Shortform video platform TikTok is still the new kid on the block in social media, so it's no surprise that a lot of marketers haven't harnessed its ability yet—for themselves or for their company.

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But, insists expert Wave Wyld, it's inevitable. You can't avoid it. TikTok was the No.1 downloaded app during Q1 of 2022. And because the business side of it is still in its infancy, opportunities are everywhere, and new commerce-related features are continually being added.

As for the how, Wave's recommendation is just to start consuming content on TikTok. "Do some research on the platform. Go see if your competitors are there and see what they're doing, notice what is working for them and not working. You can easily do this through the search function by just searching keywords in your industry; you can do it through hashtags, maybe even trying some of your hashtags from other platforms."

It can seem daunting at first. TikTok has its own culture, including its own slang and vocabulary. And so many businesses are hung up on "going viral," which might be a way to get a whole lot of the wrong kind of followers.

But if you keep it short and choppy, focus on your own brand, and stay in your niche, TikTok can become what host George B. Thomas calls "an idea machine."

Listen to the entire show now from the link above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode.


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Full Transcript: How to Know If TikTok Is Right for You or Your Business

George Thomas: I hope that you're doing great. I know that I'm excited for today's episode, because we have Wave Wyld. Wave Wyld is a TikTok marketing and trends expert. She has helped over 400 clients grow their TikTok accounts through consulting and courses with a community over virality approach. She specializes in helping brands and business owners use the app as a social media marketing tool to generate more leads and sales.

Also known as the Queen of Trend Alerts, Wave specializes in helping brands understand TikTok culture and trends. Wave has built an audience of 300,000+ followers across her social media platforms and she regularly appears on national TV and speaks on top rated podcasts and social media summits. If you're curious and want to learn more about Wave Wyld, you can go to WaveWyld.com. Hopefully, you have your notebook, your pen, your paper, or your iPad to take notes. Let's get into the good stuff.

Wave, I'm super excited to get this conversation going around TikTok and figuring out if it's the right fit for the people who are listening, the Marketing Smarts Podcast listeners. I always like to start out with the foundational pieces. If you had an elevator ride, let's say four, maybe six floors that you're going to go up or down, how in the heck would you explain to normal business owners, marketers, sales reps, just humans in general what the heck is TikTok? Because there are people out there that are leaning away or haven't heard of it or maybe got born yesterday and will watch this years from now. What the heck is TikTok in your mind from a business standpoint?

Wave Wyld: I'm going to assume that this is a very slow, old elevator, because I have a lot to say. It's a short form video based platform available on app and desktop. It's primarily seen as an entertainment app, but since early 2020, the business side and marketing side has really grown, and many brands and businesses are now using it as another social media marketing tool for lead gen and sales.

It's a discoverability-based app, so it's known for having this vertical feed of videos that you scroll called the for you page and the algorithm really works on a recommendation system, so what you watch and engage with is what you will see more of. The main appeal of TikTok is that you can build an audience really fast, really quickly. It has this virality aspect and many users on the app want to go viral.

George: Here's the thing. The good old days are kind of gone. By the way, the good old days are gone the day after the day they were the good old days. I'm just going to throw that out there. It used to be this conversation of LinkedIn, Facebook, and probably Pinterest and things like that, Instagram. That really unlocks in my mind why has TikTok grown into a platform that most businesses should at least take pause and check to see if it is a right fit for their business?

Wave: Absolutely. In this news this morning, I was reading how TikTok once again was the most downloaded app for Q1 2022. It's just hard to deny the popularity of short form video content in marketing. We know, we see it on all of the other platforms, Instagram, Facebook Reels, Pinterest, they all have the short form content built in. There's really just no way to avoid it for your marketing efforts. If you're using any of these platforms, you're going to have to do short form video.

TikTok is also changing really fast. The amount of e-com capabilities it has built in the past year is mind-blowing. Everything from product tagging to live stream shopping. I even just saw a new feature where there will be a shop tab in the search function. The TikTok ads platform continues to grow, as many marketers and businesses are now leaving Facebook ads and exploring TikTok ads because of the rise in cost with Facebook.

George: I love this. By the way, listeners, if you didn't know all of those things that just eloquently came from Wave, you should definitely dive in and do some research. We may have to do future interviews where we dive into each individual pocket that we just learned about.

The title did this on purpose, and we said you or your business, meaning it could be an individual or a company. I want to take a side journey for a second and have you talk about and wax poetic on what is the power or strategy around being a personal brand or it being a business brand that is creating content for the audience that they'll be accumulating on TikTok.

Wave: Absolutely. It's definitely going to be different content-wise, the type of content that you're going to put out. For a personal brand like myself, you are the face of your page and your account, and you're primarily going to make what I call educational content. I really break down TikTok into two types of content, educational and entertainment based. Your videos can be a mix of both, but you're primarily an educational content creator or an entertainment based content creator.

With a personal brand, you're going to put out lots of that educational content because we know that's what positions you as the expert in your industry. You're giving value, you're building credibility. What I find with some of the business brands is that they tend to do more of this entertainment based content. For example, if you look at Duolingo, very successful on TikTok, they have over a million followers, maybe even two million, but they have a mascot as the face of the brand. They also have a social media manager and some other team members who make appearances in the videos.

Another one is The Washington Post. They have primarily two to three people who are creating content and being the face of that page, and they are doing a lot of trends. They're presenting information in a way that's really entertaining, such as these role play or what I call character skits when one person plays two characters, maybe even multiple characters.

Of course, if you are a business, you need to have an employee who is kind of the face of the brand, or a few team members, but at the same time, not exactly be the sole representatives because if that employee ever leaves the workspace, then you have a little bit of a hurdle to overcome. So, it can be a little bit tricky for business owners. I think that's sometimes why they get hung up and are not super fast to jump on the TikTok bandwagon.

George: That's an interesting nugget that we could probably talk about for a lot longer and uncover, just the understanding of some people, if it is the personal brand, it's a moment in time, and who is the predecessor or can we create multiple of these. I do want to go a little bit sideways, because you mentioned something that for me personally tickles my ears, and I think the listeners'. You said usually it's entertainment or it's educational. I just want to pick your brain to see what comes out here for a second. Is there a way, and have you maybe seen a good example of edutainment, somebody, a company or an individual, that is actually able to pull off both and maybe what that equals?

Wave: Yes. Your educational videos should be interesting and dynamic to watch, so in that way they kind of are edutainment. But I would say if you're looking for a very specific content creator, someone who has done a really good job of this is Hank Green, very well known on the app, very well known as a YouTube creator and a content creator. He has done with his science videos very much what we call edutainment.

George: We'll have to maybe get a link in the show notes to the YouTube channel and things so that people can check it out.

The hardest part of a journey is usually getting started. Before we dive into how to get started, I'd like to give the audience the payoff. We're probably about halfway through, maybe a little under halfway through here, of adding value to the Marketing Smarts Podcast. The title literally was How Do You Know If TikTok is Right for You or Your Business. The question is how the heck do you know if TikTok is right for you or your business?

Wave: If you haven't done this already, go consume content, do some research on the platform. Go see if your competitors are there and see what they're doing, notice what is working for them and not working. You can easily do this through the search function by just searching keywords in your industry, you can do it through hashtags, maybe even trying some of your hashtags from other platforms, and seeing what kind of content comes on the platform with those. That is a great way just to see are other people in your niche on the platform, what they're doing, does this look like something that you could do too.

George: I love that. It's like is it already happening there. My mind went immediately to how do you discover maybe if there is a gap? Not that this even exists on TikTok, because there's a lot of jams on there. But how do you find the gap of it's actually a good idea, but it doesn't look like anybody is doing it?

Wave: Here's an example. I actually had a call this morning with a national auctioneering organization. Before I got on the call, I thought I actually have not seen any auctioneers on TikTok. They must be there, right? So, I had a quick look, exactly doing what I just said. I went to search, I just typed in auctioneer, I checked some hashtags. I did find a few, but not as many as you would with other industries. Definitely there is room. There are industries that are a little bit more competitive, I would say, on TikTok, such as fitness talk is huge, food talk is huge, book talk is huge, but there are definitely some markets that are still there that there is lots of room to grow.

George: You yourself are a TikTok expert, you're helping people become TikTok experts. We're leaning into the conversation of do this research, see if people are doing it. What kind of conversation do you have with folks of and yes, they're there, but this is how you differentiate? How do we not in this interview create multiple, if not hundreds of carbon copies? What's the secret to success there?

Wave: I love this question because I have a background in personal branding. I saw that when you came to TikTok everybody needs a personal brand when you come to TikTok. The best way you can do that is to find some unique aspect of yourself that you can market that you can stand out. One way that I did that for myself is by doing a series of videos. What I call original series are very popular and they're a way to stand out with other people in your niche. They are a type of content that you can make, a video, that you would make on a regular basis. I recommend doing it at least weekly, if not more. It is content that you can talk about a lot within your niche, and it's content that people really want.

For example, I started doing these trend alerts in August 2020. They were really helping to grow my account and I realized that people were following me and engaging with these videos because essentially they were content ideas and people need content ideas all the time. That's building a brand around the Queen of Trend Alerts. Queen is a term of affection, kind of a bit of slang on TikTok. People started calling me queen, so I was like okay, I'm the Queen of Trend Alerts, that's what I'm going to use to make myself stand out in the niche of TikTok coaching or TikTok marketing.

George: Now I have to dig a layer deeper, because you literally just said something there. Audience, it's probably the rewind point, to be honest with you. You said something of they started to say, and so I started to do. Talk to the audience about the importance of paying attention to your audience, listening to what they're doing, pivoting, and then using that as part of your community language or lingo, if you will.

Wave: Slang and memes are huge on TikTok. I know when you join the app it can feel a little bit like a foreign language. It's a good idea to get familiar with some of what the slang means. Some of it is good, some of it is bad. You do see a lot of this in the comment section. You might have to Google a few times to see what all these things mean. Queen is a term of affection that you see a lot.

That is a part of the culture of TikTok. That is one of the big things that brands have a lot of difficulty with when they come to the app is adapting to that TikTok culture.

George: One of the things that I've noticed and that I'd love to do for the Marketing Smarts audience is to give them some steps to get started, some action-oriented things. When you think about TikTok, there are some mental hurdles. Right? It's video, and everybody thinks you have to be the next creative genius. That's not actually true, to be honest with you. You just have to be yourself.

Wave: Yes.

George: What are some good getting started tips or even getting started here's some video ideas that are really easy that you might attempt or try?

Wave: There's a few different video ideas that I start off sometimes with clients that are very basic. That is trending videos and also talking heads.

I'm going to start with talking heads. This is a very popular form of video on TikTok. Really, all you are doing is delivering information and speaking to the camera, but you do need to do it in a very short, concise, kind of bite-sized way. They're little nuggets of knowledge. That is one you can get started, by making talking head videos.

My key tips there are to break up your sentences. You can kind of tell if someone is new on TikTok or are not an experienced content creator when they start making videos where they just talk for a full 30 to 40 seconds in one take. This is not Instagram Stories. People have short attention spans on TikTok, so you really have to keep it dynamic. Chop up what you are saying. Change your position and your camera frame. Maybe even move your camera a little bit while you're talking. Keep it dynamic. That is talking head videos.

I do a lot of talking head videos on TikTok. I also script them. I recommend and I teach all of my clients to script. They have an idea of what they're going to say, so that you can prevent rambling. Also, you can be more concise and really be careful about the language that you're using, because when it comes down to it, I really believe it's all copywriting.

Trends are a really great way to get started, too, and have a little bit of fun on the app. I recommend doing these trends, what I call POV trends. Very popular on TikTok, it stands for point of view. Now, that can be your point of view or someone else's point of view. These are really just easy lip syncs with a joke. They're very easy videos to make.

George: Such good stuff here. All of that was great. I want to pull out one piece that you said. You kind of tried to slip past it, but it was have fun on the app.

Wave: Yes.

George: Don't come at this like it's math or science or something. Have fun, be yourself, use some of the tips that Wave has been teaching on this podcast episode, and just get started. Try some of these video ideas. Wave, I love to help people, although I enjoy hurdles in life because I think it makes us who we are, I like to also help people avoid hurdles that don't need to happen. Are there some historical hurdles that you've seen other businesses or individuals fall prey to when they get started with TikTok or are using TikTok for business purposes?

Wave: I love this question. One of them is that they go viral and they attract the wrong audience. I actually teach a community over virality approach. What that means is I'm not against going viral, you just want to go viral with attention.

Countless times I've seen business owners post something that is a little more random or off-niche, and then it starts to attract the wrong people. All of a sudden, overnight they gain 25,000 new followers, and they followed you for one video you did where you were dancing around in your pajamas and it doesn't relate to your fitness content. So, then they're not engaging with the rest of your videos, and it really starts to harm your account.

That's one big mistake. Just really stay within your niche and focus on attracting the right people to you, because TikTok really is just like all other social media platforms, you want to attract your right people, the ideal followers who can become customers.

The other thing I would say is I see a lot of business owners not really selling their offers or promoting themselves. I think some people are sometimes afraid to sell or think you can't sell on TikTok. You absolutely can. You can do that through your videos, you can do it through livestreaming, we have TikTok Stories now and you can sell through there. There are lots of different ways to do it.

You have to make content, first of all, that reflects your products and services. I've also seen this mistake. I've looked at an account and I'm like I had no idea that you were a divorce coach because the content you're making does not associate. How on Earth are you selling your group coaching program? That type of thing. You have to make content that reflects your products or your services. Then you have to invite people to work with you. I do that through what I call promotional content.

Those are a few of the big mistakes. The other one is really people just not adapting to TikTok culture. Remember, it is not highly produced. It's an app that's built on authenticity. It's not Instagram, it's not the Highlight Reel. People want to see you in the moment, off the cuff. It's not polished or produced.

George: So good. So many good nuggets there. It's interesting. Start to connect the dots as we talk. A couple of things that you've mentioned, like be succinct, and you mentioned scripted out. These are words that hopefully the listeners are pulling out and jotting down in their notepad. I think when you connect these words that you start to say – and by the way, I'm adding to this, community over virality, the right people, not all people.

If you start to think about being succinct and being scripted for success for the right people, the community that you're actually trying to build, and then this is the other S that I want to add into that. What I just heard when you were talking was strategy. Actually pause to have a strategy to what you're going to do. I'm not talking about strategy for it to be like mega produced, but at least understand the direction in which you're trying to take people. Meaning go back to sales. What is it that your service and products are? Have a strategy to tell great stories that are succinctly scripted. You just have to take all of this and put it into a method.

With that said, we are talking to business owners, we're talking to marketers, and it's TikTok. How the heck does one measure success when it comes to TikTok? I don't mean we went viral, because we literally just talked about that one. But what metrics matter, what should we be paying attention to?

Wave: First of all, I want to talk about goals. You should definitely be having some goals when you are on the app. That can be different for different businesses and brands. Some brands when I look at their page, it looks like it's really just all about brand awareness. Some people are focused on follower growth. Some people want to increase sales or website traffic.

If we're going to talk about metrics when it comes to video performance, absolutely the number one metric is watch time. You need to get people to watch your videos all the way to the end, or even more, rewatches, as those videos loop. That's the number one determining factor in video performance, so that one is a very important metric. If there's only one thing that you're looking in your analytics, it has to be watch time.

Your ROI is going to be a lot easier to track if you're using ads or using Google Analytics. The TikTok analytics page is available to every account. There's a lot of great information. It does lack in some information. I really wish it had age breakdowns. I wish it had more of a breakdown when it comes to a certain country. For example, I can see maybe that 85% of my followers are from the USA, but that's it, it doesn't tell me where in the USA. Maybe 85% of people who watched a video were from the USA, but there's no further breakdown there. You can get more information if you're using the TikTok ads platform or things like the TikTok Creator Marketplace.

George: So good. As the nerdy marketer in the room, I will say this. Not on TikTok, but if the strategy is to get them to your website, do you have a property when they're filling out a form—it could be called lead source, it could be called whatever you want—have you gone before you started with your TikTok strategy and actually added the option of 'we saw you on TikTok,' so that you can literally measure revenue when they get into your CRM off the actual platform? Anyway, not why we're here, but I had to throw that bonus tip in. Go ahead…

Wave: A lot of product based businesses will put a discount code in their bio and promote that in their videos and that sort of thing so they can track traffic as well, people shopping with the discount code from TikTok. That's just one little way to do that, too.

George: You've given almost 30 minutes of value around TikTok and the conversation of knowing if TikTok is right for you or for your business. There's a bunch of nuggets, a couple of rewind places in this interview. I am super curious, and I like to ask this as almost the last question. I am going to give you an opportunity if people want to connect and know more about you and actually become amazing at TikTok, that's coming. Before that, let's get deep for a second.

This could be about TikTok, this could be about life in general, it could be about whatever, wide open. What are some final words of wisdom that you would want to share with the Marketing Smarts audience before they get back to their regularly scheduled day?

Wave: I'm going to keep this TikTok specific because I eat, sleep, breathe TikTok and can talk about it all day long. You have to consume content. Just know that there is still a lot of opportunity on TikTok. Some people will say the early adopter stage is over, but I have many clients who are crushing it on TikTok because they understand the culture and they get short form video content creation.

The last thing I want to say is content is king on TikTok. I see a lot of people really getting caught up in strategies like using trending music. This is stuff that holds them back because they don't know what to use, or they're focused on going viral, or which hashtags to use, or which time of the day to post. These are strategies that are all good to employ, but they never, ever determine video performance or virality. It always comes down to the content, what you communicate in your videos, what you're saying to people, how you make them feel, the story that you're telling. How they engage with your videos is what determines how many views you get and how much exposure you get, and ultimately your success on the app.

George: Marketing Smarts listeners, I hope you caught that little piece there that Wave said, you have to actually engage with the app. You're paying attention, you're consuming. I'll tell you where my brain went with that is most people are looking at this conversation probably the entire time we've had it like this is a content creation machine, a place where I can create content. But if you actually ingest, if you pay attention, if you scroll for a while, it's an idea machine. Let me take this idea, let me stitch this thing, let me turn this into my niche even though I'm not a foodie, I could talk about this, XYZ add your product or service in here, in that direction. That is amazing.

Talk to me maybe a little bit more. I know I said I was going to go into how people can connect with you, but since we brought up this conversation of ideas, do you have some ninja tips when it comes to ideation and coming up with a bank of ideas that you can pull from as you move forward on TikTok?

Wave: It definitely helps to have an idea bank. Again, like I said, you can search words. I don't do this as much for myself, but I will recommend it for clients, to search keywords in their industry or niche and see what comes up and see how that inspires you. I do not recommend copying other people's content. I know TikTok is an app where people do trends and they kind of copy and do the same jokes, but when it comes to a business and educational content, do not copy and steal someone else's content.

You can watch videos that can spark an idea of how could I do something similar but present this type of information and maybe use this effect. Maybe do something similar, but add something else to it, put your own unique spin on it. That's a great way to get ideas from the app. Also, there are things like the discover page and the trends. I offer a trend report that you can subscribe to, I send it out two times a week. Those are just a few ways to get some ideas.

George: Marketing Smarts, we're going to have to get the link for that trends report so we can be hand-delivered some great ideas. Wave, I appreciate you taking time to do this interview. If people want to learn more or simply connect with you, where do you want to send them?

Wave: You can follow me on TikTok and Instagram, @WaveWyld. If you visit my website at WaveWyld.com, you will also find the link to sign up for the trend report that's free to your inbox two times a week. I also have a Facebook community, TikTok for Entrepreneurs. Lots of places to connect.

George: Marketing Smarts community, I have to ask, did you get action items? Did you get nuggets of wisdom? What is the next step that you're going to take? Let us know on Twitter, #Mprofs. What are you going to do with TikTok for your business? Make sure you hit us up, let us know what you want to learn about and who you want to hear from. This is your podcast. Of course, you can leave us a five-star rating and review, you can give us some thumbs on the socials.

Until we get to the next episode, which we're going to talk about the ultimate SEO guide for marketers in 2022 and beyond, remember, be a happy, helpful, humble human. We'll see you in the next episode.

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