Finding Your Niche on TikTok with Dulma Altan

As more and more people accept TikTok as a shaper of culture and discourse, we sat down with Dulma to get her POV on getting started on the platform, leveraging creators, and what’s next for DTC.

September 14, 2022
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Blue background with Tydo logo and white text that says "Finding Your Niche on TikTok"

Finding Your Niche on TikTok with Dulma Altan 

Anyone and everyone can be an influencer these days, but few creators can cut through the noise and build an incredibly engaged, loyal, and cult following. 

One TikTok creator who’s doing so and taking the DTC world by storm is Dulma Altan, who goes by @IAmDulma on the app, building what she calls the “TikTok B-School for women.” She’s amassed 2.1M+ likes on her content. Her videos span from deep dives on the Erewhon smoothie strategy to the Goop and Poosh collab. Plus, she recently launched her podcast “Due Diligence” (highly recommend). 

As more and more people accept TikTok as a shaper of culture and discourse, we sat down with Dulma to get her POV on getting started on the platform, leveraging creators, and what’s next for DTC. 

Dulma’s TikTok Origins

Dulma’s TikTok journey first began in September 2021. Simply put, she started posting on a whim, experimenting with the platform, and learning the algorithm. 

Then, she challenged herself to post once a day for 100 days straight. At first, she followed trends, and by week three, she found her niche: posting about business, specifically academically dissecting celebrity-backed brands

She leveraged the Kardashians to make business more approachable, and her TikToks blew up. One of her most popular videos dives into seven embarrassing Kardashian business flops. Since her 100-day challenge, Dulma has continued to lean into analyzing celebrity-backed brands, such as Skims, as well as unpack what Emily Weiss stepping down from Glossier means for the brand

Now, she’s one of the biggest creators within the DTC/ecommerce space. 

“I’m an accidental TikToker. On TikTok, virality can happen accidentally, whereas, on YouTube and Instagram, you have to work for it.” 

Prioritizing Energy & Enthusiasm 

TikTok is built for our short attention spans. Keeping that in mind, “The hook is everything,” says Dulma. Once you nail down the hook, it’s about cutting out the fluff and rambling. Ruthless editing is key. 

“Focus on the 80/20 rule when you’re getting started. Then, build on what works and make little adjustments along the way,” adds Dulma. 

Above all else, “Talk about the things that energize you and light you up. TikTok responds to that energy,” says Dulma. 

Ideally, the person creating content on TikTok loves the platform itself. Taking a social media manager and throwing them on TikTok doesn’t work. The platform has its language, set of nuances, and weird, best practices. For brands looking to hire a creator, “You have to be good at talent spotting,” explains Dulma. “That’s why so many brands hire people straight out of college or even interns.” 

“The key: Can you bring enthusiasm and energy to the platform? TikTok responds to that.” 

Finding the Balance Between Entertainment & Education 

It’s easy to ramble on TikTok. Honing a succinct, eloquent narration style—like Dulma—takes time. 

The key: find a balance between entertainment and education. 

“Fundamentally, TikTok doesn’t call itself a social media platform. They call themselves an entertainment platform like Netflix,” says Dulma. 

Finding the balance between insight and entertainment takes time and practice. The hardest part is finding a way to synthesize all the key information into a three-minute video or less. 

So, what does Dulma’s content creation process look like? 

She spends a good chunk of researching, and then she outlines her key points in Notion. She prefers outlining over scripting. Additionally, she tries to use casual language as if she’s talking to a friend or nerding out with a business-y friend. 

She doesn’t use a ton of cuts (impressive, right?). When she uses cuts, she groups them by bundles of insights. That way she knows the cuts ahead of time and what insights go into each one. 

“Find a process that works for you. It looks different for everyone.” 

Where to Start  

Not sure where to start on the platform? Experiment! 

Dulma recommends picking three different strategies and testing them for 90 days. For example, one strategy could be using TikTok’s greenscreen. Another strategy could be creating education-first videos. 

Once you start posting, pay attention to: 
  1. Comments
  2. Questions 

“Comments are the best. They’re practically free suggestions and ideas,” adds Dulma. 

To find actual content ideas underneath each strategy, Dulma suggests finding other, similar pages—either ones that have a similar audience, tone, or approach. Look at the questions and comments on their pages and leverage them to see what’s useful and what people want to know. 

Comments and questions are especially helpful because it’s tricky to understand what level of knowledge people have on the platform. Are they new to the DTC space? Do they understand attribution? Do they need more hand-holding, or are they more advanced? 

That’s yet another reason Dulma says, “Experiment. Experiment.” She’s often surprised at how little people know and how much people know. Plus, every TikTok post gets pushed to a different audience. 

In Dulma’s case, she’s attempting to reach a business audience (the industry) while making business more fun and engaging for the average viewer. She strongly believes that everyone should have some sort of business literacy in today’s day and age. To make business digestible, she uses this Trojan horse of Skims and other celebrity-backed brands to make venture capital and business more engaging. 

Dulma uses consumer brands with a ton of brand recognition to reach a larger audience. She focuses on mostly beauty brands because 85% of her followers are female and she’s an avid beauty consumer. 

“It all comes back to your purpose and your intention for the content,” says Dulma. 

“A lot of brands think you have to follow trends. You don’t. Instead, follow trending themes and topics. Then, insert yourself into the conversation.”

How to Leverage and Partner with Creators 

Ready to partner with creators? Remember: It’s not only about quantity. It’s about quality and engagement as well. 

Dulma doesn’t have millions of followers. Rather, she has a mighty group of incredibly engaged followers. They search for her name every day on TikTok. They’re loyal and know what to expect from her. 

“Look for signs of genuine engagement, loyalty, and retention in creators,” recommends Dulma. 

Generally, brands are too heavy-handed and prescriptive when working with creators, notes Dulma. “I don’t think enough brands understand the mindset of the creator,” she explains. “Creators want the partnership to work. They want to get as many conversions as possible.” 

Sometimes, it’s best to step back and let the creator work their magic. “There will always be brand talking points,” says Dulma. “When brands are too prescriptive, they shoot themselves in the foot.”  

The creators know their audiences better than anyone else. Plus, they have a vested interest in helping brands succeed because all creators want long-term partnerships. It’s equally as beneficial for them as it is for the brand. 

So, what’s the best practice? “Send the creator high-level concepts and talking points, and then let them work their magic,” says Dulma. 

“DTC brands need to have retention. Creators also need to have retention.” 

What to Watch in DTC

Taking a step back and looking at the DTC landscape as a whole, Dulma is most excited about the brands that are “doing something genuinely innovative.” She’s currently admiring scientifically-innovative brands, such as K18. “They have breakthrough hair bonding technology,” says Dulma. “That’s a real moat.”

“There are so many headwinds in DTC. Hype over substance is hard to sustain,” notes Dulma. 

As we all know, we’re heading into a recession. Who will come out on top? 

“The brands that have a true moat around their product will win.” Is the product something that deserves to exist? Is there no other brand working on this type of solution? 

Dulma sees the recession clearing out all kinds of brands that don’t need to exist. So, every brand needs to be truly differentiated—whether the clear point of differentiation is scientific innovation or an incredible, cult-like community. 

The product has to be good. The brand story has to be there. The visual identity needs to be cohesive. Increasingly, price matters because we live in an inflationary environment. 

“The recession will instill discipline into brands,” she adds. 

Nowadays, Dulma notes that celebrity-backed brands are increasingly challenged. “A celebrity attached to a brand is becoming more and more of a liability,” says Dulma. “Sure, their initial fan base will buy the product, but will they have retention? Will their growth taper off? Plus, so many people are now skeptical about influencer or celebrity-backed brands. The bar is much higher?” 

Most people forget how long it takes to build a brand that stands the test of time. Take Clif Bar, for example. The brand was founded in 1992. It was only this year that Mondelez International bought the bar company for $2.9 billion. 

“You can create the illusion of building a strong brand in a short amount of time, but that’s not the same as having the foundation of a strong brand,” notes Dulma. “You do it by building cult loyalty over time. The brands that are disciplined and patient will succeed in whatever vertical they’re in.” 

“The recession will force brands to become good at long-term brand building. If you’re not good at that, you’re not going to last.” 

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