Join us as we explore how authenticity takes center stage, making TikTok an invaluable tool for businesses seeking meaningful connections with their audience. Keenya Kelly is here to enlighten us on the captivating world of TikTok and its role in shaping the future of digital marketing.
Mastering TikTok for Business Success Episode Summary
TikTok’s Business Potential: Keenya Kelly highlights how TikTok is not just an entertainment platform but a powerful tool for business growth, with the potential to reach a vast and diverse audience.
Vertical Video Marketing: The significance of vertical video in engaging the smartphone audience and creating content that resonates with the TikTok community.
Creative Strategies for Success: Insights into how creativity and adapting to TikTok’s unique trends can lead to significant business opportunities and revenue growth.
Audience Engagement: Techniques for capturing and retaining audience attention on TikTok, emphasizing the importance of the first few seconds of content.
Integration with Broader Digital Strategies: Discussion on how TikTok fits into a comprehensive digital marketing plan, complementing other social media and digital efforts.
Mastering TikTok for Business Success Episode Transcript
Rich: Today’s guest is the CEO of If You Brand It, a vertical video marketing and consulting company agency in San Diego, where she strategically helps business owners develop video and funnel marketing strategies.
In just three years through vertical video marketing, she has grown an audience of over 500,000, generated over $1 million in her business, and has helped thousands of business owners scale and market their businesses online. She recently helped one of her clients reach over $1 million in her business in 10 months on the TikTok platform.
So today we’ll be looking at TikTok and its role in your digital marketing with Keenya Kelly. Keenya, welcome to the podcast.
Keenya: I’m so excited to be here. Thanks for having me.
Rich: So let’s start with video. You mentioned vertical video marketing a couple of times in your bio. So what does that mean exactly?
Keenya: Yeah. So vertical video is basically if you look at our cell phones, it’s all vertical. And it is teaching people how to create content that it fits in the frame of your smartphone, basically.
Rich: Oh, my God. I’m such a noob. I heard vertical and I was immediately thinking vertical industries. And you were talking about no, holding your phone in the way that man intended it to be. All right. Awesome.
So Kenya, I’m curious, what was your introduction to TikTok and when did you realize the potential that it had for you and for your clients?
Keenya: Yeah. So I love telling the story. So I actually initially had heard about TikTok in 2018 from my friend, Jillian Johnson, but I didn’t understand it. And for me, prior to getting on TikTok, I was focusing as a personal brand consultant using live stream, Instagram, Facebook, and all the things. And when we didn’t know what the pandemic was, we just knew something was happening.
And I’m somebody who prays. I pray for creative strategies for my business. Because I think I’m smart, but I didn’t create the whole world. So I pray and I always say, “God, can you give me creative strategy?” And crazily enough, when I was praying, I heard ‘TikTok’, and I was like, that has got to be the devil. There is no way that I am hearing this right. But I was like, I’m used to praying for strategy.
So I just kind of downloaded the app and just started playing with it. But I wasn’t really sure what was happening with it, but I just knew that was what I heard. Until I went viral a couple of months later and I said, “I got it. I see it now. “And that was like my… because nobody was talking about it. I didn’t even know GaryVee was talking about it. And that was my introduction. I was like, “What is going on with these kids? Why am I so old here?” But something was happening. I just didn’t know what until I went viral.
Rich: So what was the video that first went viral for you?
Keenya: So it was completely off brand, but there was… Okay. So obviously if you guys aren’t seeing a video, I’m African American. And so the typical church that I would go to is predominantly African American where I grew up. And so this Caucasian woman had gone to an African American church for the very first time and she was in for it. And so she got to experience what happens in churches when everybody gets excited. And so she started imitating all the things that happen in an African American church. And it was done so tastefully that it was so funny.
And so I did what’s called a ‘duet’, a side-by-side reaction to her video, basically agreeing with her. And the video just goes crazy on social and 100% of the comments were so positive because it was just a fun, fun piece of content.
Rich: So how did you convert? How did you shift from that one moment of ‘eureka’ of ‘hallelujah’, but so off brand, to kind of pivoting to a place where this could actually be on brand? I mean, you have a branding business, on brand and beneficial.
Keenya: Yeah. So I kept creating random content. And I just kind of said to myself, this is a waste of time. I am having fun, but I’m not going to make any money. So then I was like, well, what am I doing on social media? Let me just start teaching what I’m doing on social media. And the kids were like, “get this old lady off the platform”, because it was not relevant to the platform. And I was like, well, something is happening.
So then I found this trending audio, had nothing to do with business, but we did logos. And so I decided to take this audio, which is very funny, and it had this sense of a before and after. And so I was like, okay, let me showcase my client before us and then after us. And so I did that video, that video went viral, and we got all of these inquiries for logos. And that was the moment I said, I’ve got to be creative with my content. It’s totally different than what I do on LinkedIn and Facebook. And I just said, okay, I’ve got to learn how to create new ways of capturing people’s attention. And that was it.
Rich: I want to come back to the audio and trending and all that sort of stuff, but I want to start with some basic questions. Because I think there’s a lot of business owners and marketers like me who obviously recognize the power of TikTok, but maybe they feel that they don’t have the bandwidth to take on TikTok. Maybe they feel like, oh, my audience isn’t on TikTok. I’m sure you’ve heard those complaints once or twice in your life. What do you say to those people?
Keenya: Yeah. So the first thing about audience. So every time I do an event, I did Social Media Marketing World earlier this year, I think it was about 700 people in the room. And I said, “How many of you all are over 30?” Everybody for the most part raised their hand. And I said, “How many of you all actually watch TikTok videos?” About 85% of the over 30 crowd watches TikTok videos. And then I said, “Keep your hand up if you actually post content on TikTok”, it was about 3%.
And so I told them, look, you are watching content on TikTok. Your audience is watching content on TikTok. They’re just not posting because they don’t know how. So when you think about it from your standpoint as a business, your audience is there consuming, and it’s just that we just have to learn how do we create content that causes our audience to stop and watch that content?
Now, from a time standpoint, I get it. We’re busy. We’ve been building our business. How are we building our email lists? And you know, if we’re using social media on different platforms, there’s all that to keep up with. And so to think about adding another one to the mix kind of feels overwhelming.
Well, the first thing that I would say is potentially, if you can, this is something that you can outsource whether you are hiring somebody in the U.S. or you’re hiring somebody through an outsourcing service, where they can be the ones actually managing this for you and for your brand. Because the biggest thing to know, if you don’t hear anything that I say today, is that when is the last time that you’ve invested millions of dollars into changing your entire business model to match your competitors? Never. We don’t do that.
But that’s exactly what Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and all the other social platforms did with competing with TikTok. And so they wouldn’t do that just because. They’re doing that because they can see what the data, the numbers, the dollars of what the power of vertical video. And if all of them are copying exactly what’s happening on TikTok, then it just makes sense that we’re marketing there.
Rich: All right, so you said a word, and I want to stop the interview right now and just focus on what you just said. So you said ‘outsource’. And I think one of the biggest things here is that for me – and I don’t watch a lot of TikTok, but my girlfriend doesn’t do anything but watch TikTok – so I’m a casual observer. It’s like second cousin once removed, right? So to me, what? And obviously she may be looking at things differently than me, but it seems like everybody’s creating their own content. So how exactly would you outsource your content creation for TikTok? Like that to me just seems so impossible.
Keenya: Yeah, for sure. So the thing about it is that you look at like social media as a whole, right? The same way you can create content and you are uploading it to Dropbox, or your social media manager is uploading content in whatever platforms, is the same way they can do it for TikTok. So there are all the different scheduling platforms. The API is open, and so you can use social media platforms, whichever one that you have, like social media schedulers, where that person is uploading your videos to TikTok and scheduling them, the captions, and all the things the same way they do Facebook and Instagram.
Rich: Okay. So you can outsource some of the production, the scheduling, maybe even some of the strategy. But are you still recommending that if I were going to do this for flyte or Agents of Change, that it would be me on camera or something like that, and then I would just be handing off the video content that I create to a third party who could manage all of the ins and outs of TikTok?
Keenya: Yeah, absolutely. Because right now, if you are the main person on Facebook, Instagram, and all that, then you’re doing the exact same thing on TikTok. It’s just that what typically happens, it happens every single time I work with a person privately, is they always say, “Okay, we’ll just repurpose old content”, but then they get on TikTok, and they start getting excited and they want to be a part of these trends. So then they start doing these fun things for their business.
So it always happens within the 90 day or 120-day mark where the person goes, “Okay, I’m kind of bored. How can I create content there?” And then they start creating because they have the bandwidth. So you don’t have to create brand new stuff.
If you look at Gary Vee’s TikTok, it’s very similar to what he’s doing on all the other platforms. He’s being filmed and they’re just chopping things up and posting it.
Rich: Okay, so there still has to be content creation on your part. But what you’re saying is, a lot of the grunt work and a lot of the scheduling and a lot of the postproduction, that can be outsourced to somebody else so you can get back to work.
Keenya: For sure. You know, one of the things, like I just had a live event yesterday where I taught and I was explaining to them, one of the things you can do is record more long form content. If you can do 20-minute, 30-minute videos, one a week, and you use the AI software. There’s a bunch of software companies out there now where you can take that long, horizontal video, upload it into AI, and it’ll chop it up into 10, 20 vertical pieces of content and put captions on it. So if you want the simplest thing, you could start with that.
Rich: All right. So let’s talk a little bit about content. What types of content do you recommend people create for TikTok? And what types are currently performing the best, in your opinion?
Keenya: So you can do pretty much anything on TikTok. It sounds kind of crazy, but anything goes on that platform. Like, things that you don’t even think would work, work really well.
So one of the things that a lot of people do that are in the marketing community or business community is what I call ‘micro learning content’. And so micro learning is basically where you’re taking one thing and then you’re teaching on that one thing. So like this podcast obviously talks about a lot of things. It’s not micro learning, but micro is like, here is one tip to use AI for your business, and then you just teach that one tip for micro.
Another thing you can do that works extremely well is what I call ‘reactions’. So there’s a lady that I follow. She teaches women over 40 about menopause, and she’s got like 3 million followers on there, and all she does is micro learning and reaction. So she will find people that are maybe downplaying menopause and then she reacts to them. Actually, she tells you her certifications as a gynecologist and all this stuff. And then she teaches, she educates then the whole public about it. And it works extremely well because she is debunking myths and things of that nature, or she’s agreeing with people.
Other types of content that you can do, it can be trends. You don’t have to do it. You don’t have to point, dance, or whatever, but those things do work really well as it pertains to awareness. So oftentimes if you go on my account on TikTok, you’re going to laugh your tail off and you’re going to get educated. I know that my educational content is not going to perform as well as the trending type of content because it’s just more relatable. It’s something people want to share and things of that nature.
So I like to do both of them at the same time. Here’s my education and here’s my trend. That way, if one is taken off, then you’re going to get in contact with the other one at the same time. So that works really well.
Rich: I think you kind of answer both of them. Because I was curious about what’s currently working on TikTok, because I’m guessing that there are ebbs and flows and trends that happen. So we’re talking on Halloween 2023, what’s going on right now that feels really appropriate?
Keenya: Yeah, so it’s hilarious. Well, it’s not quite appropriate for business, but there’s so many different filters with Halloween themes and all that. But because Halloween is trending, one of the things you can do is, like one of my friends, she teaches Instagram and so she has put herself in Halloween costumes, and her tagline is, “here’s some spooky ideas for your business.” And so she gets your attention because she’s in this outfit. But here is this idea. She’s teaching in the midst of it. And it’s working extremely well because it’s capturing your attention by how she looks in the frame. And then she’s giving you this teaching about it.
Another thing that’s working extremely well on TikTok is TikTok is very selfishly focused on TikTok Shop. And one of the aspects of TikTok Shop is basically where if you are a product-based business, it’s like Amazon. So you’re able to put your inventory in TikTok Shop and you’re able to sell your products. But what they are doing is they are contacting creators. Like when you log on to TikTok, it’s immediately taking you to TikTok Shop and they’re trying to get people like me or just creators to find products in TikTok Shop, purchase them or get a free sample, and market them on TikTok. And people that are creating content utilizing products in TikTok Shop are finding themselves having a lot of success.
And then the last one, it’s an oldie but goodie, is the green screen feature. If you’re using the green screen to talk about something that’s in the news, you can have an article behind you and you’re highlighting something in the news, or you’re using a video, things of that nature. Anything that is two- or three-dimensional works extremely well.
Rich: All right. So you had mentioned earlier on one of your videos went, it may be not viral, but got very popular because you were using trending audio. So explain that to the audience. What is trending audio, and how would one take advantage of it?
Keenya: Yeah. So when you think about a trending audio, it’s something that is happening on the platform and you keep hearing it, but you’re seeing people do different things with it. So one of the things where I went viral for is it was the sound of a guy. It sounds really crazy when I say it, but it was sound of a guy who was crying, acting like he was crying. He throws himself on the bed and he falls on the floor. So you hear him crying, you hear him fall on the bed, and you hear the sound on the floor. So people start taking the sound and recreating it for whatever reason they would cry.
And so I decided that I was going to make relatable content that would connect with my coaching and consulting audience. And so you see my couch and you see my cat on the couch, and suddenly you see me run to the couch, fall on the couch, fall off of the couch and roll. And my text on screen says, ‘When you send an email to 10,000 people with the wrong link.” And my whole comment section was people like me that were like, “Oh my God, I’ve done that before.” But it made people aware of me in a way that normally wouldn’t happen.
Now you don’t have to do something that dramatic. I used to be in show choir, so that’s my personality to do dumb stuff like that. But you have these different sounds that you can use in whatever way you want to. It’s just a different way to market it.
Rich: So if I’m understanding this correctly, so if I went on to the platform and I found a sound effect or audio, and maybe it’s a song, maybe it’s a guy falling over and crying, whatever it may be. This is a trending audio clip. I can apply that to whatever my business is doing, whether I’m in email consulting or pouring concrete. If I can find something relevant, I put it together. I use that licensed audio, and what TikTok’s algorithm is doing is helping that content get higher because I’m kind of tapping into that trending audio. Is that basically what you’re doing?
Keenya: Correct. Because the sound is so popular. So it’s like, it’s going to be sent out to people that have already used that audio and people that have interacted with content with that audio.
So I went to a Halloween party over the weekend, and we used this audio and did this funny thing. Well, once I posted that video, my feed is full of people doing that same trend and that same audio. And so it just gets pushed out more.
Rich: Yeah, so this is almost like when me and my friends get together and start quoting the same jokes from the Simpsons or Letterkenny, that it’s like, okay, well, now that you’re in on the joke, here are other people who are in on the joke. And so you’re seeing…
Rich: Excellent. So I can understand where people might be listening and be like, I’m not falling over a chair just to make my point about social media or whatever. How can we create content that feels authentic and engaging on TikTok without losing our brand identity? Which I know is something that you’re interested in because you’re a branding expert.
Keenya: For sure. So the one thing that I would tell anybody that is in some type of professional industry or you just want to be 100% on brand, is just show up in a way that still captures your audience’s attention.
So for example, we have a client that is a podiatrist. He is not going to fall on the floor and do any of the things that I do, but he is very intentional with his content. So first things first, you have to understand that the moment somebody lands on your account, your video, that you’ve got one and a half seconds to capture people’s attention. So something you’ve said or some texts on screen or the image that they’re seeing first has got to get people to stop and watch your video.
So what he does is he’s always in frame. He’s always in front of his podcast mic. But the first thing that you see in here, you see texts on screen with what we call a ‘hook’. And the hook makes you go, wait, what? It makes you stop and interested to watch that video. Especially if it is relevant to you. So he has texts on screen with that hook, and then his opening line is typically that exact same hook. And he also has captions turned on. And his captions are, they’re really great using the CapCut app, which most people use. And he just teaches for about 30 seconds, but he has different cuts in his video.
And when I say ‘cuts’, it’s like he’s not just talking straight for 30 seconds without the screen changing, but every five to seven seconds you see…I call it kind of a ‘bounce’, but it’s like a snap. Like it just feels like something cut, because it’s called a cut. It’s like a scene in a movie when the screen change but he’s in the same space. And he just teaches professionally, but he’s very short, to the point, and direct, about what he’s trying to teach you and what his call to action is.
Rich: So a lot of what we’ve talked about is almost about kind of sneaking into somebody’s consciousness, right? So we’re taking advantage of trends, we’re taking advantage of audio, we hook them in with something we do. But is part of the game of TikTok, or the strategy of TikTok, to get people to subscribe to us or to visit our page where they can watch all of our content at once, or is that just not a thing on TikTok?
Keenya: For sure. So it’s the same as we want on all social media platforms. I want you to watch this video. I want you to come to my profile, and I want you to binge watch my content. Because you’re like, “Oh my God, that was so good. Does she have more?” I want you to binge watch. I want you to engage, more importantly.
I want you to either, well, following is great, you want that. But I really want you to click in the link of my bio and get you off of TikTok onto my email list. But before people will go off the platform, I’m like, I want you to look at me as your go to expert for marketing, so I want you to hit ‘follow’. Because the moment you hit ‘follow’, now guess what’s going to happen? Your feed is going to be full of me. And so now you start binge watching me over and over again. And TikTok knows she likes her. I’m going to send her more of her content.
Rich: All right. So you mentioned cuts. You mentioned hooks. What are some other ways that we can effectively engage with our audience on TikTok? What are some of the strategies that you or your clients have employed that maybe are specific to the TikTok platform?
Keenya: For sure. So Instagram Reels, a lot of them have the same features now because they kind of copy TikTok. I love them all, but you know. So one of the things that we like to do is I like to do what’s called ‘reply videos’. And so if I have a video and I have this reoccurring question on that video, or it’s a question somebody asked that’s going to allow me to get them to get to grab a link in my bio or to send me a DM, a strategic question, then I’ll go to that question and then you can write a reply or you can click the video feature.
And what’s going to happen is that now it’s going to go to the recording screen, that text of that person’s questions is going to be in the top left-hand corner, and then I will reference it and I will talk about whatever their question is. That’s a very strategic way to get your agenda across because somebody asked a specific question. So that’s one of the things.
But another one of the things that I like to do is if there is someone in my niche and they are saying something, oftentimes I agree with it, not disagree, because I don’t want to start fights on TikTok. But if they’re saying something and I agree with it and I actually want to add more to what they said. then I’ll do something that’s called ‘stitching’. And so basically it’s where you go to a video and you can take up to five seconds of that person’s video, and it’s going to start off your video. So someone may say ABCDEFG, and then I add my video to it. And so when that video hits TikTok, you see, here’s this hot thing somebody said, and then I added commentary to it.
Now typically, if I’m going to stitch a video, that video is a viral video. So it’s already gone viral and I’m taking this really hot point that they said, and I’m going to add commentary to it. Or I will use the ‘duet’ feature. And the duet feature allows the full video. So that full video can be to the right or left of you at the top or bottom of you. Or you can be on green screen with that video and that person is saying whatever they’re saying, and then I can add commentary to it. So it’s a great video. We know it has potential to go viral because it’s already gone viral. I’m just adding myself into the mix.
Rich: And that’s what you did with the white woman who went to the black church for the 1st.
Keenya: Yes, exactly.
Rich: All right. Excellent. This all sounds good. And it sounds fun. But, you know, and you mentioned outsourcing. But still, I’ve just got questions about what’s the level of commitment of time and resources say on a weekly basis, that if I really want to get my brand off the ground, what am I looking at in terms of TikTok?
Keenya: So if you are aggressively trying to grow on TikTok, then you want to be posting at least one to two times a day on TikTok. And these videos are like 30 seconds or less. If you’re like, I want to grow, I’m passionately going to focus on TikTok. But if you’re saying to yourself, I want to get into this and I don’t have a whole lot of time associated, but I want to post at least one video a day. So I would recommend from a starting standpoint, taking your long form content and then utilizing AI to chop it up and start it that way.
But then you want to get used to going okay, I can record things, whether it’s in TikTok or it’s in your camera roll. And you can then edit them and then you can save them and schedule them. So minimum I would do once a day. And that’s minimum on all social platforms, whether it’s TikTok or not. But being very intentional about it, intentional about your hooks and things of that nature. And not just, how do I say this, you don’t want to chop up bad content. Because if it’s bad content before, it’s bad content when it’s chopped up. You want to find things that are really good and then put them on TikTok minimum once a day.
Rich: All right. You mentioned a few things like AI and a few other tools. What are some of your go to tools when it comes to let’s say novice level to intermediate level TikTok? What should everybody be putting into their tool belt?
Keenya: So one thing is, CapCut is such a huge part of TikTok. Granted it’s owned by ByteDance, so it makes sense, so it’s heavily integrated into TikTok. It has lots of different templates and things of that nature if you want to use them.
But right now, one of the ways where I use CapCut is that if I am creating a video and I’m teaching in TikTok, I can click on a button, and it would say things like ‘auto text template’ or something like that. And it’s going to take me directly into CapCut. I can click on ‘auto captions’ and it’s going to give me those beautiful captions that we have seen of other people that flash and do all that stuff, and it will do that right there in CapCut from TikTok. Once you’re done, you’re just going to hit ‘done’ and it’s going to bring you right back into TikTok to be able to put onto the TikTok platform. So that’s one.
But the other one, the AI tool that I like to use a lot is either GetMunch or opus.pro. Opus is $19, it’s the cheaper one, it’s still really good. And that’s the one where I upload my long videos into opus, and then it would chop it up into 10, 20 different clips, and I’m able to put those on.
Rich: And that’s being done with AI. So you don’t have to specify like, this was when I was really brilliant at this one particular moment. It kind of understands what the highlights are and pulls those out automatically for you?
Keenya: Yeah. So I would say it does a pretty good job, but you’re still able to each video. Once it’s in there, I go through every single video. And if it started at a place I didn’t want it to start, I’m able to like move the little needle and it will start it at the right place with the caption. And then I can stop it where I want. And then I download and then upload it to any platform.
Rich: Okay. Keenya, you mentioned at one point trying to get people off of TikTok and onto your email list to your website. What are some of the metrics or KPIs that businesses should focus on if they’re going to be adding TikTok to their digital marketing campaigns and they want to measure for success?
Keenya: For sure. So one of the things that’s really important, first make sure you have TikTok tracking links. So that way you know what is coming from TikTok. And some people grow fast, and some people grow slow. And so the number one thing that I tell people is don’t focus on just trying to go viral or trying to like, it’s going to make me a million dollars overnight. No, you really want to focus on how many leads are we getting from TikTok and how much time is it taking for them to convert as a customer? And on average, it takes at least a month or so for people to convert into a customer, which is normal for any kind of process. Sometimes it’s longer because it’s still an entertainment platform, similar to what Facebook was when it first came out.
So it is just really, really, really important to know as a business that you’re going to have a longer cycle for that person, that lead to turn into a paid customer. Because TikTok is so entertainment based because it’s still fairly new, but your leads are going to be incredible.
Now I have had clients who they’ve done live stream and made $100,000 from a livestream. So sometimes it converts really fast or what have you. But it’s just really important to go like, okay, here’s our window of time. And then here’s tracking your leads and all the things.
Rich: This has been absolutely eye-opening Kenya. And I have to say, I’m almost thinking of getting on TikTok myself after listening to you, you make it sound so doable. If people want to learn more about you, check you out online, check you out on TikTok, where can we send them?
Keenya: So my name is Kenya Kelly for all the things. So, K E E N Y A K E L L Y. That’s me on TikTok, on Instagram, as well as on keenyakelly.com. And then I talk about all these things on my podcast, which is the Kenya Kelly podcast.
Rich: Awesome. This has been fantastic. I am definitely going to check out your podcast and your TikTok channel. So thank you very much for stopping by today.
Keenya: Thank you so much.
Keenya Kelly discovered first-hand the power that authentic videos on TikTok could have on her business, and she’s been sharing that strategy with her clients to help them grow their businesses. Check out her website if you’re looking to get started with video. Subscribe to her podcast to hear creative ways to market your business. And be sure to check her out TikTok, where it all started.
Rich Brooks is the President of flyte new media, a web design & digital marketing agency in Portland, Maine, and founder of the Agents of Change. He’s passionate about helping small businesses grow online and has put his 25+ years of experience into the book, The Lead Machine: The Small Business Guide to Digital Marketing.