Co-Founder and CEO of Stargazer. Stargazer is a full-service influencer marketing agency powered by technology.
If you thought there were no doubts about who the behemoths of video content were, pouring all your advertising dollars into Facebook and striking deals with content creators on Instagram, there’s something you should know: TikTok is on the rise, and there are no signs of stopping it.
Data from App Annie found that the average time spent per user on TikTok is now higher than on YouTube in the U.S. and U.K., with engagement on the Gen Z-dominated platform going through the roof.
Many brands have been tiptoeing around the app for quite some time, disregarding it as “less serious” and not understanding the value it brings. However, its nearly 18% average engagement rate with micro-influencer content (compared to only 3.86% on the competing social media giant Instagram) clearly shows there’s no reason to sleep on TikTok anymore.
As CEO of an influencer marketing company, I’ve partnered with hundreds of TikTok creators. In addition, I am a creator with over 1 million followers on the platform. So, if you were careful to take a dip into TikTok marketing at first, I can tell you now is the best time to take a dive. Here’s how to do that.
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Lead the conversation through content.
A critical driver behind TikTok’s success is being “anti-Instagram.” Its raw, authentic content (and the lighthearted combination of music and video) is the perfect antidote to the beautiful yet “fake” world of Instagram, often linked to depression among its users.
This means that while you should stay on-brand, producing content that is authentic is key. You don’t want to overproduce your video. Instead, open the conversation with your viewers, answer their questions and follow the latest trend with a light and transparent voice.
“Don’t make ads, make TikToks,” is a rule highlighted to brands wherever they go on the platform. It’s this unique marriage of entertainment and advertisement that has worked so well to draw interest from users across age groups and locations.
The beauty of TikTok is that it’s still in its early days, meaning that brands still have that first-mover advantage.
Just like Facebook, Instagram is gradually butchering its organic reach. Since 2019, when the organic reach of a post on Instagram hovered somewhere around 20% for posts and below 5% for stories, the number has shrunk even further. TikTok, on the other hand, prioritizes solid organic reach — with virality being much more achievable. This is because its algorithm considers watch time and engagement rate as key factors. TikTok understands that making someone viral hooks them to the platform, so the number of followers doesn’t matter.
The formula for success is also different. TikTok is not polished, has no timestamps, and relies heavily on the recommended “For You” page. That’s why it’s key to experiment with different sound effects (especially the trending ones), as producing relevant and valuable content gives you a higher probability of being discovered.
Know that TikTok isn’t necessarily the place to announce the launch of your new product or do a regular Q&A session. Instead, focus on creating content around your brand values, explain your vision and the why of your company. Authenticity helps build a direct connection, so be real.
Partner with creators on the platform.
Higher engagement aside, influencers on TikTok are actually cheaper than on other social media platforms. The mastery of the short video format and storytelling methods does bring creators money from their views on TikTok, but monetizing one’s potential fully is difficult, which is why they actively seek to help brands and partner with them.
TikTok Creator Marketplace is a hub where you can prospect creators and see whose audiences best fit your specific campaign goals. Then, you can simply send a direct message with an offer. Alternatively, you can work with agencies that take care of the whole process for you.
There are various ways you can leverage the power of TikTok creators, including:
• Growth of your own TikTok account: Creators can spice up your video feed and tell the story of your brand in a novel way. If you have an exciting announcement coming up, it can also be a good idea to let them break the news.
• Creating engaging video ads: Since June, brands can access TikTok For Business, which offers diverse marketing solutions for brands. The multiple ad formats bring exciting opportunities, and inviting creators to be a part of them can strengthen the power of your ad message.
• Promoting your brand on their account: While influencers can easily become your ambassadors, remember that they also want to offer value to their audience. So, when pitching a collaboration, think about what kind of incentive you can provide, be it a promo code, exclusive access or any other perk.
Before you decide to strike a partnership, though, keep an eye on some important indicators, including creators’ capacity for brand alignment, good engagement rate and creating content that follows the TikTok style.
TikTok is the future of content.
TikTok quickly understood the importance of creators and launched several monetization strategies early, empowering users to set the value of the platform themselves. Now, engaging with those who make waves on the platform and striking meaningful partnerships is a great way to establish a solid presence on the platform.
This will be critical for the future, considering that TikTok has the ambitious goal of becoming the No. 1 shopping experience app out there. Live shopping, for example, is set to become the future of the industry, with brands like Walmart already exploring the space. So, from shoppable ads to shoppable live streams, there’s a wealth of opportunities to explore.
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Author: Antoine Forest, Forbes Councils Member