TikTok has changed the world of consumer engagement. With 1 billion active users and an engagement rate five times higher than other social channels, TikTok has ushered in a new era where consumers increasingly spend their time watching short-form videos. In order to get a leg up on the competition, marketers need to establish a presence in this format. The value of TikTok is clear: in today’s competitive landscape, it gives brands a boost in engagement and increases the discoverability of content.
As brands start to embrace TikTok for business, the app is seeing ad spending grow exponentially. While the user base and revenue on the video-first social channel steadily rise, more companies are determined to learn how they can use it to their advantage.
Short-form video is a consistent topic of discussion among marketers this year, so it’s no surprise that marketers are asking how brands can use TikTok to find growth on social media—and evolving their content strategies to fit it in. The leading strategy for brands to get their foot in the door in the short-form social channel is TikTok influencer marketing, which empowers them to partner with creators to make content that hits the ‘For You’ page.
TikTok is an algorithm-based short-form video channel that prioritizes serving users' videos based on content that they’ve seen before. The biggest difference between TikTok and other social channels is how TikTok prioritizes entertainment over the number of followers. Savvy marketers have the opportunity to create videos that are highly discoverable to reach new audiences and earn high engagement.
TikTok is a channel that is primed for organic content, however, it also has an option to boost campaigns with various types of ads. Ads serve as a greater avenue for creating brand awareness and community involvement. TikTok influencers and creators naturally become a big part of this by participating in branded hashtag challenges, or promoting new launches.
TikTok creators are able to achieve fame overnight, while it can take months or even years for influencers to build up a strong following on Instagram. This is because Instagram content is shown to followers of a particular user (known as the traditional social graph). This traditional influencer model is changing as social media shifts towards making the most entertaining content more discoverable.
Trendy, entertaining content is the secret to success in TikTok influencer marketing. One of the biggest challenges for brands is to stay on top of TikTok trends, as it shifts regularly. Influencer campaigns are important, not just for finding new followers, but also as a source of knowledge in the content creation process.
TikTok’s discoverability allows savvy brands to reach a number of potential customers they never would have met otherwise. While brands are still innovating and coming up with new ways to reach users, some brands have already been using influencers to find success on the short-form video channel.
TikTok differs from many traditional marketing mediums in that followers and engagement aren’t inherently linked. The For You Page (FYP) is almost entirely algorithm-driven, which means that even small brands can reach large audiences. With influencers, that possibility is even higher. It’s not uncommon to see brands on TikTok with views in the low thousands on the majority of their posts, alongside several posts with hundreds of thousands. Unlike other channels, followers are no longer your ceiling.
When finding influencer partners on TikTok, it’s important to find creators that align well with your brand image. TikTok’s level of deep customization has created an opportunity for influencers to emerge in every niche, industry, and vertical you can think of. This has huge implications for marketers, as no matter what industry you’re in, there is an opportunity to develop a presence and tap into creators that resonate with your target audience. Read Dash Hudson’s guide to finding top TikTok influencers to learn more.
As TikTok is the fastest growing social media channel, new influencers are emerging all the time. It is important for brands to keep a regular pulse on which creators are emerging. In order to find influencers, keep an eye on your ‘For You’ page to identify future partnerships.
While integrating some existing partnerships into your TikTok marketing strategy will likely be effective, we recommend focusing on influencer-first partnerships. Since TikTok is so trend-driven and moves at such a fast pace, creators who aren’t staying up to date with the latest trends won’t achieve the same degree of reach. The TikTok algorithm is quite sophisticated. Working with TikTok-first influencers ensures that your content reaches an extremely targeted and engaged audience immediately, which will ultimately drive more conversions. However, as with any digital marketing strategy, results will differ depending on your brand.
Always segment content and test your pillars to see what’s driving progress toward your key performance indicators (KPIs). Additionally, as opposed to segmenting your paid, organic, and influencer strategies on TikTok, Forbes recommends looking at them as one and the same. Putting ad spend behind influencers who are part of a consistent model on TikTok will likely yield the best results. They’re all part of a holistic TikTok strategy which should involve extensive testing, and a willingness to be creative and leverage non-traditional tactics.
As with any new social initiative, establishing goals is crucial to optimizing performance. However, one of the challenges with TikTok is that posts can gain traction months or years after posting—making optimization difficult. TikTok performance relies on staying on beat with top trends and creating relevant content quickly. Brands that can create a trend are consequently several steps ahead of the game when it comes to getting content in front of potential customers. Influencers are a fantastic way to kickstart a trend, and are likely to be knowledgeable about what kinds of trends will perform.
When looking at the influencer marketing lifecycle, Creator Marketplace makes sourcing TikTok influencers much more streamlined than other channels. However, there’s no clear-cut best practice for how to integrate influencers into your TikTok strategy. Instead, savvy brands are leveraging some or all of the following tactics, or coming up with new ways to work with creators.
There are a few ways to leverage influencers as part of your overall TikTok strategy:
TikTok is a channel that heavily values unpolished, authentic content, so leveraging influencers can provide a canvas for less curated content. Using influencers for ads stops the scroll because viewers recognize the face of a content creator that they already know and love.
#aeriereal, with 7.4B views, is a great example of a brand leveraging influencers to start a trend. Aerie partnered with influencers like Charli D’amelio, a TikTok influencer with almost 115M followers. According to a spokesperson from the brand, digital sales rose 75% gain for Aerie in Q1.
This campaign was particularly successful because Aerie was able to create a trend, and get their community engaged with the brand. TikTok recommends an additional $100,000 – $200,000 in ad spend within TikTok to promote a hashtag challenge. For smaller brands without extensive ad budgets, partnering with more niche influencers may be more effective than targeting creators with millions of followers.
Product reviews are one of the most common types of content shared on TikTok organically—but can easily transfer into a paid relationship as well. For example, an influencer could start by asking a question and encourage their audience to stitch with a response. Reviews could be shared on either, or both, pages.
Instead of brands creating content themselves, some are solely choosing paid partnerships for in-feed content. For example, the majority of Popsockets’ timeline is made up of content produced by influencers, featuring Popsockets. Each piece of media follows that influencer’s style. Take @rod, an influencer who primarily posts about corporate life as a millennial with anxiety.
Rather than be sold to in a traditional sense, modern consumers like to “co-create” with brands. Leveraging influencers as part of your organic strategy brings humor and a sense of accessibility as compared to more curated posts.
89% of companies said that their ROI from influencer marketing was comparable to, or better than, that from other marketing initiatives in 2019. 17% spent more than half of their marketing budget on influencers in 2019. While these figures likely don’t include TikTok analytics, they do show the value that influencers can have to brands on other channels. In many ways, influencers and TikTok are the intersection of the desire for less curated content from brands. In contrast to the editorial-style static imagery of the past, modern consumers demand content that isn’t overproduced or gimmicky. This is particularly true in advertising skeptical Gen Z, many of whom are TikTok power users.
In order to drive ROI directly from social media marketing, you can leverage Dash Hudson’s TikTok Link in Bio Solution to create a standalone URL that you can customize for your feed. Strategic brands are linking out to their LikeShop galleries, which allow you to link your e-commerce platform to your TikTok profile. Use your creativity to turn TikTok’s fresh, always expanding audience into customers with shoppable profile pages tailored to match your TikTok feed.
For more details on how one brand was able to use influencer marketing to drive ROI, check out Dash Hudson’s case study with Free People.
There is no set number. One of the most exciting things about influencers, is that it isn’t necessarily dependent on follower number. Engagement is a huge factor when it comes to TikTok influencer marketing. This means that an influencer could have an extremely small following, but their engagement rate is high. This can work in favor of brands that align with these smaller influencers.
The most important thing a brand can look for in an influencer is someone who genuinely aligns with brand values, and that you think will enjoy he product or service you’re offering.
The best way to do this is to offer a product that is honest in how it’s advertised, solves some sort of problem and of course, relates to the influencer you are looking to have promote your product. We recommend searching your product on TikTok to see if there are users out there already making videos about your product and loving it.
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