TikTok is one of the fastest growing social media platforms in recent history. In the first quarter of 2020 alone, TikTok saw 315 million downloads— the most in a single quarter for any app, ever. Shortly after that landmark growth, TikTok surpassed 2 billion lifetime downloads. Now, halfway through 2021, it’s estimated that the platform sees 689 million active users each month.
Another sector that has experienced unmissable growth recently is influencer marketing. More specifically, the influencer marketing industry is projected to be worth a whopping $13.8 billion by the end of this year— up from the $1.3 billion it was worth at the onset of the industry in 2016.
So, what do you get when you combine a hot new social media platform experiencing a meteoric rise in users with a marketing industry that shows no signs of slowing down? A wave of brands flocking to the platform, eager to connect with Influencers in order to share their products and services to new audiences and faces and grow their brand awareness.
Let’s take a look at the brands that really made the most out of influencer marketing on TikTok this year.
How Brands Grow Awareness on TikTok
Brands are breaking into the incredibly tight community of TikTok users in a few ways. They’re establishing a TikTok presence with their own brand name via a brand account, their employees are active on the network and engaging as representatives of the company, or they are partnering with TikTok influencers to reach their target audience in an authentic way.
Brands like Starbucks, Walmart, Goldfish, and more are taking on or creating TikTok challenges and trends, partnering on dance trends, and pushing their brand’s creative limits (and probably style guide somewhere along the way.) By taking advantage of TikTok’s tools for brands like TikTok Ads Manager, shoppable ads, shoppable livestreams, and sponsored viral challenges that are featured on the Discover page, companies are finding that TikTok is a viable strategy for finding marketing success.
While many brands have been successful on TikTok, others are still trying to find their niche and understand this unique social media platform. For example, did you know that you can’t share another person’s video from your TikTok page publicly? Because of this, TikTok is perfect for brand partnerships, giving brands and creators a natural combo in “duets” or side-by-side videos.
Ways Brands are Using TikTok
Brands are finding success with TikTok’s tools for retailers and the Discover page, along with these features:
- TikTok Ads
- Shoppable Ads + Livestreams
- Duet Videos
- Sponsored Challenges
- Influencer Partnerships
- Livestream Product Launches
The TikTok Algorithm for Brands
Ah, the dreaded/feared/mysterious TikTok algorithm. As with most social media and web algorithms, they are a hot topic for brands who want to crack them and surface their content to the top. And as with these same algorithms, they are designed to surface the content that people want to see and consume.
The TikTok algorithm is known to be one of the most personalized, which is why there’s been so much success for so many creators and brands, even on a saturated app— everyone can find their niche. Brands like Elf (a cosmetics company) were some of the first to understand the TikTok algorithm and see viral success with their posts and challenges. By launching a the “Eyes Lips Face” challenge along with a branded sound, they created a TikTok movement that went viral and resulted in 3.5 million views for content tagged #elfcosmetics. And the brand hadn’t even officially joined TikTok yet. That’s some serious brand awareness.
To connect with the audiences on TikTok (60% of whom are considered “Gen Z”), successful companies are designing influencer marketing campaigns that play to the strengths of their Influencer partner. Creators are skilled at crafting content that speaks to themselves and the brands they partner with on TikTok marketing campaigns. A word to the wise— don’t stifle their creativity with over-produced content. Instead, design a campaign that allows them to remain true to themself and their followers.
TikTok Influencer Marketing Campaign Best Practices
- Create content that is authentic and natural— watch out for TikTok users’ virtual BS detectors.
- Involve multiple tiers of influencers in your campaign to reach a variety of audiences and reach your brand goals.
- Keep branding in content subtle, so as not to appear too much like the marketing effort that it is.
- Create content for your campaign that highlights the strengths of your Influencer partner.
- Keep an eye out for relevant trends, challenges, or hashtags that are going viral on TikTok to increase your audience.
- Design a campaign that is capable of growing alongside your Influencer and form a partnership that will last.
Top 5 TikTok Influencers Who Helped Launch New Brands in 2021
Last year, 45% of marketers said that they used TikTok for their influencer marketing campaigns— placing TikTok just behind Influencer powerhouse platform, Instagram. Those marketers launched successful campaigns brands like these:
Source: @gilmhercroes on TikTok
Although Bang has been on grocery store shelves since 2012, the energy drink company had trouble sticking out from their competition. That is, until they partnered with Influencer Gil Croes, a TikToker with over 33 million followers who specializes in aesthetically pleasing, vibrant, and highly entertaining comedic videos. Gil’s long-term partnership with Bang is projected to be one of the most lucrative Influencer partnerships on the app, with Gil taking home an estimated $26,000 per post.
Source: @maddiehen02 on TikTok
As a TikTok Influencer with 4 million followers who specializes in creating relatable content that is not only funny, but actively engages with her followers through their suggestions and comments, Maddie Henderson understands the power of organic branded content. By partnering with Casetify, a company that creates durable, antimicrobial phone cases and covers, she was able to humanize the brand for her followers— especially because she didn’t change her video style for the partnership. Instead, she naturally incorporated Casetify branding into her original, unique video style.
Source: @jasoncoffee on TikTok
Jason Coffee is one of those Influencers who has been around the block and back again. Due to his (and his family who are often featured on the account) ability to create content that is relatable to all ages, he has been able to successfully pivot from being a prominent Snapchat figure to becoming a TikTok Influencer with over 20 million followers. By partnering with Therabreath— a cruelty free oral hygiene company— Jason Coffee is able to continue creating content that is on brand for himself, while also introducing Therabreath to a whole new generation of customers.
Source: @bubble on TikTok
Emma Katherine, or @emmas_dilemmas on TikTok, is a successful micro influencer. As a college student who is always in tune with the latest trends, hashtags, and challenges on the app she is able to consistently get eyes on the content she posts on TikTok. That is why she was such a good choice to help launch Bubble, the quickly growing skincare company aimed at introducing teenagers to the skincare industry. Bubble has a history of partnering with rising Influencers, making this partnership between the skincare company and Emma Katherine mutually beneficial.
When it comes down to it, constructing a great Influencer-brand partnership is all about creating a mutually beneficial pairing in which both the Influencer and the brand end their relationship better off for having participated in it. For more insights into how the top TikTok influencer campaigns make an impact, here is How Celebrities are Pairing with Brands for the Greater Good.
Source: @ashleeighlauren on TikTok
Ashleigh Lauren is a TikTok Influencer who knows her strengths. As a makeup artist (MUA) and creative beauty guru, she succeeds at crafting consistently vivid and eye-catching content. Ashleigh’s partnership with Too Faced— the trendsetting millennial-favorite makeup brand— was a no-brainer that helped introduce the brand to Ashleigh’s Gen Z audience, while expanding Ashleigh’s reach as an Influencer due to features on Too Faced’s own TikTok account.
Ready to take your influencer marketing campaigns to the next level? Review our Guide to Influencer Marketing Analytics and learn how to analyze and optimize campaigns and prove influencer ROI.