You’re so controversial.
I’m not about to act like I’m a TikTok expert… I’m def not. I have a username and that is about it.
But I’m a TikTok “consumer.” Or was… who knows if TikTok will go away. That’s not what I wanna chat about….
I can’t teach you how to rise to the top on TikTok or even how to crush using Instagram Reels because I haven’t even used them (aka Insta’s new competitive jab at TikTok), but I CAN get you thinking about the lessons you can learn from the TikTok explosion in popularity and the pending demise.
5 takeaways from TikTok you can apply to your Biz + Marketing
01. Social Proof Wins… Again
Before COVID, my only exposure to TikTok was December 16, 2019, the day Claire was born. Mid-labor when things were movin’ kinda slow, I heard this song repeating over and over on Jeremy’s phone. I asked why he kept playing that annoying tune? TikTok.
I wasn’t impressed by the dancing video shorts during that moment. 😂
I didn’t really think much about the app again until the shut down started.
Because EVERYONE was talking about it. I still thought TikTok was 98% annoying based on my second-hand experience when J would show me a weird video, but I was COMPELLED to download the app and see what all the hype was about myself.
Aka Social Proof.
Humans are wired to look to (and emulate) the behavior of other humans. It isn’t anything to be ashamed of. It is a universal core of human nature.
It is why testimonials, reviews, 5-stars, and the like should be a HUGE priority in your business.
👉 No matter what type of business you run, social proof is one of your greatest assets for long-term sales success.
A few ideas to grow your arsenal of social proof:
- Invite your customers to leave you a review on a third-party site like Google, Wedding Wire, Facebook, or etc. These public-facing reviews have a two-fold social proof building benefit for you:
- You can’t fake these. Well… maybe you could… but don’t, k? Seriously though, third party reviews are much more trustworthy to potential customers than even reviews on your website.
- You can use them elsewhere. The third-party testimonial IS powerful, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use them on your website. It just makes those website testimonials even better when they can be easily found live on a third party site. 🙌
- Send your list of customers a post-product or post-service survey.
So many people miss this prime opportunity for a raving review in fear of getting bad news. Yes, you may get criticism, but the benefit outweighs that risk.
And BTW… any critical remarks are a GOOD thing. They help you learn how to better improve your product or service, so don’t take them to heart!
Here’s a few key questions I send to my customers:
- “Fill in the blank: “Before working with [insert your name]/purchasing [insert your product] I felt __________. Now I feel _____________.”
Why it works: Emotions are strong connection builders in conversion copywriting. We easily relate to how other people like us are feeling which leads to building a bridge for the like, know, and trust factor necessary to make the sale.
Instead of making up how your customers feel, ask them! You can use the emotional language they give not only to show social proof, but also in your website words and marketing messages to better relate to future potential customers.
- Fill in the blank: “Before I hired [insert your name/brand]/ used [insert your product] I was ________________ (where you were at before) and after hiring/using I _____________________ (the results you got!).”
Why it works: People don’t buy what your product is… they buy the results. While the features of your service/product matter (what it actually IS or is made of) and help a potential customer justify their purchase decision, what they are REALLY buying is the promise of the result. The benefit.
The most tricked out product specs or bells and whistles packed service won’t mean a hill of beans if you can’t get someone tangible and clear results.
You may think you know what results you get your customers, but I bet you’ll be surprised to hear what THEIR experience actually was. Get that results-driven language and use it to better connect to future buyers!
- “What was your favorite part of the experience?”
Why it works: This is where you discover your superpower. You know I’m allllllllll about teaching you to step into what makes you unique and sell on auto-pilot with it.
Most entrepreneurs don’t go deep enough with what makes them unique in their marketing and website messaging. Again, you may think you know what your unique factors are, but your customers have an insightful vantage point that is worth exploring. Listen to what they have to say and learn from what excites them most about what you offered. Use that knowledge to better convey your unique selling proposition to the next buyer!
- “What would you say if your best friend was on the fence about hiring/purchasing?”
Why it works: The subtle mindset shift opens up a whole new level of social proof. Typically biz owners ask, “What would you say to someone else about buying…” And that is a great question, but the subtle shift to asking what they would say to their best friend is a powerful one.
It gets them thinking specifically about WHO that person is for them. Their best friend’s name and face immediately comes to mind. The words that follow are a direct reflection of how they would genuinely write or speak to that very real person.
Since we are in the business of selling to real people, copy that is produced from a space of thinking about one REAL person will always come out more genuine.
Hint: You can adapt this copy concept in all of your messaging. Think about that one real customer you adored. She was the perfect fit for what you sell. What would you say to her on your home page? What would you say to her on your About Page? What would you say to her when pitching your offering? The mindset shift of going from writing for an invisible group of people you’ve never met to a REAL person you know and love produces higher-quality connection building copy!
- “Was there anything you wish I would have included?”
Cue the criticism: This question can feel terrifying to ask, but feel the fear and do it anyway. Your future customers will thank you and who knows… maybe you could find a way to surprise and delight the person writing and boost your chances of them referring you for years to come!
Be strategic about where you put this in your survey: I always ask the three questions above BEFORE I ask for any critical notes. That way they are in a more positive frame of mind (as long as it was actually a great experience!) for this question. Inversely, they aren’t in a negative frame of mind when I ask them about their emotional and results-driven experience!
- “Is there anything else you want to share with me?”
Why it works: The questions of your customer survey bring up other thoughts you may not be directly asking. Every time I ask this very open-ended question on a customer survey, I get insight on something I wouldn’t have thought of about my products and services and it makes for a great testimonial!
- “Fill in the blank: “Before working with [insert your name]/purchasing [insert your product] I felt __________. Now I feel _____________.”
***If you send a customer survey like this, go above and beyond to explain that you’d like to use the content from their survey to share about your customer’s experience on your website, social channels, and etc.
I tend to go the extra mile of asking, “Would you be willing to let me feature you on my website/social media as a testimonial?” at the end of the customer survey for express permission.
3. Screenshot positive praise from social media comments.
This is like the cousin to inviting your customers to review your offerings on third-party sites or apps. Social proof can happen even when you aren’t asking for it.
For example, here are a few screenshots I saved from my customers. Seriously, love you all!!!
These public comments are forms of social proof and mini-testimonials you can gather to use. Without telling you, I bet you quickly figured out that the shots above came from Facebook comments.
See how that works? Similar to reading a review on a third-party site, seeing a screenshot of a comment from social media is a powerful and believable form of praise for your offerings.
Put these comment screenshots directly in your email campaigns and sales pages to show authentic testimonials!
02. Consistency Matters… But relevant impact matters more
Instead of actually creating content for TikTok, I’ve spent weeks thinking about WHY TikTok is so dang popular.
- Is it because we are just bored to tears in quarantine? Plausible.
- Is it because it is just the novelty of something new? Potentially.
- Is it because of that major social proof push? Absolutely plays into it…
What I’ve really learned from TikTok is that people’s tastes for content has made a significant change from what we are taught over and over.
Wanna win Instagram? I bet ya a million bucks that course you’re thinking of buying from your fave Insta celeb biz owner is going to teach you the following:
- Create content buckets: Pick a handful of categories of topics that closely relate to what you do/and or your personality.
- Post on a pre-determined schedule while simultaneously sorting through those content buckets.
- Keep doing that until the end of time and you’ll magically “grow a massive following, land those brand deals, make megabucks….”
Consistency in your marketing efforts does matter.
Here comes that BUT again…
Staying relevant in your approach and content also matters if you want to make an impact in both brand awareness (audience growth) and financial success (converting those leads to sales).
What pray tell has TikTok taught us?
Internet users want to be entertained. They want a tangible and engaging experience.
Gone are the days of simply posting as frequently as possible to win the marketing game.
Kinda like Mama used to say about having nothing nice to say…
If you don’t have anything engaging to say, it is like you didn’t post anything at all.
Go ahead… fill the social algorithm with nothing engaging and see what happens. Only 3 likes and 0 comments 5 hours later and that post is toast at the chance of showing up in anyone’s feed.
You’ve got to get CREATIVE in your content marketing.
👉 How can you engage your audience and potential new followers?
When you go to batch create content next time, ask yourself:
- What can you share to engage their senses?
- What content can you create to engage their emotions?
- What can you put out to entertain them?
- What words can you use that are fresh and relevant to their needs, wants, desires, and current experiences?
03. Branding Matters… But does it?
Oh suckey ducks… we’re gonna have a talk.
Literally everyone and their mother in the creative bubble is OBSESSED with staying on brand. I get it I get it. It is my default, too.
But step back for a hot second and let’s discuss…
Does staying on-brand REALLY matter?
What is more important?
❓ The most perfect polished brand with matching images and graphics EVERYWHERE?
❓ Getting the word out so you can generate leads even if that means not having the cutest grid?
Whether or not you decide to implement IG Reels in your content, this question is worth contemplating.
Content mediums like Stories, Snapchat, and TikTok all have a “raw and real” quality in common that the masses LOVE.
Not to mention… they all use video.
Video content engages users.
Video content literally forces a user TO engage. To watch. To listen. It would be silly of me to gloss over the fact that TikTok is a video-based platform when contemplating why it quickly grew in popularity.
PTL 🙌 for those of us who freaking hate the idea of creating video-based content due to the extreme barrier to entry of gear, editing software and know-how, editing time, uploading time, and publishing time…
TikTok has taught us that raw and real is HERE and WORKS.
Video-based posts or reels may not look the cutest in your feed, but does it reallllllly matter if those posts engage your followers, help you grow your reach, and connect with potential customers enough to turn them from just another fan to an actual customer?
TikTok has convinced me to stop stressing over on-brand perfection and focus on creating more raw and native to the platform style content and my engagement has definitely increased!
Raw and Real = Real pictures you took on your phone. Selfie style videos. Any kind of videos that don’t require you to hire an entire production team. 😂 Just google some TikTok videos and learn!
Native = content that the platform was designed to house. Think about how people NOT in the creative bubble use social media. See Raw and Real definition above again for clarity.
By all means, DO care about the aesthetics of your content, but maybe just maybe your Instagram engagement will go up if you test out doing something different. Something engaging and entertaining like the content on TikTok?!
04. Sometimes bandwagons win and sometimes bandwagons lose
Early adopters of TikTok and even adopters during the TikTok gold rush of Spring 2020 will tell you that growing a following was proving to be easier and quicker than the likes of Instagram.
Some of my industry peers were seeing great results in gaining new business and sales from their efforts on the platform (sans dancing videos).
I had my username but held back in actually using the TikTok platform.
I had already learned my lesson about bandwagons a la Periscope.
Sometimes being an early adopter of a new marketing platform will give you a major advantage.
Sometimes… a lot of times… being an early adopter is a HUGE risk.
What if you spend a lot of time creating new content on a new platform only for it to:
- 😭 Fizzle out in popularity (Periscope)
- 😭 Not gain user traction quick enough to take off (Vine)
- 😭 Get shut down by the government (TikTok pending)
The longer I’ve been in business, the more I’ve learned that while I may lose out on the advantage of being an early adopter in marketing trends, I end up saving a lot of time, effort, and heartache when I am slow to move on the latest and greatest thing.
This lesson applies to business beyond marketing, too. I have painfully learned over the past 9 years to be slow to pick up new software, trendy tactics, and seemingly in-demand product or service ideas until they are proven to work in the long-term.
Sometimes shiny and new wins, but I can hold out to make sure it won’t be a huge loss.
Note: I was seriously close to learning more about TikTok strategy and testing it as a marketing platform for my business before the news of the potential ban and IG’s introduction of Reels. I can confidently say I’m glad I was hesitant because that risk is all too high now.
05. And then the one you did expect…
Let it be said because it NEEDS to be said… These platforms are not YOUR platforms.
You knew that was coming.
Whether or not TikTok actually gets banned in the US is irrelevant.
The sheer fact that the government has the ability to literally shut down the use of TikTok if they don’t comply with the set of sale demands should be eye-opening.
Not in a political way so don’t leave comments about that.
I’m talking a business way.
We put way too many of our eggs in our vanity metric marketing efforts like followings on social media.
Followings can disappear overnight. Ad accounts can be shut down without warning. Zuck (+ whoever created TikTok) truly does not care one little bit about you or your business.
I don’t mean to get all doom and gloom, but if TikTok teaches you nothing else… let it be that we REALLY don’t own our followings on these social media platforms no matter how popular they are.
Spread your eggs.
In an engaging way 😉
Your turn! Any lessons you learned from TikTok so far that you can apply to your marketing strategy or overall business?
I’d love to know! Leave a comment below and share it with me!