How Brands Collaborate with TikTok Creators
Businesses have been embracing TikTok as a place to build their brands with their own content. Many more are also finding ways to connect with TikTok Nation through relationships with popular TikTok stars. A recent case in point: TikTok influencer Bella Poarch has been tapped as an HP HyperX ambassador. Now brands are figuring out how to find influencers who can actually create content such as TikTok videos for them. Creating relationships with TikTok stars can help a brand become more culturally relevant in ways they might not be able to do acting on their own. Let’s take a closer look.
How Brands Are Finding Creators
Competitions and hashtag challenges have proven to be a reliable way for brands to connect with content makers—and essentially make creators part of their marketing team. “It’s no longer about trying to get that one creator with a giant following to mention your brand once,” notes Ali Fazal, VP of marketing at influencer management platform Grin. Rather, as Fazal points out, it’s a way to “integrate the creator into their overall marketing strategy.” The trick is to find influencers who genuinely, organically, love the brand. “Creator classes” is the term that’s been coined to describe the influencer teams that result—teams that are made up of individuals with specific interests and skill sets.
Consider the 11 influencers in the Major League Baseball’s inaugural creator class, which was curated with the help of input from die-hard MLB fans. As Kathryn Buckles, the director of brand and content marketing at MLB, notes about the group, “One is an esports player, one is more comedic. We also have someone who focuses on youth baseball, and a food creator that likes to replicate ballpark dishes.” In short, different influencers are bringing unique skills and interests to bear. As part of the relationship, creators have access to MLB merchandise and can attend games and visit the MLB offices.
For Gatorade, its creator class, called the Social Squad, came together through “tryouts” in which TikTokers submitted videos for consideration. Nine influencers were chosen from a pool of 1,500, and this select group will be creating content for Gatorade’s TikTok through November. Again, the individuals—from Clifford Taylor IV, formerly a walk-on for the Florida Gators, to Caitlyn Schrepfer, a professional soccer freestyler—bring a variety of talents and perspectives to the table.
Diverse as creator classes can be, a common thread among the influencers should be passion for the brand: super fans are naturally going to tell an authentic story. When Chipotle used TikTok to put together a 15-person creator class, for example, they were won over by Georgian Wyatt Moss, whose video showed Moss and friends eating Chipotle—in all 50 states (since Chipotle doesn’t have a location in Hawaii, Moss took his Chipotle on the plane ride out and ate it once he arrived!). Members of Chipotle’s creator class are rewarded for their passion: they are eligible for up to 50 free entrees, and can pay a visit to the Chipotle test kitchen. They also receive priority consideration for future paid campaigns—crucial to budding creators hoping to make a living as influencers.
TikTok Creator Marketplace
These brand/influencer collaborations are definitely mutually beneficial, and TikTok is invested in helping to make them happen: TikTok Creator Marketplace, currently in beta in the United States, is the official TikTok platform where brands and creators can connect. Think of it as a sort of dating app—a way for brands and influencers to “meet cute,” or at least connect in a mutually beneficial fashion. Participating creators sign up in hopes of connecting with brands and paid sponsorship opportunities. Participating brands can view creator profiles, audience demographics, and engagement metrics, then reach out to potential brand influencers via push and in-app notifications if they sense a possible match. Creators have an opportunity to review campaign details and a contract in order to make an informed decision.
Does collaborating with an influencer on TikTok make sense for your brand? Some thoughts before you proceed:
- Make sure you already have a strong TikTok following. Brand ambassadors won’t stick around if they don’t have an audience. Alternatively, partner with a personality that comes with their own built-in following.
- Mix it up. As the above examples indicate, a strong creator class is made up of diverse voices. Putting together an influencer team that looks at your brand from different angles or celebrates different aspects of the experience casts a wider net—and can help you reach a new, wider audience.
- Choose creators aligned with your brand. As noted above, passion for your company will translate into authentic messaging. Take time to understand who a creator is—and whether they are the right fit—before bringing them on board.
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