If there’s been one constant within the ever-changing social media landscape over the past few years, it’s the consistent rise of TikTok. The short-form video app has exploded in popularity, presenting a unique opportunity for marketers to rapidly expand brand awareness and reach new audiences. The platform is creating new social content stars almost daily, forming a new community of influencers that brands should turn to not only as potential advocates, but as true experts on creating successful, viral-worthy content.
To help brands feel equipped to take on this new digital marketing territory, we’ve collected the most important learnings from TikTok (so far). Below, we’ve laid out what influencer marketing strategies work best on TikTok, as well as ways that CreatorIQ can help brands successfully navigate such an unpredictable platform.
What is TikTok?
First of all, we’re glad that the rock you live under has wifi. Second, in case you haven’t heard, TikTok is a short-form video platform and social media network which boasts over one billion monthly users, and shows no signs of slowing down. TikTok first gained steam at the end of 2017, when it acquired popular lip-syncing app Musical.ly. But it wasn’t until 2020, as more people turned to their screens seeking community and human connection, that TikTok established itself as a social media force to be reckoned with. Today, users turn to TikTok for pretty much everything—from world news to the latest dance moves, and cute pets to the most unpredictable of rabbit holes.
Why is TikTok important for influencer marketing?
TikTok presents a unique opportunity for influencer marketers, as many of the platform’s biggest names have far smaller followings—and sometimes no followings at all—on other social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube. Additionally, TikTok provides an especially powerful portal for reaching Gen Z consumers: according to a November 2021 Forrester survey, 63% percent of Gen Z youth use TikTok on a daily basis, compared to just 57% for Instagram. In 2020, those figures stood at 61% for Instagram and 50% for TikTok, demonstrating a notable shift that should command attention from marketers across all industries. As with Instagram and YouTube before it, influencer marketing has already proven a key component of TikTok’s explosive growth, and any brands that don’t get in on the game now risk being left behind for good.
How should brands use TikTok?
While brands should use TikTok to further their existing influencer marketing efforts, TikTok’s unique content format and demographics mean that brands need to take a special approach to marketing on the platform, one that’s differentiated from their existing social media strategies on Instagram, YouTube, and other platforms. A “test and learn” approach is the way to go with your brand’s TikTok strategy. TikTok marketing campaigns should be quick to plan, execute, and evaluate, because the app’s trends move rapidly and it’s important that your campaigns align with these trends. Instead of the multi-pronged, months-long, higher-budget campaigns your brand may be developing for Instagram, you should view TikTok as a marketing playground. Focus on developing several quick, low-budget, creative, and timely campaign ideas (always with the TikTok basics in mind!), then implement and figure out what pieces of the campaign audiences are responding to, and build from there.
What content performs well on TikTok?
The first thing to know about impactful TikTok content is probably the most important—and the most frustrating: on TikTok, virality is impossible to predict. Your post can tick all the boxes and still fall flat. Alternatively, your “throwaway” post that took you five minutes to create could blow up and become the next big trend. While this makes a marketer’s job harder, the notion of unpredictability is also key to the app’s popularity.
Despite this uncertainty, there are some general guidelines that influencer marketers can follow to set their content up for success:
- TikTok content is brief, lighthearted, serendipitous, and entertaining. TikTok’s stated mission is to “inspire creativity and bring joy” to its users, meaning both content creators and the wider audience.
- The most successful TikTok content is entertaining as a bottom line, and uses the platform’s sounds and various video editing effects to achieve a funny, clever, and/or heartwarming video.
- TikTok posts are vertically filmed videos up to 60 seconds long. The top-performing TikTok content is usually between 11-17 seconds.
- According to the platform, TikToks created directly in the TikTok app—rather than produced using other equipment or software and then uploaded to TikTok—generally garner more engagement and traction.
- A TikTok video’s associated sound is very important—content creators will often start their video creation with a distinct audio element (“sound”) and build the rest of the content from there. The app’s library of sounds varies from popular songs to audio clips from movies to user-generated voice-overs.
- Viral TikTok trends often erupt around a certain sound or hashtag on the platform, with each creator using editing and storyline to contribute their own unique creative take on that trending sound or hashtag.
- A common TikTok format is a “storyline” that builds to some sort of “payoff,” so many TikToks have surprising and often humorous endings.
How does TikTok influencer marketing pay off for brands?
It seems fairly obvious that most brands will want to diversify their influencer strategies, build awareness among Gen Z consumers, and stay on the cutting edge of social media. In addition to these important strategic goals, brands have built very tangible gains in revenue or followers by carving out a niche identity on TikTok. For example, beauty brand E.L.F. took some early risks on TikTok, partnering with a creative agency called Movers + Shakers to create a song titled “Eyes. Lips. Face.” for its initial #eyeslipsface campaign, which the drugstore makeup brand promoted by partnering with popular TikTok creators. The campaign blew up on the platform, and since this early success, E.L.F. has only kept moving.
Additionally, retailer Aerie amassed a significant following on TikTok in a short period of time following COVID-19’s retail closures by targeted a Gen Z audience with the #AerieRealPositivity campaign. The brand, which has long maintained a brand identity centered around body positivity, partnered with TikTok powerhouse Charli D’Amelio to kick off the campaign by challenging participants to share what they felt grateful for and what they were doing to stay positive while stuck at home. Sparked by these influencer posts, the hashtag challenge, set to the catchy tune of “100% Real Love” by PopUpGirl, has garnered over 2B views so far.
Finally, cosmetics sensation Fenty Beauty embraced the TikTok-fueled rise of the “collab house,” typically a large multi-room mansion in L.A. where several top-tier TikTok creators live and create content together. The brand unveiled the Fenty Beauty House, which houses a rotating group of TikTok makeup creators, demonstrating that it understands the importance of leaving the execution to TikTok’s content creators. In describing the thinking behind the initiative, Fenty Beauty founder Rihanna summarized the broader importance of influencer marketing on TikTok: “I just wanted to create a platform for the next wave of content creators. I think our generation is the sickest, the illest, the most creative. I can’t do it alone, so to join in with the people who are influencing the world and my community and my generation, this is a hub.”
Why use CIQ to track your influencer marketing success on TikTok?
TikTok may be constantly evolving, but it’s definitely not going anywhere. Armed with these guidelines, your brand should be encouraged to jump in and start getting creative and expanding your online presence and community of fans.
As TikTok’s first SaaS influencer marketing platform partner, CreatorIQ can grant customers access to key TikTok creator and content metrics that are available in the TikTok Creator Marketplace through the CreatorIQ dashboard. Brands will have direct access to TikTok’s exclusive first-party insights on audience demographics, growth trends, best-performing videos, and more, helping them identify the best creators to work with. What’s more, CreatorIQ customers can also now plan and execute end-to-end TikTok creator marketing campaigns within CreatorIQ’s Intelligence Cloud.
To learn how your brand can use CIQ to implement and track a winning TikTok influencer marketing strategy, schedule a demo today.