Could Tik Tok Be The Next Best Influencer Marketing Platform? -What Brands Need To Know

Jun 15, 2020 | Advice for Brands, Social Media

We are hearing a ton of buzz about Tik Tok, the next big thing in social media, but marketers and Brands need to know exactly what that may mean for the future of Influencer Marketing Campaigns. We’ve got the breakdown for you. In this blog post, we’ll cover what Tik Tok is, the potential that exists for you to run and track campaigns effectively, what proper disclosure looks like on the app, and even how much you should be paying Tik Tok Influencers.

What Tok Tok Is + What It’s Not

Tik Tok re-launched in 2016 and has quickly gained around 45 million active users and counting. Formerly a lip-syncing app called Musically, Tik Tok integrates the use of music and user generated videos into an algorithm that prioritizes engagement-driven content. The algorithm of Tik Tok itself yields content to the home page of users more intuitively and pushes content to users based on their searches and history of previous engagements.
For Brands, Tik Tok is the emerging platform that makes it easier and cost-effective to conduct Influencer Marketing campaigns. Generating brand awareness among younger audiences can escalate at a much more rapid rate on Tik Tok than other social media platforms. While it is inherently a more light-hearted app used by younger generations, it has a crazy amount of potential for brands and shouldn’t be written off as a flash-in-the-pan. It is not a silly app that’s just for kids and its not to be overlooked. Especially because it is ahead of its time with the integration of tools that specifically cater to sponsored content. The big deal here is that there’s an actual system set up specifically for influencer marketing and the facilitation of sponsored deals, called Creator Marketplace, which we’ll get more into below.

Who’s Using Tik Tok + How It’s Expanding

It’s a generational thing, but that doesn’t mean the youngsters don’t know how to best use the platform to their advantage- and yours. This is not something to sneeze at because even if Gen Z is not your target audience now, they will make up 40% of ALL consumers in the next few years. Even though Gen Z users make up a lot of the earliest adopters of the platform, more and more Millennials are jumping on the bandwagon. In fact, a funny and popular Tik Tok video trend is Millennials making fun of the fact that Quarantine boredom left them no choice but to get on Tik Tok and embarrass themselves because they don’t know how to use it. Or, another one of my favorites, Millennials laughing at themselves having a sip of wine and giving a nod to the other Tik Tok users who are actually old enough to drink. Mostly making fun of the fact that they’ve resorted to using a platform for “kids” and actually ended up addicted to using it, even Boomers and Gen Xers are active there! That said, if you are concerned about your ideal target audience being on Tik Tok or not, don’t be fooled by the dance moves- all ages are starting to use it and there is an opportunity for your brand to reach them. There are many generations, niche audiences, and special interest groups on Tik Tok, all following Influencers who have captured their attention and speak to them in ways that resonate. Being clear about your demographic is pretty much the first thing you learn in marketing… paying attention to that here is extremely important because of the way the Tik Tok algorithm pushes relevant content to users with similar interests.

Influencer Campaigns- What to Measure

The first thing you’ll want to think about when thinking about spending part of your marketing budget on a Tik Tok collaboration is how exactly you’ll measure the impact of the content on your marketing goal. In short, Tik Tok is “same-same but different” than platforms we’re used to. Keep an eye on the campaign goal(s) you’ve set when you think about what to measure for success. Think about the viral nature of the platform and the vast differences between its algorithm and that of other platforms like Instagram and Youtube. Knowing what to measure is the most important thing to wrap your head around before searching for the best Influencer to work with.
Similar to other social media platforms, for Tik Tok, you should measure views and engagements. This includes things like hearts (their version of likes), comments and shares. This isn’t too different from how you’d measure engagement on other platforms, but take the nature of the beast into account when you think about what “works” on Tik Tok vs. other socials. For example, several viral videos on Tik Tok are only 15 seconds long. Short, punchy, and often viral because they are funny or shocking in nature. Think back to the days when Vine was around and remember that it was a lot easier to get a higher view count on a super short video because people had to watch it back again and again to completely understand it all. But, don’t let the view count skew the way you measure success of the entire campaign as a whole. If the video has a lot of views, but not a lot of engagement, that aligns more with an awareness campaign than a conversion campaign.
Because I know you’re wondering, followers on Tik Tok do NOT matter the way they do on Instagram. Follower numbers matter far less than the immediate impact content has on an audience in terms of engagement. This means that there is not a “guarantee” of success of a collaboration campaign based solely on the amount of followers someone has on Tik Tok. The reason for this is because, as we discussed previously, the algorithm is different and content goes viral based on MANY more factors than other platforms (music, text, editing style, popular filters and hashtags).

Creator Marketplace + Measuring Influencers’ Impact

What makes Tik Tok such a great platform for the future of Influencer Marketing is the fact that the Creator Marketplace within the app is a built-in system that helps brands measure campaign performance AND the performance of content, sorted by creator. You can see metrics like the average engagement rate for Influencers by follower count and platform. The system shows audience breakdowns for sponsored posts as well, making it easy to see exactly who the sponsored content was able to reach. Now, before you get too excited, access to the creator marketplace is only available to select brands as of the time of this writing. According to Business Insider, the creative marketplace within Tik Tok allows brands “a quantitative method of comparing the value of various influencer partnerships”.
You’ll want to think more long term, as in farther out than just the campaign in front of you, as well. For each campaign you’ll want to measure reach to see how broadly your sponsored messages are spanning to get a better idea of the success of working with a particular Influencer. For example, if it is a good fit between your brand and the content creator, the sponsored content should integrate pretty seamlessly into the topics and natural flow of the Influencer’s profile. If the reach is still close to the height of the non-sponsored content on that creator’s profile, you’ll know it’s a natural integration that could make sense long term. Really, it’s more about the reach a particular creator is capable of getting than the actual message of the video itself. If you gave 5 people the same script or prompt and they all executed similar content, they would all still get a different amount of reach. The Influencers who have cracked the code and can consistently get good reach on their videos are the ones you want to partner with.
Another fun feature of Tik Tok is the capability of adding profile links in the captions of videos. This is big for you because it means there’s a chance to drive traffic to your website or desired destination with one less step in between. It’s a huge deal that you can direct people straight to a sale with one click on this platform. For a conversion campaign, this means you will want to measure the traffic each influencer is able to direct to your website, and how much of that traffic is translating to sales from each Influencer directly (click-through rate and ROI). This not only gives you an idea of how effective your strategy and messaging is, but who specifically is most successful at driving sales through the platform.

The Approach Brands Should Take

Brands, we all know that giving an Influencer creative freedom is very important in a collaboration, but when it comes to Tik Tok, a platform that is not widely understood yet at the corporate level, it’s best to be as open as possible to allowing the Influencers to take the wheel. They better understand how to communicate the right messages effectively on the platform and how to make sure their audience will receive it well. Have them work with you on a strategy and be flexible in your asks and aesthetic standards. One standout difference between Tik Tok and the Influencer-driven platform (Instagram) is that Tik Tok is not based on perfectly curated highlight reels and dreamy aspirational figures. It’s all about editing on the spot and showing up candidly.
Yes, there are editing tools and all the stickers and filters you can imagine, but the basis of the whole platform is not currently being used as if it were a giant portfolio or resume like Instagram is. There are still ways for Influencers to make sure the sponsored content will be on-brand for you, but the point is to allow them to help guide you in understanding what that might look like for a Tik Tok. Keep this in mind when you set your campaign expectations with Influencers and go into it with the understanding that this is still the wild, wild, west of the Internet.

How Much Do Influencers Charge for a Tik Tok Video?

The good news is that there’s no standard. And the bad news is that…there’s no standard. I would refer back to THIS POST where we talk about how much to budget for an Influencer collaboration, based on many factors other than just their number of followers. The criteria we take into consideration expands beyond and regardless of the platform in question, and is more about the Influencer themselves. Since there is no real industry precedent for what to pay an Influencer for a Tik Tok collab, start with understanding the key points we discuss in that blog post.
As always, another way to find out what Influencers are charging is to ASK. Revolutionary idea, I know. But this is all new territory and there’s no shame in asking. It puts the ball in their court, but stay true to your marketing budget and be clear about the ROI you’re expecting to gain from the partnership, just like you would with any other Influencer deal on Instagram, Youtube, etc.

Let’s Talk About Disclosure

While Tik Tok is a bit of uncharted territory, you should still have the mindset the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) guidelines absolutely apply. We have a dedicated blog post all about how to navigate those guidelines for your campaigns that you can dive more into HERE. But to refresh your memory, Influencers have to disclose that their content is sponsored not only in text (usually marked with #ad #sponsored or # something that lets you know they are being paid), but also in the content itself. Since some Tik Tok videos are only 15 seconds long and can be no longer than 60 seconds long, verbal disclosure is not only difficult but takes away from the content itself. A word of caution as you employ Influencer campaigns- without proper disclosure, there is always risk and liability of non-compliance with the big, bad FTC. This is not to say you shouldn’t make Tik Tok a part of your strategy, but just know that compliance on the platform is still in the early stages and should be approached with caution.


In summary, taking advantage of Tik Tok as a marketing strategy right now is definitely to your benefit as a Brand because it is an growing platform that plays by completely different rules with respect to gaining exposure quickly. Unlike with Instagram, you as a Brand do not need to have your own following and create your own content to be considered legitimate and for people to gain awareness about you. There are build-in success tools for you to measure your successes and detailed campaign metrics that’ll help you build and refine a sustainable strategy. Keep your mind open to doing things differently and becoming a student of the process on this platform that’s new to you by letting trusted Influencers have more creative freedom to convey your sponsored messages. There is so much more to discuss as we continue watching Tik Tok expand and gather more and more data about how others have found success with it. Stay tuned and look out for more discussion around how you can use Tik Tok in your Influencer Marketing strategy. Have a specific question? Give us a shout HERE and we’ll be sure to help break it down and cover your questions in an upcoming blog post!