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How TikTok is working with small businesses in South East Asia

Genify claims by using TikTok, its user engagement reached an all-time high

There has been a considerable drop in demand for goods and services offered by small-medium businesses, with 61% of SMBs in Asia Pacific reporting a fall in sales. In countries with limited lockdowns, like Taiwan, 28% of SMBs reported a drop in sales of over 50%. The Drum finds out how small businesses are turning to platforms like TikTok to navigate this challenge.

In South East Asia, small-medium businesses (SMBs) account for an average of 97% of all businesses. However, smaller budgets and limited resources often leave these SMBs feeling restricted in reaching their target audiences. Some 61% in Asia Pacific have also reported a fall in sales due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

For Vietnamese company Genify Studio, the game developer turned to TikTok to further expand their audience and in-game purchases in their hyper games.

It used TikTok’s In-Feed Ads and used screen recordings of users playing their games for ads, instead of working with a film production team. Beyond Vietnam, Genify used TikTok’s Automated Creative Optimization to mix and match creative assets across their various international campaigns to create multiple ads and then evaluate the optimal combination of variables to best reach their target audience.

“The insights into user behaviour and interests provided by TikTok’s platform enables us to identify our customers for effective targeting, and the automation the platform offers is also useful in optimising the efficiency of ad delivery on our system,” explains Mai Anh Sang, the product manager at Genify.

“These key functionalities have enabled us to drive conversions at an affordable cost and grow our customer base exponentially, even with limited resources as a small business. This helps us free up valuable resources and time that we have since been able to spend on other parts of our business.”

Genify claims by using TikTok, its user engagement reached an all-time high as the ads' conversion rate hit 30.85% and it received over six million impressions and 275,000 clicks. In total, it saw total installations rise to 61,000.

The game developer also saw its average revenue and installations across their existing markets rose significantly after creating country-specific ads. From operating in South Korea, Japan and Thailand, it has now expanded to five new markets.

Another SMB, Dear Me Beauty, an Indonesian beauty brand whose mission is to remind every woman to be confident with her own beauty, launched an In-Feed Ads campaign on TikTok during Harbolnas (12.12), Indonesia’s annual online shopping campaign.

It worked with popular creators to show off their products, provide reviews, and display their final results.

The campaign helped Dear Me Beauty reach more than 7.2m users, and saw a 60% sales increase during the campaign period. The campaign also generated 92,000 profile visits and increased their TikTok followers by more than 60,000 in only 16 days.

Dear Me Beauty was also able to expand its reach and increase business sales. While Dear Me Beauty's customers were previously from big cities, they are now able to tap into new audiences through TikTok.

Besides choosing the right formats, Esme Lean, the head of small and medium business for South East Asia at TikTok, says finding an authentic voice on the platform is key to growing SMBs' presence.

The brands TikTok is seeing having the most success are those that embrace the creativity and authenticity of the TikTok community, she explains, adding that SMBs can re-purpose their current assets using TikTok’s Creative Tools to connect with TikTok's audience.

“We recently launched Grow with TikTok: Starter Lab in February 2021 - our in-depth TikTok training programme which includes interactive sessions that help SMBs in South East Asia build their expertise as advertisers and grow their businesses effectively on TikTok,” she explains.

“During the hour-long sessions, SMBs can learn from established figures in the marketing industry and the TikTok team on how to get started on the platform through TikTok Ads Manager.”

She adds: “SMBs can take advantage of the various learning and educational tools on the TikTok For Business platform. In particular, TikTok has a Small Business Resource Centre, which provides the best practices and resources for SMBs to learn how to connect with their audience. Businesses can also read how other SMBs from South East Asia have approached their TikTok ads strategy and grown their business, and learn from them.”

Macroeconomic trends may be driving the challenges facing small businesses in South East Asia, but brands that are willing to find audiences in new places are finding success, despite the uphill battle.

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