With the onset of the COVID pandemic, the business world turned to digital for solutions. A report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development showed that since lockdowns were enforced on a global scale, businesses and consumers have “gone digital.” This acceleration towards digitisation has been indicative of the need for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to find ways to reach their customers online, connect to new markets and adapt to a turbulent economic landscape by rebuilding and recovering lost revenue. The move catalysed a dramatic rise in e-commerce’s share of global retail trade from 14% in 2019 to around 17% in 2020.
As Scott Thwaites, Head of Emerging Markets, TikTok Global Business Solutions explains, adopting new digital tools and digital marketing tactics are helping many SMEs to connect with new customers. “Establishing a strong online presence is not only a company’s key to accessing a much wider market, it can also be achieved in a very affordable manner. This means that even companies that have to work with tight marketing budgets are able to get maximum impact if they embrace the right digital tools.”
By way of example, he points to TikTok’s own platform, which has already become a part of quite a few companies’ new digital strategies. “Businesses and their brands really are a natural fit for the online experience. Starting trends, connecting communities, and bringing awareness to critical public service initiatives are just a few of the possibilities.”
With this in mind, Thwaites has a few tips that can help SMEs grow new business leads through digital tools:
Authentic storytelling is a powerful tool
Sharing your brand’s message by telling authentic stories is a way to forge connections with your customers, welcome them into the world of your brand and inspire them to make informed buying decisions. In TikTok’s own experience, when brands use a narrative to convey what they stand for, they garner meaningful engagements with their market.
Your brand doesn’t have to be perfect – and that’s good
Behind every brand, are beings – human beings, with flaws and eccentricities. In the digital world, our diversity is something to celebrate rather than shy away from. Brands need to become more relatable. Some of the best work that brands can do on social platforms, reflects the natural flow of the conversation between them and their customers. Brand authenticity involves becoming more honest and transparent with your audience, and it’s the key to making long-lasting connections that will keep your customers coming back. With the advent of social media, brands have an unprecedented opportunity to share their highs and their lows in a way that makes customers feel as if they are a part of the brand’s development process.
Leverage your market influence for good
Both social media users and brands have the ability to make a meaningful, positive impact on their communities. Whether it’s for causes such as wildlife conservation, pride month or any cause in between, becoming part of the broader conversation and helping to raise awareness for the things that your company is truly passionate about, will resonate with the kinds of customers you want. In a world in which issues like social justice and climate change are foremost in the minds of the public, brands have a responsibility to play a role in bringing about change by leveraging their collective resources and influence.
Use the opportunity to listen as well
Online content that converts, involves a two-way conversation. Social listening is an imperative part of engagement. Essentially, brands need to be aware of what people are saying about them online and what the general sentiment is regarding aspects such as product quality, customer service and brand innovation. Great digital marketing strategies not only give companies a chance to communicate their message to their target market, but also to gain more insight into their customers. Brands that are seeing the most success on TikTok, for instance, take the time to consider feedback from their community. Taking the time to listen to your market can help your business to grow in the right direction and identify many new opportunities.
The world is changing at an incredible pace, and forward-thinking businesses now have to use all of the digital tools at their disposal to change along with it. The good news is that the right digital strategy can open up a universe of possibilities for your company. “Just remember these tips and your brand will do great,” Thwaites concludes.