TikTok can be a powerful platform for building a community, a brand, and a following. Yet it's often plagued by many of the same issues as other social media platforms — trolling, for example. Fortunately, Keenya Kelly is on the show today, someone who embodies all the best of what TikTok can be. She has built an incredible audience on TikTok by being vulnerable, helpful, and entertaining.
TikTok goes far beyond “dogtok” videos (which we also recommend for different reasons). It can be a powerful platform for education and connection. And if members of our potential audience and community are there, it only makes sense that we make an effort to connect with them where they are, right?
So we're going to get into all of this today. How do we jump into the world of TikTok? How do we handle trolls and haters, call out comments effectively, and become radically authentic while doing all of that? Keenya's the woman to talk to, so press play, and let's get going!
Keenya Kelly is the CEO of If You Brand It, a marketing and consulting firm in San Diego, CA where she strategically helps business owners develop video marketing strategies.
Keenya decided to learn about the TikTok platform as a way to market her business during the pandemic. In just 12 short months Keenya has grown her account to over 400,000 followers and has helped clients reach millions of followers as well.
As a partner with the Keenya Kelly brand you will surely reach Keenya’s strong female audience of influencers and entrepreneurs.
In This Episode:
- How Keenya segued from Periscope into the world of TikTok
- Being radically authentic in a personal brand
- “Unconscious permission” through social media
- Finding opportunity amidst stigma
- Wrangling trolls on TikTok
- Changing perspectives by calling out comments
- Diving into TikTok creation for the first time and leveraging the platform's discover page
- Get Good with Money by Tiffany the Budgetnista Aliche
The CX 009: The CX 009: TikTok and Troll-Wrangling with Keenya Kelly
Tony Bacigalupo: Okay. TikTok.
Jillian Benbow: TikTok.
Tony: TikTok, TikTok, TikTok. Jill, what is TikTok? Is TikTok a place to watch dog videos and silly viral dance routines?
Tony: Is TikTok also a place to have important conversations, and educate people, and learn, and build your business, and forge connections?
Jillian: Oh, yeah, you can even learn how to forge steel.
Tony: Wait, really?
Tony: That's crazy.
Jillian: It is. You can do anything on TikTok.
Tony: Fortunately, today, we have somebody who embodies all the best of what TikTok can be in Keenya Kelly, who has built an incredible audience on TikTok by being vulnerable, by being helpful, by being kind. And she's got so much wisdom to share with us today on the Community Experience.
Okay, so TikTok.
Tony: TikTok, Jill. Social media in general, but I feel like TikTok is like any other social media, only more so. TikTok is the maximum social media. So, we see, I think a lot of the biggest trade-offs of social media in TikTok, where TikTok has this incredibly addictive algorithm, where you could just completely get sucked in. You can see some of the most mindless videos and ridiculous stuff.
And then, at the same time, people are using it as a powerful tool for education and for connection. I think there's just a really interesting dynamic at play as we as community organizers consider how do we find and connect to our audience where they are? And if our audiences in somewhere like TikTok, then do we go into that world? And do we try to make the best of it?
Our guest today, Keenya Kelly, is in there making good use of the good side of platforms like TikTok. And so, in this conversation, we'll be hearing from her about how she goes about making good use of a platform like that.
Jillian: And she does such a good job of navigating a platform that is somewhat notorious for being a little messy, and having people on TikTok say, like, "Oh, I'm on the good side, I'm on the bad side, the dark side." And she is just trailblazing ahead using emotional intelligence, using her ability to build in public in a super authentic way.
Tony: So, if you're like me, and you're a TikTok noob, Kenya Kelly is that much more valuable a person to look up and to follow.
Jillian: Let's get into it with Keenya Kelly.
Tony: Keenya, thank you so much for joining us. It's so great to have you here.
Keenya Kelly: I'm so glad to be here, Tony. Thanks for having me.
Tony: I admit I am not inherently social media unsavvy. I built a big part of my business on Twitter and Facebook. I like to think of myself as keeping up with the times, but for some reason, I haven't caught on TikTok yet. And so, this might be it between you and Jill, we might get me into TikTok by the end of this episode. Tell me a little bit about your relationship to TikTok, and how it connects to your journey building your business?
Keenya: For sure. So, I originally heard about TikTok in 2018. And I saw Chalene and Bret Johnson, they were doing something called the Baby Shark challenge. I couldn't quite figure out what was going on. So, I never did anything, but I'm somebody who prays. I'm always praying, asking god for creative strategies for my business.
Because I'm like you, the creative universe to give me secrets that nobody else has. And so, I was praying, when 2020 hit, you got the pandemic. And I'm like, "Oh my god, my business is going to die." And so, I'm like, "Help me tell me what to do." And I heard, "Get on TikTok." And I was like, "That's got to be the dumbest thing I've ever heard in my entire life."
I thought it was honestly crazy. But because I was used to hearing creative ideas from him anyway, I said, "Well, the worst thing that happens is, I waste my time on this platform. The best thing that happens is that this could be my moment." But I won't even say it was my moment immediately, because I felt like a 95-year-old grandma on the platform as a 40-year-old. And then, all the different buttons and stuff made no sense to me.
But I just started on the platform, and just I talked to myself every day, and was like, "I don't know why I'm here. But I'm going to do this, I'm going to kill this." And within six months, things started to turn a little bit. Within a year, 400,000 followers, and this has just exploded our business.
Tony: What was your background when you were starting TikToking? Were you already a seasoned media sensation maker, or was this the breakout for you?
Keenya: So, when I started my business in 2015, I started it on Periscope, in my living room like everybody else. There's no background and all that. And I'm just Periscoping, teaching, branding, teaching business owners how to build strategic brands. And we were designing brands, and websites, and logos, and consulting, and stuff through Periscope and Facebook.
And then, of course, Instagram. And that's how I was doing it. We built my business on live video. Every single day, I had what was called the Keenya Kelly Morning Show, and I will teach 30 minutes to 45 minutes every day.
Tony: Amazing. So, you've been in the build your business through video on the internet game for a little while now, which is great.
Tony: And in terms of not just building a business and building a following, but building a community, have you found that there is a community that you're either a part of now, or that you have created through the work that you've done?
Keenya: You mean on TikTok or in general?
Tony: I would say both. I'm most curious about TikTok, but I just want to get to know you.
Keenya: So, yeah, I would definitely say I created a community. Once I started building my business online, people wanted me authentically like, I've always been somebody who shares for life, the good and not so good. And I'm extremely encouraging. So, over the years, I will share, like I went through divorce years ago, super bad divorce.
And as I was coming out of it, I started sharing lessons and encourage, and people just watch me go from the top to the bottom, and then just crawl, like military chest crawl my way out. And so, as a result of them just watching me on social, I just got this community of mostly women that were like, "Look at this girl, she started with nothing, had it, lost it." And I've just watched these hundreds and thousands of women just say, "If she can do it, I can do it too," because they watched me do it from nothing.
Jillian: That's so important too, I think, because there's such a... I feel like I know you, and there's something about that that is so much more interesting and authentic. So, that, then if I'm looking to, I don't know, take a course on, how to use TikTok for my business, I know who I'm going to go to. Because I'm going to go to the person that I feel like I have a relationship with.
Keenya: Yeah. And one of my things is outside of business, I'm also a minister. I'm not like a pastor at Sunday morning, but I'm somebody who people always go to for prayer. And that's been my life forever. And so, when I started building my business online, I was like, "I want to be me." Because with branding, you have to go, what version of me, especially as a personal brand, what version of me are people going to get?
And so, just years ago, I would introduce myself and say, "I love business. I love branding. I love Jesus. And I love cats." And I always talk about those four things on my social media. And so, because that was a part of me, I just told myself, I'm not going to hold anything back. Now, if I'm going through anything terrible, I'm not just going to go, and tell the whole world because I'm in this pit of a thing.
But I will allow people into that because I'm like, I want to build something that's authentic to where if I have a conference one day, if I jump out to “Darude” by Sandstorm, which is my favorite song in the world, my audience is not going to be surprised. Or if they hear me listening to some type of gospel song, they won't be surprised because they're like, "This has always been Keenya."
And so, I've just told myself that I'm going to be this authentically. And so, even this, and I'll say this as a disclaimer, at this very moment, this morning, we got a message that my grandma passed. And I'm okay right now, because it's like—
Jillian: Oh my god.
Keenya: Yeah. It's really sad. I'm smiling, but it's like—
Jillian: Yeah, I'm so sorry.
Keenya: Yeah, thank you. But I'm in this like, "Okay, wait, I'm going to the end the limbo moment, where it haven't quite hit." And I said, "Well, am I going to share this with my audience?" And I was like, "Yeah." I don't have to tell them everything, but they're me, they're with me. And I didn't know how much my audience was invested.
So, I went through divorce. And I got all these messages that were like, "But you were our hope." And I was like, "Oh, I didn't realize that me getting married was a part of something for you." And so, I just told myself, like, "Hey, you get to share whatever part of this you want to share with the world." And it's giving people the unconscious permission to be normal versus have to everything be perfect, because it's never gonna be perfect.
Jillian: Well, it's like that toxic positivity thing. Like, "Oh, everything's fine." No, it's not fine. It's a dumpster fire out there. But I do just want to take a moment to offer such sincere sympathy for you, been through that and it's awful. Thank you for being here but lots of love to you, as well.
Keenya: Yeah, thank you. My grandma would want me being here cracking jokes, because she was doing it all the way to the end. She was tearing people to shreds in the hospital. So, I'm like, "Well, this is who we always been. So, let's go."
Tony: I want to express my appreciation for the example you set sharing your story and inviting other people to connect around that. One of the things that I hope that we get to in this conversation is how there's this scroll for cute dog videos on TikTok, but then there's this whole other side of the spectrum of this tragic difficult thing happened to me, and I'm processing it along with you?
And maybe it's going to give you the opportunity to process it, and express something about yourself for your audience in a way that people really badly need. So, thanks for that. But do you have any kind of advice for how people approach these tools, which can be very addictive, and very fun, and big-time wasters, but can be so valuable, and useful too?
Keenya: I think that in anything that you do, you have to do it within moderation. The algorithm is so smart, so if you're watching videos on depression, and people that are going through depression, and you keep watching that stuff, and you're going to go into that hole of all those really, really, really sad videos.
But when I look at things like TikTok in general and my social media, people that are sharing authentically saying, "Hey, I'm battling with my mental health, so I decided to see a therapist." Well, this person has 100,000 followers who have never heard you say, "I am dealing with X, so I'm going to go and get help."
Well, that gives an audience an unconscious permission to say, I'm going to go and get help. I'm not very political at all, but I remember when Michelle Obama came out, and said she was suffering with depression as a result of quarantine and all that. She had this unconscious permission to all the people that love and adore her to go, "Am I dealing with depression?"
And then, we watched Naomi Osaka say what she said about all that, and then you had Simone Biles, you're watching all these people come out with this stuff. And you're like, not just watching people like Robin Williams, and all them commit suicide, but people that are still here saying, "I'm struggling, I'm going to go and get help."
I feel like when you're on tools, like TikTok, and you're watching people share their lives, share their journey and say, "I'm getting help, and this is helpful for all of you," even if somebody's mom, dad, or whatever isn't telling them to do it, they got this guru in their eyes that is saying, "Hey, I'm a mess. And I know you are too. Let's go get help together." I think it's a really positive thing that can impact the world in a way that only social media can right now.
Jillian: It's so true. And you're right, like giving... I always joke, I have a 12-year-old daughter. And if I tell her something, I don't know anything. But if someone who she... is more on a peer level, can tell her that same thing, it's amazing. And so, being able to find your people on platforms like that, and people that you want to listen to — I don't even know who she's following on TikTok. I can't keep track most of it. She'll show me something, I'm like, "What is that?"
Keenya: I'm sure she's following Charli D'amelio, the young lady, 17 years old with 100 million followers, and she suffered with depression. And she's helping all these other girls go, "Hey, it's okay to get help too."
Jillian: Yeah, there's something very powerful about that and giving people, like you said, that unconscious permission to be like, "Hey, I can do this,” and there's that trickle down.
I've wanted to talk to a TikTok creator for a long time, because content moderation is a big piece of community work. And TikTok seems to not have figured that out yet. But I think what I want to talk about is the trolling, and the harassment in comments, and if you've experienced that. And I think, what's your advice on that for people who are thinking about creating content, especially in a business sense, because it can be very harmful. There's the cancel culture thing. There's a lot going on, on TikTok.
Keenya: TikTok reminds me of Periscope. Remember when we first got on Periscope, and it's an international platform so people would come in, and trolls would be just going insane on Periscope. They would say the most hateful things over, and over, and over on Periscope. And the only way to get them to stop was to block them. But you had maybe 10 or 15 more that would come in.
And so, look, when I see TikTok and all of that, I just see Periscope. But I've been a live streamer for a very long time. So, I can ignore them without being emotionally attached to it. But if a person is brand new, and they've gone viral for the first time, they don't really know how to handle the hate that happens on the platform. But I think that it's really important for people to know a couple things.
One, most of the people that are trolling have an account with the home picture on it, they don't have a real name on it, it's not even a real person. So, it could be a really young person that's doing stupid stuff, or just could be somebody that have just created a dumb bot-type accounts that just do really dumb things. And so, TikTok, what they've done is they've now created mass delete.
So, if you've got a bunch of comments, you click on the mass delete button, and you're able to click, click, click, click, click, click, and then delete all these people. And then, you can multiblock. But that's part of the trolling part. That's just what happens with international platforms. And then, when you go viral, but also, anytime you post anything on social media, whether you go viral or not, you're always going to have different people who agree or don't agree.
Right now, you've got people that are the mass, no mass, like this, or don't this, Biden or whatever. And it's like, nobody agrees on everything. And I think there's a large group of people that don't have emotional intelligence to say, I don't like this, I can just scroll on. So, what we have to learn how to do is, I'll just say it to the new creator on TikTok that, just note that if you are super sensitive, you can't focus on everything that's going on in your comment section. You're going to have to remind yourself, and tell yourself that everybody's not going to like you, everybody's not going to agree with you. So, you need to make a list of people that you don't like, that you don't agree with. And then, choose to ignore people when you see stuff you don't like.
But I think that so often, we get 100 great comments and three bad ones that we focus on the three bad. But we have to train ourselves to go, "Hey, the hate that I'm getting should not outweigh the positive that I'm getting." But it's hard to ignore it, especially when you have never dealt with something like that before. But if you are building a platform, whether you're an influencer or you're a business, when you put content out there, everybody's not going to agree.
And you've got to settle in your mind that that's going to be that way. And don't let the people that don't like you, don't agree with you, keep you from what it is that you want. If I did that, I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing today. Because I got so much hate from people that said they love me and all that about TikTok before I even posted because before they even made it to TikTok.
And they were just saying all this crazy stuff. Now, those same people in my inbox like, "Can you teach me TikTok?" I'm like, "Yeah, for $750 an hour." Because they were hating, so I'm going yeah, but people that love me were saying stuff. People that don't know me are going to say stuff. It's like everybody's going to say stuff. And from a business standpoint, I'm like, "You all can hate me all the way to the bank. How about that?"
Jillian: That's the perfect mentality. Hate me by paying my Venmo.
Keenya: Come on, right? Yeah.
Jillian: It's interesting, because I've noticed this trend on TikTok, where because it's so divisive, and because it's the I'm either on this side, or that side, or the good side, or the bad side of TikTok, people will... someone has a critical or a hateful comment. Oftentimes, the creator will then address that comment to their audience. And usually, rake them through the coals. It's usually real—
Keenya: I've done it.
Jillian: — a slap down. Yeah. And I'm curious, your thoughts on it. You mentioned, you did it, b ut do you think it creates more of like people are trying? It's like the “pick me” culture, where now, everyone's trying to push buttons to get their comment featured. So, they can be like, "I'm not like regular trolls. I'm a really good one, because they addressed my comment."
Keenya: I think it's a lot of different things going on there. Well, I know, for me personally, I had some people that were saying really mean things to me about being brown during 2020 who are for and all that. And periodically, I would just ignore things. But I had one guy who said something that was just completely off the wall. And I said, "Okay, we're going to use this as a lesson to teach on my account."
Because I just kept going viral. And so, I didn't bash him. I took what he was saying, and I explained it, I did a whole one-minute video on this is what he's saying, this is what I'm hearing, and let me explain to you. And that actually flipped, the guy actually commented back and was like, "I did not know that that's what this was that, oh, my god, I had no idea."
And then, so then I deleted the video, because the whole point was to address it to the world, but also to him, because he wasn't hearing me when we were going back and forth in the comments. And so, that changed his perspective. And then, I didn't have to put it out there. Now, there are people that are just doing hateful things just because they don't have that level of emotional intelligence to not do a reply video or whatever.
Or there's people that are trying to bait a person to do a reply video. But I think that it's... I don't think that as many people are doing it as it seems. I think it is happening, but I think there's more of us that are ignoring the stuff than it is us doing a reply video around it. One of my friends, Gera Bean, she started doing reply videos to it.
But she'd make funny faces, she does arm farts. And she does all these little things regarding some of her comments. And she goes viral even more, because she's using humor to address things versus tearing the person apart.
Tony: I feel like it is a historic internet miracle that you were able to engage a person in this way. And they were open to connecting in the way that you describe.
Keenya: Me too.
Tony: Can you maybe even just get a little bit more into the details of what you said? We don't need to get into the specifics, but just how you approached it. And why you think the person responded in this way that seems to be an internet miracle.
Keenya: I'm pretty sure the comment was around the BLM versus ALM. Because you've got the words Black Lives Matter. And then, you've got the movement, you've got people that are saying Black Lives Matter and doing crazy stuff, or whatever. And then, versus saying all lives matter. And so, he just kept fighting me on the whole topic of all lives do matter, that includes black people.
And he was just hammering just intermittent, so political, he was just going off about it in my comments. And finally, I said, "Okay, we can't battle through text." And so, I just did a reply, and was just like, and I called his name out, even though his name was already up there. I said, "Let me explain when I say, what I personally say, I'm not saying the rest of the world. When I say Black Lives Matter, I'm saying, ‘Hey, stop killing us.’ Granted you might have people in certain cities, killing each other, whatever, but I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about my life matters. And when you say ALM, this is what I hear. But I'm trying to say this, this and this.”
And I just was explaining, I'm not trying to say that I'm better than anybody else. I'm saying this is what's happening to us right now. And we're trying to stand up for ourselves. And when he heard it that way, he couldn't believe it. And I knew it was because he doesn't have a lot of brown people around him. Because if he had a lot of brown people around him, they would have explained it to him, and he would have gotten it the same way.
And so, him along with probably a hundred other thousand people that watched that video had this like, "Holy cow," because my comment section was 99.9 percent positive in that video because people got an understanding from a brown person, my perspective of what that phrase meant. And so, he just got it, and I deleted it.
Tony: I feel like that's such a powerful story because we're in this place where we have these platforms where people can connect in such healthy ways, and in such toxic ways, and so much of it comes down to how we converse, how we communicate, and how we deal with times when somebody is causing trouble or when there's a disagreement. And just seems like we have a long way to go. And there's a lot of challenge, but there's got to be a lot of opportunity there as well.
Keenya: Me personally, I feel like, I'm different than a lot of people. I've invested a lot of time and energy in becoming emotionally intelligent and learning, because don't get me wrong, I could have tore him to shreds. I had it in me. But something in me said, "Okay, the whole point of this is to help him understand.' And so, I've learned over the years how to articulate.
And so, everybody may not have gone through that same process of personal development to be able to articulate themselves. Because I get angry, I want to say really mean things to people all the time. But something in me just triggers and says, "Filter that word, that word, that word, only say this," because of the journey that I've gone through my own personal healing.
And so, I think that if people would focus on themselves, healing themselves, and their minds, and growing as people, then conversations get so much easier, because I ain't perfect. I say off the wall things all the time. And when I do, and I triggered somebody, or upset someone, I had the filter that says, "Hey, I'm really sorry, I did not mean to yada-yada-yada," because I've learned how to say I'm sorry, which is 10 years ago, I'm sorry was not even in my vocabulary.
Jillian: There's something about being willing to listen and more from the audience's perspective. I see this on TikTok. A lot of the people I follow, I follow to get their life experience that is different than mine, because I want to understand better, and I learn a lot. And I notice that it's all about mindset, because I think a lot of people will hear something from someone whose perspective, or life is different than theirs and they get defensive, but they don't recognize it; it's kind of like their whole bubble gets a little shattered.
And I secretly like it. I also can see that it's got to be exhausting in the teacher role. It's an interesting place where we are, just historically, with technology, and being able to learn from other people.
And I think it's definitely something that can be really powerful. It could really bring us all together in wonderful ways. I'm very curious what your advice would be to someone, I don't know, like me that maybe consumes on TikTok, and goes down the dogtok and whatnot. But if you were just going to give someone on the street like, here's like the top things you should know getting into creating content on TikTok that's valuable, what do you think you would say?
Keenya: So, the number one thing I would say is, first, it's really important to understand that TikTok is just like Facebook, just like Instagram. It's a social media platform that the company's goal is to make billions and billions of dollars. That's the number one goal of the company. And just by Facebook and Instagram, their desire is to get us pulled onto the platform, and spend all of our time there.
Because they're focused on what we all call TOP, time on platform. And so, the same way you could scroll on Facebook, and stay there for six hours, the same thing TikTok is trying to do. So, as a creator, as a business owner, what you're trying to do is you've got millions of people, America alone has 100 million people, millions of people every single day, log on to this app to consume.
They log on to be entertained. They log into Netflix, and Hulu, and whatever to be entertained. And we as the business people, our job is to create creative commercials to stop them in their scrolling. So, they're watching a 52nd video. Our job is to get onto the platform, be a part of the culture that TikTok has created, and create content around whatever it is that we do, whatever we're trying to offer, sell, or whatever, but being a part of that culture.
And so, once you get through that part, then it's really important for you to get onto TikTok on your own phone. So, not on a young person's phone, not on your wife, husband or whatever, but from your phone, because TikTok has to get to know you, and what it is that you like. Otherwise, if you're on a 15-year-old's phone, and you're scrolling, you're only going to see what the software knows that your 15-year-old wants to see.
So, as you're on your phone, scrolling, start interacting with videos that you actually like, and TikTok is going to start sending you content that you actually want to see. After a while, you're going to start realizing, "Oh, you're getting the same content that you want." But in addition to that, I would encourage you to go on to what's called TikTok's discover page.
Now, if you're on TikTok, it's the little magnifying glass at the bottom of the screen, you click on that, and then it's another page, and go to the top, and go onto the search box. If you're in finance type finance. If you're a real estate type real estate. You're going to start seeing all the viral videos underneath that category. We'll start watching all of those videos, your business videos.
That's going to really show you how business people are using TikTok's culture to drive people to the link in their bio, buy their product services, or opt into their email list. Because if you come to TikTok like you're on Instagram or Facebook, you're going to be like, "This is nuts, what is going on here?" But it's important to come in and learn that.
The last thing that I would say is once you're learning the culture, binge-watching content, then start playing around with the buttons. There are a lot of buttons on TikTok. And like I said, I felt like a 95-year-old grandma when I was there, because I couldn't figure out how to use the buttons. But the only way I learned how to use the buttons was to click on the buttons. You know what I mean?
And I started just creating really, really, really bad TikTok videos. I have probably 100 really bad videos down all the way at the bottom. But today, I just shot 31 TikTok videos in 45 minutes yesterday, because I've gotten so good with it that it's so much easier to do. And that's what happens as a business person. And so, once you start shooting, and then you post your first video, you're going to start getting better, and better, and better.
And then, you're going to realize, “I should have been here sooner,” because this is where marketing is going. Marketing is going to really, really short pieces of creative content because our attention span is now, I think, it's seven to eight seconds or something like that. And so, these 30-minute videos that we normally do on YouTube and all that don't work as much as this 15-second clip.
Jillian: That's such great info, and I've been on it for a little while and I'm like, "Oh, good idea." Tony, how are you feeling about the fact that you have inadvertently been called out several times as far as you don't have a profile picture, so, already, you're in troll country. It's your name. I'm not going to out you, your TikTok, but kind of isn't, how are you feeling?
Tony: Honestly, the easiest thing is just talk to me about “dog tok” or whatever that is. You can always get me with dogs.
Jillian: Then, you'll be in quick. But it says a lot, Tony was sharing the first video that popped up on his feed for him. And it was very like early 2000s Jackass. So, that says a lot about what the algorithm thinks about you, Tony.
Tony: Well, it just needs to get to know me better. And then, it will show me the really weird stuff.
Jillian: Oh my gosh. It's funny, I've noticed my patience for content has gotten lower since being on TikTok. Because even on TikTok, now that some people can do the longer, like the three-minute videos or whatever. I'm like, "Three minutes?"
Keenya: We don't want it. Yeah.
Jillian: Yeah. It's very funny. Well, this has been so valuable. I want to highlight that you are speaking at Audience Driven, our summit in October. And I believe there'll be lots of TikTok content audience-talk. So, anybody listening, definitely make sure to sign up. It's free, AudienceDriven.co. And you can see Keenya in her area of genius. One of many, obviously. It sounds like Keenya has got all sorts of skills, but you can come learn about TikTok, and driving your audience, and growing your audience.
Tony: I'm just so excited to learn from Keenya. And Keenya will be talking more about getting that recorded real soon. I'm excited for it.
Keenya: Me too.
Jillian: Yeah. We'll also need an update, Tony, on your TikTok. Where did you land? What side of TikTok are you?
Tony: Do you know, by the time these airs, who knows? I might be the next TikTok star. It's possible.
Jillian: You might be number one. I have every faith that you could do that. I would watch your TikToks. I think that'd be great.
Keenya: I saw somebody post one video of a baby Husky. I think it may have been three months, and that it was trying to howl. The person got 500,000 followers in one video. That was it. A little baby Husky. I was like, 'Wow, I need a dog." Yeah.
Jillian: New business strategy.
Tony: My sister does have a super cute dog. So, maybe this could happen. We'll see.
Jillian: Well, one, I'm disappointed that you've never posted pictures of said dog.
Tony: Yeah. And our furry friend's channel. All right, I owe you one. I'll go do that as soon as we're off. My apologies.
Jillian: I will hold you to it. All right. Well, I think we should probably transition to the rapid-fire super lightning round of really difficult questions. And by difficult I mean not at all, super fun questions.
Tony: So, I'm going to ask you some questions. Just tell us what comes to mind off the top of your head. There are no wrong answers. You ready? Feeling good?
Tony: Okay. When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Keenya: A computer programmer.
Tony: Computer programmer. Amazing. Why?
Keenya: I think because I didn't grow up with a computer and I thought it was fancy. But then, I interned for one for like an hour and I thought I was going to die. I felt like, "Oh my god."
Jillian: I feel that.
Tony: I got a computer science degree, and it was a very similar story, except a little bit longer, like four years' worth of pain. How do you define community?
Keenya: I feel like community is where you created a safe space for people to be themselves. But also, for you to be yourself where sometimes it's difficult for people to figure out who the leader is because there's so many amazing people in that space.
Tony: That's beautiful. Yes, we can get a lot more into that direction. Appreciate you calling that out. Let's talk bucket list. What is something on your bucket list that you have done?
Keenya: Go to a foreign country by myself. I went to Mexico for a week for my 40th birthday. And now, I'm going to Mexico for a month in December by myself.
Jillian: Oh, wow.
Jillian: What part of Mexico are you going to?
Keenya: So, a friend of mine was just there for four months, and she told me to go to San Miguel, Oasaca, something like that. But I'm in all these different Facebook groups, and we're rerouting my trip. Because I'm in San Diego, I'm right here to Tijuana. So, I'll start right at Tijuana, and then fly to Mexico City. And then, my intention is to find out what cities are having the most elaborate Christmas display for the month of December, and then go and be in those cities.
Jillian: Oh fun. I feel like Mexico City is going to do a pretty sweet Christmas. But surely, there's other places too. I hope you post on TikTok about this because I want to follow along. Yeah. Just random sidebar, do you speak Spanish?
Keenya: I speak zero Spanish, but she sent me her Spanish teachers. And so, I'm starting Spanish lessons in two weeks, and we're going to be rapid every other day until I get to Mexico.
And then, I live in San Diego, there's and a high Hispanic population that just moved here a couple months ago. And I'm single, I'm like, "Okay, all these hot Hispanic men, I need to speak Spanish."
Jillian: Yeah. Get a tutor.
Tony: So, back to the bucket list. Something on your bucket list you have not yet done.
Keenya: Go to Bali. I wanted to go this year, but they said no Americans, I said okay.
Tony: Yeah. Okay. How about a book, a book that you just are loving?
Keenya: So, I just started reading, Get Good with Money by the Budgetnista. It's really good. It's really funny. It's really easy to read, really good so far.
Tony: And if you could live anywhere other than where you currently live, where would you live?
Keenya: I would live in Europe. I just always wanted to be over there.
Tony: I feel you on that. Okay. Well, let's do a special one for you, somebody on TikTok that you're just loving their game, and what they have to say, and that you recommend.
Keenya: Somebody I love on TikTok. I think I would say I love Bella Poarch. She's this little Vietnamese, she's not Vietnamese, a Filipino girl who apparently, she was military, and just again, through all this well, and you can tell she's been through a really rough life. And I just loved watching her just evolve, little bitty girl, got to be 21, 24, whatever. But just watching somebody like that you know has gone through something, her life just shift.
Tony: Amazing. Thanks for that. And finally, big one. How do you want to be remembered?
Keenya: I want to be remembered as somebody who was extremely fearless, someone who didn't have it all together, and you knew it, she made it very clear that my life wasn't perfect, but I'm going after it, and you could do it too. But if I pioneer the way that you can come behind me. And I want people to go, "I came behind her because she paved the way."
Tony: Beautifully put. Thank you, Keenya. How do we find you on the internet?
Keenya: So, you can definitely go to KeenyaKelly.com, which is K-E-E-N-Y-A-K-E-L-L-Y.com, and there is how you can click on my TikTok, you can click on me for Instagram. Everything social media is my name, Keenya Kelly.
Tony: Amazing. Keenya, thank you so much for your time. This has been amazing. I'm going to go get on TikTok.
Jillian: Add a picture.
Tony: I think I'm going to enjoy myself. It's going to be fun.
Keenya: Yeah. I think so too.
Tony: Jill, if you need me to do any work things, make sure I get them done right after this. Because I might be busy the rest of the day.
Jillian: We have to do some very serious research on TikTok the rest of the day.
Tony: For work purposes.
Tony: All right. Keenya, thanks so much for your time.
Keenya: Thank you so much, guys.
Jillian: Thanks, Keenya.
Tony: All right. Keenya Kelly, what an amazing conversation. What an amazing energy. I just feel vibed up just having been in the virtual room with her.
Jillian: Same. I think if Keenya needs another best friend, a place to stay in the mountains for a trip, whatever, I'm so interested. She is just a delight.
Tony: So, what stood out to you in that conversation, Jill? What's bubbling to the top among the many things we've discussed?
Jillian: I mean, so many things, but I really enjoyed because as I rambled about in the actual interview, I'm keenly aware of just this trolling behavior. I'm always going to be drawn to who misbehaves and why just from a community manager standpoint. Because I always want to know how to get ahead of that.
And this trend, where people put negative comments on blast. That's a glimmer of hope in the trolling and harassment side of all social media that I really enjoyed. I thought her approach to that was just fantastic. And something we could all think about.
Tony: Yeah. I feel like people get into conflict and arguments because they don't feel like they're being understood. And then, they get more and more frustrated, and they get more and more vocal. And that's when people raise their voices, and start yelling, and screaming, because they're trying to get the other person to understand.
And it just seems like Keenya was able to walk that tightrope, and communicate in a way that helped the person to understand her without it devolving into endlessly toxic flame war. And that's a great example.
Jillian: Yeah. What about you, what was a top takeaway?
Tony: One thing that jumped out at me is the fact that she leaned into the things going on for her that she felt a natural hesitancy to talk about. And then, she leaned into it, and the phrase that jumped out for me was where there's stigma, there's opportunity.
And that to me, sounds like ripe territory for connecting in community, and building interest in your message, and your audience. If you're exposing something that is otherwise hidden, that other people care about, and haven't been able to communicate about that could unlock that kind of energy and dynamic that might lead to building a huge following like Keenya has.
Jillian: Yeah, absolutely. We've talked about this, I think, on the podcast before about how Zoom and just the pandemic really opened up the ability for us to see each other more as who we really are. I can see your background and I know you're into art, and you can see mine, and who knows what you think.
But if it's you being able to talk to your audience or publicly talk about things you're struggling with, I think it's a similar thing. It's disarming of this, we have to always be a certain way.
I do think it's important. But there are ways to connect on a deeper level with people by allowing yourself to be vulnerable.
And it's powerful. It's something I've definitely been working on. I'm trying to be a little more vulnerable, publicly, outwardly to people instead of having my guard up all the time. It's a journey.
Tony: I'm glad you called that out. Because it's worth noting that this conversation, as inspiring and edifying as it is, isn't necessarily on its own just a ringing endorsement for you to just get out there and tell everybody everything about everything going on in your life. We do see that there is a lot of value and importance in being careful with what you share.
Jillian: The final key takeaways I definitely want to talk about before we let you all go is just the tip she gave specific to TikTok. Because I know a lot of us are a little bit overwhelmed by it. These are good tips. So, having your own account so that the algorithm, for better or worse, can actually know what you want to see versus whoever's account it is.
And then, the discover page, I've totally never thought about this. But it's like a main page, it's called the discover page. And there is where you can search. So, that's where you can search for people's user accounts, you can search topics. And so, say you're a real estate agent, maybe you look up real estate, or whatever a key term would be in that.
And then, just see what other people are doing from a business perspective to leverage TikTok. See how that they're getting people to make it onto their list, or to their website, or whatever it is that's important to their business strategy. And then, finally, the play with the buttons. I'll admit, there are the editing... on the plus side, you can do everything in the app.
You don't need fancy software. But yeah, play the buttons. There are a lot of buttons. I think it's pretty cool. I challenge you and I, Tony, to make a TikTok video. What do you think? Should we have a TikTok off?
Tony: Only if Jay creates a #tok100 for us to track our activities. For those of you who aren't getting the context, our friend and coworker, Jay Clouse created Tweet100, which is a great little social accountability activity for getting in the habit of tweeting 100 days.
But just one last thing that I think is so important, especially when we're talking about TikTok, seeing how a platform, where we have to deal with the fact that a lot of the platforms, and technologies that we use in the world might be run by companies, and some by people whose value systems we don't necessarily feel comfortable with or agree with.
I think it's a balancing act. It's a tightrope act to walk in terms of well, do I stay off TikTok because I disagree with the way that TikTok acts? And maybe the answer is yes. But what at least Keenya said was that she sees the potential for good and bad in these programs. And she very deliberately is going on there to make expeditious use of the algorithm to get in front of people.
But then, use that visibility, and that opportunity to then steer people in a healthy direction. And I think that that to me helps me understand or frame how I might, I don't want to say justify, but how I might be able to approach engaging with platforms that I otherwise might have value concerns with.
Jillian: I also think it's cool to just be okay with saying, "Nope, that's not for me." And I very publicly do not like Facebook, I do not use Facebook, I deleted my account years ago. So, do the ones that make the most sense to you. There's a lot of potential in TikTok. It might not be what you want to do.
You might really like Twitter, and you like writing very thoughtful, short, concise messaging, and that's great for Twitter. Cool. You might not want to do short videos as content, and I think that's perfectly fine. I love TikTok, but that's just because they got dogs, they dog tok. Come on.
Tony: The dogs.
Jillian: All right. Well, we should wrap it up. We could talk all day about dogs and Tony's amazing TikTok account.
Tony: All right, everybody, thanks for joining us. We will catch you next time and—
Jillian: See you next Tuesday.
Tony: This has been The Community Experience. For more information on this episode, including links and show notes, head over to SmartPassiveIncome.com/listen.
Tony: Our executive producer is Matt Gartland. Our series producers are David Grabowski and senior producer Sara Jane Hess. Editing and sound design by Duncan Brown, music by David Grabowski.
Jillian: See you next time.
Want more from SPI?
Enter your information below if you'd like to join our newsletter!