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By Jenni Baker | Assistant Editor

April 6, 2022 | 6 min read

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For brands to be successful on TikTok, they need to be willing to loosen the reins a little and trust the voice of creators to deliver their brand message in a simple, reactive, authentic way.

The rallying call to brands is to go into this with actionable goals, understand what you want to achieve

The rallying call to brands is to go into this with actionable goals, understand what you want to achieve

“To deliver a strong result, there has to be an authentic collaboration between the brand and creator,” says Ben Jeffries, chief executive officer and co-founder of Influencer.com, speaking on a recent panel discussion at The Drum’s Digital Transformation Festival, in partnership with TikTok.

Brands have reached a point of maturity in the TikTok space, where they realize they must develop their own unique formula for success. That comes through trial and error and a willingness to experiment with creative formats and features, and understanding the dynamics of platform.

Experts kick off the session answering the question everyone wants to know: what does it really take to spark a successful match between brands and creators on TikTok?

“What we’re witnessing right now is a paradigm shift towards authentic, relatable, creatively adventurous content,” says Luke Townsin, head of operations, TikTok Creator Marketing EMEA, TikTok. “TikTok really caters for entertainment and it’s a cultural movement that brands want and deserve to be a part of. Always keeping entertainment as the centerpiece is a good first approach.”

Jeffries adds that, as well as authenticity, data and community are key considerations. “When brands are choosing to work with creators, they need to understand the data behind the creators (which can be found through TikTok Creator Marketplace) to understand whether they match with their own data [and what they] are trying to achieve,” he says. But brands also need to “understand the community and the trends on TikTok, to ensure that the narrative aligns with the trends [and to] what’s relevant at that time.”

He speaks of the importance of having an always-on influencer or creator marketing strategy, noting: “There will always be months or moments around key events but it’s imperative to have an always-on strategy so that you are building a community around your brand on TikTok.”

Sherice Banton, a full-time content creator with over 1.7 million followers on TikTok, echoes the sentiment, adding that in order to “keep it genuine” with her audience, it is essential that she is familiar with the brand and has used the product herself. The values and ethics of a company also play a factor in any decision to ensure their values are aligned, and she has turned down campaigns where a brand’s “ethics were questionable”.

The session goes on to explore some of the best brand x creator collaborations, including Hilton Hotel Group, Levi’s, and more, and why they have been so successful. The experts also share advice on how to get the right balance between creator partnerships and alignment on brand values and why it’s so important to have a clear brief to ensure everyone is on the same page from the start. They also touch on the tangible impact of creator collaborations on ROI and tools that can help.

To conclude the session, Townsin, Jeffries and Banton offer practical advice for brands:

Be reactive – keep up with consistent trends. “It’s so important to be fast moving and be first, making sure you’re relevant and reactive to current trends,” says Jeffries. “Sometimes brands are not reactive enough and it’s taken a few months to implement an idea. But by then, we’re onto the next trend.”

Simplify – don’t overcomplicate things, sometimes the simplest ideas are the best. “We often try and overcomplicate answers with unnecessary jargon to sound smart, because it’s influencer marketing – but there are basic fundamentals in marketing that have existed for decades, which we can really apply to this space,” says Townsin.

Be authentic – to your own brand voice and the creators voice. “Don’t feel like you have to jump on trends, only tap into them when they’re relevant and make sense to a particular campaign,” says Banton.

The rallying call to brands is to go into this with actionable goals, understand what you want to achieve – whether it’s brand awareness, product recall, to sell products – and really get to know the creator you’re collaborating with, understanding the data to find the right target audience.

“[It’s about] choosing the right type of creator and making sure that you use tools that are providing you with the right type of data that you feel informed about,” says Townsin. “And really spend some time not just looking at data and the numbers but get a feel for the person and creator, it’s a really simple thing you need to understand the person you’re partnering with.”

Catch up on the full session, A match made on TikTok: connecting brands with creators, from The Drum’s Digital Transformation Festival here.

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TikTok is the leading destination for short-form mobile video. Our mission is to inspire creativity and bring joy. TikTok has global offices including Los Angeles, New York, London, Paris, Berlin, Dubai, Singapore, Jakarta, Seoul and Tokyo.

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