Creator marketing is one of the most effective ways to reach viewers and drive results on TikTok. 64% of  TikTok viewers buy a product after watching creator advertising on the platform (1) and TikTok accounted for 15% of all product discoveries in 2022 (2). 

But how can brands work well with creators? 

That's exactly what we asked Tefi Pessoa, aka @hellotefi, a creator with 1.6 million followers who's no stranger to TikTok creator marketing campaigns. We got her advice on how brands can effectively work with TikTok creators. Then, we asked Adrienne Lahens, Global Head of Operations, TikTok Creator Marketplace, about how Tefi's advice reflects the way partnerships play out on our platform. And we backed it all up with intel from Esteban Ribero, Global Research Leader, TikTok Marketing Science and research expert at TikTok. 

The result? Actionable advice from a seasoned creator, vetted by top experts in our internal teams. 

Let's dive in. 

Tip 1: Treat creators less like spokespeople and more like consultants

For a long time, creators would take brands' existing messaging and communicate it directly to viewers. (Think of celebrity spokespeople, and the way they used to speak in television commercials.) But that approach doesn't fly on TikTok; viewers expect creators to speak in their natural, authentic voice.

“I understand that these brands work really hard on their messaging, and they want to be represented well," Tefi said. “So I ask them, what if we meet in the middle? Because there's a certain way that I talk to my corner of the internet. I call it the 'voice-call approach.' I always want people to feel like I'm talking to them."

When an advertiser empowers Tefi to use her own voice, the resulting content performs better. Plus, it helps her form a stronger relationship with that brand. 

“When they trust me like that, I feel immediate brand loyalty and excitement. And those ads of mine do the best," she said. 

What Adrienne says

“If a brand takes a scripted approach or wants to control the voice of the creator, it's not going to work—the creator's audience will see right through it. The beauty of creator partnerships is that each creator is going to have a completely different way of sharing brand messaging that broadens their reach and creativity.”

What Esteban says

“Highly-involved, first-person accounts give our viewers the vicarious experience of using a product. They can easily put themselves in a creator's shoes. That kind of experience is highly informative for viewers, and it's a proxy for a real product trial."

Tip 2: Find a creative sweet spot when it comes to the central story

Just like with messaging and tone, brands should look to creators for guidance on the formats they use in content. This is especially true when selecting trends. Tefi has been in situations where a brand asked her to make content using a trend that she wasn't familiar with, or didn't particularly like. Notably, she says, dances “aren't [her] thing. If you need someone to do a dance, I'm not your girl."

Ultimately, picking a trend that doesn't make sense for a creator can do more harm than good, in terms of campaign performance and a brand's ability to connect with its target audience.

“People want to see authenticity more than they want to be sold something," Tefi said. When brands come to her with an idea for a video that doesn't align with her style, she tells them: “My audience doesn't care about this. They care about getting ready with me or storytelling."

Moral of the story? Not all formats, trends, and memes are created equal. Make sure to keep an open dialogue when deciding on these aspects of your TikTok creator marketing campaign—your performance will be better for it.

What Adrienne says

“As a brand, you don't always have to invent trends. Brands can partner with creators who are known for specific trends, or even for inventing their own creative format. Tefi is known for her multi-part video series covering pop culture, for instance. Integrating into creator trends that align with a particular community is both efficient and effective."

What Esteban says

“Trends are a collective experience on TikTok. Viewers want to see what the brand's take on a trend is. There's an expectation of how trend-forward videos will go—a temporary 'script' that will be disrupted by the brand's original twist or take. That's rewarding and entertaining for our viewers."

Tip 3: Don't be afraid to get super-specific with communities

In a world with endless messages and stories online, users are going to best connect with content that feels relevant to them. Fortunately, on TikTok, communities get hyper-specific; users come to the platform to bond over any and all interests and experiences, and no two groups within a single community are the same.

“I talk to beauty brands about this," Tefi said, specifying that the beauty community has a wealth of nuanced subcultures. “There's the stay-at-home mom of two; there's the teenager; there's the corporate girl. They're all subcultures of the beauty community. They're all different," she said.

It may seem counterintuitive to get hyper-specific like this with a creator marketing campaign, especially if a brand's goal is awareness or reach. But getting granular with community content demonstrates a level of savviness and commitment on the part of the brand that will help drive stronger trust and engagement among viewers.

What Adrienne says

“Working with specific communities gives brands a built-in authentic audience to work with for TikTok creator marketing campaigns. Then, once viewers start to engage with the video, the content will likely pick up steam and reach an even wider audience, thanks to our algorithm. Getting that initial connection with a strong community is key."

What Esteban says

“TikTok communities are created around interests. Community-based content allows brands to be congruent with consumers' goals and interests, helping them do what they want to do. And that's both enjoyable and rewarding for them."

Ready to build your creator campaign today? Head to the TikTok Creator Marketplace to get started!

1. TikTok Marketing Science Global Creators Drive Commerce Study 2022 conducted by Material. Users bought products directly on TikTok, online elsewhere,  or in-person. Creator advertising in this case means a Creator Spark ad (organic content promoted by a brand) OR a brands in-feed ad featuring a Creator (paid partnership.)
2. TikTok Marketing Science Global Entertaining Ads Study 2022 conducted by Marketcast

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