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TikTok Influencer Marketing: A Comprehensive Guide

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  • TikTok Influencer Marketing: A Comprehensive Guide

In 2021, it’s safe to say we are in the midst of the TikTok revolution. TikTok now has over 1 billion active monthly users globally, who are entertained by thousands of talented influencers with the ability to reach millions of people.

This makes TikTok a huge opportunity for small and medium businesses, as the benefits of marketing through the best TikTok influencers are enormous, but the cost is low.

As TikTok is still a fresh face in the social media world, many businesses find themselves stumped when planning a TikTok influencer marketing campaign. In this guide, I’ll teach you how TikTok influencer marketing works, how to choose an influencer to partner with, and how to design a killer TikTok campaign that lands you long-term customers.

TikTok: The Who, the What and the How

Before we talk about TikTok influencer marketing, let me give you a bit of background on TikTok as an influencer platform. TikTok is a video-based platform that allows users to upload and share short videos. These videos include people lip-syncing, dancing, performing a comedy routine, or simply talking.

TikTok was first launched as ‘Douyin’ by Chinese company ByteDance in 2016. It expanded internationally in 2017 but didn’t find record-breaking success until it merged with rival platform Musical.ly in 2018.

Since then, TikTok has become the fastest-growing social media platform globally – with creative ads like this now appearing all over the platform.

@beasteaterDid you know Elf stands for eyes lips face?!???? #eyeslipsface (read bio) @elfcosmetics #ad♬ Eyes. Lips. Face. (e.l.f.) – iLL Wayno & Holla FyeSixWun

Image via ‘beasteater’ on TikTok

1. Who Uses TikTok?

TikTok is used by over 1 billion people worldwide, including 600+ million people in China and 689+ million people internationally. This includes 100+ million people in the US, 83+ million people in Europe, and 17+ million people in the UK.

Globally, TikTok appeals to a wide range of age groups. As of June 2020, 32.5% of users are aged 10 – 19, 29.5% are aged 20 – 29, 16.4% are aged 30 – 39, 13.9% are aged 40 – 49, and 7.1% are aged 50+.

TikTok’s penetration across the internet is also quite significant, as research shows that 18% of global internet users aged 16 – 64 currently use TikTok. As of a report from October 2020, 53% of Tiktok users are male, and 47% are female.

To give you a better understanding of TikTok users, here are some further TikTok statistics:

  • TikTok users spend an average of 45 minutes on TikTik daily and open the app an average of 8 times each day.
  • TikTok’s engagement rate currently exceeds 70% a month.
  • TikTok has more monthly-active-users (MOU’s) than LinkedIn, Reddit, Snapchat, Twitter, and Pinterest.
  • TikTok has been downloaded over 6 billion times.
  • TikTok users have spent over $456 million to buy the platform’s in-app currency.

2. What Content Can You Promote?

Unlike many other platforms, TikTok only hosts video-content. While this may seem limiting, video-content is extremely engaging, so there is still a wide range of creative content you can produce for TikTok. That includes:

  • Product reviews
  • How-to guides
  • Recipes
  • Humor-based videos
  • Interviews
  • Product tutorials

If you want to up the audience engagement, you can also host a giveaway: whether that’s a hashtag-based contest, a referral drive, or a simple like-to-win contest.

To see an example of classic TikTok Influencer marketing, check out this collaboration between GymShark and Morgan R Moroney.

Pro-Tip! Content created inside the TikTok app is also limited to 60 seconds, though you can upload longer videos if you edit them separately and upload them as a single file.

3. How Does Influencer Marketing on TikTok Work?

TikTok is an influencer-based platform, meaning the most effective advertising content is published through influencers (though TikTok offers in-app ads).

When businesses market partner with influencers (called “creators”), they pay them to produce sponsored content. Creators then share this content like a regular video, but with a disclaimer reading “#ad.” This is both a legal requirement in many jurisdictions and an example of good social media etiquette.

How To Choose an Influencer

When you partner with an influencer, you align your business, products, and brand with them. If you choose the right influencer, this can increase your brand awareness, expose new customers to your products, and skyrocket your sales.

Choose the wrong influencer, however, and you might find yourself getting #canceled. In this section, I’ll show you how to find TikTok influencers.

1. Know Your Audience

Before you find an influencer that your audience responds to, you’ll need to understand your audience better. When it comes to TikTok marketing, your audience will fit into two key groups: customers and new leads.

Let’s start with customers.

The best way to get to know your customers is to conduct audience segmentation. Audience segmentation is the practice of dividing and grouping customers by critical characteristics. This could include demographics, location, purchase history, or behavior.

To carry out segmentation, choose a key characteristic (like age) and divide customers into subgroups (i.e., 16-30, 31-45, and 46-60).

tiktok influencer marketing

Image via ConvertFlow

Now, onto new leads!

Businesses learn about new leads by conducting a market opportunity analysis that focuses on customers. This means you’ll need to analyze your competitor’s customers, your ex-customers, and new members of your target audience. Like with customers, you can understand new leads by segmenting them.

Once you have a clear understanding of your customers and their journey, it’s time to start identifying influencers in your niche.

2. Search Relevant Hashtags and Trends

As there are thousands of influencers on TikTok, choosing the right influencer for your brand may seem overwhelming. But consider this. While it may be tempting to target influencers with the largest following possible, you’ll get the highest return on investment by working with influencers whose audiences align with your target customers.

How do you find those influencers? Hashtags.

Content on TikTok is sorted by hashtags. Like other forms of social media meta tags, hashtags catalog the content of videos so users can navigate through popular trends. As a brand, you can find influencers who align with your brand by monitoring relevant hashtags.

For example, if you were marketing a budgeting app, you could monitor the hashtag #personalfinance. That would lead you to a large sub-culture on TikTok dedicated to sharing stories about managing money. As these customers are part of your target market, influencers in this niche are perfect for your campaign.

As you research, add these influencers to your list (it will come in handy later!)

Here’s a great example of hashtag-driven advertising from the United Nations ifad and Sherrie Silver.

@ifad@sherriesilver Together we can feed the world ???? ❤️???????? @mreazi let’s #danceforchange♬ Freedom – Mr Eazi & GuiltyBeatz & J.Derobie

Image via ‘ifad’ on TikTok

How to Run a TikTok Influencers Marketing Campaign

As the top 50 TikTok influencers have more followers than over 16% of the global population, influencer marketing is very popular on TikTok. However, running a great TikTok campaign takes more than just a shoutout from an influencer.

Specifically, great campaigns use planning, goals, and research as a roadmap. Follow me through this section, and I’ll guide you through that roadmap.

Step 1. Understand the Platform & Gather the Right Tools

Social media is a multi-faceted, complex digital marketing form. This means that businesses need three key tools to succeed: knowledge, brand-building SaaS tools, and marketing SaaS tools.


Before you start your TikTok influencer campaign, you need to arm yourself with knowledge about your customers and TikTok’s inner workings. This means seeking customer feedback, analyzing your current marketing’s success, and snooping around your competitors’ TikTok activities.

Brand-building SaaS Tools

Brand-building SaaS (software-as-a-service) tools help businesses manage their branding content. When starting a TikTok campaign, that means you’ll need some video equipment, filming space, editing software, and expertise in video advertising.

Marketing SaaS Tools

Marketing SaaS tools will help you manage your TikTok campaign’s business end, from gathering data insights to pressing “publish” on new content. For TikTok campaigns, I recommend using a link tracker to monitor clicks, media monitoring software to watch reactions to your campaign, and influencer outreach programs to find TikTok influencers.

Once you’ve gathered the right materials, it’s goal time.

Step 2. Determine Your Goals

Setting goals for your TikTok marketing campaign is crucial, as goals give your campaign purpose and steer it towards success. However, all goals are not created equal – which is why I recommend using SMART goals for social media campaigns.

The SMART format defines your goals by these five key metrics:






This allows you to drive your marketing strategy by your goals. For example, let’s take a common goal of many small businesses: increase the click-through rate (CTR) of your marketing emails by the end of the month.

Now how will we achieve that goal?

To increase the CTR of your emails, you need to figure out how to make your emails more engaging with an A/B test. As Sendx explains in this guide to A/B testing, an A/B test compares the success of two different marketing techniques. If you repeat this long term, you’ll be left with a list of tried-and-true strategies you know work on your audience.

What is A/B testing and what can it be used for? - Seobility Wiki

Image via Seobility

We can apply these same principles to the goals of your TikTok campaign. When setting out your goals for TikTok, give yourself a way to measure each promotional technique’s success – like A/B testing.

After you’ve published a few sponsored videos, your goals will help you work out what works and what doesn’t: driving your campaign towards success.

Step 3. Vet Potential Influencers

Next, you need to vet potential influencers. Earlier in this article, I took you through the process of getting to know your audience and finding compatible influencers. Now, it’s time to vet them.

To vet an influencer, check their:

  1. Professional background
  2. Audience relationship
  3. History with other brands
  4. Engagement rate
  5. Personal values
  6. Past content

After you’ve researched your candidates, there’s one last thing you need to do before your campaign begins: double-check that your influencer’s actions align with your employee social media policy. When you engage in influencer marketing, you align your brand with the personal values of an influencer. Like with employees, bad actions from a partnered influencer will reflect poorly on you.

Trust me. Vet your influencers!

Step 4. Look a Your Competitors Sponsored Content

As part of your campaign, you’ll need to emphasize what makes you different from your competition (i.e., your unique selling proposition or “USP”). To do this effectively, you’ll need to watch what your competitors are doing on TikTok.

This will allow you to identify areas of weaknesses in your competitor’s product and business – giving you the perfect focus for your campaign.

For example, suppose you notice that your competitor’s business has poor customer service. In that case, you could create a series of sponsored TikTok’s showing people around your business’s state-of-the-art virtual call center.

Once you’ve found your USP, you’re ready to launch your campaign.

Step 5. Collaborate and Measure Your Results

Now that you’ve got content, an influencer partnership, and the necessary equipment, you’re ready to take the plunge and start publishing! However, the work doesn’t stop there.

After your first video launches, it’s time to start assessing the strength of your campaign. As influencer marketing is more of an art than a science, campaigns need strategic tweaks to maximize their return-on-investment.

To identify when these tweaks are needed, make sure you track these marketing metrics:

  • Click-through rate
  • Like-to-view ratio
  • Engagement metrics
  • Conversion rate
  • Profit margin
  • return-on-investment

Once you’ve collected these figures, compare them to your SMART goals and your other marketing campaigns’ success to analyze the success of your TikTok campaign.

TikTok Influencer Marketing: Worth It?

While it may not resemble other social media platforms, TikTok is truly special. In just a few years, we’ve watched TikTok explode from an obscure video app to a content giant that rivals YouTube.

As TikTok continues to grow, your business has everything to gain from embracing it as part of your marketing strategy. Follow the tips in this guide, and you’ll be on the pathway to success with a TikTok influencer in hand.

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