The new year is here, and as you dust off the 2023 campaign calendar you put together back in December, you’re probably wondering what you overlooked in the pre-holiday frenzy. If the tail end of 2022 taught us anything, it’s that the social media landscape is far from predictable (hello, “new Twitter”). But as we look forward to what 2023 will bring for influencer marketing, one thing feels certain: TikTok will remain a pillar of the creator economy.
TikTok’s wild popularity among creators and consumers is nothing new, and in 2022, we saw a major surge in the number of brands teaming up with TikTokers. In fact, the total volume of creator-led TikTok campaigns run on our platform increased by nearly 300% year-over-year. Yet while TikTok itself is here to stay, the strategies brands use to win over TikTokers, and their audiences, will change with the platform’s evolving creator ecosystem.
Let’s take a look at four influencer marketing trends we anticipate impacting brands’ performance on TikTok in the year ahead.
Brands Will Put Creators at the Center of Their Campaigns
For the creator economy’s leading brands, creators aren’t a sidebar to other marketing initiatives—they’re at the heart of brands’ overall growth strategies. Creators are the lifeblood of TikTok, so it’s no surprise that 2022’s most successful TikTok campaigns put TikTokers themselves front and center. For example, DiGiorno’s “DiGiorno Made Us Do It” initiative, which inspired a 7% boost in brand sentiment, was set to a song produced by comedy creator Kyle Exum. Other participating TikTokers used the track as inspiration for their own unique, dynamic videos, resulting in branded content that reflected the platform’s own creator-first ethos.
As more brands recognize the impact that true creator-led content has on their TikTok performance, they’ll understand that simply treating creators as mouthpieces isn’t sufficient to achieve success. Instead, marketers will involve TikTokers in every aspect of campaign planning and execution, from outlining key messages to developing and publishing creative assets.
A Wider Range of Industries Will Embrace TikTok Creator Marketing
You can find a community on TikTok for just about anything you’re interested in, no matter how niche. But when it comes to creator marketing, a handful of industries still dominated the platform by share of voice last year. CreatorIQ research found that Beauty and Fashion brands saw a much greater volume of sponsored creator posts on TikTok than any other category, with these verticals securing 19.9k and 15.5k mentions, respectively, from H2 2021 to H1 2022. In comparison, Retail, which ranked third, featured in just 5.6k sponsored videos.
In the year ahead, we anticipate seeing more brands outside of these pioneering categories tap into TikTok’s creator ecosystem. Gaming, in particular, faces a world of opportunity: while the vertical saw just 3.6k sponsored posts from creators, Gaming content saw the highest engagement rate (engagements/followers) of sponsored content pertaining to any category at 0.56%.
Smaller-Scale Creators Will Become More Integral to TikTok Marketing Strategies
When selecting TikTok creators to partner with, brands often assume bigger is better—and it’s true that creators with larger followings often reach wider audiences than their smaller-scale counterparts. However, this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, particularly given that TikTok’s “For You” page distributes content based on relevancy to users, rather than creator’ follower count.
Working with smaller-scale TikTok creators boasts its own unique advantages for brands. Nano-influencers, or creators with under 10k followers, actually outperform both micro-influencers (10k-100k followers) and macro-influencers (100k-1M followers) in average engagement frequency, or the number of engagements they garner relative to views. While nano-influencers on TikTok see an average engagement frequency of 8.7%, micro-influencers average 5.3%, and macro-influencers average 7.1%.
TikTok’s mega-influencers, who boast over 1M followers, do lead the pack at 10.1%— but by less than two percentage points. Given that nano-influencers are typically much more economical for brands to work with than macro- and mega-influencers, and that creator pay rates are increasing, this impactful cohort will likely play an increasing role in brands’ TikTok campaigns in 2023.
Brands Will Prioritize Long-Term Partnerships With TikTok Creators Over One-off, Transactional Relationships
One of the main reasons that influencer marketing on any platform is so impactful for brands is that consumers are far more willing to trust a creator’s endorsement than a traditional advertisement. This effect is even more pronounced on TikTok, where content’s perceived authenticity is integral to its success. When a creator mentions a brand or product month after month and year after year, their affinity becomes more genuine in the eyes of their audience, compounding their impact as an advocate.
Additionally, working with the same creators for a sustained period of time enables brands to optimize their resources, conserving the additional time and money involved in securing new partnerships. As marketers increasingly recognize the strategic and economic benefits of investing in long-term partnerships, particularly on TikTok, we’ll see fewer one-off paid posts, and more lasting relationships between brands and creators.
There’s plenty to look forward to in the year ahead, and TikTok’s key role in the continued growth of the creator economy is at the top of our list. By keeping up with the platform’s ever-evolving trends, you can set your brand’s influencer marketing program up for a stand-out 2023.
If you’re looking for practical guidance on how to plan and execute winning TikTok campaigns this year, be sure to download our full Guide to TikTok Influencer Marketing for Major Enterprises.