Want to grow your business? Wondering if TikTok can help?
To explore TikTok content marketing, I interview Keenya Kelly on the Social Media Marketing Podcast.
Keenya is a branding and video marketing expert who helps entrepreneurs grow their businesses online. She’s the author of Before You Quit Your Day Job: A Strategic Guide for Entrepreneurs, and host of the Keenya Kelly Podcast.
You’ll discover four different types of TikTok content and how you can use them to serve your marketing objectives, how long your content should be, and how Keenya gets people on TikTok to DM her or join her email list.
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Keenya’s background in business began in network marketing when she was recruited and began to teach others how to build a business, deliver presentations in front of a room, recruit people, and sell their products and services. She quickly realized that her mind works in pictures and when she talks with someone for 5 minutes or so, she mentally builds a business and branding plan she can write out.
About 5 years ago, after watching others on Periscope and Facebook Live, Keenya began using Periscope to talk about building a personal brand. She didn’t have a business set up but when hundreds of people wanted her to help them with brand design and strategy, she realized she would be giving a lot of money to someone else if she didn’t launch her own agency.
On September 1, 2016, If You Brand It was launched and hit $10,000 in its first month.
A few years later, Keenya enrolled in Chalene Johnson’s academy. When Chalene began talking about TikTok 2 years ago, Keenya didn’t really understand what was happening with the app, but when the pandemic hit, she began using the app for her own entertainment. Soon after, she became the entertainment and attracted her first 1,000 followers in 3 weeks. When a duet TikTok brought 10,000 followers in 1 week, Keenya knew TikTok had value beyond entertainment.
She searched terms such as “marketing” and “branding” and found hundreds of marketers with massive followings building their businesses on TikTok. Because TikTok is an entertainment-first platform, Keenya decided to educate while she entertained.
Today, Keenya has 184,000 followers on TikTok.
What Advantages Does TikTok Bring to Marketers?
Four billion people (100 million in the U.S.) have downloaded TikTok to be entertained. That means marketers and business owners have an opportunity to get their message in front of a sizable audience.
Another point in TikTok’s favor is the ease with which short content can go viral.
In addition, TikTok’s algorithm is deeply responsive to the behaviors of each user. If you watch a video about dogs all the way through, TikTok will show you more dog videos. If you watch 3 seconds of a dog video and scroll on, TikTok won’t show you many dog videos. So if your content is served to someone on TikTok, there’s a good chance that they’re interested in what you’re doing or talking about. Keenya, for instance, sees a lot of dance videos and marketing videos in her feed because those are the types of videos she interacts with.
Hashtags on TikTok work in a similar fashion. If you use a certain hashtag, TikTok will show your content to people who like that hashtag and it will also show you more content associated with that hashtag.
Finally, the For You feed often shows people content from creators they’ve never heard of so chances are high that your message will be displayed to new audiences.
4 Types of Content That Work on TikTok
Even if you’re not a dancer or singer, Keenya believes you can use TikTok creatively to market your message with four types of content: copycat content, educational content, business-oriented content, and live stream–based content.
Copycat Content on TikTok
While Facebook and Instagram discourage people from copying content, copycat content is one of the most popular forms of content on TikTok. Keenya notes that she attributes close to 50,000 of her followers to this format.
Copycat content is less copy and more inspired repetition. One TikTok user will put out an original video featuring a 15-second clip that shows them doing a dance to an audio clip. Then others inspired by the video will post videos of themselves repeating the same dance to the same audio or changing a detail or two.
One of the most notable examples right now is the original video Nathan Apodaca (@doggface) posted of his skateboard ride to work while drinking from a bottle of Ocean Spray Cran-Raspberry. The video featured an audio clip of “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac. It has been copied several times by people who fall off the skateboard or drink something other than Ocean Spray—including a copycat version by Stevie Nicks in which she laces up her roller-skates.
Keenya’s own recent 7-second copycat video was viewed 1.6 million times in 7 days and drew 50,000 new followers to her account. The original video featured a guy walking on-screen, saying, “Hi!”, and then walking off-screen, but Keenya went off-script a bit.
When she walked on-screen, there was a text overlay that read, “Aren’t you that lady teaching people how to make $10,000/month?” As she smiled and did what’s called a ‘whoa,’ the text changed to read, “Yes I am Send Me a DM”. Then she gave a peace sign and walked off-screen.
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Educational Content on TikTok
If you’re wondering how you can teach anything of value in video that’s 10–60 seconds long, follow Keenya’s lead. She uses TikTok to share tips on podcasting, using Instagram, managing email lists, and more.
Rather than a 30-minute tutorial, you should focus on bite-sized tips. In the first clip (about 3 seconds), tell people what you’ll be teaching; for instance, “Three tips for building a brand on TikTok.” In the second clip (about 15 seconds), deliver your first tip. Follow up with your second and third tips.
One of Keenya’s most successful pieces of educational content isn’t even business-related—it’s a TikTok that shows people the proper way to use a colander—yet it garnered her 1 million views in a week.
Business Content on TikTok
The way Keenya delivers business content on TikTok is very similar in format to Gary V’s 15-second videos on Instagram Stories, with the difference being lifespan.
Because TikTok content lives on your feed forever, you can use that content to bait people into wanting more from you and push them to your YouTube channel, for example. The key is to hook people with the first clip/tip so they’ll watch the balance of the video and follow where you direct them to go for more.
The beautiful thing about live stream video on TikTok is the access to exposure. When you go live, your followers get an alert—which is great—but anybody who’s scrolling their For You feed will also see that you’re live, regardless of whether they follow you. Additionally, anyone watching a live stream can tag another person with an invite to watch the live stream as well.
Creating Your Own TikTok Content
Currently, TikTok videos can be up to 60 seconds long but Keenya says most content averages 10–15 seconds. She recommends creating TikTok videos that are 7–15 seconds in length unless you have something that truly lends itself to a longer clip.
To illustrate, a real estate agent featuring a walkthrough tour of a home or showing the before and after of a flipped house renovation could do a longer clip, as could a marketer sharing three deeply valuable tips because people’s interest would be held longer.
With regard to content mix, she suggests starting with four to eight pieces of content per day. At the very least, you want to publish three videos a day: one video to educate your audience, one to entertain your audience, and one to show you being you.
Then you can use the Discover tab search box to dive deeper into niche-specific content. Enter a hashtag, a keyword such as surgeon, doctor, lawyer, business consultant, or even a complete keyword phrase to see what people in that field are doing on TikTok.
As you find people with content that stands out to you, follow them and like three or four of their videos. As TikTok serves you their content, you can decide whether you truly like it. If you don’t, you can unfollow them. You can even save videos to refer to and model in the future.
Pro Tip: When you’re learning to publish your own content, it’s important to note that you never want to delete a TikTok video because that signals to the platform that your content can’t always be trusted. If you delete a video, it’s highly likely the algorithm will significantly reduce the visibility of your next set of videos. Rather than publishing and deleting a video, Keenya encourages creating a piece of content and then saving it as a draft. Then you can open your drafts and hit Publish if you’re sure you want to share it or delete it without damaging your account.
Using Hashtags on TikTok
Keenya uses hashtags with two goals in mind: to play on virality and reach her target customer. To visualize this, if her content is created for new entrepreneurs, she’ll use the hashtag #newentrepreneur. Because that’s a very popular hashtag, she will add #newbusinessstartup to decrease the chance that her post gets lost in the flood of posts that use the more popular hashtag.
Hashtags have a dual purpose on TikTok, Keenya notes. If you add a hashtag to the caption of your video, TikTok will show that video to others who have also used that hashtag. At the same time, TikTok views your use of that hashtag as an expression of interest and serves you more content that features the same hashtag. So you want to be careful about the hashtags you use because they’ll impact the content you see.
How to Get People on TikTok Into Your Funnel
One of Keenya’s tactics to pull people on TikTok into contacting her is the “Send me a DM” call to action. She used this tactic in the copycat video mentioned above and received approximately 4,000 direct messages. (She notes in an aside that because her TikTok handle matches her Instagram handle, she also ended up with almost 2,000 new Instagram followers.)
Most of the DMs said, “Hey, I saw the video. How can you help me get to $10,000 in my business?” Keenya then used copy/paste to deliver scripted responses (stored in the note pad on her device) that opened the door to business conversations and ultimately led to adding hundreds of people to her email list.
Key Takeaways From This Episode
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