After exploding into the scene, many influencers and brands migrated to TikTok for its fun, light, and short-form video content. Now, in places like the beauty industry, TikTok continues to have a stronghold. In fact, Traackr’s recent Beauty State of Influence report found that video views on TikTok beauty-related content went up by 39% from 2021 to 2022.
So it’s probably no surprise that brands are continuing to experiment with TikTok influencer campaigns to drive both awareness and sales. Whether you’re new to working with TikTok influencers or looking to take your partnerships to the next level, here are some tips that we have taken from real-world success stories to help you get the most out of your influencer campaigns and program.
Worried about the TikTok ban on college campuses? Here’s what it could mean for TikTok influencer campaigns.
4 Tips for Successful TikTok Influencer Campaigns
Define a list of attributes and metrics to find top TikTok influencers
Every great influencer campaign begins with great partners. Yet, finding top influencers who fit your brand (and budget) can be one of the most challenging hurdles to overcome. There is a delicate art to finding the right ones!
To narrow the list of potential TikTok influencer partners, it’s best to develop a list of attributes and metrics that matter to your brand. Here is a wishlist that you may want to consider:
- High performing content. While performance metrics include things like impressions, reach, total engagements, and total video views it’s best practice to avoid using metrics that focus solely on volume or absolute numbers. Why? Because the data will unfairly favor influencers with larger audiences. Instead, you can evaluate content performance in a way that is proportional to an influencer’s reach by using metrics like engagement rate and video view rate. If you have an influencer marketing platform like Traackr, you can even see an influencer’s average engagement rate over time.
- Target social platform, number of followers, and location. Depending on your influencer campaign goals and type, you may want to focus on influencers that have certain social footprints. For example, for a product seeding TikTok campaign you probably want influencers that have the majority of their footprint on TikTok, and live in a place where you can send your product. It’s also important (and in a lot of ways unavoidable) to think about the influencer’s tier (number of followers) — but maybe not for the reasons you think. Bigger followings are not always better! Sometimes smaller influencers have more engaged or niche audiences that will work better for your brand. For more on this, read about how hims & hers has used a multi-tier approach for influencer campaigns.
- Target audience demographic. Again, depending on your influencer campaign goals and type, you may want influencers with a specific type of audience. Do you sell an acne skincare product? Then you may want a TikTok influencer with an audience that skews younger. Are you trying to increase product consideration and sales? Then you may want an influencer who has followers in a specific location so they can actually purchase your products. Do you sell a product that is a bit pricier? Then you may want to focus on TikTok influencers who have followers with higher incomes. There are ways to do this manually, but of course, as with everything else on this list, it’s easier when you have an influencer marketing platform that pulls in all this information for you.
- High brand and product affinity. Last, but certainly not least, it’s good to make sure that your TikTok influencer partners have shown a natural affinity to your brand and/or product types. You can evaluate this by searching through their past content for certain keywords — this could be your brand’s name, your competitors’ names, or even terms that apply to your products (e.g. “sustainability” for a sustainable fashion brand, or “retinol serum” for a specific skincare product).
If you have already mastered the above list, you can make your technique even more sophisticated by factoring in your brand values and voice. For example, Beekman 1802 found top TikTok influencers with the guidance of its own Influencer Rubric — something that incorporated core brand values like kindness and trust, alongside performance metrics. Beekman 1802’s influencer search technique (along with other things) worked so well that its influencer campaign ended up selling out to product types in Ulta Beauty.
Tip: Want to dive deeper? Here’s an in-depth article about finding top creators for influencer campaigns.
Experiment until your find your “TikTok brand voice”
If you are new to working with TikTok influencers, one of the most difficult parts is knowing what kind of content to ask for. Ever since TikTok took off, there’s been a hot debate about what kinds of content performs well there.
There are some schools of thought that tell brands that TikTok content needs to be vastly different from the type of content posted on other platforms (mainly Instagram). While this was certainly true in the beginning — TikTok content needed to be unfiltered and entertaining instead of polished and poised — the answer is now a lot more complex. There are many TikTok influencers who successfully cross promote their content on Instagram Reels or YouTube Shorts!
So where does this leave us? Similar to broad influencer marketing strategies, there is no one “correct” way to build successful TikTok influencer campaigns. The types of content, styles, and influencer partners that work for one brand may not work for another.
“Brands often times get stuck in their own playbooks — returning to the same influencers, platforms and types of content that they (and their competitors) have been doing for years. To reach today’s consumer you have to be brave enough to experiment and embrace new content and channels. I think our TikTok activation was so successful because its unfiltered, scrappy playful tone was already such a perfect fit for our brand… We didn’t just try a new platform… we played with content and searched out new voices outside the traditional beauty space.” — Brad Farrell, CMO of Beekman 1802
Ultimately the answer to finding good TikTok content is… you need to experiment until you find what works for your specific brand.
Something that Beekman 1802 did well in its TikTok influencer campaign? It built in an experimentation period. Before it even reached out to influencers or developed a content strategy, the brand empowered its diverse employee network to create and test content on its own profile. This internal testing gave the marketing team a way to identify what types of content best represent its unique combination of brand storytelling and skincare point of difference. Based on that experimentation, the team came up with categories of content that it wanted to prioritize, mainly: educational, value-based, and authentic.
If you are preparing for your very first TikTok influencer campaign or want to revamp your current campaigns, consider trying a similar strategy!
Avoid being prescriptive to your TikTok influencer partners
Now, there’s definitely a way to overdo your brand voice! While it’s good to have an idea of what works for your brand, one of the worst things you could do is try to force your TikTok influencer partners into a specific mold.
“When I sense that there is restricted creative freedom, I immediately pull back because I don’t want to do just an ad. I want to do something that is funny, relatable, and promotes the company in my own voice.” – Kat Stickler, Influencer & Comedian
TikTok influencers (and influencers of all kinds) are professional creators. They have cultivated a relationship with their followers, and they know what will and won’t land. While it’s good to share your vision with them, make sure you remain open to their feedback and revisions. Like all great creative processes, TikTok influencer partnerships are often best if they evolve beyond your original idea.
And it’s not just TikTok influencers who have this idea! TikTok itself urges both brands and creatives to be brave and try new and different approaches.
“It’s actually what we talked about with our clients today. Bravery is huge. You have to be brave to come on our platform and release control, especially for CPG clients and traditional clients. Releasing control to the hands of an unknown is scary but the payoff and the reward is sky’s the limit.” – Amy Oelkers, Vertical Director of CPG, Global Business Solutions at TikTok
So what does bravery look like with TikTok influencer campaigns? One idea is to work with a diverse range of TikTok influencers that span tiers and disciplines. Use an influencer marketing platform with influencer discovery and vetting capabilities to find TikTok influencers who are creating entertaining content that align with your brand values, though they may not operate in your industry specifically. Many brands are seeing success with this approach!
For example, Beekman 1802 found some unconventional partners like TikTok influencer, Katie Beth Miedenar (@cappybears), with this approach. Katie Beth is not a traditional beauty influencer — in fact, she gained popularity because of her love for animals. However, Beekman 1802 and Katie Beth both value spreading a message of “kindness”, which was enough to create a solid and successful partnership.
Tip: Want to hear more from TikTok about how to be brave and successful? Check out this podcast episode all about TikTok influencer partnerships — there’s also a part two if you have time!
Balance your TikTok campaigns with specific objectives and fun
Even though this is the last tip, it’s one of the most important! When setting up your TikTok influencer campaign it’s helpful to pick one overarching goal, and then break it down into smaller, micro goals.
Let’s say that your campaign goal is to drive sales for a new product. While this may appear to be a great goal, it isn’t actually specific enough to help you determine the tactics or KPIs that you need to set to get there.
Tip: Learn more about how to set tangible goals and KPIs for your influencer campaigns and programs.
If we were to rewrite that campaign goal with SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timebound), we’d could get something like: drive 50% of in-store sales from an influencer campaign this month. Once you have this type of clearly defined goal, you will have an easier time thinking through the roadblocks ahead and tactics that will get you there.
Let’s return to Beekman 1802’s successful TIkTok influencer campaign example to illustrate how this approach works.
- Specific goals: generate brand awareness amongst millennials and drive sales in Ulta Beauty for two new products.
- Sophisticated influencer discovery and vetting: selected a mix of beauty and non-beauty influencers to create educational, entertaining, and product-specific content. Partners were selected for their potential to help build Beekman 1802’s skincare credibility, representing their playful and creative brand personality, and featuring their core values – such as kindness and trust.
- Tailored tactics: for its awareness goal, Beekman 1802 asked its TikTok influencer partners to create educational skincare content (focusing on the benefits and efficacy of product ingredients). However, Beekman 1802 took it to a whole new level by not just focusing on product awareness, but a deeper brand awareness too. It asked TikTok influencer partners to create content that featured its cornerstone brand value — kindness. For its sales goal, Beekman 1802 asked TikTok influencer partners to share one-day only discount codes for Ulta Beauty’s 21 Days of Beauty event. This strategy not only created an exciting and valuable opportunity for the influencers’ followers, it also made attribution to the influencer campaign fairly easy. The results? Beekman 1802’s Milk Drops Ceramide Serum sold out in a matter of hours!
Beekman 1802’s TikTok influencer campaign is an incredible example of what a brand can achieve when it combines science with creativity, data with instincts, and tried-and-true tactics with new ideas. If you’re hungry for more ideas, check out our last post on successful TikTok influencer campaigns. Hopefully it will get your creative juices flowing!