TikTok Influencer Marketing: The Quick Jumpstart Guide

TikTok Influencer Marketing: The Quick Jumpstart Guide

For us as marketers, these are challenging times. Coming out of a deep recession and global health crisis has highlighted the importance of corporate responsibility. At the same time, having people confined to their homes for weeks at a time means that advertising in the community is more difficult. However, with people indoors so much, online advertising has never been more important. For brands who are eager to reach the younger generations, TikTok influencer marketing is a major advantage. Let’s look at the why and how of working on this new platform.

Why use TikTok for influencer marketing

These days, it is getting much more difficult to reach potential customers with advertising messages. Tired of slow download times and crowded pages, people are installing ad blockers at a rapid rate. Worse, consumer protection laws have almost made legitimate telemarketing a thing of the past. Specifically, the government has further restricted the use of automated dialing equipment to call cell phones without permission.

Print media is continuing to feel the stress of 21st Century technology. Many local newspapers have gone out of business, and the large ones are consolidating. Declines in readership has reduced advertising revenue, and in turn, the ROI on marketer investments. With social media, some of the larger networks are facing a decline in advertising effectiveness as people start tuning it out. Luckily, the new networks are having a moment. TikTok influencer marketing is in its infancy, with a lot fewer influencers working this platform. Even TikTok business services are new, having been started earlier this year.

Who are the Main TikTok Users

TikTok is a newcomer to the social media scene, but it isn’t a small network. In fact, if you haven’t been following, TikTok surpassed 2 billion cumulative downloads earlier this year. While TikTok is much more popular abroad, it appeals to a young audience: almost 70% of TikTok users are under the age of 40, and quite a few of those are under 18. If your brand depends heavily on the high school and college crowds, then you need to start TikTok influencer marketing.

What Types of Content Do Well on TikTok

TikTok does one thing very well: short-form video. Originally, TikTok limited videos to just 15 seconds, but you can now go for a whole minute. Users often used it to demonstrate pranks, short dances, jokes, cooking demonstrations, music videos, and more. Videos on TikTok, as with Instagram, must be filmed vertically.

Because videos are so short, it isn’t easy to do tutorials on TikTok. Although the long-form tutorials are popular on YouTube and Instagram, any kind of demonstration for TikTok has to be relatively short. Simple products might lend themselves to tutorials on this platform, but the majority can’t. Also, TikTok lets users add creative filters and special effects to their videos. This is a fun feature that lends itself well to creative products and services.

With that said, there are other kinds of collaborations that can be done for a variety of products. For instance, a manufacturer of designer eveningwear could have an influencer dance in their clothes. Likewise, showing off the newest game controller can probably be shown off in a minute. So can food and a variety of other consumer goods. As with other types of campaigns, it is important to design your TikTok influencer marketing strategy carefully.

How Brands are Currently Leveraging TikTok for Marketing

Right now, brands are using TikTok to reach the younger generation. High school and college students are a major consumer segment, and the habits they form at this age often follow them for life. With the launch of TikTok business services, advertisers have several options to reach this demographic.

Paid advertising

As with other social media networks, TikTok offers paid advertising services. There are several kinds of paid ads available. First, you can pay to have your video placed into people’s feeds. This is similar to Facebook sponsored posts. Second, there are special effects-based experiences. These can include augmented or virtual reality, and strongly appeal to the younger generation. Brand takeovers are an advertisement that appears when a user logs into the TikTok app. It’s an expensive option, but delivers a lot of impressions fast. Hashtag challenges let users create videos and use a branded hashtag to go along with it.

Organic reach

Unlike Facebook, TikTok has so far retained a significant organic reach for business posts. Here, you simply post videos on your profile and wait for users to find and pass it around. Distribution starts with subscribers, and hopefully the video will go viral.

TikTok influencer marketing

These days, influencer marketing has taken off on TikTok. For now, it is primarily used to raise brand awareness and run small promotions. Because of the shorter video length, casual mentions and showing off a product are some of the best approaches. However, you need to be careful in this area. TikTok users are typically devoted to an influencer’s unique style. TikTok influencer marketing is one of those places where personal branding and business branding are closely linked. As a result, experts recommend that you give influencers significant creative freedom while remaining FTC-compliant.

How to Find and Select the Right TikTok Influencers for Your Brand

As with any platform, the first step in TikTok influencer marketing is finding the right influencers. After all, you need someone with the right kind of audience if your campaign is going to succeed. Fortunately, since TikTok is a relatively small platform, it is easy to find the right people if you know where to look.

Creator Marketplace

One of the unique features of TikTok is its Creator Marketplace. This is a place where businesses can ask for access to information about TikTok members. Here, TikTok vets brands to be sure that they are real businesses, rather than turning over potentially sensitive information to just anyone. Once access has been granted, you can search creators by a wide variety of criteria. These include the size of their reach, location, topic, video views, and level of commercialization. From here, you would check out their profile to identify the best fits.

Traditional search methods

Besides the Creator Marketplace, more traditional influencer search methods are available. For instance, looking for influencers who already have an affinity with your brand is never a bad idea. Google searches can sometimes work, as well. Lastly, TikTok influencer marketing platforms have also developed in recent years, many extending their influencer reach from Instagram. They can also help with influencer management, among other routine tasks.

Types of TikTok Influencer Marketing Campaigns

Once you think that you have found the right influencer, it is time to talk with him or her about designing a campaign. TikTok influencer marketing has a slightly different feel from other platforms, because of its young audience and offbeat format. Nonetheless, there are some common types of campaign that are often a hit with users.

Challenges are an important part of TikTok culture. To start a branded challenge, have your influencer create a branded hashtag. Then, he or she will make a video that introduces a challenge to make a specific kind of video. As creators make new videos, the hashtag is used to encourage others. These campaigns are primarily focused on brand awareness.

There are two other main types of influencer campaigns. Dances are when an influencer demonstrates a new dance along a theme and encourages users to make a similar video. Duets involve two videos side by side. To brand a dance, you might use the company theme song or ad jingle. For duets, a TikTok video produced by the company can be used on one side, and the influencer’s work on the other. Both are creative ways to highlight your brand.

Examples of TikTok Influencer Marketing Campaigns

Now that TikTok influencer marketing has become more common, there are several great examples for us to look at. Each of these either adapts a more traditional type of influencer collaboration or harnesses a TikTok phenomenon.


As most of us know, Walmart is known for having a little bit of everything at a low price. However, they also put things on sale from time to time. Walmart sponsored a dance challenge, called the #SavingsShuffle, asking customers to show how saving money at Walmart made them feel by posting videos of their dance moves. 6 TikTok influencers were recruited who helped spark close to 2 billion hashtag impressions for the hashtag.

Too Faced Cosmetics

Beauty brands are famous for their tutorials. Unfortunately, 60 seconds is almost never enough to show off your makeup skills. Too Faced answered this challenge with their #TFDamnGirl collaboration to sell Damn Girl mascara. Here, influencers did before and after takes by showing her lashes without mascara. Then, they applied the mascara and showed off her improved eyelashes.

Levi Jeans

With people staying home, Levi jeans sponsored a demonstration of how easy it is to order online. Rather than showing their traditional ordering process, however, they had influencers order custom jeans and record the process. What a great way to encourage working from home comfortably.

levis tiktok influencer marketing

TikTok influencer marketing is still an emerging area of advertising. Fortunately, we already know a lot about how to effectively create and execute a program. With careful planning, influencers can raise your brand awareness significantly. Better yet, they encourage interaction with your brand through challenges and dances.

Hero photo: Olivier Bergeron / Unsplash

TikTok Influencer Marketing FAQs

How much do TikTok influencers make?

There are various ways TikTok influencers earn money on the platform. From making sponsored content, gifting, cross-promotion of other social media channels, brand collaboration, and selling merchandise. Based on reports, famous and big TikTok influencers earn from $500-$200,000 per video for promoting a brand. And just like how other platform works, they aim to get a high engagement rate from their target audience.

How is TikTok used in marketing?

TikTok is primarily used for brand awareness and promotions. Since TikTok has shorter video length, influencers and marketers typically create a 15-60 seconds video showing the products and how to use them. For some influencers, they use TikTok to cross-promote their other social media channels like YouTube and Instagram. Or whenever they have new merchandise coming up, they promote it there as well.

How do influencers work on TikTok?

The common way influencers work on TikTok is through sponsorships and collaborations. One of the great things about the platform is it brings out the creativity in its user. Some do dance videos, funny videos, dubbing, and others. Depending on the influencer’s content type, that’s how they usually incorporate the promotion of the products/services. They would make a video showing off the product, creating challenges, and use hashtag to encourage other users.

How do you become an influencer on TikTok?

TikTok is mainly an entertainment platform. If you want to become a TikTok influencer, you need to entertain your audience in you own unique ways. Choose a less popular niche and think of a distinct way of presenting your content. In addition, it is important to know your target audience so you know what type of content works best according to your audience demographics.

Who owns TikTok?

TikTok, a video sharing social platform is owned by a Chinese company ByteDance. Its founder is Zhang Yiming — a Chinese billionaire internet entrepreneur who built the company in 2012. In China, TikTok is known as Douyin. The platform allows its users to create a 15 seconds to one minute video with special effects and filters. TikTok became one of the fastest-growing social app worldwide with 689 million active monthly active users.

TikTok continues to be the hottest social media. TikTok is also the prime place to engage with influencers. Here's how to do TikTok influencer marketing.
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Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer is a leading authority on helping businesses through their digital transformation of sales and marketing through consulting, training, and helping enterprises large and small develop and execute on social media marketing strategy, influencer marketing, and social selling initiatives. President of the social media agency PDCA Social, Neal also teaches digital media to executives at Rutgers University, the Irish Management Institute (Ireland), and the University of Jyvaskyla (Finland). Fluent in Japanese and Mandarin Chinese, Neal is a popular keynote speaker and has been invited to speak about digital media on four continents in a dozen countries. He is also the author of 3 books on social media, including Maximize Your Social (Wiley), and in late 2019 will publish his 4th book, The Business of Influence (HarperCollins), on educating the market on the why and how every business should leverage the potential of influencer marketing. Neal resides in Irvine, California but also frequently travels to Japan.
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  1. Hello there Neal Schaffer,
    I want to give some feedback.
    I really like the FAQ Section and that you answer more questions there.
    But maybe you can create a table of content, which would give it a better overall view.

  2. Well, I have to leave that to you that this is a really good guide, thank you.
    I also like the FAQ section that is very helpful.

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