Optimize Your TikTok Influencer Marketing Campaigns in 6 Steps

May 8, 2023

TikTok is the perfect platform to get the most out of influencer marketing, hands down. With an average engagement rate of close to 7%, much higher than any other platform, and over 3 billion downloads, the app has the potential to maximize your brand’s reach and engagement like no other.

But TikTok lives by a specific set of rules and best practices, whilst the platform is constantly evolving with new trends. How do you get it right so your brand stays relevant in the rapidly shifting landscape that is influencer marketing?

Here are 6 steps to set up your next TikTok marketing campaign for success.

Step 1. Define clear campaign goals

First, set clear goals for your influencer marketing campaign. You will later share with the selected influencer(s) in your creative brief (whether you’re working directly with them, or going via an influencer talent or marketing agency). 

Relevant objectives may include:

  • Increase brand awareness, as measured by branded search volumes, consumer surveys, brand mentions, number of followers on the brand account, and others.

  • Create 200,000 impressions on your page for a new product launch.

  • Drive traffic to your website.

  • Achieve a 4% average engagement across branded posts.

  • Increase Click-Through-Rates on ads by 10%.

  • Generate $150,000 of pre-sale orders before the launch of a new product line.

  • Sell 500 tickets to an exclusive branded event.

  • Get 1,000 new newsletters subscribers.

  • Etc.

Once you have a clear list of goals to hit during the campaign, you can start developing a strategy and plan to reach them.

Step 2. Develop a content strategy based on your goals, and target audience

At this stage, develop a content plan to engage your target audience and create a positive association with your brand.

Some elements to consider here include…

  • Will you work with a single creator that becomes the exclusive face of your brand? Or will you partner with multiple influencers? Will you also support the campaign with organic content from your branded account? 

  • How long should the campaign run? If your main goal is to drive conversions, repetition will be key - therefore you might want to use a series of themed videos so your chosen creator(s) use the products and share the brand message with their audience over a longer period of time, rather than a one-off exercise.

  • What is the best way to present your brand message, values, or products to drive awareness, engagement, sales or whatever your goals are? 

  • What specific actions do you want viewers to take after watching the branded content? 

A successful content strategy relies on in-depth knowledge of your target audience. Ask yourself:

  • Who are the target users - what demographic do they belong to, what are their interests and needs, what’s their lifestyle like; what’s their purchasing power, what country do they live in, etc.? 

  • What tone of voice is likely to resonate with them most, depending on the type of content they usually engage with, and what they expect to see on TikTok?

You can then outline content ideas, which your branded content will revolve around to best tell the brand story and position its offering. Those anchors should be relevant to your niche, audience interests and preferences, and goals. For instance, will the videos convey your products’ features and user benefits, or will they tell a story that appeals to viewers’ emotions? 

After this step is complete, it’s time to find the right partners to execute on your plan.

Step 3. Partner up with relevant influencers

The third and crucial step is to source the right creators to represent your brand, and promote your products or services. 

A mismatch between the brand’s values, messaging and the creator’s style, content type or audience is one of the top reasons why influencer campaigns fail.

So, what should you look for when screening influencers? Several factors come into play.

  • Influencer type: there are 4 commonly-known kinds of creators on TikTok, based on their following size. Nano and micro influencers typically have smaller but highly-engaged audiences, and create content around a narrow niche that serves a group of users who share a common interest or passion. On the other hand, macro and mega influencers target wider niches, so have a much broader reach. However, as their following is more varied in terms of interests, the engagement rates on their content tends to be lower. So, which type of creator your brand chooses to work with largely depends on whether reach or engagement is more important for the campaign.

  • Relevance of audience and niche: branded content needs to fit naturally inside the creator’s TikTok page, otherwise it’ll come across as purely promotional, disingenuous, and will damage both your brand’s and the influencer’s reputation. A creator with a relevant audience that is likely to be interested in your products, and who can seamlessly integrate your brand into their content, will be a lot more effective. Ideally, their audience will already be actively engaging with content related to your niche.

  • Reach and engagement: how effective is the influencers’ content, especially their previous promotional videos? Does support your campaign expectations? Again, there will likely be a trade-off between reach and engagement here.

  • Cultural fit: last but not least, how closely aligned are your brand values, tone of voice, and messaging with the creators’ and their usual content? Are they truly excited about the idea of representing your brand, or are they solely after financial gain? The closer the fit, the more likely it is the content will be perceived as authentic. And the more they really care about your brand and what it stands for, the more they’ll want to help your brand succeed on TikTok.

Once you’ve shortlisted and eventually identified the right creator(s), you’ll need to set up their contracts and incentives in a way that fosters a positive, long-term working relationship.

Incentives can include any perks that encourage creators to promote your brand more proactively, such as branded gifts and free products, exclusive experiences, discounts, etc. 

A lack of adequate compensation has been cited as the number 1 driver of failure in influencer marketing, so make sure the rewards reflect what you expect of the creator(s), to secure the right level of commitment from them. 

Step 4. Activate, analyze and optimize

As soon as the campaign kicks off and influencers start posting content based on your guidelines, you need to have a systematic way of tracking and analyzing performance.

There are several metrics you should pay attention to:

  • Engagement, as measured by likes, shares, and comments.

  • Sentiment of the comments.

  • Views.

  • Engagement rate per views.

Monitor how each piece of content is performing, and adjust as needed when you see patterns emerging. 

For instance, if branded videos from influencers that include a certain song, effect, or style get more views or higher engagement, then you can share those learnings with the oher creators working on your campaign to fine-tune their content accordingly.

Luckily, you don’t need to do all this manually. There are many TikTok analytics tools you can use to track the performance of your branded content - such as HypeAuditor, a market leader in this space. 

Step 5. Lean into user-generated content (UGC)

UGC has been a big movement across social media. It leverages the crowds to increase awareness and create interactions between consumers and brands. 

When social media users mix and match elements of branded content in their own videos, it generates a snowball effect that brings other users in.

An effective example of this are branded hashtag challenges on TikTok.

According to TikTok, these types of challenges have an impressive 17.5% media engagement rate, and lead to 4 times higher ad recall and 4.5 times higher brand recall, compared to standard ads. The return on ad spend against branded hashtag challenges was 5 x for half of the brands who use them, according to the platform. Here and here are a couple examples of brands who’ve executed this strategy well.

You could get influencers to launch the challenge by introducing it to their followers, and taking part in it themselves. Make sure there’s a deadline for submissions, and add prizes the audience is likely to value to maximize engagement even more! 

Step 6. Measure your RoI after the campaign

The final step is to track the results from the overall campaign, versus how much was spent on it. There are several ways to measure RoI from influencer marketing.

This is easier to track if your primary goal was to drive sales by a given percentage over the duration of the campaign. 

Sales are in fact the most common measure of influencer marketing RoI, according to a 2022 report by Influencer Marketing Hub. You could estimate the value of those sales by making assumptions or looking at the Click-Through-Rates on links that redirect to your storefront, and compare this with how much it cost to drive this traffic from TikTok. 

For more intangible goals, it may be difficult to assess the impact of the campaign and put hard numbers against them - for instance, brand awareness. An increase in followers on the brand account, an increase in brand mentions across social media, and simply total views across the campaign could all impact this goal.

You could use surveys and measures of customers’ willingness to pay and see if, for instance, the price point of your offering can increase due to a higher perception of the brand, and somehow link this back to future expected earnings. There are other ways to tie back improvements in brand equity to financial value, such as estimating how much revenue or operating profit has been generated by an increase in a number of basis points, pre to post campaign. 

Earned media value (EMV) is another key RoI metric, which has become more popular amongst marketers over the past years.

EMV is measured through a combination of page views, likes, shares and comments, along with daily unique visitors to your site or landing page. This assigns a financial number to the value (impressions and engagement) received from the influencers’ branded content. You can then compare this figure to what another advertising campaign would have cost to achieve similar results. If the influencer campaign on TikTok paid off in a more effective way, then the investment is justified.

So what would be considered a high EMV? According to research by Influencer Marketing Hub, the average return on every $1 spent on influencer marketing is $5.78. Some brands gain up to $18 in EMV for every dollar spent, however a quarter of advertisers merely break even or lose money on their campaigns.

Final thoughts

Influencer marketing on TikTok is a great opportunity for brands to engage their audience in new, creative ways, driving engagement and brand equity like never before - when executed well.

Get this right by following these steps:

  • Have a clear set of campaign goals.

  • Craft a content strategy and plan, aligned with those goals and the target audience.

  • Screen and select relevant influencers, considering factors such as their content’s reach, engagement, style, their audience and niche.

  • Analyze and iterate throughout the duration of the campaign.

  • Track the RoI of the overall campaign.

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