In today’s episode we’re covering a very exciting topic: TikTok for businesses. We were extremely lucky to meet with Jenna Labiak, founder of The Silk Labs, a small business from Toronto. In just over two years, The Silk Labs’ TikTok got over 100 000 followers and 3.4 million likes. Here’s her story.
Can you tell us a bit more about The Silk Labs and how you started?
I started my brand about two years ago and I was in my last year of university and it started almost as a passion project. I noticed that myself, as a consumer, was looking for a specific silk scrunchie and I couldn’t find it on the market. The prices were a bit expensive for me, the colors were a bit mature and the patterns were not my style. I was just looking for something made locally and also a little bit more young-looking and higher quality.
After a few google searches, I noticed there was a gap in the market and from there I started playing around with my sewing machine. I played with trendy colors like browns and greens and patterns that are a little bit more on trend and less mature. From there, I perfected my product, and I started creating social media accounts. At the time I was personally on TikTok but I noticed a lot of brands weren’t on there, so then I decided why not try it and see where it goes.
My first video actually did really well and then my brand took off from there. I decided to try doing it full time and I’ve been doing it since then.
Could you talk a little bit about how social media and TikTok play a role in building awareness for your brand and your product as well as driving sales?
When I started, I just used Instagram and Facebook, pretty traditional. And, these days it is a little bit more difficult to grow on those platforms. I noticed we did experience a huge growth when I started working with influencers and that also converted a lot more for us than just trying to do it organically. Influencers were a big thing that helped us grow our Instagram and Facebook but TikTok, right off the bat, was pretty organic. It has so much power. From that, we just kept trying to rinse and repeat content and kept trying to make similar videos just to get that same kind of traffic that we experienced with the first video.
What’s the importance of building an organic community on TikTok?
For us, it really built a lot of trust with our consumers. I truly feel like I have a friendship-kind-of-relationship with my followers on TikTok. I follow a lot of girls that follow me back and we have real conversations and a real relationship.
It really is a big community for us and when you build that trust first, and they trust the owner, and they trust the product, then the sales come through.
You have over 3.4 million likes on TikTok, how did you do it and what do you attribute your success to?
A lot of it is consistency. We post almost every day and we’ve been doing that for two years. I keep it very consistent, you’re gonna see me, the owner, no matter how busy I am. I make the videos before work hours or after work hours, on the weekend. I’m gonna make content and show my face as the owner no matter what happens with my brand.
And, if a video does well, we rinse and repeat that content. If we use a specific sound or specific quotations or a trend we’ll do the whole thing almost completely over again, but slightly differently and let it continue to do well. So, that’s a big part of why we have so many likes.
Can you talk a little bit about your creative process when you’re coming up with ideas for new content and any suggestions you might have?
I love this question because I think it’s such an important piece of TikTok. On the platform, people don’t respond well when you’re directly advertising to them. Having a very clear call-to-action doesn’t perform as well. I think the younger generation that’s on the platform, are very aware when they’re being advertised to and they don’t always like it.
I find the most successful thing for us is giving our audience value while using our products. For example, instead of me standing there saying here’s one of our silk scarves, we make them in Toronto, we illustrate them in Toronto, we use high-quality silk… I’m going to come on my TikTok and show an outfit that includes my scarf. Someone’s going to pull inspiration from that and that’s added value.
What does your audience look like on TikTok?
We do have a younger demographic. We’re right around the early 20s, whereas on Instagram and Facebook it’s more around 25 to 30. This demographic is a little bit more aware of advertising, and when they’re being advertised too. When it comes to the 25 to 30 range, I noticed they like what they like and they don’t mind being advertised to as much.
It’s the perfect sweet spot on both platforms because at 20 you still shop for yourself and you still buy what you want to buy and spend a little extra money when you want to.
Do you also see offline traffic coming from TikTok?
Definitely. We do a lot of wholesale in the city and we’ve had people that work at the retail stores tell us that they saw our brand on TikTok. I’ve been out for dinner and people have told me that they’ve seen my videos on TikTok as well. People come from TikTok when we have a pop-up shop. It just has such an incredible reach, more than you realize when you’re just seeing the numbers.
What advice would you give to brands looking to use TikTok as a marketing tool?
I would definitely recommend starting by just becoming a consumer of the app. Just download the app and scroll every night for a week. You’ll get addicted because it’s so consuming. But, TikTok is its own culture. It has so many trends and memes that you don’t see on other platforms. Just absorb it so you get a better understanding of the platform and don’t waste your time creating videos that might underperform.
Like I mentioned before, creating value first before trying to sell your product that’s our go-to rule. I say, for every 5 videos, one of them is selling a product and the rest of them is value or entertainment.
Also, be very aware of trends and trending sounds because that’s going to make you grow really fast.
Another thing that might feel kind of random is to add subtitles. It changed the game for us. I started that about six months ago and I noticed that a lot of people go on the app when they’re working or they’re at the gym and they don’t use sound. If there are no subtitles, they’ll just completely scroll past it. You are gonna hit so many more viewers if you are using subtitles.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Marie-Joelle works at Bloom, a digital marketing agency, as the Marketing Manager. She's passionate about digital marketing tactics (from social media to web design) for B2B businesses looking to grow online.