As TikTok’s future in the U.S. is up in the air due to potential bans, the platform is still making big marketing moves by entering the search ads market and challenging Google and Microsoft. Is it time to get down with the kids and embrace TikTok search?
Competition breeds innovation, and this week’s episode is all about exploring new marketing trends from the tech giants. How will Google adjust to keep advertisers on its platform? We can only expect more exciting developments in the search advertising space. Remember that while TikTok may be the shiny new toy on the block, you shouldn’t throw all your eggs in one basket just yet.
Another wise business move we strongly recommend is to claim your Employee Tax Retention Credit. If you’re a business owner who had at least three full-time employees during the pandemic and retained them, you may be eligible for the ERTC. To learn more about this credit and whether your business qualifies, visit ertcadvisors.org.
Resources mentioned in our episode:
- TikTok enters the search ad market, challenging Google and Microsoft
- DuckDuckGo Enters the AI Race with DuckAssist
- What is Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC)?
- IRS issues renewed warning on Employee Retention Credit claims
Enjoy the show? Subscribe and leave us a review! Don’t forget to send us your questions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Liel: [00:00:00] Tiktok has launched beta testing for search ads which offer a new way for marketers to search the app’s audience to target search terms. The ads appear above the other search for terms, listing on the search results page and eventually will enable advertisers to target searchers looking for specific keywords. I’m Liel Levy, co-founder of Nanato Media and author of Beyond se Habla Español How Lawyers Win the Hispanic Market. And this is in Camera podcast, where we believe search is transforming into new shapes. Welcome to In-camera Podcast, Private Legal Marketing Conversations. Grace. Welcome back. How are you today?
Grace: [00:01:05] Good, How are you Liel?
Liel: [00:01:05] Doing great. Grace Thank you very much for asking. And we’re here to start off a new conversation. So just to recap a little bit, last week we left out our conversation or last conversation better said We left out the conversation at that. Tiktok may be getting sacked, banned from the United States, but it’s not yet happened. It may change any minute now or it may not. Right. And so here is what’s very interesting. Okay. That very recently as well, TikTok is signaling that they are about to enter the search ads market Grace. And this is very, very, very powerful. Right? Because, you know, just from my perspective of what is the leverage that TikTok holds on being eligible to remain operating in the United States the way that they’ve had up until now is the dependence that brands have on their platform, Right? I mean, we talked about it from a legal marketing angle, and we already know and admit and acknowledge that there is really significant number of firms that are actually relying heavily on TikTok, not just on brand awareness, but on actual case acquisition, like they’re actually getting cases out of there. And so a brand can could be very significant. And so, of course, you know, when you’re bringing it down to the, you know, consumer legal advertising space, it may not be that that significant, but when you’re bringing it up at an enterprise level and you have really, really big players that are, you know, lobbying in Washington, that may change things. Right? And the reality is that, you know, for a lot of consumer brands, a lot of consumer brands, TikTok has become their connection with the Gen Z market. It’s just the reality of it, right? Well, you know.
Grace: [00:03:02] I mean, literally, like you said, from the day that TikTok came out, it became such a different platform for people and kids. Even right of that age group were super involved in TikTok and they still are. And they consume so much content on TikTok that it really is going to affect a huge amount of the brands that that’s all they do, right? I mean, they have these tutorials and beautiful videos. And yes, you can get that same kind of thing on YouTube or insta reel, but TikTok has become it for that demographic and reaching those kids and reaching that generation. Um, and then further to that, like it’s a medium that’s so different in the sense that it has dances and it creates this different kind of vibe, right? I mean, that’s probably the easiest word for me to use is a vibe. It creates a vibe for the consumer that you can’t really get anywhere else. So it’s going to be very interesting to see what happens with this whole government getting involved. Right? Because we saw that happened with Camp Lejeune and the bill passing and how crazy the whole marketing went with that. So what’s going to happen when or if? I think it’s more when. But if TikTok gets banned from the US, this is this is going to be a really huge change in the way people do their marketing. If TikTok is it for them in particular?
Liel: [00:04:24] Yeah, it is Grace. I think, you know, obviously TikTok has a lot of leverage in the power that it has to reach consumers. Obviously, that’s the same reason why it’s such a threat to the United States from a security standpoint, from a political standpoint. And so obviously, that’s one of the reasons that I believe TikTok now is trying to further build dependency of brands into its platform so that they have more reasons to justify their existence. Right. And have more advocates who want to justify the need of TikTok. And, you know, here is the one thing, because when I think of TikTok still. I really see it as, um, brand awareness sort of place, as a place where you can go and be social Grace. But the reality is that almost for a year now, it’s been known that a lot of very young consumers are actually also using TikTok as a search engine. They’re actually going there to fulfill queries like what’s a restaurant that they should go to, and they go and search that in the search bar of TikTok. And with now TikTok allowing advertisers not just running ads in a way that they can just reach a geographical area or some age groups or whatever limited targeting they have now. But starting to be able to target through keywords is a whole different level.
Liel: [00:06:01] It’s a whole different level and it’s 100% is going to directly threat Google like there is no doubt about it. Now, from an advertiser standpoint, what are the downsides? Well, you know, as an advertiser, you’re you’re concerned about what your ads are going to show up against. Right. What other things are going to show up against when it comes down to Google? You know, if somebody goes there and search for personal injury lawyer near me. Right. And you show up on the top on the top of the search results with an ad, you know that all of the other listings that are coming right under you, whether it’s the local P&G, whether it’s the organic, you know, that there are legitimate you know, that there are good you know, that they are actually authoritative. So you feel proud, you may say, about being there, showing up your ad, but when you’re actually showing up in TikTok, you don’t necessarily know what’s the video playing right under your ad, Right. And the association that that creates between your brand and everything else. And so, you know, that lack of guardrails that TikTok does not have in its infrastructure certainly creates a lot of doubts about, you know, whether you want to be seen there or not.
Grace: [00:07:07] I have to say, um, you know, even looking at the the article that we’re discussing and the particular where it says almost 40% of young people searching for a lunch spot would do so on TikTok or Instagram. Yeah, that’s exactly what I do. And you know why? It’s for the visuals, you know, so it really it’s this is a huge impact on those who are using this because that’s exactly what people are much more visual, right, than in general, almost in all marketing. You can get person’s attention with a visual way faster than you can with text. It’s just a given, right? Yeah. I mean, it’s proven. So when this whole TikTok thing is coming down the line, I search on TikTok. You know, I search for the like, a cool looking video or something to give me the vibe. Again, back to that word, the vibe of a restaurant, the vibe of a place, the vibe of a location. And that tells me, yeah, the the character of a law firm even. Right? Because you see a law firm using TikTok don’t you think? Oh, well, they’re more modern. They get me more than someone who’s not on TikTok. Yeah.
Liel: [00:08:16] So so here’s here’s the thing. Obviously, obviously there is no denying it either. People searching for legal services and TikTok. Whether you’ve seen it or experienced it. It’s. It’s a fact. It is. It’s happening. There are some people that are right now, whether there are more people doing it in TikTok that they’re doing in Google Search, for instance. Absolutely not. Absolutely not. However, TikTok is still in development. It’s still growing. It hasn’t reached their height. Right there. It’s still going up. Now, what is very true, what you say there, Grace, is that what TikTok gives you, an Instagram gives you and in general, social media platforms give you is true. They give you an opportunity to showcase as a law firm your areas of expertise, your knowledge, you know, generate that awareness. But it also allows you to generate brand affinity, right? Like one of the things you you constantly bring up here in the podcast Grace is know like and trust and know is brand awareness. Trust comes out of the type of content that you put out, but the like can come out from actually generating content that creates brand affinity, right? So when you go to social media and you are supporting things and you’re advocating for things and you are showcasing the things that you stand up for, that creates brand affinity that actually creates an impact. Users in a way, like I like this firm because they do this and because they support that or because, you know, we share this interests in common and that means a lot because once you have that connection, it just goes beyond the commodity part of the law firm, right? Because there’s many different law firms that can probably help you in solving a problem.
Liel: [00:10:13] Some of them have a better track record in doing that or not. But what you actually get out of social media is like, Yeah, but I prefer these guys because, you know, I just feel more connected with them. I just feel that they, you know, I’ll vibe better with them, right? Grace Kind of like to use a little bit some of the vocabulary that you’re using about the feeling that social media can give you. And so that’s very, very powerful because sure, you can get pictures out of Google my business, you can get pictures out of somebody’s website. But what you get out of social media just goes beyond that. And then there’s the other thing, and it’s the influence. It’s like, who else goes to it? To this restaurant? Who else wears this type of clothes or, you know, uses this cosmetics? And I think it’s like that association from e-commerce side of things. It’s always been so clear, like you’ve never even had to stop and think about it for a moment. It’s always about like, I’m going to use this because this celebrity does or this influencer does, right? Or, you know, this person has very similar look and style than I do. Right? And so that’s why it’s very powerful. But this also translates to law firms. So I certainly think that there is a big appeal for users to start treating TikTok as a search engine where they can find services, not just products, but actual services. So this is certainly very powerful And just changing the targeting from TikTok to being able to search for keywords is really, really game changing.
Liel: [00:11:48] Now, Grace Here is the other side of it where I can see a massive opportunity. It’s that Google ads for many different type of practice areas in many markets is just. Completely blown out of proportion. Right. Cost per clicks are just so out of control. Out of control. And what I hope is that this extra competition that’s going to come on Google will hopefully help optimize the cost per clicks and the quality of advertising that lawyers are getting from this platform. And hopefully also, if TikTok were to become a pay per click search platform where you can run ads, then probably that’s going to be another huge appeal. There is what are the cost per clicks that are going to be there. But. The hype of TikTok leads me to believe that it’s going to get blown away very quickly as well. So, you know, I think what’s going to be more interesting than actually seeing what happens inside of TikTok is how Google adjusts itself to keep advertisers in its platform and keep advertising dollars in its platform. That’s kind of like where I see the advantage of it. I like I honestly like for Google to feel pressure under their search monopoly, I think it’s a good thing. I think it helps us as advertisers as well. I just don’t know really whether I, like TikTok, continue to grow in the direction for businesses to become to become more dependent on on TikTok, because with everything aside, I trust more alphabet than I trust pythons. So that’s where everything kind of like. Ends with me.
Grace: [00:13:37] Mean I personally like I agree with you so so wholeheartedly. I can’t even say anything other than what you just said, which is, I mean, search and any type of competition breeds innovation. So I’m all about competition and anything that I can, you know, leverage against Google’s pay per click monopoly to me is a big deal. I mean, you know, like the way Chatgpt has been taken over by Microsoft and they’re making you use Bing. You know, I’ve actually been using Bing for a while now. And yeah, it’s not as good as Google, but I’m hoping that maybe with the feeding it enough information using the requirement that I have for to be able to get on the list for Chatgpt that it’s going to give me maybe better results and better results over time. And I’m willing to try that, right? So if I’m willing to try that, I bet there’s quite a few people who are willing to go the TikTok route and, you know, use their search and their pay per click hoping that it’s going to give some kind of competition to Google. And since it’s new with them, hoping that it’ll be less money. Right. Less competition and less expensive for sure.
Liel: [00:14:40] Yeah. And yeah. And I just think. Grace, you know, we also need to remember that the intent that there is in TikTok is not the same that there is on a traditional search network. Right. I think, you know, TikTok is still kind of like a at best at best, a middle of the funnel strategy, even when the search query becomes very high intent per se, I still think that the users are going to be taking a longer journey. They’re going to be doing more exploration, they’re going to be spending because that’s what the platform is built for, right? The platform is built for you to just spend hours just looking and going from one type of content to another, one to another one to another one. Whereas Google Search is kind of like built for you to find what you need and act on it, right? To just kind of like quickly, smoothly and easily segway into the next step in the journey, which is initiating a conversation with your law firm of choice, especially when you’re searching on mobile, which is that’s the difference, right? Tiktok is built for you to stay on the platform on mobile for endless amount of time. Search on mobile is primarily tool to get to your destination. Right? And the destination is that phone call now, Grace and we were just talking a minute ago like like before we started the recording, you were telling me like, you know, phone calls are so essential when you’re running personal injury campaigns Like this is like, this is what you’re after. So, you know, you’re not after video views, you’re not after likes, you’re actually after that phone call.
Liel: [00:16:10] So that’s to be kept in mind when kind of like strategizing this because I think, you know, going into it’s going to be kind of like the same learning curve that a lot of people had with Facebook, which is kind of like, oh, but you know, it’s great from brand awareness and so on and so but you don’t get leads out of it. Adding the search capabilities is going to certainly make it more targeted. But at the same time, you know, I still think that the conversions rate are going to be significantly lower than probably what you get on pay per click on the search network in Google Grace. And I like what you said there because you said anything that gives competition to Google is welcomed and, you know, innovation is needed. So talking about that Grace DuckDuckGo enters the race with the assist. I know it is laughable, right? Because it’s kind of like you’re not thinking about DuckDuckGo when you’re thinking about CHATGPT and B and Bing and Bart and Google. Right? That doesn’t cross your mind yet. They’re there. And so let me tell you a little bit about it. So DuckDuckGo launched, launched Dog assist. And so this is a new AI assisted feature that generates natural language answers using Wikipedia. Grace, This is so stupid. Like, honestly, you know, like when you search for something, you know, when you search for something in Google and it actually often times gives you kind of like a sidebar similar to how a Google business profile looks in desktop that has like a Wikipedia preview with the information with the answer.
Liel: [00:17:53] Like Google has had that for years now. That’s exactly so. Duck, Duck, Go invented that now in 2023. The only difference there, though, is that it shows that as a search result, kind of like in the style of an organic search result at the very top of the page with a little blue line that says duck assist. And then it gives you kind of like a three line preview and then it tells you that it’s information taken out of Wikipedia, which is, again, exactly the same thing that Google’s been doing for years with their Wikipedia preview on the search results page. So I don’t know. So now, like for perspective, when this is a type of competition that Google’s been facing for decades now, right? Things that are really impactful like it has been Chatgpt and TikTok now trying to frame itself more as a search engine. That’s really impactful. Right? Because like this is this is the type of competition that Google’s been up to for a very, very long time. And that’s why they’ve been always so much ahead of the curve because, you know, while they’ve been doing things for a very long time, like, you know, duck, duck, go was been just like we were talking a moment ago about, you know, like they’re they’re like the Aston Martin in the Formula One race now. Right? Like Red Bulls are finishing 35 seconds ahead of everyone else in the grid. And then and then there comes the the Aston Martin, you know, celebrating a massive victory for them and well deserved. But it’s not competitive like such.
Grace: [00:19:38] A good analogy.
Liel: [00:19:38] The front runner, the front runners are still. Light years ahead of you. And that’s what’s happening here.
Grace: [00:19:46] That actually leads me to what I was thinking. Before you even said that. But I’m so glad you made that comparison because it it really brings home what I was thinking to begin with, which is, okay, you know, those that use duck, duck, go, you know what? They might actually see this as an innovation for them. For them, those that are using duck, duck, go, duck, duck, duck, assist is a big deal. Right? Because if you’re that demographic that’s going to use duck, duck, go that is so concerned about privacy, I don’t know exactly what their demographic looks like, but I have a feeling that it’s people that are potentially older or much younger. I’m not sure, but I’m thinking much older. And this is innovation for them, you know, and as I said before, it doesn’t hurt sometimes to copy if that’s that’s the way you run your product, right? If you copy and that’s your innovation is to copy and add a new feature, then that’s what Aston Martin does, right? They copy and they add quote unquote, their own little slight spin on it. But it’s the same thing as the Red Bull or the same thing as this or the same thing as they did the same thing. They’re like, all right, well, Google does really well with these Wikipedia snippets on the side. Why don’t we serve that up to our clients? Because, hey, it’s AI driven it I this is like the most basic AI that could possibly serve up. But guess what? It obviously seems like it’s something that’s enough for them to make a big deal about it and serve up to their clients. So it must be doing something and it may actually increase their stature within their own community of Duck, Duck, go users.
Liel: [00:21:21] Yeah.
Liel: [00:21:23] 100% Grace And the reality is that, you know, the user base of DuckDuckGo and this is the thing, right? It’s minute. It’s so small, right? Bing had 3% of market share in search. Now what’s DuckDuckGo go? Market share and share. Right. So it is, you know, a good reminder of how much of a big monopoly Google has and also the opportunity that still exists in providing new and better experiences in search. And, you know, a whole other conversation is also understanding how much Google wants to keep their search experience completely separated and siloed from what their chatbot bar that they introduced a month ago is going to be like. They don’t want those to merge. Kind of like a little bit. The strategy that Google is that Microsoft is following where they really want, kind of like the chat GPT name fully associated with the being experience. Like Google is not taking that direction, but they still they’re yet to still show us what they’re capable with because we have not yet seen that. And what we’ve seen was very disgraceful. So we’re we’re yet to see really what’s Google going to be able to to generate there now. Grace. Before we change that up, we have a business of law matter here to touch on. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about the opportunity that you want to bring up.
Grace: [00:22:55] So I did want to bring up, you know, the employee retention tax credit program. I know we did a whole episode on this with Michael Bloom, but there are some things that are happening that just actually came out and IRS continues to warn people about this particular issue. And I think it’s very important for everyone to be aware of it. So the employee retention credit, for those of you that don’t know, it’s a refundable tax credit that was designed for businesses who paid their employees during the pandemic. Okay. Specifically between March 13th, 2020 to December 31st, 2021, and were shut down. Okay. Or suffered the revenue or suffered through supply chains or orders by the government as a shutdown. Right. And that includes law firms, which that’s a big deal just so everybody knows. The law firms, most of them did not suffer a straight line revenue drop. So it’s a big the knowledge of the fact that the criteria encompasses not just that, but the fact that you couldn’t do business because the courts were shut down. That’s another factor that you need to be aware of that you can potentially apply and get this credit. And again, the most important thing besides that is to know that it’s not the PPP loan. Yes, if you got the PPP loan, you will be taken off of your credit. However, you don’t pay this back. This employee retention credit is exactly that. It’s a credit to you for keeping people employed during one of the hardest times that we’ve ever experienced besides the Depression. So you did the job as an employer. You did your best, you kept them on and you continued to pay them. That is who this credit is for. Um, anybody that has three full time W-2 employees or more are eligible for this credit, excluding owners and relatives.
Grace: [00:24:45] So all you need is three and you would you are eligible for this credit. So with that being said, the reason I’m mentioning this, again, is mainly because of the scams that that even the IRS is warning people about. Okay. And that is you’ll see sometimes these commercials and it’s same thing with the Camp Lejeune marketing. Honestly, this is these are not law firms. These aren’t even accountants in most cases. These are just plain old fly by marketing firms claiming that they can get you $50,000, $60,000, $1 million in credits with absolutely nothing that is beyond if it’s too good to be true. It is not. Probably it is especially when it comes to this. The IRS will come after you and collect what they need to collect. So do not give your money to these random marketing companies. Do your due diligence. Understand that they are not going to get you credits. And not not only that, but they’re not a law firm. So it’s you know, you know how I am. I don’t like to sell, sell, sell. I’m not that kind of person. But when it comes to this, there are protections that you cannot get and will not get from a CPA or any marketing company that a law firm can give you. And further to that and another most important thing is it’s contingency fee because we’re a law firm. So if you don’t recover anything from the IRS, guess what? Neither do we. So it’s obviously in our best interest to not only take care of you to get that claim so that we can get fees, but so you can get compensated. That’s the only way we’ll get compensated. Yeah. That’s not the same CPAs.
Liel: [00:26:20] Yeah. And. Exactly. And it’s. Same thing that you said there, Grace, is because the understanding of the intricacies that went through the years of the pandemic, the limitations that there were that that were imposed on law firms are things that I remember from our conversation with Michael and he explained it very well as well, is that, you know, CPAs may not be able to make a case and compel the IRS of your eligibility to credit because of lack of understanding of those components or just not knowing about them and not bringing them up as reasons why your business was disrupted. You know, on the long term during those that time frame. And so I believe that’s one of the biggest upsides of actually doing this through an organization that is a law firm and not just a financial institution or a CPA, because you just bring additional value to the table. And on top of that, you also have that, you know, insider information, like you also have the expertise from the standpoint. So it’s not like you’re compromising on something.
Grace: [00:27:30] Exactly. You know, this is one of those things that you should never compromise on taxes, never compromise on payroll. You should never compromise on business information that goes to the IRS.
Liel: [00:27:42] Yeah, 100%. Grace. So so it’s still good. And let’s just let me just confirm here so businesses still have time. I believe, if I’m not mistaken, that this quarter was the first kind of like period that if you did not claim your credit by this point, you’re already lost an opportunity to get to get a credit for a for a timeframe. Right. Kind of like for the first block, for the first period of time that the tax credit was eligible for. It has kind of like time limit that can only be be backtracked to X number of years. How many years is that? Grace Two.
Grace: [00:28:26] It’s two.
Liel: [00:28:27] It’s two two years. Okay. So yeah, exactly. So if you were providing employment to a team members and they were employees two years and three months ago, those three months that you did not claim credit already for, they’re gone. Right? So and now you are left with less than two years because the tax credit was only up until 2021. Grace Am I correct? Correct. Right. So now you’re at 21 months or something along those lines. Sorry, I’m not I don’t know the timelines and deadlines here, but the bottom line is that the pool is shrinking. For you. And so this is kind of like not a final call, but it’s a call in the sense that you’re just not gonna get as much as you could have. And so better do it now than continue waiting because it’s not going to get bigger. It’s going to get lower. Grace. Thank you so much for the reminder. Thank you so much for the insights and the opinions and everything that we went through. Now, I want to to go through the takeaways so I can also thank you for those. So what’s your takeaway, number one?
Grace: [00:29:51] So takeaway number one is don’t discount tick tock just yet. And also don’t, you know, put everything in that basket. But I think that tick tock is still here and it still bears what you’re trying to do with it. Still continue trying to do what you’re trying to do, but start making some plans for other options.
Liel: [00:30:13] Yeah. And he doesn’t sound honestly, Grace. I don’t know. I don’t. I’m not hopeful that it’s going to just disappear all from the start. And I just think they’re just going to be some paperwork in the back end. Some some some some level of agreement. It’s going to be rich where the US is going to be able to control up to a certain extent what’s happening with some of that data. Consumers are so used to it and I think there’s going to be a lot of people advocating for it to stay. So it’s going to be interesting to see how that plays out. But yeah, from a strategic standpoint, yeah, you know, just be reasonable about how much you rely and are trying to leverage that. Um, Grace I like to move on to another takeaway here. You know, not discounting the value that search still carries in all aspects of your marketing strategy, and that’s not just paid, but that’s also organic. So don’t get too distracted by all of the shining objects around you, aka social media. It’s great. It’s wonderful. It’s beautiful that you’re getting platform to expand the awareness of your brand, but you need to also remember and be very, very conscious that conversions happen in search, right? Even those brand awareness conversions are happening in search. So make sure that you’re always optimizing for better visibility, better experience in this platform. We have one more.
Grace: [00:31:42] So for me, it’s obviously going to be about the employee retention credit. And, you know, go take a look at what it is. If you’re a business owner and you had at least three full time employees during the pandemic and you kept them on and you had problems, which all of us did. Go ahead and reach out to us. You know, you can go to advisors.org. That is our direct page that strictly talks about that. Or you can go on our website. We’ll include them in the episode notes. But it’s the lake law firm.com forward slash employee retention tax credit Anything you want to know about it please feel free to reach out to us because this is something that we’re going to be handling and dealing with for the next two years, basically until the end of the program, at which time, you know, obviously everyone that’s eligible should have gotten their payments from the IRS. And that can all be tracked, too. So my takeaway is, if you are a business owner during the pandemic, had some losses and kept your employees, this is for you. Go ahead, check it out. Um, and let me know.
Liel: [00:32:48] Absolutely Grace. We’ll make sure that we have that link on the episode notes. Thank you very much for another great conversation and I’ll see you in a couple of weeks. See you soon. If you like our show, make sure you subscribe. Tell your coworkers. Leave us a review and send us your questions at: email@example.com. We’ll see you next week.