The search campaign that exposed the scale of finance misinformation on TikTok

Verve Search won in the ‘Finance and Professional Services’ category at The Drum Awards for Search 2022 with its ‘Influencer Investors’ work for Paxful exposing the scale of finance misinformation on TikTok. Here, we find out more about what went into this successful project...

Unfortunately, for its predominantly young and financially inexperienced users, TikTok is home to some unscrupulous influencers with millions of followers who are regularly misleading their viewers into making risky financial decisions.

It is a situation that prompted global cryptocurrency trading platform Paxful to task Verve Search with creating ‘link-worthy’ content for the tech and finance sectors that placed Paxful as a trustworthy commentator on an issue that resonated globally and among bitcoin’s typically millennial demographic of trader.

‘Influencer Investors’ exposed just how common it is to find misleading financial advice through TikTok’s algorithm and how many of its users could be exposing themselves to this content on an unprecedented scale.

The brief

Paxful was looking to grow its brand presence through organic traffic and improved rankings by creating compelling content that would generate high authority editorial links to its site. So Verve set campaign objectives of achieving a minimum of 30 pieces of linked coverage and a minimum LinkScore of 1,700 points.

And to make sure that this directly contributed to revenue, it also set a campaign target to increase organic traffic by at least 10% and to improve rankings or maintain strong positions on main bitcoin-related keywords in the UK and US, such as ‘bitcoin wallet’, ‘how to buy bitcoin’ and ‘where to buy bitcoin’.

The idea

Verve identified TikTok – which had a massive increase in users during 2020 and was becoming a popular platform for newbie investors to learn from more experienced influencers – as the perfect issue for Paxful to comment on within the finance sector.

And so it starting asking how reliably users (69% of whom are estimated to be aged 13 to 24) can take on board complicated financial advice from unregulated finance influencers and how common is misinformation being broadcast from these influencers. It set about manually designing its own method that could be applied to misleading financial advice from TikTok video content.

With no pre-existing data to prove if the suspected issue existed, it pursued the research with an original hypothesis that financial misinformation was exposing itself to millions of TikTok users – and so it proved to be the case.

The campaign was built as a micro-site on the client’s domain and executed as an interactive report. It incorporated design elements to emulate some of the color scheme of TikTok and signposted each key finding within a scrolling user experience.

Verve then prioritized its outreach prospects based on our sectored targets within the most authoritative finance, tech and money publications – top-tier journalists at the publications that were likely to link with a followed link and that would provide the largest increase in rankings, as established through our LinkScore algorithm.

The results

64% above its target, the campaign resulted in a Linkscore of 2,860 and racked up 147 linking pieces of coverage including on the BBC, TechRadar, Business Insider, The Conversation, CNBC, Entrepreneur and MSN, which was 390% above target. There were also 131 additional pieces of coverage across print, TV and radio, including in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. This meant 5.3m estimated coverage views, 2,100 coverage shares and a 16% increase in organic keywords ranking in the first page during content launch and promotion

This project was a winner at The Drum Awards for Search 2022. Check out which of The Drum Awards are currently open for entry.