While TikTok’s future is unknown, micro-business owners continue to rely on it — including one founder who shared 3 tips for marketing and going viral

While TikTok’s future is unknown, micro-business owners continue to rely on it — including one founder who shared 3 tips for marketing and going viral
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Photo of a woman in a hot pink dress beside a table featuring satin bonnets.
Lauren Nelda Pascal, the owner and founder of Lolo’s Bonnets.

  • Lauren Nelda Pascal is the founder of Lolo’s Bonnets, a micro business in Jacksonville, Florida.
  • Pascal has successfully used TikTok to market her products and build a customer following.
  • This article is part of “Unlocking Small Business Success,” a series providing micro businesses with a road map to growth.

When Lauren Nelda Pascal sewed her first silk bonnet, she wasn’t thinking about building a viral TikTok business.

In 2020, Pascal was on her “hair-growth journey” and needed a satin bonnet to protect her hair. She wanted to support a Black-owned business she knew of but saw it was sold out of its bonnets.

So Pascal decided to make her own.

After a visit to the fabric store and with the help of her mom’s 20-year-old sewing machine, her first bonnet was born.

When her mom posted a photo of her product on Facebook, Pascal received a flood of requests from friends and family asking for their own bonnets.

“It just kind of took off; it was crazy,” she said.

In 2021, she officially launched Lolo’s Bonnets, a Black- and Haitian-owned micro business selling satin bonnets, scrunchies, and pillowcases.

Without a big marketing budget, Pascal turned to TikTok and started posting videos showing off her products.

“I can’t afford to have a commercial on TV. I’m not going to go outside with a sign and twirl it,” she said.

After going all in on TikTok at the end of 2021, Pascal’s total sales grew by more than 1650% in one year, according to financial documents verified by Business Insider.

Now Pascal’s TikTok business account has over 107,000 followers and 2.6 million likes, and Lizzo and other celebrities have featured her products on their pages.

While TikTok’s future is in question, micro-business owners continue to use it. Pascal spoke with Business Insider about her top tips for finding marketing success on TikTok.

What to know about TikTok’s possible ban

TikTok has been rising in popularity with small businesses. A report from Oxford Economics said over 7 million businesses used the app in the US.

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In an interview with KXAN Austin, Giselle Ugarte, a TikTok content creator and coach for social-media business strategy, said the platform appealed to businesses because they could reach prospective customers without having to pay for direct marketing.

“For the first time ever, your content is guaranteed to be put in front of people who don’t follow you,” Ugarte told KXAN.

But the buzzy social-media app has become the subject of debate, with legislation in motion to ban the app in the US after concerns about data privacy.

Karen North, a clinical professor of communication at USC Annenberg, told BI she’s doubtful the bill would pass since a companion bill had yet to be drafted in the Senate and the move would be extremely unpopular with voters in an election year. But she said the discussion forced business owners to consider how they might pivot their social-media strategy if needed.

With TikTok’s “for you” page, businesses can learn a lot about their target audiences and their social-media habits. North said small-business owners should be aware of these users’ preferred habits and focus their energy on the platforms that align with their brand’s identity.

“TikTok adapts incredibly fast that you can experiment with a lot of things very quickly and get the data and see what works,” North told BI. “Try using some of those best practices on the other platforms as well.”

Be consistent

Pascal said posting content often on TikTok can help a business grow a following.

Frequently posting videos helps the algorithm get her clips in front of prospective customers. The tactic also creates a space for Pascal to build her online presence as a micro-business owner.

“That’s how you build trust with people that don’t know you yet,” Pascal added.

A general rule for businesses is to post one to three times a day, ICUC, a social-media-management agency, says. But there’s no hard and fast rule for social media, and users like Pascal say that posting quality content is more important than quantity.

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One way owners can be consistent is to plan their content around their busy schedules. If you’re working a full-time job while running a business on the side, posting multiple videos a day might not be as effective as posting quality content less often. For Pascal, quality content means a video educates, is funny, or provides “some sort of help to the customer.” No matter how often you post, she said, consistency can keep followers coming back.

Diversify your content

Pascal told BI that it’s important for an owner to figure out what makes their own business unique on TikTok.

Studying other businesses to see what trends are successful and what prospective customers are excited about can be valuable, Pascal said. As long as you credit other businesses when posting similar videos, she added, it can be a great way to draw in new customers.

It’s also important for businesses to mix up their content across platforms. While trying to post the same Instagram video on TikTok may be compelling, Pascal said it might not be effective. Having a different strategy for each app lets owners maximize their growth and reach.

On TikTok, Pascal said, you have to be on the right “for you” page to know what’s trending with an audience that might be interested in your product. She suggested following similar creators within your niche to replicate what a customer’s TikTok feed might look like and see what’s getting attention.

Pascal added that taking advantage of popular sounds could be an easy way to gain exposure. “The trending audios will save you all day and all night,” she said.

It’s important to hop on trends when they take off, she added. Because apps like TikTok and Instagram have so many users, the trend cycle moves quickly, and it’s easy to get left behind.

“If something is trending, hit it quick,” Pascal said. “Those trends don’t last.”

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Unlike on TikTok, businesses using Instagram Reels, Instagram’s short-form-video feature, should be more cautious with trending audio. Pascal suggested incorporating audio tracks used by fewer than 10,000 users to stand out.

Be genuine

Pascal said the real secret to finding marketing success on TikTok was being your authentic self. She added that posting something outrageous just for views wasn’t a good way to attract a loyal customer base.

By prioritizing her followers and their hair-care journeys, Pascal has built a community and follower base that trusts her products and hair advice — even if it doesn’t always result in customers buying her bonnets.

“I have a product that I love. I have a product that I believe in, and so I try to let that bleed through my content,” Pascal said. “I think people sense that.”

Pascal added that it’s important for owners to set themselves apart from big brands on the app. She leans in to her personal experiences and focuses on what makes her company unique.

Black women have traditionally worn bonnets to protect hairstyles and prevent breakage. In addition to promoting her products, Pascal posts videos on her TikTok account about why silk bonnets encourage hair growth and how they can benefit Black and non-Black hair textures.

Pascal said that telling the story of her company and culture makes her brand stand out. “I want you to get to know a little bit about me and the business,” she added.

She told BI she liked to lead her posts with gratitude and help others navigate their hair setbacks and solutions. Watching people chat in the comment sections about their own culture and hair routines — while supporting Lolo’s Bonnets — has made the marketing journey fulfilling, she added.

“As a Black woman, my hair is a big part of my identity. It will be forever,” Pascal said. “I love learning more about it and to be able to help people with hair problems no matter what their texture is, is so nice and cool.”

Read the original article on Business Insider


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