“We need to figure out TikTok influencer marketing.” More and more brands seem to be coming to this conclusion lately, having seen TikTok’s potential as an influencer marketing hub skyrocket in recent months.
With over a billion monthly active users and a demographic that’s growing up with more associated spending power, TikTok’s promotional appeal has never been stronger.
How is TikTok used in marketing?
Of course, “figuring out” all the ins and outs of a complex, ever-changing digital cultural landscape is no easy task!
TikTok’s lightning-fast shifts in ‘micro-entertainment’ trends have spanned sea shanties to viral recipes to social activism, with all sorts of unpredictable standout personalities.
For all the businesses who want to know how does TikTok work, or are looking to harness TikTok’s proven ability to drive engagement among targeted audiences, most aren’t sure how to even get started.
The good news is that there’s no need to be a TikTok expert to make the most of this wildly popular and influential platform.
As you’re about to learn, reaching TikTok audiences is all about partnering with the right people — and letting them do what they do best, versus focusing on how to go viral on TikTok.
Why is TikTok good for marketing? 5 best-practice tips
1. Establish your brand account.
A brand doesn’t have to be hugely active on TikTok, but it is important to have a presence. Since the TikTok app does not yet have swipe-up capability like Instagram, influencers and consumers rely on that in-platform brand connection.
TikTok’s current option for influencers linking outside of the platform is via bio links. In other words, an influencer would have to change their own bio to a branded URL to try and link out to a promoted e-commerce page, which isn’t likely to drive a lot of traffic (and might be more costly to the brand since the bio is prime real estate for an influencer).
When influencers create TikToks promoting a brand, they drive traffic to the brand’s TikTok account via tagging. Ideally, the brand’s content will support the campaign and offer a call to action to move consumers further along the funnel.
2. Partner with the right creators.
There are TikTok creators of all kinds, serving up an endless variety of content in a variety of categories. These are the people who truly understand the intricacies of the platform, from the features that support the most vivid storytelling to the latest and greatest TikTok trends.
There’s no one-size-fits-all process of identifying potential creators to partner with when it comes to TikTok influencer marketing. Some brands may choose to search via an influencer discovery tool, while others may prefer to do a TikTok search right inside the app itself.
While TikTok does have its own in-house creator marketplace for brands with advertising accounts, this option comes with its own host of responsibilities. Brands using the marketplace must manage creator outreach, communication, fee negotiation, creative strategy, quality assurance, and everything else that goes into a successful influencer campaign.
A full-service influencer marketing agency can be the ideal solution for brands with limited resources or those who want to stay focused on bigger-picture goals. Teaming up with the right agency allows brands to benefit from years of content and platform expertise, including professional creator discovery with specific brand KPIs in mind.
Something to consider when looking for creators: on TikTok, a viral video doesn’t necessarily lead to a viral account. The TikTok algorithm prioritizes the content of each individual post over the reach of the person who shared it, which can make viral fame difficult to replicate.
Instead of rushing to hire the latest famous tiktokers, it’s far better to prioritize a TikTok influencer by their overall appeal and proven ability to consistently develop engaging content.
3. Expect to pay more for experienced influencers.
TikTok’s relative newness as a platform for influencer marketing (at least in internet time) means there aren’t as many creators who are experienced with branded TikTok content.
Exclusivity and usage rights can be more difficult to negotiate, and can cost more because those pieces come at a higher premium on an app that is ever-changing and fast-moving in terms of trends and overall content.
The good news is that by investing a bit more into finding and partnering with the right influencers, brands can go on to reap the rewards of on-trend content development and high-engagement reach at scale.
4. Let those influencers take the lead!
This may be the most important advice of all: Don’t give influencers a script.
The golden rule of influencer marketing across any platform is to avoid coming across like an advertisement — but this is particularly true on TikTok, where users expect creativity and connection rather than stale sponsor shout-outs.
TikTok’s demographic also skews young, and younger audiences are turned off by traditional ads. (Notably, even TikTok’s own ad language says “Don’t make ads. Make TikToks.”)
Ideally, TikTok influencers should have the flexibility to tell a brand story in their own way. They need to be able to stay authentic to who they are and the kinds of content they create, and they’re the ones who know exactly how to connect with TikTok audiences. Let them do what they do best, and your brand will benefit.
5. Be willing to experiment.
TikTok’s experimental nature and the overall levity of the platform can seem like a complicated puzzle to crack, but brands should view this as an opportunity to freely explore different concepts with creators.
The best TikToks are creatively evocative: they often deliver a vibe, a powerful yet abstract audiovisual communication of intuition/emotion. Where a traditional commercial might list selling points and value propositions, a branded TikTok might evoke a specific sort of mood.
One great approach is for brands to ask themselves what positive emotions their customer experiences as a result of their product/service, and work with a creator to develop TikTok content that brings those emotions to life.
At its heart, TikTok is about shared experiences. Brands who can authentically contribute to the conversation with influencers in a fun, relatable way are going to be far more successful than those who rely on polished ad language and agency-created imagery.
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TikTok’s ability to drive reach, engagement, and community for brands is growing day by day. Don’t waste any more time trying to master the nuances of this fast-evolving platform, when it’s far easier and more effective to align with the right creators.
Whether it’s generating widespread awareness, boosting engagement, or increasing sales, Sway Group can help you achieve your business goals with TikTok. Contact us today to learn more about how we use our content expertise and creator connections to develop full-service TikTok campaigns that get results.