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If you want your own business to grow and prosper as the world reopens and a new sense of normalcy settles in, getting to know TikTok is a good first step. The video-sharing platform has emerged from relative obscurity to become one of the leading social media companies in the world, and one of the most business friendly for entrepreneurs who know how to make it work.
TikTok is particularly custom-made for personal-brand building, and many entrepreneurs are using it in just that way. By way of example, in a scant three and a half months, one top TikTok chef has amassed an army of more than a quarter million loyalists, all hungry for new content. This rising foodie star is Nadia Caterina Munno, but her quarter million TikTok fans know her simply as The Pasta Queen.
Always start with the brand backstory, and for Munno, that means being born to cook pasta. She is a true descendant of Rome, and pasta-making is in her blood. In the 1800s, her great grandparents owned a pasta factory just an hour and 20 minutes south of the Italian capital. To this day, Nadia’s family still has the nickname “The Macaronis.”
The online world, however, did not come as naturally. As Munno shares in an interview, “I’ve never been into technology. Honestly, I learned my video editing and uploading mastery by sheer force of will. Today, I edit all of my videos and credit the growth to a combination of drive, purpose and incentive. I truly believe that is where true talent comes from.”
Cynical entrepreneurs may say that the rapid rise of The Pasta Queen and her newfound internet stardom is simply a matter of luck. They may argue that she was simply in the right place at the right time, and that her success will be difficult, or even impossible, to replicate.
What the cynics are missing is that there really is a TikTok formula, one that smart entrepreneurs can adapt to fit their own brands and promote their own products. Those entrepreneurs may not have cooking skills or clever recipes, but they can still learn from others who have found success on the platform and shape the same strategy around their brands.
Related: 3 Reasons TikTok Is Here To Stay
In the internet age, viewers want real actionable information in exchange for their time. Communicating with the larger TikTok world is also critical on the platform. Successful TikTok content can generate thousands of comments and direct messages every single day. The Pasta Queen hears everything from home chefs trying out variations on their recipes to pleas for help from the less culinary talented. Here are several of the ingredients to her success.
If you post at least once a day, the TikTok algorithm starts to favor you as a creator and you have an increased likelihood of getting featured on the sought-after “For You” page.
Over-analyzing your niche can stifle your content distribution. Munno says to be your authentic self — and let it shine.
Engaging your early followers helps build a loyal foundation, which is a critical first step you have to take.
By going live, even if you have a small following, you can be discovered on the “For You” page.
You have to engage someone from the start and grab them within half a second. People scroll, scroll and scroll almost on automatic — but if they immediately see something impactful or shocking, they’re likely to stick around.
Any time you can teach, educate or inform an audience, the likelihood of traction is significantly increased (views, comments, shares, etc.).
You should frequently review your post analytics to see what is working or what can be adjusted. It also helps you understand your audience better to cater content accordingly.
Munno says 20-30 seconds has been her sweet spot, adding, “It never hurts to leverage a topic which is universally accepted, such as food. I see lawyers giving rapid public-awareness tips, realtors touring homes and accountants giving tips on taxes. You can do anything, as long as it is fast and digestible.”
Overnight growth is not easy, and it can have a dark side for the unprepared. Entrepreneurs and individuals who suddenly find themselves going viral can feel a bit overwhelmed, but they need to stay professional and learn to treat the opportunity with the appreciation it deserves.
That can mean spending half the day shooting, perfecting and uploading videos to the platform, and additional hours answering social media inquiries, responding to questions and engaging with the wider community. The most famous TikTok users are the ones who take the platform seriously and understand its true potential.
Related: The Rise of Social Media as a Career (Infographic)
Leveraging TikTok into a successful brand building operation is no easy task, and there are a lot of roadblocks along the way. There are still misconceptions about what the platform is, who it is designed for, and how it works. Entrepreneurs who hope to achieve the same success they would growing a business should treat it with the same level of respect.