The Bananas’ (Not So) Secret Relationship With TikTok With Kara Heater And Savanah Alaniz
Baseball is a legit demographic on TikTok and the Savannah Bananas are leading right on top with somewhere around 300,000 followers. Behind this phenomenal rise are Kara Heater and Savanah Alaniz. Kara is the Bananas’ Marketing Director and has been with the team for more than two years, while Savanah is a Pop Culture Prodigy who has shown social media mastery in merely six months since joining the company. Joining forces to educate Jared Orton of the power of this new, powerful platform, Kara and Savanah tell us how they got a good grasp of the TikTok algorithm and found a way to use it to boost the team’s popularity. This episode contains good information that you can use if you’re thinking about putting your business on the platform. If this episode does not convince you that TikTok is not just for 13 year olds, nothing ever will.
Listen to the podcast here
The Bananas’ (Not So) Secret Relationship With TikTok With Kara Heater And Savanah Alaniz
Thank you for going on this journey with us and our business as we share what the Bananas are up to and where we’re going. We are answering this question that comes at us all the time from people, especially outside of our industry. What do you do in the off-season? What are the Bananas up to? How do you run your business on day-to-day? What’s the marketing? What’s the sales? What’s the social media? All of these things that are going on and giving you a behind the scenes look into what this is like.
This conversation is going to be less of me. I’m bringing on a couple of people from our team on the marketing side, and we’re going to talk about TikTok. Before you turn me off and say, “This is going to be a conversation about thirteen-year-olds.” That is not the case. TikTok for us has become a rocket ship of a social media account. It has blown away our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. All three of them combined don’t even come close to the number of people who are following us on TikTok. I want to answer the questions on a basic level like, “What is this thing? How are businesses using it? How are the bananas using it? What are the results that we’re seeing? What’s the strategy behind it, if there is any strategy at all?” I’m going to bring on our experts on TikTok, which are Kara Heater and Savanah Alaniz.
Both of them have taken this account for us and ran with it. A lot of people ask about, what’s the strategy? How are you utilizing all these high-level marketing things? I got to be honest with you. We don’t have much of a strategy. We give people our brand guidelines, “Here’s who the bananas are, the fun, different, crazy and very unique stuff.” We give it to people who are excited about it, who want to run with it, who want to do creative things. We allow them to fail, put things out there, test and try things. The results have been unreal with the growth that we’ve seen through TikTok. We have somewhere around 270,000 followers.
It’s either number 1 or number 2 in all of baseball teams. It’s more than any other Major League baseball team and unreal growth. I got a message from Kara who you’re going to hear on this episode. She was saying that our growth month-over-month was 208% in June, 195% in July, 71% in August, 80% in September. I couldn’t believe it. I’m not an expert in this. I don’t control our TikTok. We don’t have any planning that goes into it. These girls are the ones who have totally taken this thing and made it their own.
You’re going to hear some interesting tidbits in this because we get into like, what is it? Who’s on there? How are people using it? How are the consumers using it? How are businesses using it? How are we creating these TikTok? What’s causing this huge growth? What are the analytics available? We’re going to get into some of the detailed words that you’ll hear me stop them and be like, “What’s a trend?” I’m asking them all these dumbed-down questions. I hope you can get a feel for what we’re seeing in TikTok, how we’re using it, how our fans are responding to it. As a business, how you could potentially use it. I’m going to bring on Kara and Savanah. Here’s our conversation about how the Bananas are using TikTok.
Thanks for doing this. We’re talking all things TikTok. We’ve done marketing episodes. We’ve done COVID episode. Savanah is new to the show but you’ve done one episode in your life, right?
I was introduced as interns when Barry was picking his favorite interns at the beginning of the summer on Bananas On Fields.
We did an interview for Sideline Sass.
It’s with Emily Van Buskirk. She is a sideline reporter for football and wanted to know more about TikTok and marketing.
You’re an expert. We were featured on WSAV which is local news in Savannah. What were we featured for on that?
Being a small business utilizing TikTok during COVID.
Kara, take people back. When did we first open our TikTok account?
We started our TikTok account in February 2020. I posted shoddy and low-quality videos here and there. June 2020 is when we started picking it up, posting every day and started taking it a bit more seriously.
I want to give people an idea of the journey of where we started at, how we got there, what we’re doing and how it’s blown up. Why did you feel like it was a need for us to join TikTok the first time in February 2020?
I joined TikTok personally in December 2019 or January 2020. That was after a bunch of people had been like, “You got to join.” I was like, “No, it’s not going to be like Vine and as funny. I can’t do it.” Finally, I broke down and joined. That’s when I realized the hype. It was a personal thing but also it was everywhere. You were seeing TikTok on Twitter and Instagram. People are reposting them. I was like, “This is something we need to look into.” After I joined personally, I started seeing more businesses on TikTok, on my For You page. I was like, “We could benefit from this.” It was February when it’s like, “Let’s get it going.”
Savanah, when did you first get your TikTok account?
I downloaded TikTok in March or April of 2019. I’d had it for a while.
Are you considered an early adopter? TikTok was 2018 maybe. It was Musical.ly way back in the day like 2012. You adopted it in 2019. Before you came on board here, you’ve been using it for a year.
I was scrolling. I wouldn’t use it as much as I do now but it was funny. There are a couple of random ones. I would try to make TikTok and they were bad. I didn’t know how to use all the features.
Kara, were you creating or were you just watching?
I made a few random ones but mainly watching.
Savanah, you were trying to create but mainly watching.
This was when I interned for student ministry at church. I was trying to fit in with all the high schoolers when I was straight out of high school so I got on the TikTok wave.
We’re going to get into the creating stuff in a bit. For people who have never heard this TikTok thing, what is TikTok? What are you watching? What is it?
It’s a 60-second video platform. You scroll like Instagram and there are all these things from people lip-syncing the music, dancing, doing short comedy skits, telling stories about something funny that happened to them. There’s everything you can imagine on this one app and it’s all in 60 seconds or less.
Sixty-seconds is the key where Vine was six seconds so it’s larger than Vine. Twitter is 2 minutes and 20 seconds. Instagram is a lot of different things because you’ve got the Story, IG TV, Feed, Reels. You’ve got Facebook which is unlimited. Savanah, what draws you to watching videos on TikTok?
TikTok is unique and they have the coolest algorithm out of all the social media outlets that you could choose from, in my opinion. They specifically gear what you see on your For You page like how long you spend watching a certain type of video. I’m personally on College TikTok or Baseball TikTok. Those videos pop up in my feed more than a Baking TikTok would. They specifically gear it including factors like your watch time, hashtags, similar sounds and trends you’ve watched.
We’re going to get into all of that in a little bit. When you said Baseball TikTok and College TikTok, explain to people that those aren’t different apps. Explain to me what that means because I’ve heard you say like, “We hit Country TikTok or Baseball or this genre.” What do you mean by that? What does that mean when you say I’m in this type of TikTok field?
It was almost like stereotypes on the app which is the easiest way to explain it. As a college sorority girl, I always see college Greek life stuff. That’s relative to me so that’s always on my For You page. The Bananas For You page is different than even my own personal account because we post about baseball there. Baseball TikTok is baseball highlights and other fun baseball clips, but there’s also Country TikTok where it’s people driving big muddy trucks and shooting guns. I’m not trying to stereotype the country folk but that’s Country TikTok. Bananas can post a highlight from one of our games and we’ll be on Baseball TikTok, but then we could post our head coach and his wife dancing to a slow country song and then we’ll hit Country TikTok.
Is that part of the strategy you think for businesses to try and hit those different areas? How do they do that?
I would say 100% because the way about Country TikTok and Baseball TikTok is these different demographics genres that TikTok has created through the algorithm. When we’re planning our content schedule it’s like, “We know we hit Country TikTok last week and it went well.” What have we seen a lot this week doing our own personal research and finding, “We’re seeing a lot of Harry Potter TikTok. Should we do a Harry Potter TikTok? Is that the thing this week?” You do your research, see what you’re seeing, and then craft around those different demographics. It’s also important to know who’s following you. TikTok gives you good analytics and stuff so you know that your followers are also interested in the MLB’s posts or the Chicago Bulls’ posts or whatever.
I want to get into the analytics. What you’re saying is you use your personal accounts to get the feel of what is on the app and what’s popular at that time. How do you translate that into us posting?
For me, a lot of our age demographic that we reach on TikTok is my age, even younger or a little couple of years older than me. I’ll look at my For You page to see the sounds that are trending or the different trends and what’s going on. I look at My For You page more than I look at Bananas For You page to see what is popular from my age group and then find a way to make that Bananas.
You’re seeing from a personal side what is this platform sending me as a person and then translating that into, “How can the Bananas be the ones that are then feeding that funnel and being sent to the rest of the public?”
We’re talking about being on a certain side of TikTok like the generic sides. There’s also the big overall fames where it’s like, “This is the one big trend that everyone is doing but it may apply to Country TikTok or whatever genre it is.”
You’ve said trend a million times. What the heck is a trend?A lot of people that you don’t expect to be on TikTok are on TikTok. Click To Tweet
When I think of trends on TikTok, I think of the sounds.
What’s the sound?
In TikTok, there are sounds you can add to your video. There are anywhere from 15 to 60 seconds.
Some of them are legit songs and some of them are songs people have never heard before.
A lot of them are also people talking and it was funny. They’ll use it and take it somewhere. You start with a sound, you can go to the page and it gives you a list of trending sounds. That’s also something to note. You go to a sound and then from that sound, you get to see videos that everybody has created using the same sound. The top 15 or 20 videos are mainly going to be the trend that’s associated with that sound. Trends on TikTok are dances. Dances are the biggest one. There are a lot of acting type things like mini skits and all this stuff, and then lip-syncing. There are also goofy ones that are hard to describe like you put a funny filter on and you associate it with this sound. That boosts it and create it into a trend as well.
It’s similar to Facebook and Twitter where they’ll do hashtag challenges, but these are called trends and they’re more related to a music style, dancing and lip syncing.
I would say the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge years ago is a perfect example of a trend. That was on Facebook and Twitter. If TikTok where a thing back then, it would have been on TikTok. It was on Vine, wasn’t it?
How late is too late to jump on a trend? Is it daily, weekly or does this lasted eight hours?
It varies. Each trend is completely different. We’ve seen some trends lasts for a month and then they’ll die, and then they’ll resurface in another month. Whereas other trends last for 24 hours and then you never see it again. It does vary. That’s why it’s important to go through your own page and be up with the times. Make sure you know what’s still trending and what isn’t trending anymore.
I’ve never even thought about that myself. Usually, when you’re thinking about posting as a business, you’re on your business page and you’re scrolling as the business. You’re getting fed random stuff if you’re on the business page. What your personal page is being fed to you, that’s what is being fed up to similar people that’s your same area regionally or demographically. I’m going to go all the way back as we’re going to start getting into analytics. In big scope, who’s on TikTok?
I have eight younger siblings and they all have TikTok. They range from third-grade to freshmen in college. My little sister is out doing TikTok dances every single time I go home. I would say anywhere from 13 to 25 is the biggest age group and that might be too broad.
I’m going to disagree. Thirteen is a good age to start because I’ve also seen my little cousins are on it and stuff, but I know people that range from 20 years old to 30 years old on TikTok. It is surprising how many older people are on TikTok as well. I see moms popping up on my For You page and giving parenting advice. I see Doggface or whatever that did the Dreams TikTok.
I’m on Kindergarten Teacher TikTok. I see a bunch of those.
A lot of people that you don’t expect to be on TikTok are on TikTok. Once you start scrolling, you’re like, “I don’t feel as bad being 25 and on TikTok at night.”
Let’s take one step down. Who started reacting to our stuff on TikTok? Who started becoming our audience? What did you see in the analytics that you were like, “This surprised me, this didn’t surprise me, we’re reaching these type of people?” Where did that start coming to?
The first TikTok I felt that we had taken off was the Pose TikTok. It got 30,000 likes. It’s good but we were freaking out about it. That initially got us onto Baseball TikTok. I remember seeing our analytics where we had 60% of our followers were male and 40% were female. We have used the advantage of the fact that we do have college baseball boys. Now, 55% of our audience is female. It shifted from being mostly hot boy Baseball TikTok to trends or whatnot.
We did see a huge shift in the beginning there because we originally started with the Pose TikTok and more baseball hype videos. We switched to dancing and more Bananas entertainment videos. We have a good balance of catering to all of our followers. We’ll make sure we do a baseball height video once a week while we also make sure we’ll do a little cutesy dance video once a week to make sure we’re catering to all of our followers.
What other analytics did you like about TikTok? What can it provide from a business perspective?
One the biggest ones is on each video you can go and see how people found your posts. One of our biggest TikToks, 80% of people found it on the For You page which is when TikTok boosted into the algorithm. Ten percent of those people found it because they already follow us and we were on their follower feed. The other 10% was found through elsewhere.
You can be found through your sound, your personal profile, the following, the For You page or even hashtags. That’s a way people can find your videos also.
That’s one of the most interesting things to me. Although other platforms offer something similar, this is the most detailed version of that. When a video doesn’t do well, we’re like, “What happened here?” We can go in and see that video’s analytics which is cool.
Savanah, start us from start to finish. How do you create a Bananas killer million-view TikTok video? Where did you start?
I’m going to take one for example. The one of our head coach dancing with his wife with a trendy song over it. I’m on Country TikTok, so I kept hearing this same sound over and over again. It was something different than we had normally done. I remember telling Carol one day like, “Let’s try it. It’s short. It doesn’t take long to edit. We’ll see what happens.” I found a clip of them dancing, put the song over it, matched it up, keyframed it a little bit, posted it, and then the next thing you know it had 300,000 views in two hours. It was crazy. Normally, it starts out with scrolling. You have to scroll and know what’s going on to be relevant with the trend.
When have we put out something that’s failed? Early on, there was something where you were like, “We’ve got five people watching this. I’m going to take it down.” I’m like, “Don’t take it down. We don’t delete our crap.” When does one not work? Is it because you’ve totally ignored everything?
Sometimes we’ll put out videos that we think we’re going to do so well. There have been some that I put out that I’ve been so proud of like, “This is going to hit. It’s going to take off,” and it doesn’t. It mainly consists of one being exactly on trend. Sometimes, we won’t always hit it. We will fall a little bit short. Maybe were too late or missed the mark. A lot of times if the video doesn’t hit as hard, it’s because 80% or 90% of our views came from our followers instead of being pushed out into the TikTok algorithm on people’s For You pages. You see the most success when 97% of our views came from the For You page.
Those people start following us after that.
We’ve gotten almost 30,000 followers in one day before. That’s because we’ve had one video hit the For You page. Sometimes, it won’t hit it all and we’ll get 100 or 200 followers in a day.
Why should businesses be on TikTok?
It’s going to hit a demographic that you haven’t hit before. It’s the biggest thing. TikTok is a platform that you can let loose on. We preach this all the time but it’s not about selling. It’s about creating this value and giving somebody a fun 60-second video to watch. The biggest thing is it’s a new place to have fun and let loose. That will show people your true brand. That’s important. When you show people your true colors, they’re going to become more loyal to you and stuff.
That is what you see in every business. They lose their way on social media because all of a sudden, it becomes, “Here’s my product, buy this from me, checkout this sale, check out our business.” Have we done anything that says buy this?
There has never been a post where we’ve blatantly posted in TikTok and said, “Go buy five game membership or go buy the shirt.” People will see our videos and then comment, “I have to have this merch. Where can I get it?” We’ll comment back, “Go to the website. We recommend this one. This is our favorite.”
We’re not idiots. We know that when we’re putting players in there, they’re featuring jerseys and hats. It’s not just us in the office getting a freaking T-shirt or looking like this in a dress, shirt and pants. Everyone is on brand with our merch, with our gear and with our guys. That turns into all these new people watching these videos. When do you first think that our TikTok started blowing up?
We started in early June 2020. I would say mid-June is when we skyrocketed.
July and August 2020 for our merchandise sales were the two biggest months of all time. During a pandemic, we were playing 25% games and we know it was from all these comments from people saying, “Never seen this team before. What is this? I need this logo? I need this Jersey?” Why do you think that was?
The entertainment and fun that we have here at the Bananas is exactly what TikTok thrives on. I follow people that work for TikTok on LinkedIn and they’re always talking about like, “This is what we love to see in our company. These are the kinds of videos we love to see creators having fun and providing value to people.” That’s what we do. TikTok is our biggest platform, but there’s not a call-to-action on there. We’re showing people who we are and how we have fun. They admire and appreciate that for us, and so they go and want to support us by buying merch.
A non-baseball team who doesn’t have players or fun merch or whatever, how can they start a TikTok account and start seeing results?
The first thing is to get your own account. Make sure you have a good grip on the platform before trying to push your businesses. I would make sure you understand it a little bit because that’s where we fell flat in February 2020. I had only been on it for a month or two, so I was still trying to understand it for myself. It was harder for me to figure out what would work for the Bananas. The biggest thing is to make sure you understand it yourself. Once you do understand it and create your businesses, make sure you’re staying true to your brand. If you can keep it, it doesn’t have to be the most high-quality videos in the entire world. You can film with your phone, but make sure people are getting to know you, make sure you’re using trending sounds and following along with other trends. I would say those are the biggest things.TikTok is a platform where you can just let loose, have fun and show people your true brand. Click To Tweet
We’ve made this mistake as well. TikTok is not Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. If you start treating these things like they’re all the same, you’re going to get brutal results. Sometimes, we’ve been like, “What if we post the same video that we post on Instagram and post it on TikTok or somewhere else?” It falls flat on its face because they’re not the same thing. That can seem daunting to people because now you’ve got another social media account that you’re trying to come up with and take on. I’ll say to people, we turned it over to you and gave no direction or red tape.
It was like, “Figure this out and try things. Let’s see what happens and then let’s make adjustments on the backend.” The advice that I would have to give to people is it’s not going to hurt if you create an account, try it out, test things and put things out. If they fail, whatever. If they work, look at what happened. It’s remarkable that this is a success we’ve seen. What else am I missing on TikTok? What other questions am I not asking you as the experts of the Savannah Bananas TikTok?
One thing that’s also important, we do this on all of our platforms, is responding to comments and responding to people, and let them know that there’s someone else there. If I’m responding to comments on TikTok, I tried to be sarcastic and funny almost so that we have our own personality with people. I’m still being fans first and fun but it’s almost sarcastic like, “I’d want to hang out with this person if I knew them.” That’s an important thing too. It’s letting people know that we’re real people.
What are people doing wrong on TikTok? What businesses that you follow where you’re like, “Why did you do that?” What are the faux pas?
One of the biggest things on TikTok is the comments. Sometimes, people turn the comments into a sorority group chat. The whole point is the comments. If you’re not going through and then interacting with the comments, why not? It’s easy to create that relationship quickly by responding to one comment on one video. That’s the biggest thing I see. People are not keeping up and building these relationships in such an easy way.
You start to recognize people’s usernames and whatnot. I’ve even seen people go from commenting on TikTok to commenting on every TikTok, commenting on Instagram or DM-ing us all the time on Instagram or tweeting us. The same accounts will say the same things. It’s almost an inside joke with them too. That’s fun. Creating those relationships is special.
From time-to-time, we’ll search Savanah Bananas on Twitter and see people talking about Savannah Bananas TikTok which is a funny thing that is a little bit of that crossover. People are finding us in different ways because they first saw it there on TikTok. If someone says they’re afraid of creating video content, how do you get over that fear of putting something out there and creating video content? What if someone doesn’t have video content? How can they achieve any success on TikTok?
To get over the fear, you got to do it. You got to get comfortable being uncomfortable. We’ve put out stuff to work on like, “Is this going to do good?” It’s like, “It did all right.” If it doesn’t do good it’s like, “Let’s backtrack. What could we have done better now that we’ve seen it didn’t do well?” You have to pull the trigger and post. It seems easier said than done but that’s the way it’s going to happen. It’s trying to be brave.
Have you all found a sweet spot on the number of times you post, posting once a day, times we post. Have you tried those things out and figured out the good, bad and ugly?
At the beginning, once we had a couple of videos hit the For You page and go off the algorithm, Jesse challenged us to start posting every single day. That was a little scary and a little daunting. Having to push out content every day was frightening for me personally. I was like, “I don’t know how I’m going to do this.” We all figured out. It was an all-hands-on-deck thing. Everyone around the office will pitch in TikTok ideas like, “Let’s do this. This would be fun.” It’s an overall group effort of what people are getting but posting every single day is important. That gives your videos more of a chance to be seen by people or for TikTok to push it into the algorithm.
What about times of day?
Ours changes a lot. There have been times where I’ve had to stay up to 11:00 to post because that would be the best time.
Do the analytics tell you what time they were on?
It’ll tell you but it’s not Central Time. It’s a universal coordinated time.
That’s the exact time I use.
That tells us when our followers are most active. It’s a good idea to post about an hour or two before they’re most active to give it a chance to pick up a little bit of traffic. When your followers are most active, hopefully, that video is popping up on their following page or their For You page. They can interact with it and then keep pushing it out there.
What video are you trying next?
There’s a new fun trend that I’ve seen. Kara sent it to me and said, “This could be fun for Bananas.” I hadn’t seen it yet. After she said that to me, my For You page was flooded with these videos. It went off the past 24 hours. We made a video for that so that one is going to go out and hopefully TikTok likes the sound. They’ll want to make us get tons of views again and push us out there.
Anything else that you want to add on TikTok life?
I feel like we covered it.
What’s our handle?
Create your TikTok account. Go follow us.
Keep posting even if you don’t get a lot of views.
Even if it’s outrageous and you’re doing weird TikTok dances, do it. The weirder the better. I see weird videos all the time and those are my favorite ones.
You have inspired at least one person to create TikTok account. Hopefully, more. Thanks for hanging out.
Thanks for having us on.
I hope you feel cultured in the social media world. There’s the positive, negative and political stuff. I didn’t want to get into any of that because that’s a whole other world of conversation. I wanted to get into the nitty-gritty of here’s how the Bananas are doing this stuff. I hope you feel at least inclined to feel comfortable, trying these things out and seeing, is there someone on your team that could test this account? Do you have family members or your own kids that are on these social media accounts that you can talk to and understand like, “How are you using them?”
That was the most interesting thing. This does not apply just to TikTok, this also applies to all social media accounts. As the consumer with your own personal account, how are you being fed information? How are you using it? When are you using it? How do you like to use it? How do you not like to use it? Take your consumer hat off and put your business hat back on and say, “How do I deliver the things that I want?” If I’m on social media, I’m talking about myself, I don’t want to see the ads, sales messages or putting something out there that says, “Great deal for me, 15% off on this thing.”
I want to see fun, positive, either lighthearted or laughing messages, and things that are fun. I don’t think we’d go on social media to be serious. As our brand, and Savanah mentioned this and hit this home. She was on TikTok for a year before she came on here. If she’s on TikTok and she’s seeing the things that are being sent to her through the algorithm, through the For You page, she’s seeing what is becoming popular as the consumer. She can then go to the business side and say, “Let’s feed that rhythm. Let’s feed that monster. Let’s get our information in that space so that we can be among the people who are most popular, trending and being seen by the masses.”
That’s an interesting thing because a lot of times, especially as we’re thinking about social media marketing, we see ourselves as business marketers. We forget that there’s a consumer on the other side of this that wants something different. The social media space was not designed for businesses to come in and blast their messages at people. It needs to be a space that is engaging, fun and people can comment. You’ve got to feed the machine the way that it was created. I hope you take some notes from this. If you have questions about this, get in touch with us and we’ll give you Kara and Savanah’s information. Some of their information is on our website at TheSavannahBananas.com.
Anyways, get in touch with us. We’d love to continue to share those things with you. Get on the social medias. If you feel like it’s a place where you need to be at or at least want to explore, develop your personal accounts, use someone or find someone that’s already got a personal account. Find out what’s it like to use these things. Can my business be a fit on these social media accounts? It’s fun to talk about it. I hope you learned something. At least you feel that you can have a conversation with somebody about pop culture and about TikTok now or you can film a TikTok dance. Thank you for reading the blog of the Bananas for Business Show. We’ll talk to you soon.
- Facebook The Savannah Bananas
- Instagram The Savannah Bananas
- Twitter The Savannah Bananas
- TikTok The Savannah Bananas
- Kara Heater LinkedIn
- Savanah Alaniz LinkedIn
About Kara Heater
-Head Food Runner
About Savanah Alaniz
-Pop Culture Prodigy at Savannah Bananas
-Pop Culture Prodigy
-Digital Engagement Intern
-Student Ministry Intern
Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share!
Join the Bananas for Business Community today: