Every small business knows that they should be marketing themselves and getting in front of new customers. Many small business owners have also heard the mantra that they “need to do digital marketing,” but fact is, that is broad, general, unhelpful advice that lacks and real specifics.
This article is going to change all of that for you. We’re going to give you some very basic, very achievable ways that you can start marketing your company online. The secret sauce is going to be filming short videos and reaching a bigger audience than you ever thought possible– it will be easier than you can ever imagine, and we’re going to walk you through every single step.
Before we move on, remember this: If you do nothing else in the digital marketing realm this year for your small business, here is the one thing that you can’t skip: Start using Instagram Reels and TikTok for your small business, and you are going to see the kind of online growth you’ve been looking for.
Now it’s time to show you how.
Resurgence of Shorform Video
Before we dig into the “how to”, we want to hit on the “why should I?” It’s important to understand the power of what you’re going to be doing, and why short-form video is the single biggest marketing opportunity your small business has in 2022. The two platforms that we’ll be focusing on are the social media giants TikTok and Instagram– and you aren’t going to believe these statistics.
To start we’re going to use the king of all of the examples. Sure your mileage may vary, but the thing to remember is that even if you see a fraction of these results you’re going to be doing very well. In just a single month, without lifting a finger or spending a single marketing dollar, the company that makes Ocean Spray got 15 billion (with a ‘b’) views on their product.
How did that happen?
With a single short-form video. It was a simple video created by TikTok user Nathan Apodaca that showed him skateboarding to work and drinking a bottle of Ocean Spray cranberry juice. Set to the sweet sounds of the 70’s megahit “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac, the video went viral and became a social phenomenon. Ocean Spray’s CEO Tom Hayes said that the company absolutely saw a large jump in sales as the video made their drink the center of a cultural mood.
But that was just one milestone that short-form video has experienced, and it is only getting more popular each day. Between TikTok and Instagram, there are over 5 billion downloads and more than 200 million monthly users who are all falling in love with what is being called “snackable” content. The numbers don’t lie. More and more users are creating and watching this sort of short content every day, and your small business can benefit largely from this trend– and truly connect with people in the process.
What is this so popular and powerful? It boils down to how the human brain works.
The Powerful Psychology of “Snackable” Content
Depending on what generation you belong to, you’re going to have a different idea of what “video content” is. But chances are that no matter what your definition is, you have some misconceptions about what the most popular video content is at the moment.
Get it out of your mind that video content has to be filmed on a professional camera, long, scripted, and part of a series. While none of those things are “wrong” per se, they can be a huge waste of your time and efforts as a small business owner. We’ve worked with many small businesses that thought that YouTube was their next big marketing platform only to sink hours into videos that get little or no views and interactions.
This is where snackable content comes into play. Snackable content is basically content that is easy to digest by the viewer. You might know this as hilarious GIFs, memes, or anything else you can personally “digest” quickly. The most recent form of snackable content that is absolutely dominating is snackable videos on Instagram Reels and TikTok.
So why is snackable content so very very powerful? Because of the way the human brain translates happiness and pleasure.
When someone is watching an Instagram Reel or a TikTok video, it’s “snackable” because it’s essentially “bite-sized pleasure.” These nuggets of content create a cycle that makes your brain feel a powerful hit of the chemical dopamine– which is known as the brain’s “reward chemical.”
When you get a hit of dopamine, it feels good– almost like you’ve accomplished something. The way that snackable content creates this dopamine hit is by telling short stories that have a beginning, middle, and end. So with each video, you have a really quick turnaround time to feel a reward (about a 20 seconds to a minute). And with each new video, the viewer gets the excitement of something new, the mystery of what might happen, and the satisfaction of something ending.
So shortform video content is like a hack that makes people feel happy and productive without them having to do anything but watch and enjoy themselves.
So how can this help your marketing efforts?
How You Can Benefit as a Business
Reaching people when they’re watching Instagram Reels or TikTok videos is a powerful tool for your digital marketing strategy for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, people are already feeling happy and rewarded from the dopamine they’re experiencing by watching short-form video content. This is a great time to reach people because they’re feeling happy and receptive.
Secondly, the way that short-form videos work is that they’re not your classic “advertisements” that customers have come to loathe. Most modern advertisements are what are considered “interruptive”, which means that you have to sit through an ad to get to what you want to see.
The way that your short-form video content will reach the people viewing it is non-interruptive– or at least their brains will feel that way. Your short-form video will look and feel just like the other videos that people are watching, so it will feel like a part of the natural flow of the content they’re consuming. So the bottom line is that it won’t feel like a commercial that’s interrupting what they’re already watching, it will feel like more content that they want to be watching.
(We’ll go over more details on how to make your videos fit this description later in the article.)
Not only that, but you can’t argue with the sheer numbers. More and more people are using Instagram and TikTok every day, and if you want to stay ahead of the curve and relevant as a small business that is marketing online, these are platforms that you don’t want to miss out on.
Finally, and this may be one of the most powerful ways that snackable content on Instagram and TikTok can help your business: it matches the attention span of many people today. The pace of life is getting faster and faster for many people, and there are so many things fighting for their time. When your content is easy to digest, short, and gets to the point, you are more likely to keep people’s attention. Snackable content helps you cut through the noise and actually reach people.
Instagram Reels Versus TikTok: What You Need To Know
Now that you understand the power of short-form “snackable” video content, you’ve probably got some questions. We’ve talked a lot about the two main platforms for this type of content, Instagram and TikTok– but how can you decide which one is best for you? We’ll help you figure that out.
First, here’s some good news. You can’t lose with either platform because the two are in a constant battle for users and are continually making improvements and upgrades to the user experience.
We will say straight away that as of the writing of this article TikTok would likely be the answer we’d give you if pressed, mainly because it shows posts to so many different people no matter how small or new your account is. This is known as “organic reach” (basically the number of people that will see your content without you having to pay or work extra hard for it). For Instagram it can be hard to build up an account and get it to a place where you’re reaching as many people as TikTok.
That’s not the final answer though– there are going to be small businesses that may want to use one platform over the other (or even both).
Here are some of the major differences between the platforms:
Paying or Not Paying?
You can pay to advertise on both TikTok and Instagram, but as we mentioned, TikTok’s reach is more organic out of the box. However, if you’re looking to reach a specific kind of audience through targeting certain demographics, geographic locations and other details Instagram can be a stronger fit since it uses the targeting options of Facebook. TikTok does have some great options to run ads that are personalized to their user’s feeds, but at the moment is a bit weaker in terms of direct targeting and you have to rely on the TikTok algorithm to target the audience it thinks is best for your content.
Sounds and Music
One of the major advantages TikTok has is its massive sound and song library. Its users are allowed to use popular songs to create content (in fact it’s encouraged). This is a pretty big departure from other platforms where you would run into copyright issues if you tried something like that. No only that but TikTok users are constantly creating new sounds and independent artists even put their songs on the platform.
Instagram Reels has some audio options as well, but the truth is that Instagram is not a music-based platform like TikTok. It’s got tighter copyright restrictions. There are ways to use TikTok videos on Instagram Reels, but the video needs to be made in TikTok originally for that to work.
Video Creation and Editing
TikTok has some interesting special effects options for their users (which often result in trends developing on the platform that focus on them). Instagram Reels does have filters (it uses the same ones as Instagram’s stories) but they’re not as impressive as TikTok’s.
Both platforms let you use a “touch-up” feature, which basically makes your face look a little better in your videos.
Also, TikTok lets you add both filters and special effects for a more versatile final product, whereas Instagram Reels are a little less flexible since it only lets you add filters (which have any special effects built-in).
Which One Is Best For You?
As we mentioned above, TikTok is the better of the two platforms when it comes to snackable, short-form video content. It’s pretty easy to see that Instagram Reels is a bit of a reaction by Instagram to compete with the juggernaut that TikTok has become. With that said, don’t write off Instagram altogether– especially if you feel like you have a pretty good grip on the audience you’re trying to target.
Our advice for you is to start off on TikTok where you’ll reach more people from the start. Then continue to consistently make short-form content to start to figure out what content people respond the most to. Once you have a solid grasp on what snackable videos work well for you and the audience that likes them, you can expand over to Instagram Reels and try to dip your toe into some paid video marketing.
What Kind of Snackable Content Should You Create?
Okay, so now you understand the importance of short-form, snackable video content, you’ve likely chosen which platform (or platforms) you’ll be using… so what about the biggest question of all?
What kind of videos should you make?
The short answer is that it’s going to take trial and error no matter what you do, but we will definitely give you a strong guide to getting started with your video creation.
Rule #0 – No Matter What You Do, Be Authentic
We can’t stress this one enough. No matter what kind of videos you make, the most important thing is that you come across as genuine and real. Don’t try to be someone different for your videos (unless you’re doing comedic sketches where you’re playing a different character on purpose). Be yourself, and an audience will find you.
Rule #1 – You Are Your Company’s Ambassador
Don’t forget when you’re making your videos that you’re representing your small business, so put some thought into what videos you post. You don’t have to be dry and stuffy or that will end up being boring, and fewer people will watch your content. But also don’t put anything that would be damaging to your company’s reputation (no matter how funny or topical you think it is). It’s also not always a great idea to mix business and personal posts– folks are probably following you for tips on how to take care of their lawns, not your commentary on sports or pop culture.
Rule #2 – Find Your Audience
It can be hard to imagine, but TikTok has more than a billion users, all of which you can potentially reach. With those numbers, it’s very likely that you’re going to be able to find an audience for your videos. Don’t feel like your videos have to be for every person on TikTok. In fact, you should try to become an expert in your niche. Don’t be afraid to be specific, because out of a billion-plus people, you’re bound to find an audience that wants to know more about your business.
Rule #3 – Make Videos That Answer Questions
Here is a solid place to start making videos. As a small business owner, you probably get the same questions over and over again. Use your short-form video content as an opportunity to give some quick, punchy answers to those popular questions. In addition to that, any time a customer asks you a question, make a note of it, and then answer it in a video as well. If nothing else, you’ll start to gain a following for people who want to have their frequently asked questions answered.
Rule #4 – What’s Normal to You Is Cool to Others
Do you work for a tree removal company that has a huge chainsaw? Or do you have a pizza oven in your shop that’s technically an antique? Do you have an expensive piece of machinery that does a special job really well? There are likely things that are a part of your everyday process that seem mundane to you that others would probably think is interesting. Give this a shot: find a unique piece of equipment, or a cool process, and make a short video about it and see how people respond.
Rule #5 – What’s Cool to You Might Be Boring to Others
This might sound like a contradiction, but we’ll bring some clarity to it. There might be something that is absolutely amazing to you as an expert who has a ton of knowledge in a field but might be way over other people’s heads. If someone needs a deep level of expertise in your field to appreciate your content, you might be narrowing down your audience a bit too much. A video like this is good every once in a while, but shouldn’t typically be your bread and butter.
Rule #6 – Social Media is a Trendy Place
Being trendy can be seen as a bad thing, but in this case, it’s actually good. Instagram Reels and TikTok especially are always seeing new trends. These trends could center around a certain filter being used, a specific song, or anything else. When something like this crops up, it might be an opportunity. If you have some content that could work with a current trend, don’t be afraid to give it a shot.
Other Content Ideas
In addition to the above tips and tricks to create your core content, here are some fun ideas to do every once in a while to change things up:
- Make videos that celebrate events or people
- Holiday content
- Content centered around seasonal things
- Current event-driven content (careful not to get too political)
- Jump on a viral trend that’s hugely popular
How Often Should You Post Content?
This is a tricky one, but the answer is “as often as you can.” What do we mean by that? Well, the online world of snackable content can be a fast-paced place where you can always feel like you’re behind if you’re trying to keep up with trends. Don’t get caught in that hamster wheel. But on the flip-side, if you’re not making content regularly, you’re not going to grow the following you’re looking for.
As a starting point, commit to making one short-form video each week. When you’ve done that for three weeks in a row, bump it up to two a week. Try that for a month or so and see where things are at.
If you see a huge spike in interest, interactions and customers, consider making more content. But if you’re not getting engagement right away, don’t give up. These things can take time.
Also, don’t get lost down the rabbit hole of “metric success.” It can feel good to get views, likes, and comments. But at the end of the day, if this is a marketing effort, you should be gaining new customers. Likes, comments, and views are all digital and can feel like progress, but don’t forget that you’re looking to get more actual customers.
Still Have Questions? Good Rep Media is Here to Help
If all of this still sounds a little overwhelming, or you don’t know where to start, don’t worry– here at Good Rep Media, helping small businesses with their Instagram and TikTok marketing is one of our specialties.
If you want to have a conversation about your online marketing at no charge, and with no obligation, give us a call. We can talk about your TikTok and Instagram short-form video marketing, or anything else you need.
Let’s talk today.