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Running Influencer Ads on TikTok

TikTok has gained significant traction since its founding and has truly skyrocketed as a social platform of choice for Gen-Z this year. In Q1 of 2022, TikTok had over 1 billion monthly active users, with 1.8 billion predicted by the end of 2022. That’s a really big and powerful customer base to tap into and when done right, can be highly rewarding. As a marketer, adding another platform into the ad mix can seem daunting and outright overwhelming, but TikTok, and specifically its unique algorithm for surfacing content, should be seen as integral to any highly rewarding social strategy.

If you’d like to activate influencers on TikTok, there are two types of TikTok Ads to be aware of that we’d love to walk you through. Let’s dive right in those two formats and the supporting implementation strategy you can follow to run initial tests:

Ad format 1: TikTok’s Spark Ads

The first option is to use an ad format called “Spark Ads”, a format that allows brands to create ads from content already published on TikTok. These have unique functionalities and feel and act more like user-generated videos. Allowing users to click through to the account’s page, use bespoke discount codes, visit the audio’s page or the advertiser’s landing page.

Ad format 2: The “For You” Page

The second option is to create video ads on the “For You” Page. This ad format allows brands to upload the creator’s video content and input a custom account name to represent the ads. This is an effective option for brands that don’t yet have a TikTok presence or don’t have any published TikTok content to leverage and it’s similar to Facebook’s/Instagram option where you’re uploading content to your own feed.

The TikTok For You page is a personalized, scrollable feed of content. It’s the platform’s main content discovery tool, known for its fine-tuned algorithm that produces accurate recommendations based on each user’s actions on TikTok (e.g., what they like, share, view more than once, etc.). The For You page serves as the app’s home screen, which means it’s the first thing users see when they open the TikTok app. Working with influencers can help you reach new audiences on all social platforms. On TikTok, it can also get you on the For You page.

If you decide to collaborate with established creators, make sure to let them be themselves. In most cases, TikTok creators understand the platform’s trends, inside jokes, and no-nos better than brands, so giving up creative direction is likely to work to your advantage. A great way to get started with influencer marketing on the platform is finding creators who are already posting about your brand.

The length of the videos for both ad formats should be between 5 and 60s. We typically suggest short videos of 15s to bring across the problem-statement or a catchy introduction to your service/product. Keep in mind that video’s with a duration of more than 60 seconds typically do not see great performance. For more information on the specs, please find the article here.

The power of great creatives.

One of the core values at The Cirqle is to test and learn continuously, and have a solid feedback loop in place to instruct that process. In that spirit, we’ve conducted multiple tests where we used the same adverts that had been performing on Facebook and ran them on TikTok. The results were particularly insightful. We’ve witnessed a $5,- CPC and 0.21% CTR. Going into the experiment, we knew that the results would be underperforming in relation to Facebook’s Business Manager, but this particular insight truly speaks to the importance of designing creatives for the platform itself.

The next series of influencer content we tested was designed natively for the TikTok platform. Influencers filmed everything on their phones, leveraged the TikTok editor, used native fonts, and made the ads look and feel like TikTok’s. Almost overnight we dropped our CPCs to $1 and our CTRs instantly increased to above 1%. By inviting influencers to design creative natively to the TikTok platform and by giving them the prerequisite guidelines, we hope that you will see similar improvements to the performance of your campaigns. A few additional instructions are required to get the process right from get get-go:

1.  Start with a catchy hook.

A catchy hook needs to be both visually and audibly strong. What is the viewer looking at in the first 3 seconds? Is it eye-catching enough to keep their attention? What are you saying to your viewer and does it make them want to hear more? These are important arguments to take into consideration when partnering with influencers to design your creatives:

Visual Example: Our creator built up to doing a split upside down to promote health and nutrition for Body&Fit.
Audible Example: Moving and counting to 7 in tune with the music (which certainly added to the challenge!)

2. Influencers should exaggerate the problem statement

Actively discuss the problem you’re trying to solve in the first few seconds of the video. Examples that you can think of are: Can you memorize an entire book in 15 minutes? Are you growing bald spots? Do you hate going out in public because your hair won’t cooperate?

Whoever is watching up until this point was intrigued by your initial hook. Now you want to get the user to relate to your personal problem. While you’re talking about the problem in a voiceover, you should be featuring your product in the background.

We typically like to stick to the following format when briefing influencers to produce great creatives: Problem → Solution → Result. Somehow this format seems to work best for consumers who desperately want to learn something about a new product/service.

3. What is the solution?

You should always have the objective to sell your product or service when you’re partnering with influencers. Focus on RoAS, as we’ve mentioned in our previous articles as well.  Why does the product solve the problem you are facing? Are you getting buy-in from the influencer or is he/she just doing if for the money? How do you use the product effectively? When do you use it? When will you see results? Why would an influencer recommend this product to their followers? Just some questions to consider asking as you’re briefing influencers.

While influencers are talking about the product, they’ll be required to show their followers how to effectively use it. Give them the experience of having the product without them having it in their hand and throw in a sweetener such as a discount or free shipping to make the buying experience pleasant and satisfactory.

4. CTA: strong but subtle

Rarely do marketers ever want to close off an entertaining video with a “buy this now” statement. It’s dull and simply doesn’t work for anyone, anymore. Instruct the influencer to tie the video together with the initial hook. “So if you’re looking for a solution to X, then you have/should to try this now. I’m telling you, it works wonders”. Also make sure to have the influencer throw in a question to the user and preferably some other form of benefit with a dedicated influencer shopping code: FIRSTNAME20%.

A simple example of how this can play out is: “Which product flavour would you want to try?” The statement helps provoke overall engagement and ultimately leads to better cost of traffic, CTRs, CPCs, CPM’s, you name it.

In addition, really try to put a lot of effort into determining what structure and creative format works well for your product before relaying any messaging to influencer. Then, have the influencer take the consumer through a real brand and product journey. Once you find a winning formula, continuously experiment by changing out the first 3 seconds and apply different hooks for optimizations.

The perfect campaign structure for TikTok’s Influencer Ads

We have been testing a few things across a ton of campaigns, but this structure seems to be performing the best right now.

1. A framework for testing

Let’s start with a test campaign. This campaign is always going to be optimized for conversions. For this structure, we recommend testing out Automatic Creative Optimization (ACO) as well as Automatic Targeting.

Let’s say you have 25 influencer creatives you want to test, this means you’re going to have 1 Ad Set for each Creative.

Promotion Type: Website
Pixel: Your Pixel
Optimization Event: Completed Payment
Placements: Automatic Placement
Creative Type: Turn ACO (Automatic Creative Optmimization) on.
Targeting: Select Automatic Targeting
Location: Your Preferred Geographic Location
Budget: Start anywhere from $50-$100
Start Date/Time: Start any day, just start at midnight
Optimization Goal: If you have Value, use value, otherwise you can use Conversion
Bid Strategy: Don’t need to set a minimum RoAS.

2. Setup your TikTok ads, powered by Influencers

Set your custom identity: Either use your brand’s name and logo or you can create an entirely new identity to make it seem more organic, especially if it’s a UGC (User-Generated Content).

Upload your video.

  1. Add 5 different headlines to further test what works for you, and your brand
  2. Enter your website destination URL (make sure you’re using the right UTM’s so TikTok can report on your data more accurately.
  3. Let the ads rip run for a few days as the learning phase is critical to the campaign’s success

3. Analyze your TikTok ads

In most ad campaigns we run, we don’t give too much importance to click through rate (CTR) and Cost-per-click (CPC) ratio’s when it comes to Facebook ads.  With TikTok, this is a completely different story and indicative of your campaign results. As a benchmark, we advice advertisers to actively monitor and ensure their CPC is ideally around $1 and their CTR is above 1%. Low CPC’s may look great from the outside but can actually indicate poor quality traffic is received on your domain, which is not beneficial. You’ll see this in the results of your ad campaign by looking at the conversion rate, which will likely be diminishing rather than increasing.

As a side note, you want to make sure to continuously review the overall engagement and comments on the TikTok Influencer videos that have been used in the ads, on a bi-daily basis. You can actually control these comments from within your business manager (see screenshot below) so make sure you’re actively keeping a pulse on those. We typically see some fake profiles/folks trying to deteriorate brands with random comments that do not add to the story and hinder the performance of your ads so make sure to keep an eye out.

In our next post, we’ll cover everything there is to learn about conversions. We’ll give you a plan of attack for when you don’t see any conversions, and we’ll also provide a strategy to scale campaigns that are seeing conversions.