Despite its recent setbacks, TikTok has become the fastest-growing platform in the world – downloaded more than two billion times in two years. The app’s viral, quick-hitting potential and massively popular influencers make it an ideal venue for sponsored content that can drive sales, awareness and engagement faster than any other platform.
For example, DSW recently launched its #TooManyShoes hashtag challenge on TikTok, enlisting the help of five influencers. The campaign began on July 25 and by July 28 it had amassed 1.3 billion views. For brands less familiar with influencers, it’s easy and cost-effective to get started with a few micro-influencers on TikTok. However, before you get in too deep, it’s important to keep in mind the regulations of sponsored content. Luckily, TikTok follows the same rules as other platforms. So, if you’ve worked with influencers before, you don’t need to learn an entirely new set of rules. Across all channels, the FTC requires all influencers to disclose sponsored posts. Although there is plenty of fun and creative ways to share this information, particularly on a video-based platform like TikTok, you must make it obvious to followers – it can be as simple as adding “#ad” in your caption. Brands getting started with influencer marketing should consider consulting a lawyer or influencer agency that specialises in social media marketing to ensure you’re on the right track when it comes to adhering to regulations.  With an understanding of the platform’s power and how content is regulated in hand, brands can have a lot of fun – and drive results using TikTok influencers. Let’s dive into a few best practices for getting started. 

TikTok’s almighty algorithm

Learning TikTok’s unique algorithm and understanding how to make it work for your campaigns might seem tricky but it’s not as complicated as it looks. At first glance, TikTok’s ‘For You’ page – an endless video feed of relevant content catered to each user–looks like any other platform’s ‘trending’ or ‘discover’ page. It’s a place where users can view the latest trends and find new accounts to follow, but users don’t need to follow anyone to view content on the ‘For You’ page. Once the user begins sharing and liking posts, their behavior on the platform allows TikTok to continuously optimise this feed specifically to their interests. So, what does this mean for brands? TikTok influencers representing any brand can potentially reach desired users who don’t even follow them by linking sponsored posts to popular trends, challenges, songs and hashtags. If the influencer jumps on the right trends or has posted about content relevant to your customer base in the past, they won’t have to work hard to get in front of new TikTokers with branded messaging – the algorithm will do the work for them.

Finding the right influencers for maximum impact

It’s easy for an influencer who is well-aligned with your customers’ interests to end up on their TikTok feed with the help of TikTok’s content recommendation algorithm. But how can you find the most impactful influencers? When vetting a potential influencer, take a close look at their past posts and their overall personal branding. Ideally, you want to choose someone who would realistically use your product or service – maybe they already do.This will give promotional posts a more genuine feel that followers and users with similar interests will respond to. Also, pay attention to the size of the influencer’s audience and if they’re able to engage with followers in a meaningful way. Popular micro-influencers, like those found on Instagram and Snapchat, are known for their strong engagement rates among niche audiences and a loyal following can be even more powerful on TikTok when influencers tap into their following and weave branded messaging into trending topics and challenges. 

Let your influencers inspire participation

TikTok is built for user participation. When an influencer picks the right trend to hop on or incorporates one of TikTok’s famous challenges into their post, a flood of everyday users will join in on the fun. If you’ve done your homework and selected an appropriate influencer for your brand, when they add your messaging to an ongoing trend and inspire others to participate, your brand image, slogan or hashtag has the potential to be viewed by thousands of additional users, many of whom are likely in your target audience. Users will be quick to jump on the latest challenge that their favorite influencer posted about, opening up the potential for your campaign to receive thousands of additional, organic impressions reaching new customers far and wide with the help of the TikTok algorithm.  

Trust the creative process

To maximise the impact of branded campaigns on a fast-moving and authentic app like TikTok, all brands should prioritise influencer creativity wherever possible. Influencers know their audiences and platforms best and, when given a little creative leeway, they can install this knowledge to create impactful campaigns. On TikTok, this means finding ways to weave branded messaging and imagery into the latest memes, songs and challenges that potential customers are already paying attention to. So, rather than handing your influencers pre-determined messaging for a sponsored video, give them a product, slogan or challenge and allow them to get their creative juices flowing. Influencers will appreciate the freedom and trust you give them during these campaigns and it can lead to longer-term partnerships that drive meaningful results and positive user perception for brands and influencers alike.As both a platform and marketing tool, TikTok is still in its early stages. And successful campaigns run by early-adopting brands have already showcased the app’s value. Even for brands with smaller marketing budgets, influencer-led TikTok campaigns offer a cost-effective and creative solution to drive engagement and awareness in a short period of time.
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