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Watch Us, Follow Us: What Video and Social Media Mean for Local Business

With Julianne Fraser, Kirstin Lawrence, Danielle Johnson, and Nana Agyemang

30 minutes

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Building a following on social platforms like Twitter, TikTok, or Instagram can change the trajectory of your business and create significant opportunity. But in such a competitive landscape, how can business owners take advantage of these platforms to grow? In this panel discussion from the 2022 Women in Business Summit, hear from leaders in the social and video industries about how businesses can leverage these platforms to stay relevant and keep their audiences engaged.


  • Julianne Fraser, president and CEO, Dialogue New York
  • Kirstin Lawrence, associate manager customer success, Twitter
  • Danielle Johnson, head of SMB account management, North America, TikTok

Moderator: Nana Agyemang, founder, EveryStylishGirl

Julianne Fraser President and CEO of Dialogue New York

Julianne is a digital brand marketing expert with nearly a decade of experience crafting digital marketing strategies for global luxury and lifestyle brands, such as Adidas, Shiseido, and Brooklinen. Her company, Dialogue New York, collaborates with brands to accelerate growth through robust marketing programs—from social media strategy to content and editorial approach, event conception, partnerships, and affiliate marketing. Specializing in influencer marketing, Dialogue New York connects brands with creatives to develop meaningful dialogues that resonate with the target market.

Kirstin Lawrence Associate Manager Customer Success of Twitter

Kirstin specializes in social media success for small- to medium-sized businesses. She leads a team of specialists covering fintech, retail, healthcare, and government organizations to help customers drive growth and engagement on the Twitter platform.

Danielle Johnson Head of SMB Account Management, North America at TikTok

Danielle is a social media strategist who has worked for both Facebook and TikTok helping small businesses understand how to use social media to engage their target audiences and increase profits. She is passionate about educating small business owners on how to drive business results through a blend of organic and paid content and how to build an authentic online presence.

Nana Agyemang Founder of EveryStylishGirl

Nana founded EveryStylishGirl in 2017 to supercharge Black and Brown women’s career advancement in media, fashion, and beauty by providing networking and job placement opportunities. She received her Masters in Journalism from Columbia University and is passionate about displaying diversity in media and reporting on social activism and women entrepreneurs.

Emily: I am so excited about this next session. If any of you have been with us for previous summits, you will remember Nana. She is one of the most powerful moderators I have ever worked with. So I’m going to kick it over to her and let her lead this next session. It is called Watch Us, Follow Us. What Video & Social Media Mean for Local Businesses. We have Nana, we have Julianne, Kristin and Danielle. So, Nana, I’m going to hand the mic to you. Take it away. I’m so excited.

Nana: Awesome. Thank you so much, Emily. I’m thrilled to be here this year. Not only on the panel, again, but actually as a moderator. I enjoyed it so much, last time being a panelist. I actually still get DMs from a few of our attendees about what was that social media tip you dropped. Can you remind me of this? So I truly know firsthand how impactful this conversation is. So please, I know you’re excited, but hold your questions until the end. We will be sure to get to them. I would love for the speakers to introduce themselves. We have so many amazing panelists here. I know you guys already had a quick introduction, but please say what publication you’re with. And don’t feel forced, but if you want to share a fun fact, anything about social media, or yourself, please feel free to share it. And I’ll kick it off with you, Danielle.

Danielle: Hi, everyone. I’m so excited to be here. I don’t think I need to give quite an introduction on who I work with. I am here on behalf of TikTok and I run one of our SMB teams here.

Kirstin: Hello, everyone. My name is Kirstin. I work for Twitter. I run one of our customer success teams here as well on the SMB side.

Julianne: Hi, guys. I’m Julian Fraser. I’m the founder of Dialogue, New York. We are a digital marketing consultancy based in Brooklyn, and we specialize in building influencer marketing strategies for different luxury and lifestyle brands.

Nana: Awesome. Thank you guys so much for being here with us. And I’m going to jump right into it ‘cause I want to make sure we get to all these amazing questions. So first off, as I said, this is a conversation. Feel free panelists, jump in, chime in and let the conversation flow. So I’m not going to direct it towards anyone. Just feel free to just respond, if you feel inclined. First question is for business owners, which we have so many here, small, big, medium, who are looking to start social media or a video presence online. Where do they start, right? Is there a platform you recommend for them to start and what should they be looking at when they’re picking a platform to start on?

Danielle: I will say that, and I think Julianne will be able to feel a good view across the board. But to me, I think the place to really start is just digging in and getting to understand the different communities and the different platforms and understanding what’s happening. What’s the conversation? I think one of the things that can be hard as a small business is that you only have so much time in your day and you’re balancing so many things that adding another component or a platform or another presence that you have to manage can feel overwhelming. But I think, really looking at who these people are? What are the conversations? And if you’re just observing first, I think you’ll find the place that’s going to resonate for you or for your brand or for your company. And then you can make the decision on where to prioritize.

Julianne: Yeah. And just to piggyback off of that, I totally agree. I think it really starts at the ABCs of marketing. The basics of really understanding your target consumer and what their interests are, and their age range, and their demographics, and their lifestyles, and their interests. And really taking the time to dig into all of those details, know them inside and out, because I think so often there’s pressure to hop on a platform because it’s trending or because it’s working for certain brands. And I think you really have to be thoughtful and recognize if your consumers are engaged on those platforms and if you’re going to reach them. And then also in understanding their interests, that will really dictate your content strategy and knowing what is the right content to put out and how are they consuming content and how are they sharing it?

Julianne: And also it leads to what influencers will be appropriate to kind of help amplify your messaging. So I think it’s really important to take the time to slow down and really do your research because, as Danielle said, it is a lot of work and biting off more than you can chew. It’s almost worse to be across multiple platforms if you don’t have the resources to really manage them. So I think taking that time to figure out what will be most worthwhile is really important.

Kirstin: Yeah. To piggyback off of that is, well, I think, a lot of things that people think about when they’re thinking about their customers. Everybody is everywhere. When you really think about it. Your customer is wherever you feel most comfortable. I think a lot of times as business owners, we think we need to be in 30,000 places at once. Instead of just choosing the platforms that you really do feel most comfortable and you can be your most authentic self. I think that’s most important. Of course, the bias within me would say, choose Twitter, of course, but definitely choose where you feel most comfortable and then go from there. Your audience is where you are.

Nana: I love that.

Danielle: Maybe you can even think on that, too, of not just where you’re most comfortable but what’s the kind of conversation you want to have there. The conversation and the speed of Twitter is very different than the entertainment and coming for joy at TikTok. And I love that you can think about showing different aspects of your business in those kinds of ways, too.

Nana: Yeah. And I think it all goes back to knowing your audience, right? Once again, Julianne pointed to this, what is the demographic? What are their interests? Where are they spending a lot of their time? And you can quickly find that out by using polls. Actually, I think all of the platforms on here have polls or have ways that you can utilize to figure out what your audience engagement, interests, likes, all of that are. So be sure to use those platforms to help you figure that out as well. Speaking of utilizing time and prioritizing your time as a founder, oftentimes the question that you get is, founders will want to know: I have a platform already, but should I create a separate presence on that same platform to promote my products when they first launch? What would you guys say?

Julianne: Yeah, I think this one is interesting because in so many of these discussions or so many articles that you can read about strategies that work, and you can also look at case studies of brands that have leveraged really influential founders. And it’s really easy to almost follow in their footsteps and follow a rule book of what works. I’m going to say the most cringe-worthy word, which is so overused. It actually is really vital is authenticity. And if you’re just joining a platform to check a box, to be an influential founder, to grow your following and you don’t enjoy it. It doesn’t feel natural. And we all know committing to a content strategy and putting out content is definitely a lot of work. It’s not easy.

Julianne: It requires commitment. And it has to really feel authentic to you and genuine. And I think people in your audience and your customers can see right through it. And if you’re just following another founder, who’s doing a great job, and trying to copycat, it won’t work. So I would just say, certainly without question, a lot of the brands that we work with have very influential founders and it is really beneficial to their greater strategy. But it’s not for everyone. And it shouldn’t be forced is my opinion.

Nana: And also question off of that. If you already are promoting your product on your personal page as a founder. Let’s say you have a following. You’re promoting your product there. Should you create a separate Instagram as well, just solely for that product, and then manage two? Or when do you say that transition is necessary, right?

Julianne: That’s a really good question. I think no matter what, it’s a standalone brand; that it requires its own separate marketing strategy. And I think it really depends because so many founders come from different avenues. So there are some influencers who are launching brands. So obviously, able to capitalize on their community as a stepping stone, but also a lot of founders who have just built social reach by being really inspiring people to follow. So I think definitely I would recommend separating the two because a brand requires its own content strategy. But definitely something to consider because that’s a lot of work to manage two different accounts and maintain that engagement.

Danielle: Yeah. And I would say another thing to kind of balance on that, too, is you’ve got the personality, but then you also have the business side of things. So as we think about leveraging some of these tools, whether it is on Instagram and doing a catalog or on TikTok and in our storefronts, having that business entity is going to help facilitate multiple ways to drive revenue or to be able to get more purchases. Where on the more personal side though, we’ve seen businesses come out of a face, right? We have a company, Lala Hijabs, who during COVID she was just doing some content around culture and bringing joy around her religion. Because so many people were asking about her Hijab, she ended up launching a whole business out of it. And now they have a business platform, they’ve sold out multiple times. And they’re running ads on the platform. So you can see sometimes that the personality can really drive the business. But I think if you want to leverage the metrics, the measurement and the business outcomes, that’s really where your business handle comes in as that presence.

Kirstin: Yeah, for sure. I think with Twitter, it’s one of those things where so often everything is words. Of course, we have video and things like that. So often the Twitter influencers become known because they start these conversations and they go viral and they really do get people talking. I think one of the things we’ve seen that people are successful at is they continue to have these conversations and they engage with their audience and then eventually you’ll see them slowly but surely kind of separate themselves from their business side of it. And then they have a business Twitter and things like that.

Kirstin: So I think being able to kind of find the balance between, you are the founder of your company, but you also want to separate the two. I think that’s really beneficial for businesses in the long run, in the sense of, if you do want to go off and start something completely different. You still have this business and you still have your own personal things that you want to talk about. And then you can go off and leverage your personal brand that you’ve also built and start your next thing as well.

Nana: For sure. There’s definitely a lot of tools. I think a lot of people don’t realize, right? When you have a business account on either of these platforms, that’s very different when you have an individual account. So make sure you’re utilizing those tools. You’re figuring out what they are too, as well. Next question. I love this question so much, because I still don’t know what are the perfect dos and don’ts for TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram. So what would you all say are the dos and don’ts for those platforms. And I’ll start with you Danielle, for TikTok.

Danielle: Oh, this is such a fun one for me. One of the biggest dos, I say, is you have to think about TikTok uniquely. It can feel intimidating at the beginning, but this is a platform that really embraces authenticity and participation from anybody who is on it. Trying new, fun things, behind the scenes. It’s just a really open way to be able to resonate with your audience in a different way. Finding your people and these micro communities. It takes being on the platform and just trying things out. And it’s not about being so polished all the time. I’d say that’d be my “don’t” is, yes, we could be marketers or you own your brand and you want to make sure it’s represented, but it doesn’t have to be perfection.

Danielle: And sometimes the most authentic moments come out of a random seed or a comment. I’ve seen brands build a whole campaign around their comments section. The one thing is like, don’t assume what’s worked traditionally will work on this platform, or on another platform and really kind of embedding yourself. But not being scared to test and try and learn.

Nana: Yeah. I love that, because I feel like the one thing with TikTok is that there aren’t many don’ts, right? It’s all about an experiment. It’s not like Instagram where we can, say, do a reel. Or Twitter, start a thread, but really it’s all about experimentation on TikTok, and we see that daily. What would you both say?

Kirstin: I think for Twitter, it’s interesting. It’s a very unique place. I always say that, but I think Twitter is one of those places where I think as long as you bring your full self. People tell stories on Twitter. I mean, we’ve seen a movie come from a Twitter thread. Things like that have happened. So I think one of the things people are really, really good at or the most successful things are people that really address themselves. They’ll tell you the most random stories that pop up in their head, or they’ll tell you about something that happened to them three months ago and just get a conversation started.

Kirstin: People who are really good at just being themselves. All of the thoughts that come to their mind usually end up on somebody’s Twitter feed. Those are the things that we see are super successful. I don’t really know if there’s a don’t. I think the only don’t I could possibly think of with Twitter is just, don’t try to follow the trend because usually most Twitter users can really pick up on it when you’re just trying to catch on to that last thing that went viral. I think really just being yourself. And again, authenticity is always going to do it for you. But bringing your full self and being yourself, whatever that may look like is usually the way to go.

Julianne: And I think from my perspective, I kind of grew up in the world of brand marketing and I really understand and respect the commitment to building a universe around a brand. And a lot of the clients we work with are some of the best in the business. From Sakara Life to Seed to GIA, they’ve created these incredible brand halos that they really protect. And I think that it’s such a fine balance. And as strategists, we’re always working with our clients to make sure that we strike that balance, because it’s really important it feels authentic and it doesn’t tarnish the brand that they’ve built. But also, as Kirstin and Danielle said, you can’t force a content approach on these platforms. So knowing that TikTok really lends to that authenticity and realness. A lot of our clients will want to really have produced and perfect content that won’t perform.

Julianne: And they have to feel comfortable with handing it over to the influencer to really come up, because they know what works best. They’re the ones that have gone viral. And same with Twitter, it’s all about conversations. So we have to, lack of better words, have dialogs that really can spark this engagement. And Instagram, it’s always been sort of that original aspirational platform that so many people look to for inspiration, same with Pinterest. So if an aesthetic is really a crucial aspect of our client’s brands, we’ll recommend that. So I think it is striking a balance and not losing yourself in the platform. But also not being too rigid because many times I’ve seen a client really stick to their brand guidelines and they’re confused why it doesn’t work and why there’s no engagement. And I think you really just have to kind of lend yourself to the trends of engagement on the platform.

Nana: I love that so much, being authentic. It’s okay to hire help, right? As a founder, you can’t do it all by yourself. If there’s a content creator, that’s great on TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, reach out to them, see if you can partner with them. Piggybacking off of that, you talk about authenticity and consistency and using the platform and growing on the platform. But how can businesses convert followers into customers on your platform?

Danielle: I’m happy to hop in. Yeah. I think the one thing we say too, is yes, you want your engagement and you’re looking to build a following, but the way that TikTok’s algorithm is working and it’s structured, it’s really about content first. And if you are putting out good content, you’re able to find, and with the For You page and the customization that’s happening, it’s more discovery, and it happens fast. It’s not as linear as what it used to be, when you think about the original Facebook days, if you need your page likes, then you can reach out and then you can make the ask. We’re able to get in front of people in a very authentic way. And they’re finding things very quickly and purchasing in the moment, now.

Danielle: And it’s much more kind of cyclical, of like a flywheel than it is a marketing linear check the next box. And so I think, leveraging some of our hashtags, “TikTok made me buy it.” You can see how people are finding discovery and how they’re stumbling upon this stuff in the community base. So I don’t always put the followers to purchasers because your purchasers can also not be your followers. And that’s the opportunity. You want to try to find that right balance.

Kirstin: Yeah. Kind of the same with Twitter. I think one of the things is kind of, like I said earlier, where people are just having the conversation. Twitter has started to allow people now, you have super follows and you can give somebody a tip, those types of things. When you lead without the ask, that tends to convert a lot better. If you lead with education and you’re just providing value to people, nine times out of 10, they’ll be like, okay, I know where to come. I even get skincare tips and all types of stuff from people on Twitter that I don’t always follow. But they’ve gone viral and they’ve led with that education and providing value to their followers, which in turn makes them want to support you even more. And then you can come in with, okay, hey guys, I’ve got this product. We talked about X, Y, Z a few months ago. That tends to convert followers and your customers a lot better than just going right in with a sale.

Julianne: Yeah. And I think from our point of view. A lot of brands will come to us, recognizing influencer marketing is an incredibly powerful tool for conversion and assuming it’s sort of like a performance marketing tactic that you can switch on and kind of help reach your targets. And what we’ve found over the years, it’s definitely a hybrid between brand marketing and performance marketing. And it takes time. We built our relationship roadmaps with our influencers as to how we can introduce them to the product and then re-engage them and come up with really creative, interesting ways, whether through events or partnerships or whatever it might look like, to inspire them so that their audiences are seeing our client’s brand come through multiple times. It’s authentic. They love the product, and it’s not just a flash in a pan gifting.

Julianne: They post at once. And they convert, sure. There’s circumstances that we can all hope for like that, but it’s just generally not what you see across the board. So I think what’s really important when thinking about conversions and how to kind of convert the audiences of influencers into customers. It’s really about longevity and a relationship roadmap and building that over time and having a little bit of patience.

Nana: Awesome. And thank you all so much for that. I want us to quickly jump into some fireball questions before we go into the Q&A. Once again, if you have a question, please feel free to drop it in the chat box. We will be getting to the questions in one to two minutes. Also, don’t forget to tag the event. This is all about social media at Yelp for Business as well. So we’re going to jump into fireball. As I mentioned, you have to answer in one to three words or less. So please, no cheating. First question is best social growth tip. Danielle?

Danielle: Participate.

Nana: Julianne.

Julianne: Consistency.

Kirstin: Authenticity

Nana: A business that is crushing it right now on social or video marketing.

Danielle: I’ve been loving Duolingo.

Julianne: I was going to say that.

Nana: Okay. Can you just say one word why?

Danielle: Yeah. I think they’ve just been having so much fun with it and really bringing a brand to life in a certain way for something that is a language-based app. It’s just really interesting in how they’re having so much fun with it. For me.

Julianne: For me, I’m going to shout out one of my clients, Seed. I think they do an amazing job on social media. And I think what’s really interesting is how they’ve leveraged Instagram to create a Seed University. So a way to engage their community through education, leveraging platforms, which is unique, not one answer, but a little context.

Kirstin: I am going to say Chobani, they did a really good campaign not too long ago where it was trending far longer than we anticipated it to, but I think it was giveaways of free Chobani for a year. And the amount of people that just engaged with that one platform and that one customer, it was amazing to see and people were going crazy with all the recipes and things that they do with Chobani. It was really fun.

Nana: Yeah. And for me in general, I just love food content on any platform. Awesome. So let’s jump into these audience questions. Feel free, anyone can answer them. What do you think of live events on social media right now? What kind of goal or how is it more useful? I think they mean, what kind of goal does it hit or how is it more useful?

Julianne: I think live events are really valuable in certain circumstances. I think we’re seeing a lot of gated platforms and communities where people are signing up to really engage in sort of long form content and they have the attention span to really listen. I think in that case, on TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, being able to kind of offer sort of that long form to the paying subscribers is an interesting angle. But also really, I think, it comes down to content and what are you talking about? And is it worthwhile? Don’t just do it live to have a live. It has to be something really engaging that there can be an interesting conversation around.

Danielle: Yeah. The conversations, the place where I think that goal really happens. It allows for education or behind the scenes, but you want to make sure that you’re seating that with the people who are going to be attending and what’s in it for them. And whether that is promotional codes, if it is additional tips and tricks. So that’s been one of the ways that I’ve seen it be successful right now.

Nana: Yeah, I feel like live events, obviously, during quarantine was at its peak. We had so many people engaged. You are slowly seeing those numbers fall a little bit, but I agree with Julian. It really has to be very informative and speak to exactly what your audience wants. Speaking of audience and keeping people engaged. Next question is, and this will be the final one. How can I get my followers to actively engage with my content? And we can do this from all types of platforms. So we can do TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram. I’ll start with TikTok.

Danielle: Yeah. For us, I think, leveraging all the different components that make the app so unique is the way you get your followers to be able to engage, whether it’s inviting them to do a duet with you, if it is getting them to hop on a trend or a sound that maybe is relevant for your business and seeking for the feedback, asking for them to put things in the comments. What do they want to be seeing? But the app allows so many creative ways to really build upon and continue to push forward a message. Don’t think about pushing out. Think about how do you invite back? How can they build on it? What can they do and take and customize with it. And that’s kind of the beauty of the TikTok flywheel.

Kirstin: Yeah. Same for Twitter. I think, like I said before, leading with value and really just being consistent. Not every tweet you put out is going to get the amount of engagement that you may want. And that’s okay. I think as long as you stay consistent and there are calls to action. You can ask questions. You can do a poll on Twitter. You know what I mean? You can do all of those things in order to get your audience to engage in the same as far as asking for feedback. Sometimes they may tell you what you’re giving them is not necessarily what they want to see. And that’s okay. And you may have to pivot. That just comes with the territory. But I think as long as you stay consistent, your followers will eventually come and they will continue to engage with your content.

Julianne: And I think from my perspective, it’s really just about value. It’s easy to get wrapped up in sort of your brand, your messaging, and what you want to be putting out. But at the end of the day, if it’s not offering value, you’ll lose the attention span very, very quickly. So I think it’s about really understanding, again, ABCs of marketing. Who’s your target consumer? What are they interested in? What really will speak to them? And making sure that you’re delivering that value, because it’s hard to fake that. And the engagement is a direct reflection of whether you’re offering value or not.

Nana: Yeah. And I think the call to action is what adds value. Right? But I completely agree. Thank you to our amazing panelists so much for this information. I’m sure you guys can follow them all on social media, if you have any more follow-up questions. I saw we had a few come in last minute. Thank you all so much. I’m going to pass it over to Emily to kick off the next session. Thank you.

Julianne: Thanks, Nana.

Nana: Bye.

Emily: You ladies rocked that. I was taking notes for myself. I think I’m finally going to maybe try TikTok. I get a little nervous about it, but you guys made me feel confident and excited. That was awesome.

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