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How to Turn Your Social Presence into Dollars

With Grayson DiFonzo, Sujatha Mamidibathula, Crystal Chase, and Ayanna Alleyne Grant

41 minutes

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Social media for business is a rapidly evolving frontier that requires consistent and purposeful engagement. To stay on top of the latest in the world of likes and shares, learn from the industry’s best social marketers as they discuss how to harness the power of social media for your business and convert social followers into business results.

Additional resources

Grayson DiFonzo Founder, Designer, and CEO, BuddyLove
Sujatha Mamidibathula Head of SMB, North America, TikTok
Crystal Chase Digital Marketing Consultant, C.Chase Consulting
Ayanna Alleyne Grant Senior Director of Social Media, Yelp

Emily: I am really thrilled about this next panel. We have some incredible women talking all about turning their social presence into dollars, and it is led by Yelp Senior Director of Social Media, Ayanna, which is a real treat. Ladies, let me join you on the virtual stage and I will hand this mic over to Ayanna to take it away.

Ayanna: Hello everyone. Good morning, good afternoon. Wasn’t that keynote amazing? Leah talking about wanting to find influencers who feel genuinely about her business and now how that translates on social, it was just the perfect segue into this. I’m so excited. Thank you for being here with us today.

I’m Ayanna Alleyne Grant and I lead the social media team here at Yelp. So excited to moderate this panel on turning your social presence into dollars. I’ve been in the social media industry for over a decade running social teams for tech companies, consumer packaged good companies, and media brands, and really nothing makes me happier than really helping people get the most out of their efforts on social media. We have some incredible guests today and we’re going to leave some time at the end of our audience for Q&A. So please keep that in mind. Take notes. We’re here to talk to you directly.

First, I’m going to turn it over to our panelists to introduce themselves. If you could each let folks know who you are, what you do, and a little background on yourself. We’ll start with Sujatha and then we’ll turn it to Crystal and then Grayson to bring it home for us.

Sujatha: Thank you, Ayanna. Hi everyone. It’s such a pleasure to be on this panel. I’m so excited for all of us to be talking today and building more entrepreneurs and exciting businesses and helping them throughout. I am again Sujatha. I lead our SMB teams for all of Americas at TikTok. I have been in this industry and in this background for more than a decade and a half, having cut my teeth at Google, building SMB sales teams and support teams, strategy operations. And then the last couple of years before I joined TikTok, I was at Snapchat leading our global SMB team. The running theme for my career has been working with SMBs, engaging with SMBs, enabling them, supporting them to be successful. This panel here gives me so much joy because we have an amazing SMB as well as we are going to be talking to all of you and making more of you successful. So excited to be here. Thank you for having me.

Ayanna: Thank you. I’ll turn over to you, Crystal.

Crystal: Yes, thank you, Ayanna. Hi everyone. I am so excited to be on this stage with all these wonderful, powerful women. My name is Crystal Chase and I’ve worked in the digital marketing space for 15 years plus. Some days it feels like I just started and some days it feels like 15 years. But I’ve had the pleasure of working in the entertainment space specifically in Broadway and working in FemTech, healthcare and health and wellness, just leading brands on how to talk to audiences, how to build an audience, how to sell either their tickets or their product, but most importantly, how to be human in the space and how to remember to keep the consumer at the forefront and how to tell really impactful stories that connect to people that get people excited about the possibilities of what they’re working on or what they’re trying to achieve.

So it’s been really a pleasure to be behind the strategy of a lot of tech brands and entertainment brands like Phantom of the Opera or Harry Potter, or even working with brands like Yelp or LV. It’s been a wonderful experience, so I can’t wait to hear all your questions and tell you more about my experience.

Ayanna: Grayson, can you give us a little bit about yourself?

Grayson: Yes, hi guys. I am Grayson DiFonzo. I am the founder, creative director, and CEO of BuddyLove clothing label. We are a women’s lifestyle brand. We are based in Dallas, Texas. We are going on year 14. We do everything from wholesale to retail to direct to consumer. We opened our first brick and mortar store a little over a year ago at Fredericksburg, Texas and are hopefully opening more in the future. We’re hoping for five stores in the next five years. So we are doing a little bit of everything around here in Dallas.

Ayanna: That is amazing. I’m so excited for you all to share your stories and histories of the brands and people that you’ve worked with. Grayson, as our resident business owner on the panel, I’d love to kick things off with you. How can businesses put their best foot forward when trying to build an organic following on social media? I know we’re going to talk a lot about influencers and pay, but really want to talk about organic and really building the brand authentically.

Grayson: So I would say being true to yourself is the most important thing. If you are passionate enough to start this business, tell your story, tell your why. Your why is the biggest thing that you have going for you that nobody else does that sets you apart from the crowd. My company’s name is BuddyLove. There is a real buddy, my husband’s name is Buddy, I named it after him. My parents gave them that nickname when we started dating. So bringing my customers along on that journey and letting them know we are a real husband and wife team, we are a real story. We launched a Mommy and Me collection probably like four or five years ago and that’s been huge. It’s blown up because we had two daughters, it just came natural for us. So I have a nine-year-old and a seven-year-old and they are involved in the business too. They do line sheets, they do TikToks, they do everything, just like all of us.

So really bringing my story and my followers along with that really creates brand loyalty. So people want to know your story and they want to know what it is that makes you tick and what I’m working on. So bringing my followers along on my stories and, “Hey, I’m going to LA this week to work on fall designs. What do you guys want to see?” Engaging with the customers, leaving question boxes. Really bringing them along on the journey to make their voices heard.

And do open houses and see your customers face to face is something that we try to do. I’m heading down to Fredericksburg after this to our boutique to meet all of our customers there. We try to do open houses and really get to know our customers and see our customers because that’s what they want. They have the option to shop anywhere, so you want to make sure that they feel comfortable shopping with you and that we are not a fast fashion brand. We are a husband and wife team with two kids running this business here in Dallas. There’s 35 women who work here at our office in Dallas. So really helping support all of us.

Ayanna: That’s amazing. Thank you for sharing a little bit about your story. It really sounds like human connection is that piece that’s really has been pivotal to your brand on social and otherwise. I know Crystal, this was something that you mentioned a little bit in your introduction, talking about how you’ve bridged that human connection for brands as well as consistency. Crystal, I’d love for you to chat a little bit about how you advise your clients who have limited time who really want to do that amazing brand building, but maybe they don’t know where to start, they don’t know what platform will be the best for them. I’d love to talk a little bit about how you make those decisions with your clients and why.

Crystal: Yeah, that’s a great question. So I think I always try to get my clients to understand that they do have the tools and the know-how to do these things. It has to be something that comes from within them because you know your brand better than I do. You know your customer, your know consumer better than I do. So I think it’s about sitting down and asking yourself the question, “What am I trying to say? How is it going to have an impact and what are the results that I want to see?”, right? I think if you can give yourself those three questions and answer those three questions, when I come into the picture, I then say, “Okay, well from what you’re saying to me, this sounds like the perfect platform for Instagram or this sounds like the perfect platform for Pinterest or TikTok,” right?

It’s really about understanding is your consumer an older consumer, is your consumer a younger consumer, are you going after women. It’s really getting down to the math of it and the metrics of it about defining who you’re going after. Just like you think about when you’re getting married, right? You may think about that dress that you have in mind, how you want it to look, how you want it to fit. But once you go into the tailor, the tailor’s going to say, “Well, do you want an A line? Do you want it straight? What do you want?” And then they can navigate and help you guide, “Okay, well because you want it to look this way, this is the type of dress we’re going to get.” And I think sometimes people get really overwhelmed when it comes to social media and they think they need to be everywhere all the time. And that’s not the case. Just like any sort of thing that you’re going for, you really have to distill it to what is the magic, the alchemy that you’re trying to create.

So again, when I’m working with clients, I really push them and I think Ayanna, you know this about me. I’m always pushing and asking those questions, “What do you want to see?” And then from there I can help define that. But I think we always know in our heart, right?

Looking at all these platforms, oftentimes I see in situations where clients are on all the platforms and then their content doesn’t feel as genuine or they lose steam when it comes to certain platforms or they say, “Oh, I’m doing really well on Instagram stories, but I’m not really seeing any traction on Facebook.” And it’s like, “Okay, well go to the metrics, let’s go to the insights. What are the insights telling us? What’s the age demo of our audience? What time do they get online? What do they like?” You really have to do a lot of… And this is what I love about social, right? You really have to do a lot of investigations, right? After you put that content out there, now you have to play a detective. You need to go back and say, “Okay, when I posted on Monday at 5:55 consistently,” Ayanna, you used that word, “consistently for the last four weeks, no one engaged with that. But when I posted every Tuesday at 3:00 PM, this specific content, consistently I saw a spike.”

And now you get to a little bit of a nugget, right? A little bit of a insight to where you need to go. So I think when people are in the social space, I’ll wrap this up, you have to be a detective. If you don’t have a lot of time, you have to come in with a clear plan of what you want. You have to have some insights of what has worked for you in the past and what hasn’t and how you can pivot. And continue to test and try. I tell my daughter, she’s four and a half years old, going on 44, “You have to play, you have to test, but you also have to be okay to make some mistakes and adjust quickly.”

Ayanna: Thank you, Crystal. No, I hear you when you’re talking about prioritization. And we all know, all of you amazing women are on this call, you know how to prioritize. You’re doing a million things at once and you’re doing it so well. And so that’s really something to really think about and take back. I know for even at Yelp, we have over 350 social media channels. And to really ensure that we’re highlighting the best of everything local across North America, we have to make choices. The majority of these channels are city specific like Yelp, NYC or Yelp, Orlando. The priority for the last few years for us on these local accounts has largely been creating Instagram content as it allows us to really drive traffic to a local businesses page on Yelp, which is a huge value add for not only us, but also the businesses that we highlight.

Recently, we actually had a collaboration Instagram post, which if you’re not doing in collaboration post on Instagram, it’s a really great quick win between you know and a partner to really increase your reach and really drive follower growth as well. But we did this collaboration post between a local account, Yelp, Syracuse, and a local bar in their market. It was a really quick reel hiding some of their cocktail offerings. The reel was posted on a Tuesday night. And by Wednesday, the business owner was actually DMing the local community manager, the person that hosts these local events and manages that local account and the business owner was saying, “We had a packed house Wednesday for happy hour and this never happens.” And they’re saying that it’s because they saw this Yelp reel and it really made them want to come into the business and experience it. And so they not only had those people that were in-house, they also had more than a hundred followers overnight.

And so it’s really incredible to see when you can have the people seeing amazing content online, whether it’s on Instagram, whether it’s TikTok, and then people taking an action. And so that’s really what we’re talking about today, is how do we get people to take that action from social to get offline, to come to your business and to have those experiences. And so Instagram is not the only social platform that Yelp uses. We use TikTok for brand awareness for our national TikTok account on Yelp. That really tells more of a holistic brand story.

And so really knowing where you’re prioritizing which platforms to tell which story is great and really is a great opportunity for us to also turn it over to Sujatha to talk about TikTok and some general guidelines for businesses who are looking to get acquainted with TikTok to really make sure that their content is engaging, relatable, and then also helps to drive revenue. So I’ll turn it over to you Sujatha to talk about that.

Sujatha: Thank you. I think that’s such a great job that you guys are doing and supporting all these SMEs with all the connections as well. In terms of TikTok first, TikTok is where all of the SMBs are thriving from work and from our vantage point right now. SMBs… Actually, not just SMBs, really businesses of all sizes, that we are seeing a new generation of storytellers and defining culture. They’re taking us into their workshops, boardrooms, storefronts, and everywhere.

Now, the reason it’s working so well at TikTok is because most people on TikTok are craving connection and authenticity. I know both, Grayson and Crystal touched on it, being yourself, being real and telling everyone who you are and why you want to be there. That resonates with our communities. And turns out there are a lot of communities within TikTok and therefore there’s no real filter or polish required for you to connect because all they want to see is the real, your story and why you are in this and what you want.

And so the connection of SMBs being themselves and really reaching out to their community in TikTok is quite seamless. And because SMBs are the backbones of our communities, the team, the people on TikTok are also so looking forward to recognizing any new SMBs and they’re thrilled to be supporting them and buying from them. What we’ve seen is our For You page has been a powerful connect and connecting people with SMBs who share their passions. And then in turn, we see our SMBs really building long-lasting relationships with these communities and reaching audiences that are not on the other platforms.

Now having given this scenario, what really works, and I think I’ve already touched on a couple of things, which first thing is being yourself and being the real you. What is it that you want to bring to the table? What is it that you want to share with the community? Also, I think Crystal touched on this earlier too, which is what’s the community you want to touch? It could be based on age demographics, it could be based on passion, it could be based on multiple things. And so deciding also who your audience is, is very, very critical because that allows you to decide how and where you want to be seen and how much you want to put into work around reaching out to that specific community. So I think that definitely is the second piece I would say.

Third is test. Again, Crystal touched on it. It’s not a one and done. It’s not that you create something and then you go viral and then that’s about it. That’s usually not how it works. And I’m sure Grayson as a SMB would tell us. That’s not. It’s constant work and it’s constant attempts to testing what works, what kind of creative works and what are people engaging mostly with. Sometimes you want more engagement and you want to build your community. And so even if you did go viral or you are trying to go viral, the key is how often are you engaging with community and how much do they know about you and how do you keep going?

And then also there comes a point where if you’re trying to drive new audience and then you have built a small little community or you are figuring out how to build that small little community, it is okay for us to think about having paid marketing campaigns on TikTok to bring in, to take the businesses into places where they organically wouldn’t have gone into. Or if we are unable to identify the community, it’s okay to boost those ads to get them out and see who’s engaging, and then see if there is the community, if there is the audience you want to build. And so a combination of an organic strategy of identifying your audience and working with them, building a community and adding it with paid marketing to keep adding more is actually a really winning combination to start off with.

What we’ve also seen is that TikTok works really well for performance as well in driving purchases. We’ve had one of my favorite examples is this skincare company called Habit that just started in fall of 2020. They actually got discovered on TikTok. Sephora discovered them on TikTok. They have consistently grown 300% month over month and they credit TikTok with all of their success. That’s because they just wanted to have fun, they wanted to be themselves. They brought that whole life to their TikTok and built a community that was thrilled, excited to be working with them or using them. [inaudible 00:18:41] one thing led to another and they’ve been able to build that business. But if you were to talk to Habit, they tell you it’s not an accident. It just didn’t happen. There’s a lot of intentional effort that was going on in terms of figuring out who they are, what do they want, who they they want their community to be, and then constant iteration in testing and a combination of organic and paid. And so I’d say just to come prepared to go through that journey because it is a journey.

Ayanna: Thank you. And I think you breaking it down in those three steps is really helpful for people that are on the call and really want to jumpstart what their social looks like. I’d love to talk a little bit about tactics. Grayson, we’ve talked a little bit about your storytelling on social and how that’s really been helpful for your brand overall. And then we’ve had both the other women on the call talk about what’s been beneficial for them. I’d love to hear just specifically some tactics that you’ve used to tell some of those stories. Are you really going heavy on some stories, Instagram stories? Are you focusing a lot on TikTok? What are some of the different stories that you’re telling in those different places so that some of our business owners on the call can understand how you’ve done what you’ve done?

Grayson: Well, there’s a ton of different things that we have going on here, but really too, just adding to what Sujatha said is UGC, user-generated content. We can scream how great BuddyLove is from the rooftops, but really we need other people talking about it. So we want this girl who had this dress to talk about how she got more compliments on this dress than anything that she’s ever worn. And really that is one of the things that we hear most often at BuddyLove. “I have never had more compliments on something in my life than when I wear BuddyLove.” So capturing those moments from other content creators on TikTok and Instagram is crucial. That is what has made TikTok so amazing, is people can get on there and tell their real stories and their real experiences with your brand, which has been amazing.

But also knowing your audience. So yes, a little bit younger is on TikTok for us. So we launched a game day collection a couple of years ago. I think we did it like five years ago because we needed to see some cash flow coming in in July and August. So we started a game day collection. Now that’s very well known. A lot of people do a whole game day collection. And so doing that and advertising for that is going to be huge on TikTok for us. And then knowing our Facebook customer is a little bit older, I would say she’s like 35 to 65 who is logging on there. So really styling BuddyLove pieces that are going to be great for that customer. We style them that way and we put our marketing dollars behind that for Instagram. And then the younger pieces we do for TikTok. And then IG is a little bit more across the board from 28 to 58. So then we style those pieces that way and put our marketing dollars behind that on Instagram.

So there’s so many different platforms, but really knowing which customer that you’re speaking to on which platform I think has made a huge difference. For instance, for TikTok, we had one of the girls that was our intern this summer, she went to Alabama and she was on Rush Talk. That was a huge thing. So I know what we’re learning about trends and Rush Talk was a huge trend this year. I think everybody knew about it. So we made our own Rush Talk here at BuddyLove and we said, “We are not a sorority, but we are a sisterhood.” And so we did the dance, we did everything and it was people from our warehouse, people who pick and pack the orders, our sales team. I even made a guest appearance in the video, but that was definitely our most viral TikTok that we’ve had to this date. But I didn’t know about that. My social media team helped coordinate it and put it all together. That was a huge success.

So really following those trends on those platforms, it is a lot of work, but keeping up with all of it is super fun. It’s something that you enjoy. And then I do have a social media team. So if you would’ve told me 10 years ago that I would’ve had a team just to post on Instagram and create content and create TikTok, I would’ve been like, “That’s insane.” But now we just actually hired a girl who is strictly helping us with a TikTok and making TikTok videos. Just the more you grow and reaching out to your platforms, just knowing who your audience is on that platform I think is the most important. There are so many things to keep up with, but just make sure you’re talking to your right customer on your right platform I think is really important.

Ayanna: That’s amazing. And Grayson, I think after this we’re all going to rush to your TikTok and look at those dance videos because now that’s what I want to see.

Grayson: Perfect.

Ayanna: More views for you. I think the other piece that you were talking about was finding the people that are speaking about you and leveraging them for content. I think this is a perfect opportunity to talk about influencers, when and how to start adding an influencers to help promote your brand, whether that’s through in-kind trades which then Leah spoke about, or paying creators.

Crystal, I’d love to hear some tactics for business owners who are considering working with influencers to also ensure that the creator partnerships drive high engagement in traffic, right? Because at the end of the day, we’re talking about revenue here. So what have you seen has been most beneficial with some of the clients that you’ve been working with who want to leverage influencers?

Crystal: Yeah, I think it goes back to everything that we said before, right? Obviously knowing who your audience is, knowing what you are trying to accomplish. But I think the beauty of the influencer marketing space is that one of the themes that we’ve talked about is authenticity and user-generated content, right? So you take the user-generated content and the theory of authenticity and you bring those two things together and you have a perfect marriage.

So again, being in the industry for 15 years where that be traditional, doing a newspaper ad or a television, working with influencers gives you that one-to-one unlike any other space, right? It’s me talking to you, telling you that I tried this product and I think it’s amazing and you should try it as well. Now I might have been following you for four years, three years, two years, however long. We have a trust with one another. I see your content, I respect who you are, your integrity, your creative integrity, et cetera. And so when a brand decides to bring influencer marketing into the space, they are now saying that they believe so much in their brand that they’re willing to give it over to other folks to talk about it in a way that can have incentives behind it, right?

So let’s say I’m working with a clothing brand and I bring a partner along who we share the same values, right? Because that’s one of the most important things. You can’t just bring on any influencer. You have to bring on an influencer who shares the same values. You have to do your research as well to make sure that influencer is true to who they say they are over the last few years. Working in that space, I have to do that for all of my clients, making sure that these influencers say who they are.

So once you have an understanding of that, then this influencer can now talk about your product and you can add in the incentive of saving 20% off or getting a free product or just getting more access to the brand. What we see with that is there’s such a high ROI in that space because again, unlike a television or a newspaper ad, this is a one-to-one conversation that people value and that they believe in. So I think when you’re thinking about your overall marketing plan, influencer marketing to me is like the cherry on top, right? It’s like it’s going to be that thing that takes you over to the next step.

But I also say to clients, it can’t just be influencer marketing. That is not going to work. You have to have a solid 360 marketing plan. So that’s, what are you doing on your website? What are you doing in your newsletters? Or if you’re doing banner ads, what are you doing with your banner ads? Because the influencer marketing is going to bring a lot of traffic to your site quickly, which is a positive, which is what you want. But if you don’t have all those other pieces in place, then you can lose those sales or you can lose those eyeballs or you can lose that momentum. So I think if you’re thinking about going into the influencer marketing space, make sure that you have an understanding of who you want to partner with, whether that means you’re going to be paying some of these influencers or if you’re going to be doing sort of a barter, making sure you understand who they are, one. Two, making sure you have a clear understanding of what the objective is going to be for them.

Not every partnership with the influencer marketer is going to turn into a sale. Sometimes it’s just about awareness, right? Them bringing traffic to your site, them being bringing traffic to an event and how that then plays out. So understanding your KPIs very, very clearly. So once you understand your KPIs very, very clearly, then understanding, “Is this influencer something larger? Is there a larger partnership there? Is this more of a brand ambassador? Is this someone that you want to work with on other platforms?” So again, it goes back into a lot of testing and it also goes back into making sure you have a clear understanding of who you’re working with and knowing what your KPI is in the end. Is it going to be sales or is it going to be awareness? But I do think that influencer marketing is a very, very special tool that can be utilized because it keeps that authenticity, it keeps that fun, and it also allows someone else to see your brand in a different way, almost in a way that you may not have seen and allows you to reach other audiences.

The last thing I’ll also say is when working with influencer marketers, it’s really nice to provide the context of what you want them to say in the space exactly to the T, what you want them to say. But the other thing that I love is oftentimes when we give some influencers a script of what we want them to say and how we want it to look, they come back and show us something in a very different way that we didn’t even know that our audience might like or that we didn’t even think about. So it really gives you access to working with creatives to almost have your own art directors that helps you expand the brand.

Ayanna: That’s great, Crystal. Thank you for kind of chatting through the different pronged approach for influencers. We all know that this is such a big topic for business owners, large and small when you decide that you want to pay for additional reach, you want to work with different creators, you want to tap into a different audience or really focus on organic or free partnerships for growth. One of the things that we really try to do at Yelp because we know that business owners are working so hard at showcasing their talents and have so many things to do is really thinking about how we can work with them on our local social channels for not paid content. We really try to showcase our local businesses in a very authentic way, and we really do that from a way that’s not paid.

And so if any of you are interested in getting to know your local community manager for your city at Yelp, you can find your local community manager by filling out. There’s a really quick form which we’re going to drop in the chat that you can click through. It’ll allow you to get in touch with your local community manager. You can find out about what the community managers do in your markets, the different events that they put on, how they really get the word out through Yelp, and then also some of those partnerships that we make on our local social channels. And again, there’s no payment there. It really is because we want to showcase the best of everything local.

And so now that I’ve shared some of the local Yelp social channels, I do want to talk a little bit more about when businesses might want to apply some budget for growth. And so Sujatha, I’d love to just turn it over to you and you chatted about this a little bit before. What are some of the trends that you’re seeing for our business owners when they’re making those decisions of really trying to catapult growth for them? Are those some bigger pieces, some larger concepts that would be beneficial for this group to know?

Sujatha: Absolutely. First thing I want to share with everyone is that TikTok has about 62% of audience [inaudible 00:31:42] doesn’t exist in any other platform. So businesses that are working on TikTok and building their community know that. And so the way they’re succeeding is to have the mindset to think beyond traditional marketing tactics and focusing on new initiatives to creatively engage and connect with the users that they find here uniquely.

Also, if they were creating the ads, what we’ve always told our advertisers and our SMBs is that they don’t create ads or don’t try to use what they have been using in other platforms because this is a unique platform where there’s a unique blend of entertainment, community, and commerce, all three of them coming together. And so we tell them, “Don’t make ads, make TikToks.” That truly is how we see the SMBs that embrace that is the ones that we see very quickly becoming successful, involving themselves into conversations that’s happening within the community as long as it’s done on an authentic way, which is very true to the brand and resonates with the TikTok community there and the brands are able to quickly find footing.

They’re also being very open and engaged. We’ve talked about this earlier around the engagement with community matters. The community sees businesses as an entity, that they connect with, and therefore that engagement helps them build a lot more loyalty. And also actively listening and engaging with overall their TikTok community allows them to jump into cultural defining opportunities for the brand. That’s how you can actually look at the trends and find the trend that’s most resonating for the community and for yourself and then add your brand to it. We’ve seen a lot of brands take off with that.

We also tell our SMBs to think about TikTok as a very unique experience, as an entertainment platform, not as a social platform. And so quality of the content is going to be very critical here. And so do not take existing campaigns or the platforms and just put it directly. If you want to do it, repurpose the content. And then think about how you want to land this to talk to the audiences here. But largely, it’s about knowing again who you are talking to, researching the trends and understanding where you are landing, and then using all the existing tools. Again, TikTok does offer a varied set of tools to creating content very, very easily.

I’ve spoken to quite a few SMBs over this weekend at South by Southwest, and that’s definitely one of the takeaways I have that our SMBC, making TikToks is a far more easier job to do than to have to create an ad campaign otherwise, which is fantastic for us because creating TikTok is creating your ads as such. And so the tools… We continue to also work on building a lot more education and online workshops and whatnot to enable SMB so that, one, it’s fairly straightforward, but if we need help, we’ll make sure that we are getting that help as well so that SMBs are able to make their presence felt because I think that’s where they want to stand out and we have a community where they can stand out. It’s about matching these two.

And again, having a strategy for organic is as important as having a strategy for paid. They don’t have to do paid marketing, but they can always do paid marketing. And that depends on what their goals are and they can have different marketing objectives and different approaches within TikTok. You want to drive brand awareness, you want to just build community, have more people see you, and then just keep building that engaging community or you want to drive purchase decisions, we have all opportunities to be doing that.

I do want to share one another example because I’m so excited. I met them this weekend, Samantha from Tiff’s Treats. If you are from Austin, you would know them. They’re also present in Denver and many other locations. They have a whole thing about warm cookie moments and their cookies are to die for. I really fell in love with them. They already knew they have a warm community, but what they wanted to build, again, that was their objective, they were like, “We know who we are and we want to build this warm cookie community.” And then they already had a lot of their customers talking to them about how amazing they’ve been and how they’ve used them for their first date to their weddings and to any other events that’s happening in life. They have all these customers creating their TikToks. If you go to their TikTok page, all you would see is most of it is actually user generated content, the TikToks that their clients are giving them. And so that whole warm cookie moment is now a Tiff’s moment.

And so it’s about really just knowing who you are and how to build that. And then they amplified it by putting in paid marketing and sending a lot more footfalls into their stores and all of these newer locations they’re opening up, so they’re now building on that and then they’re building more purchases and whatnot. So that to me is a very great and very clear example of how to amplify and how to really leverage your presence on TikTok and use paid marketing in a very smart way too.

Ayanna: Thank you.

Sujatha: And of course, they’re also supported by our team. So I will say that that’s also why I’m very proud of my team to have helped them do this.

Ayanna: No, that’s amazing. It’s really helpful to hear the full funnel of what this could look like when working on all the different social channels and all the different capabilities based on what people are looking for.

Our time has gone by so, so quickly. We did have a few questions, but I did want to touch on one question and I’d love to quickly turn it to you, Grayson. Do you have some advice for someone that really just wants to start creating a 360 marketing plan with no marketing experience? If you can go back and remember what you did within your first few years when you had very small teams, very little maybe marketing experience, what would you do? What would you advise that person to do?

Grayson: So obviously, start small, reach out to your customers. So I was going to say there is so many different levels of influencer marketing. So like the creme de la creme, we all know about the Tarte trip to Dubai, okay? So we do that. We do it four times a year. We have millions of eyes on us. We have so many people looking there to it’s very aspirational, the greatest restaurants and all that stuff. So I did not get there overnight. That is something new within the past two years. There is so many different levels.

I would say we use an affiliate program which allows your customers to have a code. So codes are great for tracking. So you can do this without even an affiliate program. If you are running a boutique in you’re small town, it is so easy to have someone come in and do a try-on in your store. So have the customer or the influencer come in. They don’t even have to buy the clothes. They could do a try-on, talk about how great your store is, make a TikTok about your store. They don’t even have to buy the clothes. You can gift to them, which I recommend, gift them a shirt or a dress or whatever they like. But it’s consistency is key. So build relationships within your community and have them come in and host Wine Night, host Girls Night. If you know a lot of people at a realtor group or nurses or whatever, have them come in and host a party at your business. Meet the people around you who will be spending their money in your store. It is that important.

So you don’t necessarily need to make a TikTok and go viral. You need to go viral in your own community first. So I think that’s super important. You don’t have to have money to do that. Just build those relationships. Host everything that you can at your store and work with people in the community or within a close mile radius of you and have them try on the clothes and gift them and talk about how great your business is. And really working with people like that on a small scale will help your business grow tremendously. It’s word of mouth. I mean, it’s been like that since forever and that hasn’t changed. So I definitely say that you can do that no matter what your budget is.

Ayanna: That’s great. Thank you so much, Grayson. So my biggest takeaway from our time together is for you all to remember that really bridging purpose, innovation, and inclusion is really the best way to connect with and inspire consumers. This is a really about community at the end of the day, and that’s really what I’ve heard here from all of you. And really, really appreciate all of your time today. It’s been truly incredible. As an added bonus, if you want to receive some more social media advice specific to your business, go follow Yelp for Business on Instagram right now. I’ll be answering any social media questions from followers via DMs all day. So again, thank you so much for our incredible panels. I’m going to turn it back to Emily so we continue with this day. Thank you so much everyone. Bye-bye.

Grayson: Thank you.

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