Jeremy Littel and family. Photo Credit: Charles Littel
TikTok star and Kickass Beef Jerky CEO Jeremy Littel chatted with Digital Journal’s Markos Papdatos about how one of his TikTok accounts has helped provide comfort, security, and laughter his community needs when struggling with mental health and PTSD.
Meet Jeremy Littel
With over 12.5 million combined followers, Winona resident Jeremy Littel has spent the last two years creating content on TikTok just to make his community smile along with his wife, Brittany, his two sons Anthony (10) and Dominic (7), and his daughter Brielle (4).
Littel, (43), is also the CEO and owner of Kickass Beef Jerky, a 20-year old family business that his father, Charlie launched out of a 24×24 garage in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Over the years, the company has continued to add globally respected companies such as NASCAR, partnering with NASCAR driver Spencer Boyd for the 2018 and 2019 seasons, where Spencer won Talladega in his #20 Chevy truck with Kickass Beef Jerky right there on the vehicle.
But in his spare time, Littel has made it his mission to help individuals online from across the world smile more and laugh relentlessly.
Littel, who’s been on the platform for 2 years, used the @littel_johnny account as a backup page, officially taking it over in 2020, recalling the one reason that kept him going, carving out a pathway to create more content specifically aimed at addressing the mental health crisis.
“I remember six months into joining TikTok, I was ready to stop making videos on my personal account. It was really slowing down and just wasn’t fun for me anymore. I would frequently receive several DMs from individuals on Instagram about how they are struggling with PTSD and/or anxiety, and how my TikTok videos have helped them a lot,” he said.
He continued, “There was one message that stuck out and changed my life (and career direction) – one individual messaged me and told me that they were going to watch 5 random videos and end their life on the fifth one. It just so happened that my video was the last one they watched and that it made them laugh so hard that they quickly realized their life was not worth ending. That message stuck with me and gave me a purpose to continue creating content, eventually using my @littel_johnny account for child-friendly humor, while my personal account @jeremy_littel was for adult viewers. I now know why I was drawn to the platform…here to bring people out of their funk and help with a smile, an encouraging word, or that belly laugh. It’s all worth it to me.”
Back in 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic forced everyone online, it allowed Littel to give users insight and look into his and his son’s world, while simultaneously getting to know those who were willing to sit back and laugh – in this case, following the character of “Little Johnny” as he comically shares stories with his Dad on how he has made the classroom more “enjoyable” and “educational” for his classmates (and teacher).
“This is a place where I can connect with my own family and give everyone a glimpse of who we are,” he added.
He continued that “these accounts are part of who I am as a creator and TikTok has been an instrumental part of being able to help others through their own darkness, including my own.”
If you’re new to the @littel_johnny account, you can expect an unlimited supply of cheesy, corny, and downright hilarious interactions between Littel and his younger son, where he comes into a room greeting his dad and asking him to “guess what happened at school today,” – of course, putting Littel in the uncomfortable position as a father of “oh god, what did you do now” anticipation.
YouTube Adds Chat Emotes, New Shorts Editing Tools and Automated Audio Dubbing in Other Languages
YouTube has announced a range of new tweaks and updates, which are actually fairly significant, in different ways, but particularly if you’re looking to make Shorts a focus heading into the new year.
First off, YouTube’s giving Shorts creators to capacity to choose a frame from their clip as their thumbnail within the Shorts creation process, starting with Android users.
To be clear, creators can already choose a thumbnail for their Shorts within YouTube Studio, but this new process will make it easier to do so within the original upload flow, which could help to streamline the process.
To select a thumbnail frame for your Shorts (on Android):
- Record or import a video with the Shorts camera then navigate to the final upload screen
- Tap the pencil icon that is overlaid over the thumbnail of your video
- Scrub along your video’s timeline to pick a thumbnail then hit ‘Done’
- Upload your Short
YouTube says that it’s currently not possible to change the thumbnail after your Short has been uploaded, but it is looking to add this functionality in future.
This update is rolling out to all creators on Android from today.
And if you’re looking to make Shorts a bigger focus, this could also help – YouTube has launched a new series of Shorts mythbusting clips on the YouTube Creators channel, which covers various aspects of the Shorts process, including questions about the algorithm, common tips, best practices and more.
Worth a look.
On another front, YouTube has publicly launched its new automated system for overdubbing your YouTube content into another language.
Called ‘Aloud’, the new process, developed by YouTube’s ‘Area 120’ experimental project team, can take a video in English and translate it into several other languages, which YouTube says could be a great way to expand your audience reach.
As per YouTube:
“You can dub a video with Aloud in a couple of hours and it comes at no cost. This tool might be one of the easiest ways to expand your audience, because 80% of the world doesn’t speak English.”
Of course, you then have the speakers’ lips not matching up to the audio – like those foreign language films that you accidentally start watching on Netflix – but dependent on your content, that might not be a big deal
You can sign up for the waitlist on Aloud website to join the beta test pool for the option.
YouTube’s also launching a new chat stream engagement option called ‘YouTube Emotes’, which will enable viewers to share little graphics within their comments on clips.
for the times where words just aren’t enough… introducing YouTube Emotes! ????
now everyone can join in & react to all the biggest Ws across streams w/ new emotes.
we’re starting with emotes for Gaming but more types of emotes to come, stay tuned????
— TeamYouTube (@TeamYouTube) December 5, 2022
Much like Twitch emotes, the additions provide another engagement option, to facilitate more expression within chat streams.
As explained by YouTube:
“We’re starting with emotes created for Gaming but are working on bringing even more themes of emotes in the future, so stay tuned for emotes for even more communities.”
They’ll also, eventually, provide another subscription incentive option, with YouTube also noting that ‘channel membership custom emojis’ will soon be another option to choose from within the emotes set. On Twitch, exclusive channel emotes are only available to paying subscribers.
To use YouTube Emotes, you can click/tap on the smiley face icon in live chat or comments, which will then bring up a listing of all of the emotes and emojis available to you in that stream/thread.
On a related note, YouTube’s also launching a broader range of priced packages for Super Thanks (coming soon), in order to drive more revenue opportunities for creators, which is another way to engage within chat streams.
Finally, YouTube says that it’s expanding its comment warnings and user time-outs for repeated violations of comment rules, which it first launched in testing earlier this year.
Quite a few new updates from the ol’ YT, and some handy little additions that could play a significant role in your process over the holidays.