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How to Launch Successful Influencer Marketing Campaigns on TikTok

How can my brand launch a successful TikTok Campaign?
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Campaign Management
How to Launch Successful Influencer Marketing Campaigns on TikTok
TikTok is the most popular social media app of the moment. How can brands leverage it?

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Two years ago, you probably hadn’t heard of TikTok. Today, it is considered one of the most loved social apps, especially if you’re of a certain age. Regardless if you “get” TikTok, or have any clue who Charli D'Amelio is, you’re probably at least aware that it is the social platform of the moment. 

So what is TikTok? It’s a video sharing app that is used primarily to create short dance, lip syncing, comedy and talent videos. While the platform is popular amongst Gen Z and Millennials, it also attracts a large number of people over 30 years old who are enjoying indulging in youth culture just as much as the young folk. It’s also one of the only fun things about being stuck in quarantine for an indefinite amount of time. 

If you think you can ignore the app, think again. 

Here are some things to know about TikTok

  • The app was created by ByteDance in Beijing, China in 2016
  • ByteDance has a similar app in China called Douyin
  • They acquired a lip syncing app in 2018 (popular in the US)
  • TikTok has been downloaded 1.5 billion times
  • It was the 7th most popular app of the 2010’s (ahead of Youtube and Twitter)
  • It was the #1 most downloaded app in 2019
  • It’s available in over 155 markets and 39 languages
  • They have an estimated 800 million active monthly users
  • Since COVID-19 “Stay at Home” policies started going into effect, mentions of TikTok on Instagram have increased by 99% among beauty influencers! 

You get the point. 

Although marketers are quickly waking up to the fact that TikTok is a valuable channel, it may still be difficult to figure out where the platform fits in your brand’s social media strategy. That is where we can help. First, let’s cover the basics.   

Question: Are all TikTok users teenagers?

Answer: While 60% of the platform’s users are under 30, that means 40% are older. Forty percent of 500 million active monthly users!

Question: Isn’t TikTok just a dancing app?

Answer: This is a common misconception and one reason why many people are apprehensive to join. There is definitely a lot of dancing on TikTok, but you will also find how-to videos, monologues, magic and lip synching. Simply put, it’s one big talent show.

Question: Videos have a longer lifespan on YouTube, doesn’t that make it a better platform for influencer marketing?

Answer: While YouTube is chock full of successful videos by established creators, what makes TikTok unique is that it is built to accelerate the movement of culture and in effect is fertile ground for trends to take root and grow rapidly.

Question: Is there a place for #ads on TikTok?

Answer: Early adopters of marketing on TikTok have shown serious success. More on this shortly.

The difference between Instagram and TikTok content

With TikTok, the content finds its audience through an advanced algorithm that determines what “for you” content users want to see. This means unknown creators with little following have the potential to go viral. It’s virtually impossible to go viral on Instagram without already having a large audience. On Instagram, discoverability is low as most people only see content from influencers they explicitly follow. 

That said, influence is not obsolete on TikTok. The process of becoming famous is simply expedited. The algorithm pushes content out to users that they anticipate they’d like to engage with. If a user “likes” a video, similar content will show up on their “for you” (discover) page. That’s why creators make several pieces of content a day on TikTok, something that would never work on Instagram (posting too much is an easy way to get unfollowed.) The cool thing about this is that users are in control of what posts receive traction, and quality posts do well. Those who are constantly creating quality content are highly likely to get famous on TikTok, whereas that is not necessarily the case on other platforms. 

There is also a social contract on Instagram that it isn’t a good thing to follow more people than follow you. On TikTok, since it’s used more for entertainment than self promotion, those rules do not apply. As a result, there is a lot of engagement on the app. 

How to go from “never logged in” to advocate in the boardroom

1.) Create an account, and make sure to change your username!

2.) Follow these TikTokers:

  • Charli D’Amelio famously joined TikTok at the end of 2019 and broke the internet with record breaking growth. She’s undoubtedly best known for amplifying some of the app’s most famous dances. Another similar creator is Addison Rae!
  • David Dobrik was one of the lucky Vine stars to transition seamlessly to YouTube, and has unsurprisingly been a huge hit on TikTok. He’s most famous for his “Vlog Squad”, a group of creators he formed to make funny videos, pranks and social experiments. 
  • Brittany Broski is a comedian best known for a kombucha taste testing video that became one of the most shared memes of 2019.
  • Andrea Lopez creates viral celebrity impression sounds that are so believable people actually think they came straight from the mouth of the celeb (mostly Kourtney Kardashian). 
  • Curtis Roach created the "bored in the house" song going around TikTok that more than ONE MILLION people have participated in so far!

3.) Learn these 3 dances:

When you’re ready to start an account for your brand, here are some quick tips to get your brand acclimated to the app.

1.) Create a business account.

2.) Upload fun, relevant (and not tone-deaf) content to your own channel

3.) Capitalize on viral trends and sounds. 

  • If you’re a beauty brand, bored in the house would be great music to go with a makeup tutorial.
  • If you’re a fashion brand, have influencers perform trending dances in your clothing! BTW, “getting ready” content performs very well on TikTok! 

4.) Find and engage with organic advocates. (That’s where we can help)

Brands Thriving on TikTok

Does marketing on TikTok drive sales? Well, as a 27 year old who just spent $500+ on outfits to wear in my dance videos while stuck in my apartment, I’d say yes. Who inspired me to buy these outfits? Teenagers wearing tye die while dancing around their parents’ houses. 

Though we’ve seen success from all different sectors of business, the two industries that have seen the early success on TikTok are beauty and food.

Beauty & TikTok

Within the beauty industry, the strongest showing has come from e.l.f. cosmetics. The #eyeslipsface challenge, which began in early October, has over 4.8 billion views. The original jingle attracted 3 million user generated videos, making it the most influential campaign on TikTok. Unsolicited celebrities like Jessica Alba, Reese Witherspoon and Ellen participated in the challenge. The original music was so popular that it made it to the top 10 in the global Spotify charts. Not only was this campaign a major success, it alerted beauty brands to the viral potential of TikTok. They recently remixed it for the current situation

Urban Decay is also rocking it on TikTok with their #allnighterlegend campaign. The brand partnered with everyone from TikTok royalty Charli to famous drag queens like Plastique Tiara to promote their All Nighter setting spray. The collective storyline their original jingle told was that despite last night being “amazing and crazy” their makeup still looks fabulous the next day. 

Most recently, you may have caught wind of Fenty Beauty’s creator house. It should come as no surprise that Rihanna’s beauty line would be the first brand to do this. For those of you who have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about, here is a quick briefing on creator houses. 

These are mansions (usually in LA) that are rented out by groups of influencers that work with each other to create content. The most famous is The Hype House which houses TikTokers who are 18+. Though the early March move-in time wasn’t optimal for the Fenty team, the brand will undoubtedly be remembered as an early adopter of the concept and proponent for diversity! The home is filled with women of all colors, sizes and ethnicities.  

Other beauty brands we’ve seen on TikTok include Too Faced Cosmetics, Revlon and Beautyblender

Food & TikTok

I have a confession to make. Before Chipotle ran its first TikTok campaign, the #fliplidchallenge, in May 2019, I was unsure of a marketer’s place in the TikTok community. By the time they released their second challenge in July, the #GuacDance, which encouraged users to dance for free guacamole on National Avocado Day, it was clear that they were paving the way for other brands to follow suit. 

They haven’t stopped there. On Halloween, they did a #boorito challenge promoting discounted food to those who ordered in costume. The #boorito tag garnished 3.6 billion views, with major influencers like Brittany Broski (see above for influencers to follow) leading the initiative.  

Did you know that Gen Z loves Oreo? Me neither, until a few months ago when I was researching Gen Z loyal brands and discovered Oreo towards the top of the list. To be expected, they were also one of the first food brands to recruit talent on TikTok with the “Most Stuf Challenge” which promised a $100K prize to the winner with the biggest Oreo creation. 

This was smart for a number of reasons. First, $100K is not a huge cost when you think of how much top TikTokers make per post (Charli allegedly charges $200K). But virality is a commodity in the TikTok community. If a challenge is poppin’, you know every creator is going to participate. In order to have a successful campaign, you need to engage organic advocates for your brand. This is relatively easy as long as you have an affordable, beloved product and a fun challenge. 

The winner of the challenge, Gabe Escobar, now has over a million followers and the respect of Oreo eaters around the world. Was it a success? Let’s just say that once the unofficial celebrity king of TikTok, Jason DeRulo, starts posting about your brand for free, you know you’ve made it on the app.  

For more food inspiration, check out  Fruit by the Foot, KoolAid (ft. Lil Jon), and GrubHub

How do you create a successful campaign on TikTok?

The short answer: start a challenge. 

What is a TikTok challenge?

TikTok challenges are started by either creators with many followers (influencers) or brands looking to advertise on the app. There is usually a sound (jingle) attached to it, and involves a bunch of creators attempting to do the same thing (often a dance). This helps build a sense of community on the app!

Why are challenges successful?

Content tends to go viral when creators vie to outdo each other. It shows that they can do something that is perceived as difficult (a great way to collect “likes”.) Challenges encourage creators to attempt a more unique/funny version than their peers. Alternatively, they can riff off one another via the “duet” (split screen) function. 

How do you create a challenge? 

  1. Commission someone to create a catchy soundtrack.
  2. Dream up some fun moves.
  3. Create a “POV” (storyline) that works with or without your brand. 
  4. Choose the right influencers (not necessarily the most famous).
  5. “Challenge” the world to join you.

TikTok Inspires Creativity; Let it Win You Over

Fortnite started the dance challenge in its ultra popular game, but it was TikTok creators who got every kid in the world doing the floss and the orange justice, even if they have never played Fortnite.

What makes TikTok a unique tool for marketers is that they have the opportunity to tap into the youth culture, but you have to be able to speak the language of that culture in order to be a part of it. Influencers speak that language and can help be those cultural translators if you give them the opportunity to really express themselves.

Is there a place for everyone on the app? We’ve seen success from brands spanning the Washington Post, Bumble, EA Sports, Proctor + Gamble, Victoria’s Secret and the NBA. There is a space for everyone, as long as your marketing team takes the time to understand the app and what makes a video successful.

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