Believe it or not, influencer marketing and the world of paid partnerships aren’t just for the big brands. If you are a small or medium-sized business, you still have an incredible opportunity to leverage an engaged community using the power of TikTok. Today, we’ll show you some TikTok influencer marketing tips so you know exactly how to source your influencers, to knowing exactly what to say, and even how to measure your results.
Finding & contacting creators/influencers
So where do you begin? TikTok actually has a platform called the Creator Marketplace. You can access this on a desktop and essentially, here you’ll find a lot of their creators with over a hundred thousand followers generally. And in it, you can filter through analytics, interests, hobbies, location, age.
But if we’re honest, we don’t particularly love this approach. Why? Because there are plenty of awesome creators who have less than a hundred thousand followers. And also there are a ton of creators who aren’t enrolled in the creator marketplace. To be honest, it’s not really living up to its potential. There is very little quality control on TikTok’s part and there are even some scams that go through here. And so safety-wise, there’s a lot to be desired. We still believe that the best way to be able to find, source, and reach out to creators is by doing it manually yourself. Not paying for a platform or some sort of automated system. But doing it the old-fashioned way with human interaction and taking the time to build a true relationship.
Identifying influencers that align with your brand
So how do you find that actual person? Well, proximity is power. So the easiest place that you actually wanna start is who is already following you. Maybe it’s not on TikTok, ’cause you might be brand new. Maybe it’s on Instagram, Facebook or YouTube and ideally who is already engaging with your product and your content. It’s gonna be a lot easier to get someone to say yes if they truly already love you and believe in you and are growing with you versus just reaching out cold to somebody who has never, ever heard of you.
And what if you’re a brand new company and don’t have any followers? That’s totally cool. There’s still a way for you to source influencers who will appear to be authentic and hopefully actually fall in love with your brand. You can start by searching hashtags and there are three simple ways to do that, industry, your audience type, or even your location.
So industry is pretty straightforward. You can think of things like say vegan or marketing or sports or fitness or wellness.
When it comes to audience, consider who’s actually consuming your product or rather, who do you want to consume your product? Is it millennials? Gen Z? Boomers? Is it moms? Think about it in that way.
If you are a brick and mortar business, then go ahead and search by city or state or neighbourhood, or even some of the things that are very loved within your community. And that could be how you start to find the types of people who would be perfect to represent your brand.
Once you start finding influencers that you really like, absolutely keep track of who that is, but consider putting together a well-rounded assortment. Maybe you have a few influencers who are in different age categories, different races, different ethnicities, different locations, different sizes. So that way just like an actual advertising campaign, your audience is seeing themselves represented in different ways.
However, the other thing is that we want you to come up with what I would call a B squad. Because let’s just be honest. You might send out a whole bunch of emails or a whole bunch of inquiries and it’s crickets. Some people don’t respond to you because maybe you end up in junk or maybe they don’t recognise you or who knows what. You always wanna be prepared for people to turn you down, and to have backups that you would be just as excited to work with.
Pitching your offer
Now, step three. What exactly are you going to say? And how are you going to reach out to these people? Full disclosure, the DM on TikTok is not the greatest thing about the app. And so a lot of people turn these off. Or in some cases, they don’t even know how to go through them or filter through them. So what we would suggest for communication is to potentially go through TikTok to get to their Instagram and DM them there. Or better yet, hit them from multiple ways and try to find their emails. If they’re competent, they’re gonna make it really easy for you to reach out to them. They’re gonna have a contact button, a web tree, their email written in their bio because they want to work with brands like you.
Then what do you actually say to them? If you’re sending out an email, ideally put in the subject line exactly what you want. So it could be something like, paid TikTok partnership with (blank). Specify if it’s paid or not, what the platform is and who your brand represents. If you’re self-conscious and you’re like, nobody has ever heard of us, then put a subject that describes what you are. Maybe it is a beverage brand. Maybe it is a brand new workout product in the metaverse, either way just giving some type of descriptor so that when they’re going through their inbox you wanna make sure that you are standing out.
Then let’s get to the actual body of the message. Try to be as specific as possible. Rather than just saying, “Hey, let us know if you’d be interested in partnering or collaborating.” Come up with some ideas, make it as easy as possible for the person on the other side to say yes. And by the way, in case you missed it, you can go on to use this email strategy in every email that you send. So let them know, “Hey, we really wanna do a three month partnership where you are uploading videos to TikTok. And this is a 30-second video where you have free reign to do what you’re already doing.” Or “Hey, you know what? We really want you to do five videos in a series where you are specifically covering this.” or “We want you to do an ad for us in this way.” Be as specific as possible so that they know whether or not that it would be a fit.
Also, we wanna add that if you do want to work with an influencer or creator, ideally you are giving them free reign. Because the reason why you were interested in them in the first place and felt like you vibed was because you liked what they were already doing on their own. What ends up being a nightmare of a partnership is when you try to box them into something or turn them into something which they are not. So giving them as much freedom as possible and trusting that they know their audience better than you do, that is gonna be a win-win more than likely all the time.
And then there’s this sign-off of the email, which could actually be the most important part. And what we want you to do is to end the email with a question mark. Don’t end the email saying “Let us know if you’re interested,” or “Get back to us when you can,” or “Feel free to send us a message back.” No. Ask a very specific question. Does this sound good to you? Would you be interested in something like this? Do you wanna continue the conversation? Ask an actual question and perhaps from there you can let them know that you’re gonna follow up if you don’t hear from them in a couple of days. That follow up strategy is very much gonna be important because sometimes life happens. I’m sure there are emails in your inbox right now that are collecting dust that you know you need to get it back to and you just haven’t yet. So set an alarm for yourself in your calendar to be sure to follow up in two, three, five days until they respond and or say no.
Defining the terms of partnership
Let’s talk about terms. So you have reached out to the creator. They are so excited to work with you. You’ve got the green light and you feel like, okay, we’re in sync here, we are good to go. You always wanna have a contract and in that contract, be very specific about the terms in an outline fashion. Here are some general terms that you should think about including inside of your outline.
When it comes to payment is the amount the agreed upon terms? Are you paying them upon receipt? Are you doing 50% down and then 50% upon completion?
And then of course there’s the actual deliverable, the product, the video. What did you agree upon? Is it 30 seconds? 60 seconds? Is it product placement? Product mentioned? Are they doing three talks over the course of say 30 days? Are they doing a TikTok and an Instagram story? If it’s a story, is it a full storyline or just a single story frame?
Piggybacking off the deliverables, you also wanna talk about expectations in terms of timeline, turnaround, and approvals. Ideally they submit the video to you for your approval along with the caption and the hashtags to make sure that it is on brand with your brand, as well as your expectations. You also wanna put in your terms if your creator should be expected to do any sort of edits or reshoots, so that if it’s not on brand with you or it’s not at all on par with the expectations that you had they’re contractually obligated to edit the video or perhaps even reshoot the video.
And along with that timeline how much time do they have to turn the video around? And also how much time are they expected to keep that video up on their profile? Is it 30 days? Six months? A whole year? Is it in perpetuity, indefinitely?
Conflicts of Interests
This is also where you could bring up any sort of non-competes or conflicts of interest, whether it is a competitor or simply something that you don’t want them to explicitly say. You can think of the terms as you giving explicit instructions. So for example, what hashtags they should be using. It is very professional and also legal on your part to make sure that you are having the creator use whatever your unique branded hashtag is, to ensure that this partnership is in accordance with FTC guidelines. This is also where you can tell them that you want them to save the raw file of the video, send you the link when it’s posted or when they should be notifying you or communicating with you before, during and after the project.
And while it should be obvious to most creators, when it comes to branded and commercial content you definitely don’t want to be using commercial music. So the terms should also explicitly state that you want them using music that is royalty free, or selected from what TikTok calls the Promo Plus Music Library. This is actually a music library made specifically for businesses and creators to be able to pull royalty safe music.
Usage and Fine Print
Last but not least. This is also where we would include any sort of fine print or things that are beyond the organic publishing of the video. By that we mean usage, for example, where are you intending to use this video beyond the creator posting to their individual profile? Are you planning to boost this video at all using something like TikTok promote? Or are you planning on running this video as an ad, or using it on your website? Let them know exactly when, where and for how long you’re planning on using the material. It is better to over-communicate and be explicit than be blurry, gray, and get into a lot of havoc.
Now we would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the fact that sometimes influencer marketing feels like it could be really expensive. But the reality is it’s saving you a ton of money. Whether that video goes viral, or especially if it doesn’t, this person is playing producer, copywriter, videographer, editor and so many different things. Plus giving you this footage to use however you want, for as long as you want.
So once your project is live, how are we gonna measure results? Let’s set your expectations because virality should not always be the goal. Stay tuned for our next post where we break down exactly how to measure results in a way that’s meaningful for you and your brand.