Viral Growth on TikTok and Travel Hacking w/ Michelle Gonzalez

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Are you on TikTok yet? If you’re still wary of joining the popular app, this episode is for you. Michelle Gonzalez is an LA-based travel creator and travel hacking genius. Since starting her TikTok account in December of 2019, she was able to grow her community by over 400k followers. She joins Her Life, By Design, to make the case for TikTok. Here’s how Michelle achieved viral growth on TikTok and how you can too. 

Michelle Gonzalez headshot | Viral Growth on TikTok and Travel Hacking

Viral Growth on TikTok and Travel Hacking w/ Michelle Gonzalez

Michelle, the creator behind LAX to Luxury, tapped into TikTok’s viral growth in less than a year. Having grown a huge community, she realizes and understands the power TikTok currently holds. As a newer influencer on the scene, Michelle had no prior experience as a blogger or content creator before her explosive growth on TikTok. In this episode, she shares her best tips for achieving viral growth on the app.

The Biggest Lesson Learned as an Influencer

Michelle’s friends and family had always asked her to start a travel blog or Instagram account. But she was hesitant, knowing how much work it required especially as the industry grew. When TikTok came along, she hopped on the opportunity of becoming an early adopter. Although she still works her 9-5 in finance and sales ops, Michelle is discovering more about the influencer industry.

One of the biggest surprises that Michelle learned was that being an influencer isn’t all “glitz and glamor.” More often than not, content creators and solopreneurs wear many hats. But what you see on social media is only the tip of the iceberg. It takes a lot of work to produce and publish content — but consumers, especially on TikTok, tend to be quick to judge.

Michelle noticed how quick strangers were to judge solely based on her content alone. She had to learn how to navigate the negative comments and unwanted opinions of many, without letting them stop her from doing what she does and sharing what she loves.

TikTok vs. Instagram

When it comes to posting content on TikTok, Michelle says it’s a double-edged sword. On one hand, it’s great for viral growth. On the other, the negativity and judgment on TikTok run wild. Since TikTok exposes your content to more people who aren’t following you, it puts you in a vulnerable position. The people who come across your video may not be people who align with your views, which then gives them an opportunity to chime in.

Additionally, it is getting increasingly difficult to get your content in front of the right eyes on Instagram. But when it does, your content will get in front of people who likely know, like, and trust you on a certain level. But TikTok is currently where Instagram was in it’s infancy. It is a great platform to experiment, attract, and grow your community. And if you hit viral growth, you can always direct your TikTok community to your blog, Instagram, or other platforms.

Viral Growth Tips for TikTok

There has never been a better time to join TikTok and capitalize on it’s early success. Initially, Michelle spent some time studying the platform. She started trying out different content and strategies, repurposing old videos from past trips on her camera roll. But the real growth came during a trip where she had intentionally filmed content for TikTok.

When it comes to the best growth tips for virality on TikTok, Michelle advises everyone to “think of every TikTok as a lottery ticket… you’ll never know when one of them will go viral.” And just like a lottery ticket — the more content you create, the more chances you have at going viral. Michelle reminds listeners that “you can’t win the lottery if you’re not playing.” But at the same time, it is normal for some videos to go viral, and some to flop. “Realize that this is just the normal ebb and flow,” Michelle says. She reinforces the idea that “consistency is 100% the name of the game.”

In this episode, Michelle dishes on the lows and highs of viral growth. She walks us through the most important ways to hook your viewers in, engaging them and encouraging longer watch times. She also gives listeners applicable advice about the right and wrong ways to adopt trends on TikTok. More importantly, she explains how paying attention to your analytics can better inform your content strategy; further increasing your chances of virality.

Why Travel Brands Need to Get on TikTok

For some reason, travel brands seem to be slow on the uptake when it comes to new social media marketing opportunities. Michelle is working to educate more brands about the power of TikTok. To put things in perspective, a lot of major airlines aren’t even on the platform. And in a similar fashion, these travel brands were slow to incorporating Instagram into their marketing strategy.

Michelle is making the case for TikTok for travel brands, collaborating with Carmen Sognonvi to co-write a white paper on how the travel industry can benefit from the platform. For one, a large percentage of TikTok users are not on Instagram. Additionally, it is evident that TikTok provides more opportunities for massive growth and virality. And unlike Instagram, the lifespan of content on TikTok far exceeds a post on Instagram. Meaning, a post you made on TikTok can still be discoverable months later.

The benefits of TikTok for influencers, bloggers, and travel brands are clear. Whether or not you want to tap into the opportunities it provides is yours to choose.

How Not to Charge on TikTok

Because virality cannot be calculated, planned, or guaranteed, TikTok influencers are finding it hard to charge for their deliverables. On Instagram, how much you charge for a single post depends on a number of factors; with the most important factor being your engagement rate. Due to TikTok’s random virality factor, charging $100 for a single post that has the potential of garnering 1 million views seems quite skewed.

When it comes to pricing yourself for TikTok deliverables, Michelle says there isn’t a formula. However, she is a huge proponent for all creators, regardless of size, of knowing their worth. For instance, Michelle shares an anecdote about a water bottle brand that reached out to her, requesting 10 TikTok videos for $90. Michelle knew that the amount of work necessary to produce that content far exceeds their rate. Althouh Michelle respectfully declined, she searched the water bottle’s hashtag on TikTok. To her horror, many creators have been accepting the collaboration terms and payment. 

In this episode, Michelle warns aspiring influencers about the dangers of accepting less than what they’re work is worth. Not only do they undervalue your efforts, but it undermines the amount of hardwork and time you’ll be spending on creating content. She reminds influencers that a beneficial partnership means both parties are aware of the risks and contributions they both bring to the collaboration. Tune into this episode to find out a tried and true method Michelle shares to establish a healthy partnership when collaborating with brands.

TikTok and Travel Hacking

If you’re an influencer who is trying to grow but you’re not seeing much return on Instagram, it might be time for you to tap into the potential of TikTok. Although Instagram recently launched Reels, it does not nearly provide the same benefits and payoffs as TikTok does. But hopping on to TikTok does require thicker skin. If you’re still up in the air about utilizing TikTok as part of your growth strategy, you need to listen to this episode. And of course, I couldn’t have a travel hacking expert on the show without asking her for her best travel hacking tips.

In this episode, Michelle teaches listeners everything she knows about developing a content strategy for viral growth on TikTok. She walks listeners through her own viral journey, collaborating with brands, and the benefits of this new social media platform. And for my travel loving listeners, Michelle shares travel hacking secrets for all budget types from the best credit cards, utilizing points, and maybe even snagging $35 round trip tickets to Panama from the US.


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TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@laxtoluxury

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