Social media helped 2 businesses survive the pandemic | Company
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge for small businesses that previously relied solely on in-person interactions. But thanks to a different kind of viral experiment, two Valley businesses aren’t just surviving, they’re thriving.
Their secret? TikTok, the social media app that hosts short videos ranging from 15 seconds to 10 minutes.
Blanca Ulloa and Allie Dziewulski founded their event rental company Goodyear in March 2020, just before the pandemic was declared. Jump Into Bliss focuses on bouncy houses for high-end events for children and adults, including weddings and bachelorette parties.
With stay-in-place orders in effect, Ulloa and Dziewulski had nothing to do but engage on social media, and after a few months they focused their marketing strategy on social media, including Tik Tok.
“When we started, our views were like one in 100 if we were lucky,” Ulloa said. “Then one day we woke up and we had a video that hit a million views.”
This video – a 30-second time-lapse of a bounce house being installed – went viral four months after Ulloa and Dziewulski started on TikTok.
At the start of the pandemic, they were getting almost no business, but after the video, inquiries were coming in daily. Now they are full until October 2023.
Party business takes off
After encouragement from friends and family, Jessica Camacho started Decor by Jess, a small party decoration business, in 2019. Her husband and sisters are the only other employees of the Glendale company.
Camacho jumped on social media and tried marketing on Facebook, OfferUp, and Instagram, where she had moderate success. When the pandemic hit, Camacho turned to TikTok, which she attributes to the success of the business.
“A couple of my videos went viral so I think that helped a lot. TikTok helped a lot,” Camacho said.
The videos she has posted are usually fast-paced highlight reels or decoration time-lapses. She also takes advantage of popular trends and audio on the platform. According to one of Camacho’s TikToks, Decor by Jess now has to turn away customers.
Camacho said other companies, such as food truck Naughty Tacos, which began publishing around the same time, have seen similar success on the platform.
“I think their counts grew, and that helped their business,” she said. “I’ve seen this happen many times.”
The use of social media is booming
Social media use has become more common across all demographics, said Liesel Sharabi, an assistant professor at ASU’s Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, who primarily studies the social uses of technology.
“That’s especially true during the pandemic because people were spending a lot of time at home,” Sharabi said.
With this increase in the use of social media, especially during the pandemic, Sharabi said it presents many businesses with “really unique marketing opportunities”.
According to Business of Apps, TikTok had 1.2 billion users in the last quarter of 2021 and is expected to reach 1.8 billion by the end of 2022.
Kelsey Sidowski, who lives in the West Valley, found Jump Into Bliss on TikTok. Looking to rent a bouncy house for her son’s 10th birthday, she searched his other social media accounts to determine if the business was legit.
“I think legitimate businesses have more than just TikTok,” Sidowski said. “I think digging a little deeper just to see Instagram and Facebook, or anything like that, is definitely better than just a random TikTok video.”
Sidowski said she’s worked with several other businesses she’s found on TikTok, but not all of her experiences have been positive. That’s why she searches for companies on other platforms.
She rented bouncy castles from Jump Into Bliss for four events: a bachelorette party, a friend’s birthday, and two parties for her kids.
“It was great to see them develop so much,” Sidowski said. “It looks like they’re really taking the planning of the party by storm.”
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