TikTok targets small businesses with new ‘Follow Me’ educational program – TechCrunch

TikTok today announced a new initiative designed to help small businesses better market themselves on its app — and eventually become TikTok advertisers. The company is launching a free program called “Follow Me,” which will feature guides to using TikTok’s suite of business and creative tools, advertising and promotional features, and tips from other small business owners.

The launch of the program comes at a difficult time for the social video app, as it once again faces increased scrutiny in the United States for its links to China after a BuzzFeed News report revealed that employees of its parent company ByteDance had access to US user data. As a result, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee asked the FTC to investigate whether TikTok may have misled lawmakers about it. It is also facing a regulatory probe over changes to its privacy policy in the EU related to issues with user consent for personalized advertising.

However, today’s launch of the Follow Me program signals TikTok’s ambitions to become the next big social advertising giant for a younger generation that has ditched Meta’s Facebook, forcing Meta to try to transform its photo-sharing app and Instagram videos into a TikTok clone.

As consumer interests shift, a multibillion-dollar ad market could be up for grabs — and TikTok aims to woo advertisers looking to diversify their social ad spend beyond Meta, Snap and Twitter.

Today, Meta generates the vast majority of its ad revenue — which totaled $115 billion in 2021 — from small business advertisers. TikTok’s ad revenue, while still a fraction of that, is growing rapidly. The video app’s ad revenue is expected to triple in 2022, to $11.6 billion, beating both Snap and Twitter combined, according to Insider Intelligence estimates. By 2024, it could reach $23.58 billion, the firm suggests. But if TikTok ever hopes to reach Meta scale, it will need to convince small businesses to market themselves through TikTok videos.

There is, of course, a learning curve involved in this – which is where the Follow Me program comes in.

Through the series, TikTok offers businesses an introduction to its various tools that would help it achieve its goals of bringing small businesses to TikTok. The program includes different roadmaps that SMBs can follow depending on their goals and invites them to a six-week email series that walks them through executing their first TikTok campaign and onboarding. their brand story in videos, says TikTok. The program will also teach them how to set up their business accounts, how to access TikTok’s Creation Center for content inspiration, and how to use other tools like TikTok’s Ads Manager and promotion features. These are ultimately TikTok’s end goal as they provide the revenue stream that sustains its business.

The company has also recruited successful small business owners to serve as “Small Business Ambassadors,” who will provide coaching and advice on how to reach the TikTok community to drive results. These include Cassie Sorensen, owner and founder of a small tassel manufacturing company, Tassel Amor, and Jacob Zander, owner and founder of an online retailer called Feel Your Soul.

The program starts today and is free for interested SMEs.

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