brands and products.
  • Fifty-seven percent have been inspired to make a purchase based on something they saw on TikTok.
  • Eighty-three percent say TikTok plays a role in their purchase decisions.
  • Fifty-six percent say that TikTok helps them decide what to buy.

Skip the ads in favor of TikToks. TikTok’s business proposition is “don’t make ads, make TikToks.”

This refers to the way ads fit right into the platform. The entire platform is fueled by creativity thanks to short-form video content, so if you create similar content, it fits into the platform rather than being skipped over like a traditional ad.

 Small businesses that use TikTok successfully tell their story in a creative way that speaks directly to the audience, and they find great success when they do it well. 

Stay relevant with organic and paid content. This is the best way to reach people. Using this mixture allows you to capitalize on key moments, keep your audience’s attention, and stay relevant using current hashtags while still being authentic to your brand.

 When you publish a piece of organic content that resonates and performs well, use paid media to amplify it and increase your reach.

General tips from TikTok

Need some quick tips for how to use TikTok for your small business? 

    1. Start with a good profile. Stay authentic and true to yourself to ensure you accurately represent your brand. Include all the pertinent information, including a profile picture (typically your logo), an informative but fun bio, a link to your website and an email address. 
    2. Create content that keeps your audience engaged. This means it shouldn’t just be entertaining. It should also encourage them to interact with you and keep them coming back for more. Ask questions, continually interact with your followers, and invite them to create content. 
  • Post often. Things move fast on TikTok. When you find a type of content that works well for you, create more of it and post as often as you can.
  • Follow the trends. Trends and challenges are the lifeblood of TikTok. When a challenge is trending or a hashtag is gaining popularity, don’t miss your chance to hop on the bandwagon. Keep tabs on your Discovery page to see what’s popular, then use those insights to create your own content. 
  • Get creative. Although it’s important to follow trends and track what type of content your audience likes, it’s also important to be experimental, innovative and creative. The key is to find a balance between creating content you know will resonate and trying something new to show off your creative side while remaining true to yourself.

To learn more about how TikTok can help inventors and small business owners, visit