TikTok Expert Shares How To Truly Go Viral

WITH

Hilary Billings

The Limitless Podcast

TikTok Expert Shares How To Truly Go Viral

with Hilary Billings

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Why do some videos go viral and some don’t? You could be constantly creating content thinking that going viral is something unpredictable, that it could happen to any video you make at any time. The thing is, not all viral videos actually went viral by accident. If you’re wondering what you can do to optimize your content so it’ll have more chances to go viral and reach your potential audience, think of these 2 things: Intentionality and strategy.

Your content has to be intentional. You have to avoid haphazard posting and hoping something sticks. You have to be strategic with creating content that your audience is more likely to engage with, and it also helps to know what time they’re usually active on social media.

These are a few of the many things that Hilary Billings has learned over the years of creating viral content that helped her gain over a billion views in the past year alone, 20M likes, 850k followers on Tiktok and that helped businesses she has worked with build their audience as well. She founded Attentioneers, a creative agency that helps brands and their partners drive exponential audience growth through viral content. Her team has created proven content strategies that catch people’s attention and increase engagement tenfold. The results? Their clients get 20 times more video views, 248 times more likes and 13 times more comments.

"Instead of "How do I go viral again?" ask "How do I create content that people are gonna want to watch for a longer period of time?""

- Hilary Billings
@LimitlessShow @franklyco_

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IN THIS EPISODE YOU WILL LEARN

  • How viral videos work, and how important “watch time” is on every video you create.

  • How intentionality can lead to virality if the correct execution and strategies are in place.

  • How to craft your videos to match the social media platform you’re posting them to.

  • How TikTok has proven to be more effective than other platforms in terms of engagement and sales conversions.

LINKS FROM THIS EPISODE

Johanna Buchweitz:
How would you feel if time and money were no objects or if you always knew that the answers you saw were at your fingertips or that the creative sparks you would need for the next project was always going to be there? You would feel limitless. I’m Johanna Buchweitz, and it is my honor to welcome all of you to limitless the show where we have open, honest, and direct communication with extraordinary women in business to provide you with actionable next steps for super growth based on their proven success tactics. Joining me on today’s episode is Hillary Billings, co-founder and CEO of Attention Years, where she leads a creative agency that helps brands and their partners drive exponential audience growth through viral content with over a billion views. This past year alone. Hillary is a popular viral video creator and strategist. I am so excited to have her on you. All of us. Let’s welcome Hillary to Limitless.

Hillary Billings:
Oh, thank you so much. I’m so excited to be here in doing this. This is so cool.

 Johanna Buchweitz:
I said, I’m so excited to have you here. This is like such a hot topic, and for anyone who’s just listening for the first time, there’s this question that I always love to kick the show off with, and to anyone who’s been here before, you kind of know the drill. So Hillary, I believe that all driven female entrepreneurs are modern day superheroes. So as the superhero entrepreneur you are, what’s your superpower?

Hillary Billings:
My superpower is being able to make up as many jingles as I want about my dog at any point in time. It is something I fully enjoy doing and I would love to have Taylor Swift’s success and take all those top 10 billboard chart hits with my love of Lambert.

 Johanna Buchweitz:
Oh my God. It is so funny. Your dog is also like the cutest fluffiest. Like, I just wanna hug your dog. So , it’s excellent.

Hillary Billings:
Super huggable. I, we have 125 pound rescue great ponies. So he looks like a polar bear and we, we love him. The neighborhood loves him. Halloween was, obviously, he was a big hit as a dragon. He was not as happy about it as we were. He didn’t talk to us for a couple days, but, you know, it’s, it’s, he’s just the.

 Johanna Buchweitz:
Oh my gosh, that’s so funny. So obviously we’re gonna go and dive into like everything, like how you’ve actually done it, how you’ve gotten like over 20 million likes and all these followers and views. But I do wanna kind of just break a couple of things down first. So the first thing is like, Do you believe that any business should have a TikTok account and should be active in creating content regardless of what type of business they are?

Hillary Billings:
No. I think that everything needs to be super intentional. Do I think that you know, people that work in lumber yards, should a lumber yard or a waste management company have a TikTok not so sure about. We do know, and the research supports that there are plenty of industries that can and have been successful on a platform like TikTok. And I think the first question to ask is, is the audience that you want to build brand affinity with on that platform? And I think that’s a question that people should ask regardless, not just on TikTok and. That tends not to be the case. What usually happens is that you know, as a personal brand, as a, as a product brand, as a company or an agency, you feel the need and the pressure to be everywhere. And I feel that too for myself. I never wanted to be on TikTok. And yet here we are, . And I, I purposely didn’t wanna be on TikTok because I was so burnt out on being on every other platform and feeling like I was already doing all this other work that was barely moving the needle. How could I possibly make this other platform work as well. And I think that that comes down to a very intentional, strategic approach about what platforms you’re going to make an attempt to be on, and how you’re gonna go about growing that following. So, no, I, I don’t believe that everyone should be everywhere. I believe that you need to tick, pick a platform and go balls to the wall on that. And then once you’ve established yourself there, then you can expand.

 Johanna Buchweitz:
So how do you actually know if your target audience is on TikTok? If like you believe like many other entrepreneurs that your audience is like a little bit of everywhere and so you are trying to kind of attack it at all angles to see what sticks.

Hillary Billings:
So for starters, I think it’s just educating yourself on what’s happening on the platform and just going and spending some time on the platform to see, you know, searching hashtags that you use on other platforms. Looking to see what’s happening in the news. Something that TikTok announced recently. They announced that they are pushing a book talk platform. They want book talk to be the next big thing. They want to. Speakers and authors and create a literary movement. And that is a big goal of TikTok as a platform. So knowing that TikTok is supporting authors, knowing that TikTok wants that, that book club community to be there, this is a great time and opportunity for authors to get in on that platform and to utilize that. So looking at what’s happening within the platform, looking at the types of content that’s succeeding and not necessarily just what we see, what’s happening with those, those young whipper snappers that are out there, you know, shaking and doing all the dances and stuff, but what brands are succeeding and why? And what you’ll find is that it’s not for obvious reasons. So for example, Duo Lingo has a huge TikTok presence and they are crushing the algorithm game. Their TikTok does not mention at all what their app does, it is their fun, cute little bird mascot doing fun, cute little bird mascot things. But what it’s doing is building a brand affinity with that younger audience. We talk to a lot of brands that have established, you know, followers and loyalty from older demographics, but they haven’t figured out how to tap into the younger cultures. Double A R P is also another great example of this. Their, now their biggest growth in market is 20 somethings because recently they blew up on TikTok and young millennials and Gen Zers have realized that they can actually gain benefits from being a part of double A R P and it’s their, their newest and fastest growth rate. I think it was Clinique who had a huge lipstick that blew up earlier this year that allowed them to gain 6% of the beauty market share. So looking at not necessarily what you have been doing and what’s working, but again, what’s happening on each of the platforms that make sense for you to, to work on and to go after. I don’t know if I fully answered your question. Cause it, it requires homework and research, but, you know, and, and a best guess of does your, does your product fit well for what works on the platform? If that makes sense.

 Johanna Buchweitz:
No, that definitely makes sense. So, You know, I’m gonna be super honest with you. Like a, a lot of people have a lot of female entrepreneurs who both come on the show and audience members have said like, if I can only go viral on TikTok, you know, then like my company would take off. And like, full transparency. I have always said to ’em that like, Hey, that’s not true, . You don’t need to go viral on TikTok, right? In order for you to do that. But then a, I think a big part of me saying that has come from myself and I think many other, you know, women as well, thinking that historically going viral is almost a happy accident. And then I kind of, you know, heard your perspective and I realized that perhaps this was a, a misperception. So what would you say to that? And also, If, if it isn’t a happy accident, how do you help people intentionally go viral?

Hillary Billings:
So we hear this all the time as well. I’m a big believer that when something goes viral, it is not accidental. It’s intentional, and we can speak to this because we’ve done it again and again and again, and we’ve seen our content do well on other people’s profiles that have stolen it that may not have had a large following or any other videos perform. So we know that a good video is a good video and that good video will do well on the platform when it finds and reaches its right audience. Sometimes heartbreakingly, it’s not on your own, your own profile. So how do we go about doing that? How do we become more intentional about creating our content to go viral? I think what often happens when you see people that have these one-offs that go viral and thinking that’s gonna be the pivotal moment. Sometimes it can, right? We see that the oceans spray cranberry viral. TikTok is a great example. That guy got an oceans spray cranberry deal. He got a new car. All this great stuff happened for him, and that can absolutely happen with this day and age of being culturally relevant. However, what’s more likely to happen is that you have that one off spike and you don’t know why that video did well, so you’re unable to replicate it again. And so you, you might try to start to picket things in the video. Maybe it was the theme, maybe it was the way that I talked but you’re not really honing in on the pieces that made that video intentionally go out into the algorhythm. So then you feel like it was a fluke. So what we wanna do is focus on intentionally building better viral videos well, for us, that primary metric that we’re looking at when it comes to what makes a good video is watch time. And you know, you’ve heard YouTubers talk about this. This is the same for any platform. It’s just as true for TikTok as it is for YouTube as it is for reels. The longer somebody watches your video, the more higher likelihood it has of going viral. If somebody is. Giving you their attention. That means that you’re saying something, you’re doing something that they’re interested in, that they find valuable. Whether that’s purely for entertainment purposes or educational purposes, or because you’re pulling on heartstrings you’re creating an emotional reaction, you’re, you’re saying something that says something about them. And then also provides them an opportunity to share that moment with other people that they know are going to like this video. So, for example, I don’t know if you do this. I feel like my friendships have basically distilled down to me, sending my friends memes and Tiktoks of things I think they’re gonna like, and it’s just, we don’t even have conversations anymore. It’s just me sending them, you know, photos of pigs and like little farm animals like dancing around and, and just, this is me thinking of you throughout the day. , and that’s where I think that creators can get lost, is they start to look at the videos as, Oh, how, how do I go viral again versus how do I create a piece of content that people are going to want to watch for a longer period of time? And if you start to utilize those core, you know, assets and the fundamentals that come. Trying to extend watch time, you’re going to create better videos.

 Johanna Buchweitz:
So what does that look like? When you say extend watch time, Like are there certain hooks or certain things that people should be doing or be mindful of when creating content?

Hillary Billings:
So for starters, I think that most people, especially with TikTok because it’s the new kid in town because it’s a new platform that most people don’t know how to. Work on they are half hazardly posting content. And we hear this a lot from agencies or brands of like, We just need to get something up. And I tell them no, do not do that. To me, that’s the worst thing you can do, is to just try to throw something up and see what happens. Because nine times outta 10 it’s gonna fail because you’re not crafting content that works for what the audience is wa in the way the platform wants you to make content. And you don’t actually know what you’re trying to do or say. You know, when I was doing work as a, as a personal brand strategist, we had the saying that diluted focus equals diluted results. And it’s the same thing when it comes to video strategy. So the first thing that we do with clients or individuals is, is start to put together a strategy plan of, okay. It’s no different than putting together your business plan, your personal brand for your website and your messaging. It’s what are those values and what is that voice that you want to have on this platform? Now the cool thing about TikTok and the way that audiences want to interact with people and brands on TikTok is wildly different than other platforms. You know, let’s say. YouTube is more educational and it’s kinda that docu-series way. If Instagram’s more the inspirational or aspirational way with the, the beautiful Instagram photos and you know, Twitter’s the conversation. TikTok is all about being relatable, so it gives you a lot more freedom. And audience members in the research supports this, that they want to see brands, they wanna see people relate to them in ways that feel very human and, and connect with brands on a different level. So there’s a lot more opportunity in ways to do that on TikTok than you might do on LinkedIn or Twitter for that. So there’s, there’s a lot more options, but it’s still honing in on what’s that voice that we wanna have? What are those main values that we wanna make sure if someone only sees us for one TikTok or two Tiktok that they know what we’re about in those. And we’re con, we’re conveying that message and communicating our values in a way that’s easy for them to understand, even if we’re never saying those words. And then keeping that consistent. As you know, Johanna, that’s the biggest issue for a brand is when they’re constantly putting out different messages across platforms. Maybe they’ve got 75 different offers on their website. Nothing’s correlates, or, or goes together as cohesive. And the same thing applies to your video strategy. It needs to be cohesive. Now, the great thing about that is once you have that strategy in place, you can say, Okay, Now what? How do I start making these videos? Well, you can go and look at what we call video formulas. A lot of different of these vehicles in which you can cur portray your content. So that would be. Examples like this could be before and after videos transformation videos the POV videos. This could be the, the transitional videos DIY hacks, pranks, gifting videos advice coaching videos, monologues. There’s, there’s so many different ways in which to communicate your method and, and those vehicles are things that you might start playing around with. But once you have that strategy, we don’t deviate from the strategy even though we. Experiment with how we’re putting that message out there and really having an understanding as to how the platform works, how people want to be, how they want to see content is so important. I can’t tell you the number of you know, incredible, very credible podcasters and people that have large followings and other platforms that will just drag and drop content over to TikTok and say, Well, I wanted to live here. Cuz if it doesn’t, someone might. But it’s not in the right format. It’s not optimized for TikTok. It’s not thinking about the length of the video in comparison, even though you can go up to, you know, 10 minutes now, are people watching for that length of time? And when are they watching for that length of time? So again, we wanna take this full, in-depth, intentional approach to get away from this half hazard posting, just because we can thinking. And that is, that is step one. And once we, we recognize that we have to be more intentional about the strategy. Everything else starts to work. That makes sense.

 Johanna Buchweitz:
So question about that though, right? Because even like you said, you have to have a specific strategy for TikTok and create content that’s in favor of, of the methodologies of TikTok and how people actually, you know, view the content. But from the brand strategist perspective, as you know, we think about content as how can we have one large source piece of content and then make a bunch of micro content from it to like, make it more efficient for us and our time. And I think, you know, a lot of people listening right now, we’re very familiar with that model because it, it’s, it’s easier, so to speak, to do when, and, and it’s less time consuming because the thought of having to create custom content for each platform can be overwhelming as a business owner when you’re like 800 million other things, and you’d rather not be creating more pieces of a content that you already are like panic about. So how can you think about that or apply that to TikTok? Or can you actually just, not it like, can you not recycle content? Can you not take bits from like a, you know, like you said, a, a podcast or any other type of long form video and create short form like TikTok favorable content.

Hillary Billings:
So we like to think about it in the reverse. I, I know firsthand how obnoxious and annoying it is to have to be on multiple platforms and how do you use all your content. It’s, it’s such a frustrating game to play. The cool thing about TikTok, and this doesn’t work the other way by the way, so going, putting content from Instagram or YouTube onto TikTok generally a majority of the time does not convert unless that video already has proven success of going viral on another platform. And even there, I’ve, I’ve done that and I’ve been surprised by what’s hit and what hasn’t based upon the TikTok algorithm. But when you start with TikTok in mind for your short form content strategy, and you start with TikTok and something does well on TikTok, it will convert. To other platforms. So you can take that same video that you do for TikTok and that becomes your Instagram real video. That becomes your Facebook real, that becomes your YouTube short. That way you’re able to take that piece of content and translate it. But we wanna think about, there’s two different strategies that are emerging now. There’s the long form content strategy and the short form content strategy. And the cool thing about short form content strategy, in my opinion, is someone that’s done a lot of production work is that they are short. So in the time that it takes you to put together a long form YouTube video and trying to optimize for 15, 20 minutes or whatever you’re going for, you’re looking at 25 seconds to a minute maximum. On TikTok, you can go longer. In my experience, it doesn’t really matter. That hasn’t, I haven’t seen many videos with proven success records of needing to go that long or that making a drastic difference in views. So if we’re sticking with the model of 25 seconds to a minute for your time versus a 20 minute video, we’ve already done the work of putting together the strategy. We already know what vehicle we’re gonna use to make that video. And then we personally utilize something called a viral video story map, which is available for anyone to download on our website, and it’s one of the reasons that we gotten to a billion views is because we take the time to map out exactly what is going to happen in that video at every step along the way. Again, intentionality is the key here, so we’re moving away from, let’s just see what happens and why this might be good to, let’s, let’s actually formulate this and the best way we can to control for virality. So we utilize that story map so you’re able to one, batch content in a way that you can’t necessarily in the long form. And then once you have your proven content and that’s ready to go, you’ve got it going up on your consistent posting schedule. I don’t believe that you need to post as often as some TikTok experts like to say. I think that there’s a specific strategy and plan that we have for clients when they’re launching a new profile versus once we’re in maintenance mode and in the maintenance mode, you know, once to twice a week has shown to be just fine. So you’re able to then take that content that does well in TikTok, that becomes your strategy for the other platforms. Because remember, everybody’s trying to play catch up with TikTok right now. You know, even Google as a search engine has been surpassed by TikTok. So it’s important, I think, as creators for us to have a an idea as to, and a plan for short form strategy, and you can apply it to at least four other platforms right away to gain your content that way if you wanted to. You know, film for short form content while you’re filming alongside for longer form content. You could also do that, you know, whether or not you’re gonna get something that is gonna have viral potential. I can’t necessarily speak to that, but my biggest recommendation is if you are, if you’re set on doing that because you wanna save time make sure that you’re filming on a second camera in vertical format. Vertical format is the only way to go for short form content.

 Johanna Buchweitz:
That makes sense. No, thank you so much for that. So one thing that I, I, I’m kind of wondering about is, I, I read an article I think a couple of weeks back that a, and I might be slightly misquoting, but it more along the lines, was that an Instagram follower is, More valuable than a TikTok follower in the sense of how much they’re willing to pay. And it, it’s like, so that was the truth. I think the numbers is where I might get it a little off. It was something like a difference between like 8 cents and like, you know, closer to like 0.01 cents. And so, Have you seen that to be true or like, and do you think that TikTok is more beneficial for like a form of PR and brand awareness, or have you actually seen it really helpful in converting those views into like purchases into sales?

Hillary Billings:
Yeah, so there’s a, there’s a couple things at play here. So for one, you wanna think about what Audi, if we’re talking about which audiences are most optimized for purchasing Facebook is going to rule that because you’re, you’re talking about an older demographic that has lots of extra money to spend. So historically, Facebook has always been a more popular platform for running ads for conversions in those CPA. Instagram is right under that. Right? And, and the good thing about those two platforms is there’s a lot of data and we’ve had a lot of time with those platforms to support what that research looks like, what those conversions are going to be. TikTok by comparison, is a relatively new platform. So with it only being a couple years old and really not started with, without a business model, let’s just be honest. Now trying to figure out how to help its creators and brands to optimize on its platform and, and seeing the success that it’s had, it’s definitely behind the ball on figuring that out, however there’s a lot of research that TikTok itself has been conducting and also utilizing 30 party researchers for around the behaviors of TikTokers versus other platforms. So while I, I can’t speak necessarily to whether or not it’s a one-to-one ratio or which one’s better as far as Instagram versus TikTok for your money, what I do know is that TikTokers are almost twice as likely to take actions on a video they see than another platform. They’re more likely to go visit profiles. They’re more curious about brands. They will go to the websites of brands after they see something they like. They’re more likely to buy products off of seeing an ad. Versus another platform. So they’re more, even though it might be a higher spend, and again, I, I can’t speak to that with those numbers. They will take more actions and they will be, and show more brand loyalty than other users on other platforms. So the, the opportunity is massive there. And we do have a lot of use case studies to show that when a brand does something right on TikTok, really it comes down to cultural relevancy, right? And being a part of the cultural narrative at the time. When a brand is able to do that, they do see the financial gains. Ocean Spray is an amazing example of this, right? With that one user generated piece of content, they had spent, I don’t know, let’s just say 80 years. I don’t know how long the brand’s been around a long time. Doing the same type of format of their advertising. One user generated video. They didn’t even make it. They didn’t have to promote it.

 Johanna Buchweitz:
Yeah.

Hillary Billings:
Got billions, I think 15 billion impressions off of that one video that they didn’t make, and then that skyrocketed their sales for the next year by 70. 86% or something like that. A massive number, a massive difference because people were excited to make content around their product. Again, Clinique, they had a lipstick from the seventies that went viral and it allowed them to gain. 6% of the market share. Double A R P was able to start attracting younger and younger brand affinity and actual converting to users because of a TikTok. So when we think about what’s possible and what a brand can invest as far as traditional ad spend, I think we’re still figuring out what works because. You know, people don’t wanna see ads, they wanna see TikToks. But when brands accept and play in that space, or personal brands play in the space of, Okay, I’m with you and these are the rules I need to abide by, let’s make content the magic and opportunity for scale for companies that you wouldn’t necessarily think would take over a brand or a company like TikTok. It can be pretty powerful.

 Johanna Buchweitz:
Yeah, I think Bobby Brown is another one that’s also just done really, really well. So it’s really interesting what you said. Like your point about the, the ocean spray video. So back in the, like, not so much now, but more so a couple of years back, a lot of people would u like pay for, you know, influencer marketing on, on Instagram. Right? And over time people have seen that the conversions were not that great. The influencers wanted way more money and they were not getting, you know, the return on investment at all. Have you seen people start trying that with TikTok since the content creators are actually really, really good at what they do, they’re really creative and they already kind of figured it out. Have you seen that and, and. For people who are listening, who are already panicking, thinking about having to make custom content for TikTok . Does that make sense? Is that a good approach? Instead of me creating content for my brand, if I have a product or if I have a service, can I just hire an influencer on TikTok to create that content for me?

Hillary Billings:
You can. And that is a whole industry. And actually the rates typically for tickers, unless we’re talking the, the huge, you know, macro influencers, the rates are much more affordable on TikTok than they can be for Instagram. So it’s more bang for your buck there. There’s also a lot of interesting new tools that TikToks putting forth that could provide unique ways of allowing different brands or in individual personal brands to utilize, like, so for example, they just rolled out a repost feature, which is exactly what it sounds like, like you would see on Facebook or Twitter where you repost somebody else’s content. However, what TikTok did, which I think is really fascinating, is that piece of content doesn’t ever go on your profile or live anywhere within your videos. So all it’s doing is you click a button and as an influencer, it gets reposted to your community. But it doesn’t come from you. So if that video, again, if we’re talking about quality watch time, a video, and that video is a good video, and then you get access to other people’s large audiences, and because it’s such a small lift you know, we don’t yet know what influencers would charge for something like that, but I would guess it would be pennies on the dollar in comparison to them creating content for somebody that’s on a super tight budget. You know, what I would start thinking about is, What are you currently doing? Or when you’re filming your long form content, how could you make a shorter TikTok version of it? You know? So like, let’s just start by you doing it yourself, and then how could you encourage fans of your brand to make content that doesn’t necessarily require that you pay for it, right? There’s a number of ways to do that. People make content for people because they love their books, they love their products. And again, this is how a lot of these trends tend to start. And a lot of these brands and products tend to build momentum. It’s because somebody had a really great experience and then everybody tries it. We all know the sourdough apocalypse of 2020, right? Like we, everybody had a sourdough starter. Everyone had a video about it. Suddenly charcuterie board design became a big deal. Now it’s butter board designs. You know, I bet that if I was a butter company, I would be maximizing butter board designs for the next six months if I could. So thinking about how you can encourage other people and give them constraints to build, you know, make their own content or other ways to look. This, it, it is overwhelming, but it shouldn’t be overwhelming if it’s an intentional piece of your puzzle and how you can work it into what you’re already doing so that it’s not such a heavy lift for you. And, and that might be that you don’t make your own content, right? Like we, there’s a number of brands out there. There’s a, there’s a specific wine brand that I’m thinking of that doesn’t even have a TikTok, but people love their products and their labels so much. You constantly. Those popping up on TikTok because users are just excited to make that type of content.

 Johanna Buchweitz:
Oh wow. Yeah, that is pretty cool. So one thing that a lot of people have also brought up as well is that like, so they, they went on TikTok because everyone told them they have to go on TikTok. It’s good for the company, it’s good for the personal brand. So they did it. So I, I, I wonder if part of the answer to this is that it wasn’t intentional, just specific for the platform, but a lot of them have shared, like they, they feel like they went on it too late. Like, you know, maybe in the beginning last year even, or a couple years ago, it was pretty quick that no matter. More or less type of content you would create, you would see a decent amount of traction fairly quickly. And there a lot of them were saying that now they, they create content, they post stuff on there and it’ll have zero views or it’ll get like three views. And so they’re wondering, why am I creating content? Like, is it too late? Did, did I, you know, kind of miss the boat? Would you say that part of that answer might be what you said earlier about the intentionality and strategy specifically to TikTok? Or do you think there are other factors involved?

Hillary Billings:
I mean, there’s always so many other factors, right? Every algorithm on every platform is a big black box. And you know, we, we have a direct line of communication with TikTok, which we’re very lucky to have. And even our reps that we speak to don’t know what the algorithm is doing or why they’re doing it. And we have we have friends that work at Facebook that are the same thing. Like, they, they couldn’t tell us anything about why the a they don’t know. They have no idea. It’s a big secret, just tear of secrets when it comes to algorithms, however, So you’re going to see algorithm fluctuations, algorithms are going to change, and that is, I know as a content creator was one of the most frustrating things for me as somebody that was constantly trying to chase what the algorithm wanted. Is that it’s going to change, but that adaptability piece is so important you know, with business in general. But as with content as well, you’re gonna have to learn how to adapt. So what worked for you three months ago isn’t going to work probably in the next six months, and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean that we have to go in and overhaul and, and it’s gonna be a big lift to change it. What we want to do is make. that again, we’re intentionally putting out content and if for whatever reason we. We need to make a change that we’re doing it with intentionality of following the data of that change. So let’s try some different types of videos. Maybe the algorithm did initially, you know, bump down or drive down our views. Okay, how can we look at what’s working now? How can we change this up and go from there? It we have. Revitalize many, many in account that has seen a drastic decrease in views. And it happens. But it’s just like your body, right? Like you’re gonna have ups and downs of days. You can feel really energized and you can do anything and days you can’t. So just knowing that and being able to work within that, it’s a cycle and it’s gonna continue to need to be upkept and, and taken care of and cultivated. Just knowing that is, I think, massively important.

 Johanna Buchweitz:
Yeah. No, I agree. I think that’s a really good point because if you do go into it with that mindset, like you’re, you’re right, like things are always changing on those platforms. Is there an easy way to kind of learn what those trends are, what those data metrics are? Is there like a, a tracking tool or do you have to literally just spend time in the platform itself and just kind of play around and do your own research specifically within TikTok? Or are there like third party data sites that you can use.

Hillary Billings:
I mean there, there’s a lot of third party sites out there. There’s also a lot of data that TikTok provides to you for free. So the Discover Page tab is a great example of this. You can go in and see no other platform really does this. It’ll tell you what hashtags it wants you to use and what pieces of content it’s creating right now for that. Season that you could look at and see what’s working. You’re able to, to go through and see what videos are making sense here. This is really funny, and Marshall is crawling on the ground right now to bring me my charger for the computer so he doesn’t interrupt the shot. Fantastic. This, this is a viral video moment in the making here. So . So there’s, there’s a lot of metrics that you can look that are just available in TikTok and also looking at your own videos back end. So, TikTok allows you to look at your own watch times. It allows you to look at who’s viewing your audience. It allows you to see when your audience is most active on the platform. So even being able to time the videos that you’re creating to when and, and posting them around the times. Your audience is going to be available is, is massively important.

 Johanna Buchweitz:
It did, Yeah. So I mean, I think at the end of the day, it’s like the, the best way is really to use the platform already because since they are giving you a lot of that information and data, like you might as well just kind of, you know, check, check it out, create some content a and, you know, kind of track the, the, the metrics there. So, you know, everyone kind of talks about how it takes a really long time to create trust. Like on these other platforms, right? So if you’re creating content on Facebook, you’re creating content, let’s say on Instagram. I don’t know enough about Twitter to speak to it, but , and I’m clearly not actively on it, but for Facebook and Instagram, I think everybody kind of collectively knows that they have to create a lot of content because it takes a really long time to earn the trust of a follower. Do you find that that timeline is just as long on TikTok or do you find that it’s shortened?

Hillary Billings:
I think it’s shortened. I think that that is an absolutely shortened timeline. And there’s a number of reasons for that. I mean, again, they’re consuming content so quickly, so you wanna think about that. And I think. You still have to go through a lot of the regular things that you would do. Like you need to have your lead magnets, you need to have your website set up. You need to have all of those pieces in play so you know where you’re directing them, but because of the way that they consume content and how they determine. Whether or not they like something, I think that the ability to build brand affinity can happen much quicker. And again, I think Duo Lingo is a fantastic example of this. They did this within the span of a year and now have millions upon millions of following of followers that are, are making it happen for them because of the fact that they invested in the one platform and they were able to, to capitalize and move it forward.

 Johanna Buchweitz:
So when people always want to move those followers, usually, generally they wanna take them, they move them to their own platform, right? Because they, a lot of people have the view that you never know, like you said, the algorithm is always changing. A lot of times things go down. I think we’ve all experienced like a, a Facebook or Instagram outage and then everyone panics because they feel like everybody is there. So they wanna take them off of those platforms and into their email lists so that they can nurture them and talk to them, even if they’re not gonna be, you know, instant buyers. You said before that TikTok followers are more likely if they, something resonates with them to, to click on it. Have you found that those conversions are, are fairly easy to get as a result then of being able to take a TikTok follower off of TikTok and bring them into somebody’s email list?

Hillary Billings:
I’m gonna say it depends because what it really depends on. What, what that link looks like. Like where are you sending them? What is the directive? I personally think that link trees are not the way to go when it comes to what, you know, you’re able to link something in your profile on TikTok. I have personally seen more people take action on that. Going to my website from a viral video, going to my Instagram from a viral video to see what other types of content that I have. The conversions are so much higher on video views to followers than I’ve seen on other platforms, and I can speak to that whole case study in a minute, but it really matters as far as what you’re directing them to do and where you’re sending them. The best way to track this to see if it’s worth your time and effort is to have a unique domain link that you’re putting into your, your profile as that website link. Now, you can only link once you have a thousand, you hyperlink. Once you have a thousand followers, you can put the website address in there. I would expect that zero people are gonna take the time to copy a website link and put it up there unless they can just click on it, right? So when we’re talking about reducing the number of steps or the amount of friction between whatever action we want somebody to take and where they are currently, that’s of the utmost importance. So making sure you have a unique domain link. Whatever the thing that you want them to do is the page that you’re sending them to. Don’t send them to a page that has 75 different options. If you want them to sign up for the email list, you better send them to a landing page that’s specific for the email list, and you also better send them something that they want in exchange for signing up to your email list. I can’t tell you the number of amazing people that I know that have beautifully designed websites who then lead magnet says, Sign up for my newsletter. You know, you want. No, I don’t . I don’t want to, I don’t, I don’t want, I don’t wanna be on anybody’s newsletter. The word newsletter just makes you cringe. Right? But what, what are you gonna give me an exchange for being on your list. And what kind of, again, this goes back to value add. What value add are you bringing? And if, if that’s attractive, people will absolutely sign up and. And you’ll be able to see, okay, this video got a thousand views. I got a couple followers. This video got a hundred thousand views. Ooh, interesting. I wonder how many followers. Well, I can see that there’s a correlation on my Google Analytics from my website to that video that when this video took off, roughly, my website got a bunch of hits around the same time, and I can track that. It came through the link. The unique domain link on my TikTok. So to me that’s all about tracking and also it’s, it’s a game of pulling levers to see what works and what doesn’t. So, I don’t, unfortunately, in my role sometimes we don’t always get access to the back end. This is the information that we put forth to our clients and ask them to do so that we can have that tracking. And then it’s up, it’s up to you guys to make sure that you’re, you’re taking track of everything and, and you’re tracking it as you should . So I hope that answered your question.

 Johanna Buchweitz:
Yeah. That, that would be definitely, I. No, it does for sure. So when you say, Okay, you need to have like a thousand, a thousand followers you said, right? Mm-hmm. non views and thousand followers in order to hyperlink. Okay. Yep. So I, I know like on a lot of the other platforms, it’s more or less a numbers game, right? Where you do have to create a lot of content to start seeing traction on TikTok do you find that like, that it, it’s a lot. Faster to like hit that number, to hit a thousand followers. Like it, it’s not necessarily like, Oh, you need to be doing this for three months. You need to create content x amount of times per day. Cuz even, like you said before in in maintenance mode, it’s like twice a week is fine.

Hillary Billings:
Yeah.

 Johanna Buchweitz:
Do you think it’s, it’s pretty quick to, to get like that traction?

Hillary Billings:
So it’s another, it depends answer and here’s why. In my own experience, I had a video, it’s the same video actually that did eight point, let’s say 8 million views, and it did roughly the same on Instagram reels as it did on TikTok. Okay? On TikTok, that 8 million views, let’s say that that picked me up, I’m just gonna say a hundred thousand followers to make the math simple. So that’s a pretty good conversion on 8 million views, a hundred thousand new follow. On that same video that I posted, I posted it to Instagram. It was like, Wow, this is doing really well. Same number of views. It was literally the same across the board, so it’s not a differential of views. I got 500 followers. That was, Yeah. So when we talk about conversion from viral video views on one platform to followers, TikTok is 100%, in my opinion, going to get you more views. And one of my mentors and, And your mentors too, Aurory, he had a very similar experience. He had a video. Let’s say that it did a hundred thousand views on TikTok and that picked him up 20,000 followers. Same video that did the same amount of views on Instagram, maybe a thousand followers. So the ratios are, are drastically different. And I think a lot of that has to do with the way that clients or a viewers interface with the content and how they choose to make actions. Cuz you had to think about. TikTok is an entertainment platform. TikTok has said they are an entertainment platform, okay? They don’t identify as being a social media platform, even though we think that they are. But when you think about it, most social media platforms are designed for you to engage with your friends. They’re designed for you to follow what your friends are doing, and then people that you intentionally wanna follow. That’s not how TikTok is set up. TikTok is set up for you to discover lots of content from lots of different places. How do we, you know, optimize that? Well then if I see somebody whose content I like, in order for me to ensure that I see it again, I need to follow them. Right. So the, the followership ratio, that’s a major, major player when it comes to this. So that’s something that people should definitely think about. Now when it comes to other things that platforms do, there’s something called the New Account Advantage that we talk about. This applies to every platform. But I have personally seen it work best for myself on TikTok, and I’ve seen many people be able to leverage this even currently in this, in this current landscape that we’re in. So, as far as the whole fear around, I’ve missed the boat, I don’t think that’s the case. I think it just requires a little bit of more work and effort than maybe it. A few months ago, but it’s still very possible. So what what platforms do, what platforms do is when you have a new account and you put up a new video as a creator, they will artificially lift that video to a wider audience. Cuz you might have zero followers, you might have three followers, and there’s, there’s a lot of reasoning for doing that. One of the primary reasons is that it wants to introduce your content to other people to see, hey, These three people like it. Here are other people that are like these three people. Maybe you’ll like the content as well. And so it, it’s giving you an artificial reach. And also by doing that and you getting an initial hit of followers and views, it gets you excited as the creator to make more content because you see that it’s working. So when people take the, I’m just gonna throw something up on TikTok to see what works approach they’re losing out and they’re killing the ability to utilize this new account advantage, right? And so then what happens is because they’re putting up content that’s not optimized for TikTok and they’re getting a hundred views or a thousand views and they’re maxing out there and they don’t know why they can’t reach beyond it. Well, by the time you’ve posted 20 videos. You’ve now taught the algorithm that that’s the type of quality of video that you create and it shouldn’t bump it out. So it’s gonna take a much heavier lift at that point to overcome what the algorithm thinks that you naturally do to, to then make an impact. So we wanna leverage the new account advantage anytime we can. Now we can also revitalize. Profiles from the dead and we’ve done it. It takes a long time. It’s a lot more work. Nobody enjoys it, but it’s really fun once you see the page get healthy again and thinking about it again, like an account being like your body, where if you feed it junk food for a long time, you’re not gonna be able to run a mile. And then if you’re upset with yourself for not winning the track race because you know you fed your body a bunch of junk food, but you’re not addressing that then there’s more problems to be had, right? So we’ve gotta detox our system, we’ve gotta feed it the right food, and then we gotta get back into what do we need to do to, to optimize health. So thinking about it that way.

Johanna Buchweitz:
That’s fascinating. I actually didn’t know about that new account advantage at all, and that is super cool and that is like a great, great point about really being intentional with that initial content, especially that you’re creating that that’s actually an awesome advantage. So I wanna switch a little bit from like, you know, TikTok, how amazing and all these like amazing bits of information you’ve shared with us that none of us really knew anything about before, which is awesome to like the business side of it. Super helpful. So how did you actually go from this incredible content creator to a business owner? Like what was that shift like?

Hillary Billings:
It was very painful. , so, you know, my, my partner Marshall and I. We’re in the content creation space for about three years and you know, we both have very diverse backgrounds. So me coming from journalism and brand strategy and doing a lot of different types of content creation, I had a travel blog for a long time. He was in business development and found in multiple tech startups and was a billboard charting artist. And so we, we, we brought our eclectic backgrounds together and the content that we were creating and doing wasn’t necessarily fulfilling. We would, we were excited by what we were learning because we’re lifetime learners and getting to understand the psychology of attention and why people watch what they watch was super fascinating to both of us. The, the content that we were making at the time to do it did not resonate with either one of us really well, and when we thought long term about. it. You know, being a content creator wasn’t something that we ever wanted to be necessarily. And we both love learning. We both love coaching, and we both love helping other people and adding value to people’s lives. So when I think about, you know, I, we did a video with skills and it got 5 million views. It’s like, cool. Knock that one outta the park, Okay. Onto the next, Versus if I’m doing that for a client and helping them reach those markers and helping them reach their potential, that that carries a different weight for my value system and what matters. So you know, we started to look at, in, in the winter what we could do to, to bring this knowledge and everything that we’ve learned together into something that could be helpful for others and that’s where we got the idea for attention ears. And we just started running with it. We were initially testing and beta testing a bunch of different ideas as far as how we could best help. You know, with us being the ones to create the content. And we realized pretty early on that wasn’t gonna be scale. So landing in this space where we’re helping to coach and consult and strategize to bring out the best content for brands and individuals has, has been really rewarding. And it’s been exciting to see the different types of challenges that, that come with this business of every brand has a different issue that they’re facing when it comes to, to social media content. But it’s great to see that the same fundamentals and the same process applies to them all. It’s all about finding that intentionality and, and figuring out those formulas for them within their video content to to continue to increase watch time.

Johanna Buchweitz:
That’s super exciting and I love like everything that you’re doing and, and I can imagine that it was a bit challenging in the beginning. So what was the biggest learning curve for you guys as you like really saw this vision of creating this company and, and that was fulfilling and adding all this value. What was the most difficult thing for you to learn?

Hillary Billings:
Oh my gosh. Like, only can pick one. You know, I think no. Well, so my, my partner is also my business partner and and we worked together for years in the content creation, and that was too close. We, we learned, we liked, we work well together, but, you know, living together, working together all the time editing together, it just, it was too much togetherness. So in this new business, having. To really define our roles and what we’re both really good at and how we can complement each other in that. And then even then, you know, like we sometimes we both like doing some of the same things, or I think I do and then I don’t. And he thinks he does. He likes this instead. And and figuring out how that all comes together for me. I’ve worked at a lot of companies. I’ve worked for a lot of businesses, but I have never had to build my own with the intention of scaling to to being beyond me, being the person doing the delivery. And so thinking about this business as we’ve been building it as. Not only in the short term of how do we help clients, how do we bring what we’re doing as a skill set together, but how do we formulate this as a business that can grow and we can bring in other people to join us? That’s been a great and fascinating time and learning curve of, of figuring all that out. So if you have any suggestions or advice for me, I’m here for it.

Johanna Buchweitz:
We we could definitely connect offline. I’d be happy to help as much as possible, because I love what you’re doing.

Hillary Billings:
Yeah. You’re the organizational queen, so, you know.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I’m happy to help. Like, so For sure. I would love to. So I guess for you guys, like what is the, the big vision? Like if you could just have one thing for, for this company’s success, or, or even for your own, like what does that look-like?

Hillary Billings:
I love when we’re able to, to make wins happen for clients. And so what it would, the win for me is to, when somebody is struggling with short form content creation, for them to say, Get the attention ears on the phone. We need to talk to them right now and fix this and whether that’s for shorts, reels Snapchat shows, even going into short form television or streaming or how to, how to better capture when it comes to film attention and, and get people excited about that. There’s the skill set that we’ve learned. Travels far beyond the world of, of the internet and there’s so many great uses with entertainment that I think we could apply. So I am excited to see how we grow and are able to do that.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I’m excited for you too. And also it’s so needed. Like so many people have like come to me, especially with content creation a and I think a lot of them. Like, sure they’ll do it themselves, but those who, who have like these growing businesses would love to hire someone to help them do it. I know for me, I’m just like, Please take it all. I don’t want like somebody do it for me. I don’t like the content creation piece at all. So.

Hillary Billings:
I, I look for, for years you’ve been like, I don’t, don’t make me go on social media and it’s like, but that’s where the people are. Don’t wanna do it. Okay.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I know .

Hillary Billings:
I wonder.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I mean, it’s definitely important. Oh yeah, you do. I complains a lot, guys. It’s okay. I finally got over it and started getting on the platforms, but it, it’s like I had an identity crisis too.

Hillary Billings:
Yeah.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Yeah, because it’s challenging. I think it’s, there’s a fine line between creating content that resonates and adds value, but that also is, Still authentic to your own voice and not getting into the trap of create content that might perform well versus content that feels really good to me and that I know adds value, even if it speaks to like 10 people versus 10,000 and I think that’s a really important thing too. Like anyone who’s listening, I know like Hillary, you’ve gone viral, created all this content, so apologize if this is very against everything you say. You can totally come at me for that. But I think especially even with TikTok, it’s like creating that content. That like still feels good to you and does speak to like your authenticity and your brand, but still ideally performs well. So it’s like finding that fine line is a little bit of an interesting dance.

Hillary Billings:
You know, and it’s interesting you bring that up because I think that a lot of people think that both of those things are mutually exclusive and they’re not. Right. Like when it comes to content,

Johanna Buchweitz:
Yeah.

Hillary Billings:
You can have content that is authentic to you and how you want, And this goes back to the, the values and the voice, right? That is step one. We’re not, we often hear from people, Well, I don’t wanna dance. Well, I don’t wanna lip sync. Well, I don’t wanna do the little whatever thing on, I don’t wanna be the trending video.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Yep.

Hillary Billings:
That’s fine. I don’t want you to do anything that you don’t wanna do, and frankly, I don’t think that a lot of. For people that aren’t incredibly attractive, 20 something year old women. So I wanna help you find what’s gonna be sustainable for you and your brand and being able to move that forward and a lot of that goes back to that initial conversation of what is that strategy, what is the intentionality? And then. Once you have that in place and those constraints in place, it also easily allows you to say what you’re not gonna do. So I would never give you the advice Johanna to, to do a dance on TikTok, because I know that’s not within your place.

Johanna Buchweitz:
That wouldn’t happen.

Hillary Billings:
But you wouldn’t have a great time ranting about the dances on TikTok or the bad, you know, health advice that people are, are prescribing. And that’s great. And there’s, there’s an audience for that. And so that’s something else to consider. Yes, we have done a lot of views and we have purposely gone off of those views, but it’s also about finding the audience within the algorithm. And so you might not get 3 million views, but you don’t need to. Right. We as a business.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Yeah.

Hillary Billings:
As a brand, you just need a loyal following and you need to keep finding those people. So again, knowing where they are, knowing how you wanna communicate with them and what you want to say is just as important. As the views aspects. So we wanna start there and, and meld those two things together. And so, you know, you, your platform may end up with 10,000 loyal followers and how amazing would that be to be able to have 10,000 people? Like if you think about that, of you speaking to 10,000 people in a room, like what an amazing opportunity that’s a stadium. Right. That’s a football stadium for you to be able to go and talk in front of every single day. So make sure that we’re all taking, you know, that perspective and, and keeping that in mind when we see these big metrics, cuz it can be easy to, to lose the, the perspective of what impact we’re actually having.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I love that you said that because like at the end of the day, if you’re speaking to like 10,000 people or 5,000 people who absolutely love what you’re saying and is your target audience, I think many of us forget how much more valuable that is then. Oh, a video got 10 million views. But you know what, Nobody is actually really cares about anything that I’m doing. They just thought, like, my dog running in the background is funny. Like, you know, like, it, it, it’s making sure that we get excited about the. Who are listening, who are our target audience, no matter where it is. And it, and I love that you said that because I think a lot of people also, they get scared with that. Like I know myself, I did for sure with that authenticity piece of still being able to create content that’s not almost gonna like waste your own time or the viewer’s time, but still feels really good to you and to your point, like. , all of us have these topics that we’re more than happy to talk to anybody about. Like, I will talk to anybody about why you should never have a debit card. And so it’s like you can create content based off of like your soapbox points. Right? And, and like you said, maybe it’s not gonna get like 10 million views, but like, 10,000 followers, like 10,000 views, Like that’s great. Like that’s fantastic. I’ll take it .

Hillary Billings:
Yeah. Yeah. It’s, it’s keeping the perspective of the impact that we’re having. It’s just as important as going after those things, and it all becomes easier when we start to think about how we can create more quality, intentional content.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I love that Hillary, you have literally given us so much value. Like I know I learned a ton today and I’m sure everyone listening has learned a ton as well. So for all of us who are like, Oh my gosh, I need more Hillary in my life, attention years. Please help me now. Where can we find you? .

Hillary Billings:
Yeah. The best place to connect is attentioneers.com. That’s attention, e e r s.com, like imagineers, but attentioneers. And on that website you will find our viral video story map, which again, is the way that we’ve intentionally broken down our videos to allow us to see what we’re gonna be shooting to help garner all these views, which will also help you stay very authentically within yourself and hopefully take a lot of the pressure off needing to come up with something on the fly. So please go get the viral video story map that includes a bonus video from my co-founder and partner Marshall, who will walk you through exactly how to optimize that. And feel free to reach out to us there.

Johanna Buchweitz:
I love that. And, and so, you know, what is, I guess for, for us as a community, what can we do to support you?

Hillary Billings:
Oh, that is so kind. I mean, I, I think at this point I, it’s helpful for me to see people succeed and helping, helping us is us helping you. So please go get the viral video story map. With that, it’ll subscribe you to our weekly TikTok trips and trends where we will show you the latest news of what’s going on and why you should care about it. Super condensed email. And I would love your feedback as to what you’re struggling with and how we can help you, and that that is what would be supporting.

Johanna Buchweitz:
So before you leave us today, if you could, I know you’ve shared so much wisdom with all of us, but could you just share one last bit of wisdom that could fit on a tweet?

Hillary Billings:
Make good videos.

Johanna Buchweitz:
That is easy enough. I like that.

Hillary Billings:
Or make songs about your dog. You know, whatever you prefer , bring it full circle.

Johanna Buchweitz:
Oh my gosh, I love that so much. Hillary, thank you so much for coming on today.

Hillary Billings:
Oh, it was my pleasure. Thank you for having.

Johanna Buchweitz:
We hope you enjoyed hearing from the incredible Hillary billings, and if you did, please leave us a review on Apple, Spotify, wherever you tune in to Listen, Please share this episode with anyone who you think might enjoy it. Thank you so much for tuning in to this week’s episode of Limitless. See you next week for a new episode.

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