When Kanita Ramaxhiku uploaded a behind-the-scenes video of her bakery business, BrownieGod, to TikTok earlier this year, she never imagined it would result in 100 orders of the bespoke brownies overnight.
“The video went viral,” Kanita tells Yahoo UK. “Before this the most orders we’d gotten in a single day was 10, and that was on a good day. It was something that helped our business go to the next level.”
Kanita, 23, who runs BrownieGod with her brother Xhenis, 27, launched the business earlier this year, selling their homemade brownies at markets across London.
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When the pandemic hit, they knew they needed to move online which led to a larger focus on social media.
“We never thought that we would get customers off of TikTok but we thought it would be a good way to grow the audience. We thought it would help grow our followers on Instagram and that it would help spread the word, but we never thought it would lead to sales,” Kanita adds.
Xhenis says the success the business has seen from TikTok has allowed them to go from two people working in a kitchen to hiring four more people because “there was such a surge in demand”.
“We ordered 2,000 boxes of our packaging, thinking it would last us for a year, and we’re about to sell out,” Xhenis continues. “Our sales were very low for a long time, even our TikTok growth was low for a long time. It felt like we wanted to give up because we weren’t getting much interest.”
Now, BrownieGod has more than 100,000 followers on the video sharing app with a collective two million ‘likes’ on their videos.
“We’ve actually held back from posting more content [on TikTok] as we’re scared of getting too many orders. Because we’re a small business, we’re learning as we’re growing so nothing is optimised yet to do it at a large scale, everything is done by hand,” Xhenis explains.
“We’ve had to take a step back to improve the business side of the business, like moving into a bigger kitchen or getting machinery so we can actually fulfil more orders.
“Orders really do correlate to the amount that we post on TikTok, so you can see that the more you post, the more orders, the more questions and the more engagement you’re going to get.”
Before 2020, TikTok was known as Gen Z’s answer to Vine. Dance videos were common and it was a place for teens and early twenty-somethings to congregate.
The pandemic, and subsequent lockdowns that have come with it, has seen an infiltration of other demographics to the social platform.
Now, there are 3.7 million active TikTok users in the UK, most of whom use the app for an average of 41 minutes per day.
In a year where redundancy and job loss is common, and other platforms like Instagram have become oversaturated, TikTok has allowed small businesses to shine.
Milly Parazo, 23, lost her job due to the pandemic in May this year. Having practiced making jesmonite pieces as a hobby, Milly decided to take the leap and start her own small business, Terrazzo Parazo.
“Social media plays a massive part in our business,” the West Sussex native says. “Not only do we use it to showcase our products but we also use it to connect with everyone from customer service to general chats with our followers about anything. There’s a great community out there supporting and championing ‘small’ businesses like us.”
Milly, who has just employed her first team member, adds that she decided to join TikTok after she saw other small businesses doing it and wanted to give people a behind-the-scenes ‘glimpse’ of the process.
“I couldn’t find many people doing what I do on there, so I thought it might interest people,” she adds.
“When we first posted on TikTok we had 0 followers and about 1,000 on Instagram. Now, two months on we now have over 55,000 followers on TikTok and nearly 10,000 on Instagram.
“It is great for getting your brand recognised by a wider audience, and brings in more orders from across the world. There is also a great small business community on TikTok where everyone likes to support one another.”
Kanita says that with TikTok, there’s more of an opportunity to go ‘viral’ than with other social media platforms.
“The benefit of TikTok is that it feels like you’re connecting with people. The content I post on TikTok versus the content I post on Instagram, it feels less formal, it feels like I’m really showing the behind the scenes of the business,” Kanita adds.
“I think, especially with what Instagram has become nowadays, you share your best pictures and it’s lost its authenticity in a way, whereas TikTok really has that authentic nature.”
Xhenis adds that TikTok virality is different to other platforms: “It’s not like in the past with different platforms where you’ve seen people do crazy things to get views.
“It’s more of a natural thing, like videos that show how we make an order, you wouldn’t think that it’s mind-blowing, but people take an interest in that. That’s the good thing about TikTok, you can go viral from sharing a natural process.”
Is TikTok the new social media haven for small businesses? We think so.
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