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How Screen Printers Are Using TikTok to Reach New Heights

Screen printers are seeing great success on the newest, and arguably most influential, major social media platform.




How Screen Printers Are Using TikTok to Reach New Heights
N 2021, WE SAW TikTok solidify itself as a global social media powerhouse. Some proactive screen printers took advantage of this. Clever Fools, a Kansas City, Kansas-based streetwear brand, was one of them. They showed us the power of TikTok by achieving a stunning number of views, likes, and follows on the platform when we profiled them at the start of the year. Since then, Clever Fools owner and TikTok specialist Alex Trinkle has seen his content continue to lead to sales and brand legitimacy. He’s become a source of information and a virtual mentor to dozens of teenagers and young entrepreneurs hoping to start their own streetwear brands.

“My TikTok videos, they’ll be hitting a million plus views every once in a while. The TikTok algorithm seems so much more generous than Instagram, but I never know if a video is going to blow up,” he says. “It feels all random, but you just have to keep on creating and hope that people will see your videos. It’s strange. The videos that I think will get big and be seen by a lot of people usually don’t, but when I film a video on the spot, they tend to do well. I think people appreciate the behind-the-scenes feel of the content.”

As a result of Clever Fools’ immersive branding on TikTok, fans love modeling their apparel on their personal social media pages.

As a result of Clever Fools’ immersive branding on TikTok, fans love modeling their apparel on their personal social media pages.

When we profiled Trinkle last January, the @cleverfools TikTok account had 134,000 followers and his videos had amassed more than 2.1 million likes. In mid-November, not even a year later, his account has 166,000 followers and more than 2.7 million likes. That’s right: He’s gained more than 30,000 followers and accrued more than half a million more likes in under one year. It’s quite impressive.

“Videos are the new wave if you want to grow your business. I think showing people what you do and giving people info is the way to go. There’s just so many people who think my videos are cool, and then they’ll buy some merch just to support me,” says Trinkle. “I also think they want to see the quality that I push out when it comes to T-shirts, and the ink, and all that. I’ve had people who have their own brand, but buy mine because I’m giving out all that content for free.”

TikTok users have proven themselves to be a respected group with purchasing power, as we’ve seen with the cranberry juice sales uptick after now famous TikTok user @DoggFace208 made a viral video of himself listening to Fleetwood Mac while drinking out of an Ocean Spray bottle on his skateboard. Just recently, TikTok user @emilymariko went viral with an easy salmon recipe, and Instacart recognized a significant uptick in salmon and seaweed orders in the following weeks. It may be hard to believe, but there is real influence on TikTok.

I watched Trinkle host a TikTok live session late on a Friday night where he announced his goal was to sell 12 sweatshirts live. He did exactly that. While entertaining his viewers and answering questions, his coworker was making sales in the comments of the video. It felt very groundbreaking to witness.

At the end of the day, Trinkle wants to see other shop owners find success with the app, too. “Everybody who says they’re against TikTok or doesn’t want to sign up for it, they’ll eventually have to do it down the road,” he says. So, why not get in before TikTok truly goes mainstream and your grandmother ends up with an account? As Trinkle puts it, “There’s never a bad time to start.”

Let’s see how some existing screen printing profiles grew in 2021 (See bottom of page).


How Screen Printers Are Using TikTok to Reach New Heights
021 will officially be looked back upon as the year that TikTok established itself as one of the world’s most powerful forms of social media. We’ve already touched on the buying power behind the app, so let’s check out how some of the most popular screen printing accounts on TikTok did during the last year in terms of followers.

One common thread we can see among all of these successful accounts is their willingness to take their followers behind the scenes. We see the ink being spilled, the squeegees being pushed, and the screens being cleaned. When the customer can see how you run your shop and grow trust in your brand before even making a purchase, not only does it influence them to buy from you, it makes them want to keep up with your projects. For example, if your shop comes out with a special boutique sweatshirt design, that follower is now more likely to purchase it and even post it on their Instagram story. You never know when a follower can turn into both a fan and customer of your brand.


How Screen Printers Are Using TikTok to Reach New Heights
oining a new social media platform or committing to making content, especially video, on a new platform can be extremely intimidating. Where do you even start? Do you hate the sound of your voice on camera? Feel self-conscious about how you look in the videos? Join the crowd! Everyone feels like that at first.

A huge part of creating engaging content is simply taking that first step and leaving your insecurities at the door. Check out some of these screen printing-themed TikToks above. Everyone wants to know how quality T-shirt designs are made, so give them a sneak peak!

Check out some of the most viral screen printing TikToks below.



Let’s Talk About It

Creating a More Diverse and Inclusive Screen Printing Industry

LET’S TALK About It: Part 3 discusses how four screen printers have employed people with disabilities, why you should consider doing the same, the resources that are available, and more. Watch the live webinar, held August 16, moderated by Adrienne Palmer, editor-in-chief, Screen Printing magazine, with panelists Ali Banholzer, Amber Massey, Ryan Moor, and Jed Seifert. The multi-part series is hosted exclusively by ROQ.US and U.N.I.T.E Together. Let’s Talk About It: Part 1 focused on Black, female screen printers and can be watched here; Part 2 focused on the LGBTQ+ community and can be watched here.

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