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TIKTOK DON’T STOP: How this social media platform is taking the influencer marketing industry by storm

TIKTOK DON’T STOP: How this social media platform is taking the influencer marketing industry by storm 1

By Gareth Hoyle, Managing Director of leading Manchester-based digital agency, Marketing Signals, gives us his insight into the world of influencer marketing

Back in 2016, a humble video app aimed at teenagers made its world debut. Fast forward to 2021, and the app in question, TikTok, is one of the fastest-growing in the world. In fact, according to Oberlo 689 million users have now embraced this exciting and engaging platform, including businesses looking to expand their reach with digital marketing. Once regarded solely as an app where tweens and teenagers could lip-sync, dance and complete social media challenges with friends, it hasn’t taken long for it to evolve into the marketing tool of choice across a variety of industries.

As a retailer hoping to drive growth for your brand, the popularity of TikTok and its marketing potential shouldn’t be overlooked. This simple, short-form video platform has seen brands increase their online following and exposure through a series of influential campaigns and challenges, that have left their competitors scrambling to get in on the trend. 

Cosmetic giant e.l.f was one of the first big brands to jump on the TikTok bandwagon, creating the very first TikTok paid ad that grabbed the attention of makeup lovers worldwide. Utilising their own original music to generate the #eyeslipsface challenge – where individuals had the opportunity to win makeup – e.l.f became the first business of its kind to earn the #1 trending hashtag on the platform, with more than 1 billion people watching and engaging with the ad itself. And they’re not the only online business to see their revenue and engagement expand thanks to TikTok…

According to Econsultancy, successful TikTok campaigns from Gymshark saw their #gymshark66 hashtag viewed over 45.5 million times, and as a result, Gymshark now tailors marketing campaigns specifically for their TikTok audience as a way to extend the reach of their seemingly unstoppable brand. And after witnessing an incredible increase in their engagement rate of 11.11% it’s easy to see why TikTok is now part of their marketing strategy.

In business, TikTok is fast becoming one of the most popular social media platforms, and when combined with the marketing prowess of influencers, authentic and genuine connections between your brand and potential customers can easily be forged. With a wealth of campaign options to collaborate over, it’s easy for retailers to find the right influencer to work with. TikTok has the potential to be one of your strongest marketing tools and could be the perfect introduction for those looking to establish influencer marketing within their latest advertising campaign.

How has influencer marketing changed in the past decade?

There was a time when celebrities were the bread and butter of “brand endorsements” – you only have to look at successful collaborations between juggernauts Nike and NBA star Michael Jordan throughout the 80s and 90s, or Pepsi and Britney Spears in the early 2000s to see how influential these campaigns can be. Interestingly, as time has gone on, the lavish lifestyles of these celebrities and their disconnection to the average consumer slowly paved the way for a new style of endorser. Fuelled by reality tv and the rise of social media,  influencer marketing is now a relentless advertising force.

In the last ten years, influencer marketing has slowly transformed the way potential customers engage with businesses and brands of all sizes. And while initial interest in influencer marketing was tentative, marketing failures, such as with footballer John Terry and sports brand Umbro, only cemented the idea that modern marketing needed a new approach.

This new activity involves brands approaching influencers and asking them to post and feature their products within their content in return for a fee or by gifting them free products. It’s a simple tactic but as the growth of influencer marketing has shown, it gets results.

As most influencers are regarded as normal people with a niche and popular following, they’re often more relatable than A-list celebrities. This means the way they market and endorse products is viewed with a sense of authenticity and consistency, helping brands bridge the gap between the product and their elusive target market.

However, not all influencer marketing campaigns have been so successful.

When influencer marketing goes wrong…

However, businesses looking to embrace influencer marketing as a strategy for growth should always err on the side of caution, as not all influencer marketing campaigns have warranted success. Businesses only have to take a look at the scandal surrounding Elle Darby – a social media star with an impressive 600k followers on Instagram and an equally impressive 595k subscribers on YouTube – to know that even the brightest of social media stars can get it wrong. Darby, who reached out to Dublin based hotel, The White Moose Cafe, offered to provide social media content based around her stay in return for 4 nights at the location. The proposal was quickly shot down by the business owner, who posted a scathing opinion piece online about her “lack of dignity” and “entitlement” as a social media influencer.

Despite this turn of events, there’s no denying that influencer marketing has its place within a digital marketing strategy, providing it’s executed with professionalism and with your target audience in mind. 

What does TikTok and influencer marketing bring to the retail marketing table?

A minimal cost

Whether a large retail company or a fledgeling online boutique, the constraints of a limited marketing budget can hinder growth plans. As an affordable marketing tool, TikTok is available to the masses, and when combined with influencer marketing, SMEs and corporations alike have the opportunity to expand the reach of their brand and products for a minimal cost. 

Creativity knows no bounds

The functionality of TikTok means that brands have an entire myriad of innovative and engaging content at their fingertips. By using TikTok, retailers can tailor their output to their brand and target audience, creating informative, high-brow or even laugh out loud content. Whether you want to tell the story of your retail brand or tease a snippet of your new product, the sharing capabilities of TikTok means that your short videos can appeal to a wide range of demographics, allowing retailers to cast their net with minimal risk and maximum imagination.

Brand discovery is (almost) guaranteed

When it comes to brand awareness, TikTok and retailers go hand in hand. Unlike other social media platforms that require “Likes” or “Follows” for mass exposure, TikTok has the capability to push your brand and content into the “Discover” page of the app with its intuitive algorithm. This helps potential customers find you via hashtags or suggestions from the app directly – an impressive reach that no retailer should neglect.  

Getting your product in front of your target audience

“Content is King” and no truer word has been spoken when it comes to TikTok. You can promote your products via video ads, endorsements or even just by uploading videos to the brand account. If you create shareable content that engages with your audience, then you’re on to a winner as you don’t need masses of followers to begin with for your uploads to reach successful heights – just something that people find entertaining. Due to its smart algorithm, your uploads should find the right target market, as TikTok tracks in detail what videos each user likes to watch.

Influencer marketing has gone through a transformation over the past decade but we all know how trends can come and go. However, it’s clear that retailers are no longer constrained by traditional forms of marketing and the sooner they embrace this new kind of advertising, the stronger their brand will become. 

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