Acquire new customers using TikTok

an interview with Holly Cardew.

The world is talking about TikTok, the hottest video-based social network. Most recently, ecommerce brands have found unique ways to engage with new customers via TikTok.

This week on the podcast, we’re talking all things TikTok: what it is, what opportunities businesses have to acquire new customers, and whether your business should consider utilizing TikTok as a new acquisition method.




Holly is the founder of two software companies, Vop and Pixc. Collectively she has four apps in the Shopify App Store that are used by thousands of merchants.

More recently Holly co-founded Vop to help merchants take advantage of their growth on TikTok by creating a shoppable TikTok feed, and giving them social proof using video.

Holly has a background in ecommerce, online marketing, graphic design, and building distributed teams. She is passionate about helping businesses succeed while being as efficient as possible. When she's not working, she loves trying new places to eat and traveling (prior to the pandemic).



Octane AI enables fast-growing D2C brands to increase revenue and collect data from the marketing channels your customers use.

Clocked in a time clock for Shopify.

With Clockedin your team members can easily clock in and out of their shifts from anywhere. You can manage your team's hours as they work remotely with an intuitive interface that can be used from desktop, tablet, or mobile. 


show notes.

  • [03:20] What is TikTok?
  • [05:00] Brands using TikTok
  • [05:23] Why use TikTok as an acquisition strategy
  • [07:00] TikTok is not for every brand
  • [08:55] Kelly references a TikTok video she created about an onion but never goes into detail about it
  • [10:00] What is the TikTok Creator Marketplace?
  • [12:00] TikTok Ad Types
  • [16:15] Introduction to Holly
  • [18:30] Why should merchants be using TikTok?
  • [21:31] Is TikTok just for Gen Z?
  • [25:00] Which brands are doing well on TikTok?
  • [28:02] How can merchants get started with TikTok?
  • [33:00] Is music required for a good Tiktok video?
  • [34:00] The Skin Doctor
  • [36:18] Recommended resources for learning more
  • [39:02] Store shoutouts





Kelly (00:00):

The world is talking about TikTok, the hottest video based social network. Most recently ecommerce brands have found unique ways to engage with new customers via TikTok. This week on the podcast we're talking all things TikTok. What it is, what opportunities businesses have to acquire new customers, and whether your business should consider utilizing TikTok as a new acquisition method. Grab some tea and join us.

Rhian (00:26):

Welcome to Commerce Tea, a podcast to help you succeed on Shopify. I'm Rhian.

Kelly (00:31):

And I'm Kelly. Grab a mug and join us as we talk about all things commerce.

Rhian (00:35):

Hey Kelly, how can merchants get more out of their Facebook Messenger and SMS marketing campaigns?

Kelly (00:51):

I recommend Octane AI, the leading Facebook Messenger and SMS platform for Shopify and Shopify Plus merchants.

Rhian (00:58):

How does it work?

Kelly (00:59):

Using their built in flows, conversational ads and retargeting campaigns, you can easily unlock Messenger and SMS as new revenue channels. The platform has ready to go integrations with top apps such as Klaviyo, Privy, Recharge, and Justuno.

Rhian (01:14):

What kinds of returns can I expect?

Kelly (01:16):

Merchants using Octane AI report 80% to 95% open rates, a 7X increase in click through rates, and even a 7% to 20% increase in revenue.

Rhian (01:25):

This sounds great, where can I learn more?

Kelly (01:28):

You can start a 14 day free trial by requesting a demo at or by visiting the Shopify app store and searching for Octane AI. Good morning Rhian.

Rhian (01:38):

Good morning Kelly, how are you?

Kelly (01:41):

I am great. I am on vacation right now.

Rhian (01:47):


Kelly (01:47):

At home, doing non-work things. This is not considered work.

Rhian (01:54):

I'm not working as I am working.

Kelly (01:56):

I am not working. How are you?

Rhian (02:00):

I'm doing well. I am not on vacation but I plan on doing that at some juncture in the next three to six months.

Kelly (02:08):

You should.

Rhian (02:08):

I should.

Kelly (02:09):

Absolutely do that. You were supposed to go on vacation with me.

Rhian (02:12):

And I still may take a couple days off this week, we'll see what happens, we'll see what happens.

Kelly (02:17):


Rhian (02:18):

That's the goal. Then I'll just pester Kelly from a distance and be like, "Say you want to play trivia?"

Kelly (02:24):

I mean you do that everyday anyway.

Rhian (02:26):

Well hey look, fun fact about Rhian, I love trivia. Now you have trivial fact about me. Do you have a fun fact about you?

Kelly (02:33):

Perfect. I lived a day twice.

Rhian (02:37):


Kelly (02:38):


Rhian (02:39):

How so?

Kelly (02:40):

I flew out of Auckland at 3:00 pm and I landed in LA at 6:00 am, and so I had to live that Sunday all over again.

Rhian (02:52):

I love that for you.

Kelly (02:53):

There are worse places to live it, but it's kind of a fun fact. I was also a state champ bowler when I was 11.

Rhian (02:58):

Wait, wait, say that one more time.

Kelly (03:01):

I was state champ bowler when I was 11.

Rhian (03:04):

I am awful at bowling. I'm going to keep this nugget of knowledge in my brain and when we see each other in real life again I'm going to demand a bowl off but I'll just drink beer and watch you win.

Kelly (03:20):

If I have no competition I always win, it's the greatest game.

Rhian (03:23):

Perfect, perfect.

Kelly (03:25):

So speaking of competition.

Rhian (03:27):


Kelly (03:28):

I don't really have a segue into this, but let's talk about TikTok.

Rhian (03:31):

Well I mean it is relevant to competition because TikTok is highly competitive to become an influencer, but also it's probably the easiest platform to become an influencer on right now because it's easier to get found on TikTok than any other platform.

Kelly (03:47):

It is, it absolutely is. So if you are not using TikTok right now and are unsure exactly what it is, TikTok's a social network for short form video content. It's used around the world, it's primarily with Gen Z and younger Millennials, but I think thanks to COVID and everyone being home, the age target has expanded greatly, it's expanded dramatically.

Rhian (04:12):


Kelly (04:13):

So more and more brands are finding an opportunity to use TikTok as a means of generating sales.

Rhian (04:19):

Most recently too TikTok has announced TikTok for business, which is interesting because in terms of longevity of an app, and maybe this is going to get too techy, nerdy, but most social media platforms don't roll out marketplaces and business tools for quite some time. TikTok, I can't even say it.

Kelly (04:43):


Rhian (04:43):

Tik to the Tok has started a business channel and there's a lot of different brands on it. Kelly what kind of brands are we seeing on TikTok for business?

Kelly (04:58):

TikTok has written up case studies for some pretty major brands and we can share each of these case studies in our show notes if you want to read through them. But examples are Nike, Mercedes Benz, Maybelline, Guess, and Clean and Clear. These are all larger household names or I guess garage names if you have a Mercedes Benz in your garage, but direct to consumer brands are finding opportunities to advertise on TikTok. Not even advertise, just have videos go viral, which there's so much opportunity there.

Kelly (05:34):

Before we go into the different kinds of ads that you can purchase through TikTok, I think we should talk about why brands should consider using TikTok for reaching new customers. First one, as Rhian kind of pointed out earlier, is there's really low market saturation. Compared to the likes of Instagram and Facebook and Twitter, where these businesses have been around for a lot longer, their user base is a lot larger, that's not the case yet for TikTok. Side note, LinkedIn is also in the same bucket of TikTok being not hugely oversaturated, not that most people are advertising on LinkedIn. Just wanted to put that out there because I hate LinkedIn but I use it all the time.

Rhian (06:22):

I hate LinkedIn.

Kelly (06:26):

But okay, so there's low market saturation, so that means your entry point... it's a little bit easier to get found basically. Rhian what else is there?

Rhian (06:38):

Well it's less expensive, which is critical. I mean if you only have X amount of dollars to spend on marketing and let's say that number is $1,000 a month and you are selling to Gen Z and younger Millennials, I would be spending my $1,000 on TikTok right now. You're not going to get that kind of return on Facebook especially, but even Instagram. I've noticed a shift off of Instagram and onto TikTok. It really depends on your customer base. Before coming on the air Kelly and I were speaking about how, for certain types of businesses, let's say your target demographic is 40 year old women, TikTok is not the market acquisition platform for you. Now if you're something like, and I'm just spit balling because I just bought my daughter a bunch of skincare from this product line, Bloom which I actually learned about from Salima, our previous guest, which is Gen Z skincare and girl empowerment type stuff, now that makes a lot of sense to market on TikTok. So I will say it is inexpensive, but depending on who you're selling to it may not be the right place to put your dollars.

Kelly (07:51):

Exactly, and we use the same reason why a lot of merchants are not advertising on Pinterest because there's no relevance there. Just because TikTok is the cool new platform to consider advertising on does not mean you should advertise on there. Put your dollars where they're actually going to get the biggest return.

Rhian (08:09):

100%. I also think, you've mentioned this as well earlier on, that TikTok is really unique in the sense that anyone can go viral. I'm really fascinated by that concept because to go viral on Twitter takes one thing, it's one thing. To go viral on Instagram is another, right? To go viral on Facebook is a... TikTok though you are far more discoverable right out the gates.

Kelly (08:35):


Rhian (08:36):

You get surfaced and served to people way more quickly.

Kelly (08:41):

It was really bizarre when I decided to try out TikTok for the first time and I posted a video, and I think I discuss it in the interview with Holly so I'm not going to go too deep into detail here. But I had 500 views on my really dumb video and I had zero followers, but somehow these people were finding my video. So if I got 500 views on a really dumb video, these people having really creative content are seeing millions of views and the engagement, all the likes and comments and shares, I think it's so cool. Because like you said, you do not see that on any other social network platform anywhere.

Rhian (09:25):

Should we be having a Commerce Tea TikTok?

Kelly (09:29):

I'm afraid of doing that.

Rhian (09:30):

I'm afraid of doing it too because I don't understand the platform well enough to utilize it.

Kelly (09:35):

Are you sure your daughter would not disown you?

Rhian (09:41):

I mean maybe we need to hire her as an outside consultant.

Kelly (09:44):

There we go, well we have our first influencer for Commerce Tea.

Rhian (09:50):

But I'm never not fascinated by this platform and I'm really excited about the opportunities behind it. I'm also really stoked about a new feature that TikTok has rolled out and has continued to roll out, which is the Creator Marketplace, which I think is the first one if its kind.

Kelly (10:15):

I don't know a single platform that does something similar, so tell the world what the TikTok Creator Marketplace is.

Rhian (10:20):

Okay, and this is from our understanding, so if we're wrong send us an email. Basically a Creator Marketplace is for brands to discover and partner with content creators on paid brand campaigns, and then drive awareness and attract new customers. Like a typical influencer relationship or creator relationship, but TikTok is behind the scenes helping make those connections for you instead of you trying to just cold DM someone on Instagram saying, "Hey, we want to do paid placement with you, how much does it cost?" I also like the idea that they broker it for you and that way-

Kelly (10:54):

I think that's really cool.

Rhian (10:56):

It has some accountability on both ends so in theory neither party gets burned, which we've all heard about happening in influencer marketing on both sides. Either someone isn't getting paid or someone isn't upholding their end of the bargain. This Creator Marketplace is fascinating, super timely, and I would not be surprised if we see it adopted on other platforms in the future because it's a really good idea. And it's a thing people ask for.

Kelly (11:23):

Yeah, I think TikTok, again being so new, is really at an advantage here because they have fewer potential influencers to onboard right now, so they can really curate who they want to let into this new Creator Marketplace. When you're Instagram and there are millions of users, I don't even know what the actual user count is of Instagram.

Rhian (11:47):

Oh it's so many.

Kelly (11:48):

You've got a lot more potential influencers that you have to actual go through for that. So I think I want to discuss now what the different ad types are for TikTok before we go into our interview with Holly.

Rhian (12:03):

Okay, absolutely.

Kelly (12:05):

Okay, so there are five major types of ads that you can buy on TikTok. The first one is called Top View, so this is up to 60 seconds of full screen and long form video. It auto plays, has sound. When I opened up my TikTok app before we started recording this, the first thing I was shown was a Top View video. The second is Brand Takeover, so you can capture user attention through a full screen visual experience. This is usually a three to five second video or a three second jpg. Super short, just a really quick oh what's this kind of thing. The next is in feed ads, so this is going to be another 60 second video so you can tell your brand story, just like a TikTok creator would, just as a standard video, and that video gets integrated into the For You feed on TikTok.

Kelly (12:58):

The next, which you have probably seen if you've used TikTok at all or just seen conversations around it, is you've seen hashtag challenges where people have done a dance with a hashtag. In this case it's a branded hashtag challenge, so it's specific to your brand so all users on TikTok can participate and create content around this campaign theme and all user generated content gets attributed to this hashtag and you're generating all kinds of content that you can use for later advertising. What's really cool about these is that the engagement rate is about 8.5% through likes, comments, and shares. You're getting some really good exposure for your brand.

Rhian (13:36):

That's really high engagement rate.

Kelly (13:38):

Yeah, and the last one is branded effect, so these are going to be tailor made stickers, filters, and special effects. But as of I think last week they actually added a new one called branded scan. That allows users to have an augmented reality experience with any brand, so anything can be added for 2D, 3D, or AR format, which I think would be super fun to play with. Imagine getting an ad for, I don't know, a robot. Let's say a robot because robots are fun, and it's just a total AR experience so suddenly you're seeing this robot in your room.

Rhian (14:13):

For all of you who have robots at home this is a-

Kelly (14:16):

Now you can buy your own robot.

Rhian (14:17):

Yeah, you can buy your own. I say that jokingly, but at the same time I can't say certain words in my house otherwise it'll trigger house automation function so I guess I too have robots in my home.

Kelly (14:32):

I always wanted to put out an ad that just says, "Hey Siri, visit my"

Speaker 3 (14:40):

I'm sorry.

Kelly (14:43):

I made Siri go off.

Rhian (14:45):

Siri's like, "Excuse me ma'am, do you need me or no?"

Kelly (14:50):

Just to trigger everybody's Siri and make them go to my website.

Rhian (14:55):

I think it would work. Whenever I hear A-L-E-X-A's name on... Or A-L-E-X-A's, yeah that's correct.

Kelly (15:04):

Yep, you got it.

Rhian (15:04):

Name and it comes through the TV or through anything. You just hear ping throughout my house because we have one of those creatures in every room in my house. In my husband's desire to make our entire home automated it's a fine line between what if we just start the lights flashing in my home.

Kelly (15:30):

I don't have a single one in my house by choice.

Rhian (15:34):

It's probably a smart choice.

Kelly (15:36):

It's not for me, but anyway. So instead of us going on about TikTok, which is honestly not an app I use everyday, we are going to now introduce Holly Cardew, somebody who is much more knowledgeable in the area of TikTok who is going to talk to us about brands who are doing well on TikTok and how everybody can actually get started using TikTok in a business sense using one of the platforms that she's built.

Rhian (16:15):

We're excited to have Holly Cardew, founder and GM of Pixc and co-founder of Vop, to help us understand TikTok and how to use it as a powerful marketing tool. Hi Holly.

Holly (16:26):

Hi, thanks for having me over on your show today.

Rhian (16:29):

Absolutely. Why don't you tell us a little about yourself.

Holly (16:32):

So as you mentioned I'm the founder of Pixc and also Vop, more recently Vop, and I started working the Shopify ecosystem with stores in 2013 and realized that apps were a fantastic place to be able to build products to help solve merchants problems, for many merchants, not just a few. I first started with Pixc, which is photo editing app and then I moved more recently onto Vop. The reason why I started Vop was I saw an opportunity using user generated content and also video content on the ecommerce side, and so focused on TikTok because there's big opportunities there where they're growing so fast at the moment.

Kelly (17:14):

I love that. So before we go any further, companies name is Vop. For our listeners, because we can see how it's spelled, can you explain how it's spelled and what the origination behind the name, where it comes from?

Holly (17:29):

Yeah, so it's V-O-P and it's basically for video shopping. We started off actually focused on TikTok and we've only been around for three months so it's progressed rapidly and we were focusing just on TikTok but then we realized that there is Instagram stories and SnapChat and vertical videos becoming really, really popular in short form video, and video content on product pages. So we decided actually after a couple weeks to rename to Vop. We are now Vop. The website is and we also have some other things coming around, which is all about Vop and Vop shops.

Kelly (18:06):

Vop shops I love it. There are so many fun rhyming opportunities there. So TikTok is obviously becoming a lot more popular. I am really slow to catch on and only just recently downloaded the app on my phone. My husband had it before I did and he is really proud to show me videos that I've never seen before because that's the only thing he gets before I do. Why should merchants be using TikTok?

Holly (18:33):

So I think we really focus on telling merchants that they should be on TikTok because it is one of the fastest growing social platforms. It's overtaking Instagram and it's a new form of content and also you're able to reach a new audience. Now having said that, you have to reach a new audience, it's not just younger people, there are... It did start with a younger generation but more and more people who are older, there's even hashtag over 30, hashtag over 40, hashtag over 50, is becoming a thing and I think what brands are finding and why they say that brands should be on there is it's not just a static image, you can show your customers what your product looks like, how people can engage with your product, and so that's why I think it's a really interesting platform.

Holly (19:22):

I think also the difference between Instagram and TikTok is that when users sign up you don't need to follow anyone. You automatically get a feed called For You page, and so it allows people who would have never discovered your brand to discover your brand. So it's really interesting to see that and they're really pushing your videos to people who would have never seen your brand before on Instagram or other social platforms.

Kelly (19:47):

What's that page called again?

Holly (19:49):

The For You page, so it is obviously based on their algorithm and when you first open the app they don't really know who you are or anything, but over time it will learn and then show you videos I guess that they, TikTok, thinks is appropriate to you, which is a whole other topic. Because it is changing, the algorithm's changing all the time and so that is... I don't know if they know exactly what to push to you until you've started liking things and they also get to decide. You can start to follow people and that's on your following page, but the main page everyone looks at is the For You page.

Kelly (20:25):

That's the page when I open up TikTok and there's a person dancing or somebody baking an item, that's the For You page that I land on automatically?

Holly (20:36):


Kelly (20:36):

Okay, okay.

Holly (20:37):


Kelly (20:38):

Got it, and is that... Do you have to hashtag to get there or that just gets picked up in the algorithm?

Holly (20:46):

Well it does get picked up in the algorithm. I mean there are theories out there at the moment, there's funny videos where people are like, "If I'm on your For You page," and you hadn't had any hashtags like it, and sometimes if you don't write any hashtags it will pick it up because it's not just based on hashtags, it's also based on your video content, which TikTok is obviously analyzing what some of you are using, how long is the video, who is in the video, is it a dance video, is it an educational video. I think it changes based on different things and there are people who are testing that all the time, saying that they're testing different hashtags. So the hashtags just help from a search functionality and also for TikTok to understand what the video is about.

Rhian (21:29):

I think there's kind of a misunderstanding about the audience of TikTok. Is it just for Gen Z, or is it for everybody with a heavy Gen Z base, or is there a giant split of audience and demographics? What are you seeing there?

Holly (21:46):

I think there is a lot of Gen Z, but I really do think it's for everyone. I think with the pandemic a lot of people have jumped on TikTok because they're bored and they're at home. The other thing that's happened, and I don't know if you've noticed on your personal Instagram feed, but a lot of the... You probably don't even notice and I know a lot of my friends who are not on TikTok don't notice, but a lot of the video content now on Instagram is actually TikTok content.

Rhian (22:11):


Holly (22:13):

And so I think what's happened is in the last even... So I jumped on TikTok last year around September and didn't really do much with it. I'm still not doing that much, but I guess it's evolved really quickly. Even in the just the last two months there are older people in there, the content is more educational, it's not just about dancing and dance moves, and then all that content is now being shared on Instagram, and so more and more people are moving from Instagram or at least signing up for TikTok. I don't think that it's still a younger demographic. Unfortunately I don't get to see those videos, so again that's the one problem with the For You page is I get the older videos. For me, unless I go out and research it, I can't see what younger generations are doing. We are working with a 16 year old who writes content for our blog, and so she sees completely different things with her friends.

Rhian (23:03):

I love that, yeah.

Holly (23:05):

But she's at high school and she's fantastic and she's given me... I mean there were brands that is about having pimples and being a 16 year old and it's called Starface.

Rhian (23:16):

Oh yeah, Starface. I've got a 14 year old so we are familiar with some of these Gen Z super brands.

Holly (23:24):

It is amazing and I don't know anything about Starface and I would never come across Starface because I don't have a daughter or sister who's 14 and wasn't around when I was 14, so I think that's really interesting because that doesn't come up in my For You page. I need to actively seek out those brands or have someone tell me because I wouldn't otherwise discover them.

Kelly (23:47):

That's so interesting. I bet there's just so much really great content on there that we're never exposed to because we're old.

Holly (23:56):

Yes we're old, but the other thing I do want to say, this is quite controversial because given everything that's happening this week, is in the last 48 hours and I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing, TikTok now 98% of my videos in the last 48 hours are people of color. Now that is not a bad thing that they're showing it to me. It's bad that I have now... My conscious has been like, "Oh, where was this content all along, and why am I getting it this week?" Did they tweak the algorithm to, I don't know, change it? They must have.

Kelly (24:31):

They must have.

Holly (24:31):

Because the thing is, it's not even about just Black Lives Matter and what's going on outside in the street. I'm getting videos of a person of color who's doing their gardening and I'm like, "Oh wow, I've never had this content before ever." It is quite scary how you don't realize the difference until something different comes up, and I've noticed in the last 48 hours and I was quite surprised.

Kelly (25:01):

There's a lot of power in that algorithm.

Holly (25:03):

Yeah, definitely so I mean it's not just the younger generations and discovering brands, it's actually what do they want to push but that's every social media platform, they're going to push what they think is the best.

Kelly (25:13):

True, so let's talk about some brands that are doing well on TikTok. Do you have some examples you can share with us?

Holly (25:21):

So I think the brands that are doing really well are companies like the Washington Post, which is obviously not an ecommerce site, but they have taken something that's really boring like a newspaper and created some interesting and trendy videos that allow the younger generation to be engaged with such company. And then of course the beauty brands are doing a good job, so it's short form content that they're going to show how their products can be used, and then fashion brands like Princess Polly and Fashion Nova are also doing really well on TikTok. I think the ones that understand the power of social channels have jumped onboard early and tried to figure it out. It's not about being right or wrong, I think a lot of brands hold off from doing it but they've obviously managed to see or test a few videos to see what works, see what doesn't, try some of the trends, try some things that are on brand, and then go on from there.

Kelly (26:21):

So that actually leads me to another question, trying these different trends. Obviously I see a lot of things about cleaning videos or dancing videos. I assume these brands are not dancing to the news or their products that they're promoting. Is there a specific type of trend that like ecommerce brands are using on TikTok?

Holly (26:44):

I think some of the ecommerce brands are jumping on the trends. The reason why they do that is because they want to not just blend in because you don't want to completely blend in, but you do want to be... You don't want to bring your Instagram content over to TikTok or your YouTube content over to TikTok, you still want to be that type of... You want to create the content that's appropriate for that platform. I think it's also important to jump on some brands, jump on some of the trends because it actually helps you get picked up A, in the algorithm, B on the trending songs. If there is a trend, a dance trend that is happening you can actually go and view all the videos to deal with that trend, so you actually do want to see the other videos, so you do want to be part of that. But then there's other brands who have decided, even influencers who have decided no, I'm not going to jump on the trends, I'm going to create my own style of content and that might be educational and that's coming on and talking about their product or doing demos.

Holly (27:48):

I think at the moment most brands are jumping on the trends with their product, whether that's switching out products. So for example, an outfit change. There'll be like a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and then do an outfit change in the video and they'll play along with the music, but they haven't really gone into just education content yet. I think they're doing a mix.

Rhian (28:16):

So how would you recommend merchants starting on TikTok? Let's say you sell cookies. I don't know, I don't know, I just made that up in my head because I want a cookie.

Holly (28:28):

Good reason.

Rhian (28:32):

Yeah, do you just start an account and just put out content you think would be good or what would your position on that be?

Holly (28:42):

I really think that brands need to open an account and just watch and go and watch a lot of content before you even start and see what is there that is... What is trending, what is getting a lot of views and a lot of clicks. It's not just about views and clicks, it's also about building an audience. Then decide on what sort of format you want to do, and you can have a video anywhere between one second, but they say 15 seconds and 60 seconds, maximum 60 seconds. And you might find that actually content at around... people say around between 10 and 20 seconds actually performs better than other content. Now it depends on what your brand is. I do think once you've tried it out, maybe if you don't do it under the brand but you do it under your personal account, you can just start creating content and see what works and what doesn't.

Holly (29:31):

I think there's no harm in trying. The other thing we've seen with one of the brands we worked with, they didn't have any content, they didn't know what to do, so they ran a hashtag challenge. They gave away a 300 pound voucher to this store, they emailed all their customers, they're a kids clothing company which is I'll get to what I was doing cookies, but they basically said, "You create a video on TikTok, we're going to draw a winner." They had hundreds of people submit videos, and now they had all this user generated content, and they can actually... TikTok makes it really easy to reshare a video on your account. It does come up with a watermark of the original creator, but they could now repost these videos that weren't their videos but had their product in there, onto their account. So it was very easy for them to not have to create any content.

Holly (30:24):

In the end, one of the people who created one of the videos, she had tens... It was a mother, she had tens of thousands of followers, and now they're working directly with that mother to create content for their business. That was really powerful. The other thing they did was they actually used that content on a Facebook ad and had four times more traffic than any other Facebook ad they've ever used before.

Rhian (30:47):

Huh, so I've got-

Kelly (30:50):

[crosstalk 00:30:50]. I've got a followup question there, so from what I'm understanding there's a wave, a second wave of influencers and they're TikTok influencers and they may be totally independent of Instagram influencers or Twitter influencers. They're their own kind of thing, is that correct?

Holly (31:09):

Yeah definitely. I think the strange thing with TikTok is that remember back in the day when you'd get on Instagram and it was really easy to get followers?

Kelly (31:17):


Holly (31:17):

TikTok's there right now. Yeah and that's really hard now. And so people are going onto TikTok and they're like, "Ah, I'm going to try TikTok, this is funny." Then they're like, "Oh wow, I just got tens of thousands of views." I posted a video and it has 270,000 views. And it's of the streets in San Francisco. I don't have that many followers but I gained 3,000 followers in a few weeks. They're not my friends, they're just like... It's because the video blew up. And so I think people who never thought they were influencers and never curated anything because TikTok is not about curating something. They're now growing very fast. I don't think this is going to be forever but this is working right now.

Holly (32:04):

I think that's what's happened with some of these mothers who weren't on Instagram, they're definitely not perfect, they've just recorded a funny video of their kids and it's sort of blown up overnight. And then the brand who doesn't typically work with influencers, they just want to work with what we call micro influencer but the person didn't realize they're an influencer at all, but now they have 50,000 followers and it's not just about the followers they have, they actually know how to create content for the platform. It's helpful that the brand can go to that person and say, "Hey, it's not about being an influencer and posting it to your channel, it's actually you've done a really good job creating this video. Would you mind if we paid you to create video content for our brand?" It's like a content creator rather than... And that's what TikTok calls it, they call it creators rather than influencers.

Kelly (32:55):

Okay, so I have a question because I can be creative when I want to, but I think what holds me up is TikTok seems very focused on music, that everything seems to be to some song or something like that. Is music required for a good TikTok video or can I just be talking about something?

Holly (33:17):

No, you can be talking about something. Something that's really popular right now and they brought it out as a feature recently in the last month, is voice over. So you can go around and record something and then you do a voice over over your video because you're going to speed it up, you're going to edit it, and you don't necessarily know what to say at that point in time. So you might bake a cake, make cookies, and you then go and record a voice over and that's become really popular. The other week a trend was... A hashtag was trending which was mini vlog, which was basically like a vlogging within 60 seconds. So you don't have to jump on any of these music trends, it's just a way to be discovered because if a song is trending, just like a hashtag or a dance, people can search by a song.

Holly (34:01):

But there are a lot of people on there who are focused on... There is someone I follow called the Skin Doctor and I can't remember exactly his name but it is like Skin Doctor. He has 300,000 followers and he just talks about skin and what products to use, but he doesn't dance around and jump on the song and trends. There is a tactic which people do do and they put a song in the background but they mute the song down. So it shows that the song is there, you can be discovered in the feed with the song, but it's actually not playing in your video, it's just attached to that sound.

Kelly (34:37):

Interesting, okay.

Holly (34:37):

Yeah, so you could do that too. Or you can have a voice over with sound turned right down. Not completely down but so you can still slightly hear it. There's different options and I think everyone just assumes TikTok is dancing only. Now it does help to grow your account faster if you have song and dancing, but there are people out there building educational accounts. They just grow slower, but they grow a better community because you're more engaged because that content is really interesting. There's one person I follow and she only talks about the TikTok algorithm and everything that's going on with TikTok. That's all she does. I think she might have 40,000 followers, but you can tell her account grows much slower than someone who goes viral on a dance video. But even though it went viral with 270,000 followers, I realized it was kind of pointless because guess what? It was a video of the San Francisco streets boarded up.

Holly (35:37):

Do I want to build a community being known for boarded San Francisco streets? No, so it was a good experiment but it was pointless because I want to be able to provide value, I probably want to share business tips, I want to talk about ecommerce. I haven't started any of that because I'm just testing things out, but I now have all these followers who probably don't have a business, don't care about ecommerce, just want to see streets of San Francisco. But I don't want to create a whole TikTok account based on here's the streets of San Francisco with the shops boarded up, what it looks like in pandemic. So I think it's important to decide on what you... People say pick a niche. I hear them talk about it all the time, pick a niche. So it's like pick what you want to talk about and focus ideally that account on that thing, which works well for a brand, it's just a bit harder on a personal side and you kind of need to pick what you want to talk about in a bit.

Kelly (36:35):

For sure. So you mentioned this TikTok Creator you said they're called.

Holly (36:41):

Yeah, so TikTok calls them TikTok Creators.

Kelly (36:44):

Creators okay, so there's this person who discusses the TikTok algorithm, which I imagine would be a really useful resource. Do you have any other additional resources that you might recommend to people just getting started on TikTok?

Holly (36:59):

That's a good question. There is an agency called Movers+Shakers who puts out a lot of TikTok content. We're also working with another agency called [Tik Tow 00:37:12], so they help brands create videos, so I'm happy to do introduction to any brands who want to be introduced to them. They work with both influencers and also creators or influencers, to create videos for your brand specifically. We are putting out a lot of TikTok content on our blog. We're also working with an agency called MuteSix down in LA to run webinars. I think TikTok is very new but there is more and more TikTok content coming out. But I would look at those places to begin with.

Rhian (37:52):

Perfect, we'll include those in the show notes to make sure that everyone can see them. We want to talk about one last thing or actually two last things Holly. How does your app work?

Holly (38:04):

Yeah, so we have a Shopify app.

Rhian (38:06):


Holly (38:07):

It's pretty simple. It's interesting because brands are like, "Oh, what do we do?" It's really just one click install like most Shopify apps, and you can bring in your TikTok videos. Our content management system allows you to manage all your videos so you can reject or approve any video you want to show on your site, and you can tag all the products. We connect direct to your product feed and your product catalog, and you can tag all the products in that video. So when a customer comes to your site they can see your TikTok videos and they can essentially watch all of them if they want to, but they can click directly through to the product page with the product that's in the video. Because it's quite hard when a video is 10 seconds, 15 seconds, or 60 seconds to know what that product was, especially if you're doing an outfit change and you have multiple products in a video, so our app enables that.

Kelly (39:02):

Cool, yeah we'll definitely include a link to that in the show notes so people can take a look at that. So to close out all of our episodes we're calling out a Shopify store that's caught our attention, whether it has a good user experience, just has some cool products, whatever it might be. I'm going to put you on the spot here. What is a Shopify store that has caught your attention?

Holly (39:25):

Well I have to be a little bit biased, but I would say Princess Polly just because they're doing such a good job with TikTok and also they have jumped on as an early Vop customer. So they're really leading the way with video shopping and they've created a whole product page dedicated to TikTok and TikTok shopping, so you can essentially be... If you're browsing TikTok with your product feed and you can click directly through to purchase.

Kelly (39:54):

Oh that's cool. Yeah we'll definitely link to that and might link directly to that page because that's pretty interesting.

Holly (40:00):


Kelly (40:01):

Rhian, what is your store this week?

Rhian (40:03):

My store this week is BLK & Bold, it's a specialty coffee and tea company and their focus is on community impact, they're a certified bee company, and they have coffee and tea and I love that. I'm actually going to be ordering us both some Kelly so we have some tea for our next recording round, so yes.

Kelly (40:23):

It's very on brand for you to choose a company that sells tea.

Rhian (40:26):

I know and you know the design is really clear and the message is great. The UX on the store is really amazing, so I just discovered it on Twitter and I'm stoked on this company. That's my company of the week.

Kelly (40:38):

I'll have to check it out.

Rhian (40:40):


Kelly (40:40):

Cool, so I also-

Rhian (40:42):

What's yours?

Kelly (40:43):

Yeah, I also found mine on Twitter and I am super impressed with it. It's called Sensual Candle Co, so they sell candles, but what's really cool is they have all of the right things on their store. They have great photography, they have product reviews, they have email notification sign up for if the product is out of stock. Their product descriptions are awesome. For the candles, for example, they'll say, "This is how the candle is best used. Here's the music you should listen to when you're burning this candle." That is the kind of content I look for in a really creative product description. So I think this is super cool. Last thing they do on their site, other than a lot of other amazing things, is they have all their shipping, the shipping policy and everything right on the product page. This is my dream product landing page right here.

Holly (41:37):

They're actually a Pixc customer.

Kelly (41:39):

Are they really?

Rhian (41:39):

Full circle, I love it.

Holly (41:43):

I also feel like that would be really good video content with the music and a setting.

Kelly (41:49):


Holly (41:50):

Where do you use your candle? In the bathroom, in the kitchen.

Kelly (41:55):

I love it.

Holly (41:55):

Working at home.

Kelly (41:58):

So we'll link to all three of these stores in our show notes. Definitely check them out because we're very much impressed with them.

Rhian (42:07):

Absolutely and Holly thank you so much for taking the time to join us from San Francisco.

Holly (42:12):

Thanks for having me.

Rhian (42:14):

Anytime, we want you to come back and talk about Pixc next, so we'll have you on again soon.

Holly (42:19):


Kelly (42:20):

Thanks so much.

Holly (42:21):


Rhian (42:21):


Holly (42:26):

Thanks for tuning in and thanks again to our sponsors for supporting this episode. You can subscribe to Commerce Tea on your favorite podcasting service. We post new episodes every Tuesday so grab your mug and join us. See you next week.

Rhian (42:46):

Clockedin is a time clock for Shopify. With Clockedin your team members can easily clock in and out of their shifts from anywhere. You can manage your teams hours as they work remotely with an intuitive interface that can be used from desktop, tablet, or mobile. Check it out at or in the Shopify app store.


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published