Is TikTok on the decline? Our recent Beauty State of Influence report found that while the amount of paid influencer posts on TikTok saw a slight increase from Q3 to Q4 2021, engagements declined, while video views are up:
+17% video views
This is the inverse of what we were expecting to see, especially since social commerce and influencer/brand collaborations typically blossom during the holiday season.
Even more surprising? Other platforms actually saw more growth in paid influencer posts during the same time period — Instagram saw a 28% increase, YouTube a 18% increase, and Facebook a 15% increase.
Don’t panic, there might good reasons why TikTok is “underperforming”
Before you rush to cancel your TikTok campaigns, here are a few working theories that might assuage your concerns.
The decline in engagements could indicate that audiences consume video content differently. All platforms — not just TikTok — are showing an overall drop off in engagements and increase in video views on paid content. Perhaps this is a sign that video is taking over? It’s possible that consumers aren’t as likely to like, comment, and share videos as they are stagnant photos. To adjust for this shift, we’re noticing brands of all types add video views to the list of key metrics they track.
The slowing growth of sponsored TikTok posts could be impacted by influencers’ rapid audience growth. Influencers still achieve large audience growth on TikTok much faster than on other platforms. Given that sponsorship rates are often based on audience size, we can assume that TikTok influencers are getting more and more expensive. In fact, we’ve even seen brands slim down their influencer roster so they can prioritize quality over quantity.
Many brands are still struggling with producing the right content for TikTok. As we discussed in a previous post, the content that works on TikTok is different from the content that works on Instagram. They are very different platforms that deserve different strategies. Some marketers still haven’t quite figured out how to make those different strategies work for their brands. To that we say: be patient and reward experimentation!
8 examples of successful sponsored TikTok content
Okay cool, but what are some concrete examples of TikTok content that works? Below we detail some sponsored TikTok influencer posts that earned high engagements, video views, and engagement rates.
The following posts earned some of the highest total engagements in Q4 2021.
In this analysis, top or VIP influencers generally earn the most engagements on their sponsored content. Is this evidence that small influencer virality only applies to organic content? We’re not sure.
Relevant: In this paid post, Amanda recreates a look that Zendaya wore on the red carpet. This was a great choice because Zendaya, who stars in Euphoria and Dune, has huge influence in beauty, fashion, and pop culture right now.
Simple, yet well thought out: Amanda also keeps it simple, and doesn’t try to get too fancy with this video. She posted a no frills tutorial that utilizes multiple Lancôme products. She also tied in the original sound that Lancôme made for this campaign by timing her transitions to the music and lip syncing the end of the song.
Non-beauty promo: EOS took a “risk” here by partnering with a non-beauty influencer, but it worked well because Merrick found a way to seamlessly incorporate the product into his own content style.
Creative and original: Merrick stayed true to TikTok/his own origins by making this sponsored video a dance video, with EOS lip balm as his guest star. He also got more creative by adding in fun animations and wordplay.
Creativity call in: Abby and Morphe built their collaboration around a challenge dubbed #morphexabbyhalloween. In this competition, they invite folks to post their best Halloween makeup looks to enter to win a big prize. The video that earned the most engagement from this campaign was the announcement of the winner, where Abby dueted the creator’s video showing her cult classic movie makeup look.
Big value add: makeup challenges are becoming more common, so Morphe and Abby tacked on even more excitement by providing a big prize to the winner — a billboard feature in Times Square!
Most video views
The following posts earned some of the highest total video views in Q4 2021.
Unlike in the previous section, the type of partners that earned the most video views were top, macro, and mid-tier influencers.
Skinformation: Dr. Angelo taps into a content type that is tried and true - education. In his sponsored video he highlights the main ingredient from the product, shows its texture, and describes what effect it has on skin.
Specific audience callout: Dr. Angelo then goes on to call out who this product would be good for (sensitive/acne prone) and why they should use it (won’t strip or sensitize skin). Many consumers are looking for product recommendations that match their unique skin needs.
Non-beauty promo: this is an example of another successful non-beauty influencer promotion. Similar to Merrick Hanna x EOS, what makes Doug’s collab with Estée Lauder work is the fact that the content is tailored specifically for his audience and personal style. It’s likely Doug’s audience is composed of folks who buy perfume for their partners, not for themselves.
Light education: as a continuation of finding the right angle for his audience, Doug stays away from getting too into the detail of the perfume. Instead he gives an high level breakdown of the product and why it’s appealing.
Realtime tutorial: TikTok is a great place for unfiltered, unposed content. That’s why realtime makeup applications do well. In this collab, Rachel shows how she applies the Maybelline mascara, even describing special features (like the curve of the wand), and “predicted” that the product would soon go viral.
Product comparison: Rachel only applied the mascara to one of her eyes so she could show a side by side comparison. This helps show, not tell, the product’s effects. L’Oréal Paris followed a similar structure when promoting its Telescopic mascara on TikTok.
Highest engagement rates
The following posts earned some of the highest engagement rates in Q4 2021. Engagement rates can be a good way to identify trends that are just starting or things that work for influencers that don’t have huge followings.
Unlike the other two sections, the type of partners that earned the highest engagement rates were smaller influencers (micro - macro). Unlike previous categories, the top performers were almost all beauty-specific influencers.
Trend hacking: this influencer created an effortless video by tapping into an existing trend — combining powder and liquid foundations. The added benefit of doing this type of video was that she got to highlight multiple Maybelline products without making the content clunky.
Specific audience call out: similar to what Dr. Angelo did, this influencer specifically called out the type of folks this technique and product would work well for. We love that she also threw in a bit of comedy, “full coverage for the oily gals”.
Product comparison: in this sponsored post, Chris did a different kind of product comparison. She chose to show how L’Oréal Paris’ cheaper product performed against a luxury product. We’re also seeing this cheap v luxury product comparison gain popularity in organic content. Just search for “dupes”!
Information dense: unlike Doug Mar’s video, Chris packed her video full of information — detail which size she was using, the number of colors available, and price. We think she did this because her audience is likely full of beauty enthusiasts who would find all this info extremely helpful.