How Brands Can Partner with Creators to Win their Audience
These days, people are less receptive to ads that tell them what to do or how they should feel. There's been a fundamental shift towards content that adds value, provides entertainment, or guides them with real, helpful advice from real people.
Brands need to keep up with the pulse and behavior of their consumers and reach them in these authentic ways that enrich their lives. If content from brands aligns with consumers' reasons for opening the TikTok app in the first place, they will be open to the messages that brands are trying to convey.
In order to "keep things real," align with consumer expectations, and really, truly, appeal to audiences, a winning strategy on TikTok is to partner up with creators.
Creators, who are relatable and "just like me," drive a strong sense of authenticity that can effectively build trust and favorability towards brands. They have the unique power to influence brand perceptions, strengthen connections between brands and their audiences, and drive impact across full funnel metrics. With the help of creators, not only can brands benefit from greater content engagement - they can actually enjoy real results in terms of purchase motivation and conversions. They're able to effectively achieve this because they are relatable, authentic, and trusted members of the community.
According to research from TikTok's Marketing Science team, there's no doubt that brands have a greater impact when they bring creators on board, resulting in a positive uplift across all metrics. Let's take a look at how partnering with creators can level-up creative brand performance on TikTok.
The rise of creators 'like me'
When you think of ads you've seen from certain brands, a celebrity spokesperson might come to mind. For Lancome, you might immediately think of Julia Roberts, or Michael Jordan when you think of Nike. The use of celebrities is widespread in advertising, and can be a big hit if done right. According to Kantar Research, 16% of all ads worldwide feature celebrities, and if they're used effectively and consistently, they can fuel significant brand impact and sales improvement1. This boost also comes from the consistency of the celebrity across ads - which makes them a key branding device in their own right. However, it's important to consider how these celebrities are presented and leveraged, and how well-suited they are to the brand.
While global celebrities can be impactful brand endorsers, there's been a shift in influence that favors a different group - welcome to the era of TikTok creators! We've found that TikTok creators have a larger influence on consumers when it comes to both rational metrics and emotion-based brand perception6. This is not surprising if you think about the importance of authenticity and relatability. While traditional celebrities may be seen as farfetched, with unattainable lifestyles and unrelatable interests - the "just like me" TikTok creators resonate in an even more powerful way.
Impact on performance
- Engagement and VTR
Content that's specifically tailored to TikTok is more engaging than other types of ads. This applies across the board, from creator-led content, user-generated content (UGC), and TikTok native ads that don't feature creators3. We've found that not only are they more attention-grabbing, but they're also more often watched until the end. This is especially beneficial to brands that are trying to deliver slightly more complex messaging, or a reveal at the end. Overall, In-Feed ads see a higher view-through rate when the content is native to TikTok and features creators as they seem more authentic on the TikTok platform.
- Ad recall
Working with TikTok creators has proven to be critical in driving ad recall. An internal brand lift creative analysis revealed that in both the US and the EU, creators were among the top 25% of attributes featured in the measured ad recall campaigns2. Creator-led ads help brands stand out and boost positive perceptions for a greater number of TikTok users. Plus, ads that were created specifically for TikTok strengthen brand recall - particularly if coupled with creators3. To boost brand recall, it would be wise for brands to partner with TikTok creators who show up authentically on TikTok.
- Brand perception
TikTok creators in brand content also strengthens brand perception. Brand favorability (+24%), brand recommendation (+18%), and brand preference (+20%) all increased after watching ads that feature TikTok creators, as did perceptions that indicate relatability and affinity. Descriptors like 'easy-going' (+8%), 'down-to-earth' (+7%), and 'like you' (+7%) all saw a boost, which have all been found to be highly correlated with brand liking a purchase. This level of relatability helps brands break through the clutter, be memorable, and drive messaging home in a more subtle way. 2 in 3 viewers agree that TikTok creator content teaches them something new, with 51% of viewers correctly recalling the brand advertised in creator-made branded content on TikTok. This is 4% higher than recall for creators on other platforms4.
TikTok creators can influence shopping behaviors by motivating purchase intent and conversion4. Over 1 in 3 global TikTok users say that they've been inspired to buy something through a creator recommendation on the platform. It's safe to say that TikTok creator content significantly drives up purchase intent, which has seen a +17% boost after viewing ads that feature creators.
So, now that you know how impactful working with creators can be to achieving your goals, how do you go about it?
Here's our best advice on how to win with creators:
Keep it real. The most successful partnerships between brands and creators are authentic and natural. Authenticity is a massive part of what makes creators so successful - 71% of social/video platform users claim that creator authenticity has motivated them to buy a product/brand4. Relatability is also important to coming off as authentic. 64% of people prefer seeing 'every day' relatable people advertising products on social apps and platforms5, as opposed to famous celebrities. Globally, 78% of TikTok users enjoy it when brands interact with ordinary people, not just famous people9.
Laughs go a long way. Humor is a huge part of why TikTok users love the platform. This undoubtedly also applies to creator-led content - viewers are 1.4x more likely to credit the humor in TikTok branded creator content as a motivating factor in their purchase interest, than they are for influencer content on other platforms4. Funny ads are particularly effective in capturing attention4.
Let them express their true selves. Let these creative experts, who know TikTok inside and out, do what they do best! Let them take the lead on building unique storylines that resonate with their community. They have a unique ability to educate, inspire, and entertain viewers in a native way7, so trust them and allow them to be themselves. Giving them this freedom and flexibility is the best way to drive meaningful engagement with audiences and authentically connect with the right TikTok community8.
Have fun. According to TikTok's Global Retail Path to Purchase research, an important way for brands to amplify performance is simply to "Have fun with their content" - 44% want to see something fun/entertaining from brands that advertise on TikTok5. Creators can help brands entertain, come off as lighthearted and comical, and spark joy.
So, what are you waiting for? Identify the creators that are the best match with your brand through our Creator Marketplace. Remember, the better the creator fit, the bigger the impact on brand equity and sales (US)9.
Encourage their creative flair and allow them to express their full personalities, in order to help you better connect with your audiences on TikTok in a native, natural way that enriches their lives. Try your first collaboration today, and start seeing positive improvements across all your content and business metrics! Check out our TikTok Creator Marketplace and our creator tools and solutions for support.
Discover more information about TikTok’s Branded Content Policy for Creators here!
- Kantar Media Reactions 2021
- TikTok Marketing Science Internal Brand Lift Analysis
- TikTok Marketing Science EU Proprietary Creative Analysis 2021
- TikTok Marketing Science Global Creators Like Me Study 2021 conducted by Hotspex
- TikTok Marketing Science Global Retail Path To Purchase Study 2021 conducted by Material
- TikTok Marketing Science Global Community and Self-Expression Study 2021 conducted by Flamingo
- Kantar Millward Brown, Entertainment Meta Analysis, 2021.
- TikTok Marketing Science Brand Lift Creative Analysis
- Kantar Media Reactions 2021