TikTok Says SMBs Can’t Go Viral Without Understanding This First


In recent years, TikTok has emerged as a powerful tool for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) looking to drive business growth. Its reach and engagement levels have transformed it into a digital marketing paradise, offering opportunities for SMBs to reach a massive audience without breaking the bank. 

However, amid the glitter and glamour of viral videos and trends, two crucial factors have risen to prominence as the linchpin for an SMB’s success on TikTok: authenticity and consistency. 

TikTok’s algorithm rewards creativity and relevance, catapulting SMBs into the spotlight overnight. Its user-friendly interface allows businesses to easily create and share content, even on a modest budget. This democratization of content creation has leveled the playing field, enabling SMBs to compete with more established brands on a global stage. 

In an interview with PYMNTS, Sujatha Mamidibathula, the head of SMB at TikTok, shares strategies for small and medium-sized businesses to acquaint themselves with the platform, grasp its features, and dissect the central components necessary for achieving success and going viral.

“I think misconception or rather one miss expectation is focused on virality versus focus on community,” said Mamidibathula. “My suggestion is for SMBs to focus on community. Focus on building that and virality will come to you.” 

Mamidibathula noted the primary focus should be on consistently creating engaging TikToks. This endeavor is twofold: cultivating a strong presence on the platform and fostering a thriving community around it. Virality, although undoubtedly an attractive prospect, should not be the sole fixation. Pinning all hopes on when a video explodes into the viral stratosphere can be a narrow and often frustrating pursuit. 

Mamidibathula also noted that to genuinely understand the dynamics of virality and resonate with a target audience, one must invest time in both their product and the platform. And, frequently, those who achieve virality are often taken aback themselves.  

Delve into the comments section of a viral TikTok, and you’ll likely encounter sentiments like, “This took off!” Some content creators even produce subsequent TikToks to express their astonishment. The critical point is that these viral moments are not contrived attempts at widening reach; they stem from creators being authentic and genuinely connecting with their community. 

Rather than funneling significant financial resources into ads, creators have another option. They can opt for a more organic approach, emphasizing the journey itself. Virality, while a possible outcome, isn’t the only marker of success. It’s something that evolves gradually with time and commitment. 

Creators should invest in the journey, taking all the necessary steps. Being patient and acknowledging that results may not come instantaneously is essential. Building a genuine, engaged community should be the priority. When creators remain true to themselves and communicate passionately with their dedicated followers, they organically attract more like-minded individuals. This approach fosters a sense of authenticity that resonates with potential future followers, conveying, “This is what we are passionate about, and this is what we do,” said Mamidibathula. 

All SMBs Can Thrive on the Platform

Irrespective of your SMB niche, every kind of business possesses the potential to achieve viral success, provided they remain true, consistent, and adaptable. 

Genuine authenticity serves as the bedrock for every triumphant viral narrative. SMBs wield a distinct advantage in forging intimate connections with their audience. Unlike their colossal corporate counterparts, SMBs can readily unveil their genuine character, values and mission without being entangled in layers of bureaucracy. This sincere connection nurtures trust and trust forms the bedrock of any viral sensation. 

Consistency also acts as the adhesive that binds authenticity together. It’s insufficient to exhibit authenticity momentarily only to alter your tone or values afterward. Consistency entails upholding your commitments unfailingly every day, in every interaction with your clientele. 

Last but not least is the ability to swiftly adjust to emerging trends and ongoing developments. Keeping a close watch on what’s currently popular within a specific niche of SMBs and harmonizing your content with these trends can provide that business with a timely advantage. 

TikTok Strategies Can Vary

Casey Evertsen, the founder of Bin Blasters, believes that crafting engaging content can successfully attract the exact leads you’re looking for. In Evertsen’s case, this involves creating videos demonstrating the cleaning of trash cans. As a result, these leads can include potential clients interested in bin cleaning services and individuals with aspirations of launching their own trash-cleaning businesses. 

“The type of content I put out determines the interest I’m getting so I can gauge how busy I want to be by the kinds of videos I put out,” said Evertsen. “You really learn about your audience and when I’m ready to create specific types of content, I can easily generate leads. By producing a few videos, I can kickstart the process instantly.” 

Bin Blasters is a garbage cleaning company that focuses on customer service and quality cleaning results in the UT, IL, NV, and AZ area.  

Callie Goodwin, the founder of Sparks of Joy, defines authenticity as being willing to appear on camera and showcasing products that resonate deeply with consumers, all while remaining true to her original product line — greeting cards, which she introduced during the pandemic. Goodwin underscores that her achievements have flourished through personal presence, storytelling, and fostering authentic connections with her audience rather than solely relying on delivering sales pitches to TikTok users. 

“The beginning around [my] TikTok journey was a little rocky because I did not want to be on camera. So, I did everything possible to not show myself on camera,” said Goodwin. “Once I found out that once I started showing more of who I was and telling the story behind my company and sharing like stories versus just presenting a sales pitch every time — like ‘here’s my product, buy it for $12’ — wasn’t resonating with people, it became clear that connection was missing. They want to be entertained. They want to connect with a person. So, we really found our success with showing my face and telling stories and making connections with customers.” 

With that in mind, Mamidibathula said: “Focus on the journey. Do all the right things. We do know that results have been shown for a lot of people can understand how to go through this journey.” 

An Alternative for Success on TikTok 

“Alternatively, they can pump a lot of money and create ads, and then try to get all that community and attention that they want,” said Mamidibathula.  

Nonetheless, it’s important to emphasize that specific technical aspects are crucial to success. These encompass establishing effective tracking mechanisms, optimizing website functionality, cultivating a creative workflow, and a keen awareness of TikTok trends. Equally essential is the ability to target the right audience.  

In this context, Mamidibathula notes: “Virality can occur overnight or develop gradually over time. It can happen, and we want to help you do both.”