Why brands are hiring TikTok creators to run their social media
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TikTok is a social media anomaly. For starters, it’s been growing like wildfire. GWI reports TikTok has grown its monthly user base by more than 32% since 2020, with more than 150 million current active monthly users.
Additionally, while TikTok started as an entertainment platform, it’s now one of the hottest social selling tools and an outstanding way for brands to penetrate new audiences and capture customers. In the fourth quarter of 2021 alone, TikTok reached $824 million in user spending, and it’s expected to account for 3.5% of all digital advertising spending in the U.S. by 2024.
What’s even more impressive than TikTok’s rapid growth and advertising spend is its pivotal role in creating new influencers. Recent stats show there are already 100,000+ active influencers making money from their TikTok presence.
When you look at TikTok’s unique strengths objectively, it provides a straightforward answer for how the brand can capture a portion of that $824 million in user spending on TikTok. The answer: partner with TikTok creators.
Better yet is to do what brands like Nerf, Olipop, and Jones Road Beauty have done, and that’s hire creators to run their social media accounts. Here’s a closer look at why brands are doing this and why it’s working.
TikTok creators speak to social media’s most active generation—Gen Z
Insider Intelligence reports Gen Z are robust participants on social media, especially on TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram. Additionally, a GWI study reports that these young consumers are more active on social media than any other generation.
The report showed Gen Z used social media more than Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers—across all categories. On TikTok, specifically, 69% of the users are under 25 years old.
If you want to reach these active Gen Z buyers, it’s essential to understand what messages resonate with them and what kind of content encourages their engagement. For Gen Z, that’s humorous and authentic content.
Gen Z loves humor, but their humor is different from what other generations find funny. According to the subReddit r/OutOfTheLoop titled “What is up with Gen Z humor,” not everyone understands Gen Z humor and it can be hard to get right.
Furthermore, Gen Z says over and over that they’re bored by polished and overly-produced videos. Instead, they want to see raw and relatable content on brands’ social media accounts.
Morning Brew is the perfect example of a brand that’s successfully employing a social media creator to appeal to Gen Z’s demand for humor and authenticity—and create content that captures their attention.
Toomey communicates Morning Brew’s news updates effectively, but he does it with humor that resonates well and makes it fun to watch the news.
TikTok Creators know how to get the most out of social media
TikTok creators have cheat codes. In other words, they’re already creating content on TikTok and understand how to leverage the platform’s algorithm, grow a loyal following, and engage users.
Their success depends on them being up to date on trends and on changes to the social media platform itself. “This makes them ideal candidates for running a brand’s social media, because not only do they know how to create content that converts and engages, they’re also able to adapt to changes and stay on top of trends because of their insider knowledge and personal experience,” says Logan Mallory, VP of marketing at Motivosity.
TikTok creators are in the loop and follow trends. They also have practice in managing the marketing of their own TikTok channels, making them well-equipped to do that for brands across all social media platforms.
NERF realized this back in April 2021 and hired TikTok creator Sophie Lightning as its Chief TikTok Officer.
Before hiring Sophie Lightning, NERF’s posts were sporadic and were mostly in the tens of thousands of views. When NERF announced it was hiring Lightning, its TikTok page got over 2.2 million views. It’s been uphill ever since.
TikTok users (and consumers) trust creators
Businesswire reports 61% of all consumers trust influencer recommendations over branded content. And Higher Visibility found that 26% of Gen Zers trust influencer reviews more than product page reviews.
“Creators are often seen as more relatable and trustworthy than celebrities or traditional celebrity endorsements. In a world where consumers are bombarded with marketing messages, they are more likely to listen to and trust someone who feels like a friend or peer,” says Rajesh Namase, co-founder and tech blogger for TechRT.
Consumers also report high-levels of corporate distrust. In 2020, the average trust rating for 15 major institutions dropped from 56% to 46%. What’s more, customers have been burned before by brands pretending to care about the issues they care about in their advertising campaigns.
One example is when American Airlines launched a marketing campaign to support LGBTQ+ members in 2021, but behind the scenes the company donated to Mitch McConnell’s 2020 campaign while he was trying to block the Equality Act.
Instances like this are why TikTok users look to creators and influencers rather than companies, and why it makes sense for brands to hire a trusted creator to be the face of their brand.
Hiring a TikTok creator creates brand affinity
Along the same lines, TikTok creators lend brands their personality on social media. We’ve seen over and over again that when people represent brands, consumers start to care about both the person and the brand.
This is best illustrated by SIMULATE’s NUGGS handing over the baton from one TikTok creator to another.
Raye actually created NUGGS’ TikTok page back in December of 2019 when she was acting as the brand's social media manager. She created a weird and funny narrative that started with her being trapped in a basement forced to make TikTok videos for NUGGS.
After a little over a year, Raye quit NUGGS and the soy based chicken nugget company hired Marie a couple months later. If you read through the comments on Marie’s first post on NUGGS’ TikTok page you’ll see how Raye had built up quite the loyal following. Users were puzzled and hurt and even demanded that Raye come back.
But Marie was quickly able to reshape NUGGS’ online personality and by her third post she was getting comments like, “I think you understand the content we want” and building a following of her own. This goes to show that TikTok users care about the creators brands hire. In this case, Raye and Marie.
It can cost less to hire a content creator over an agency
Now, let’s get down to brass tacks—money. On average, it can cost up to $20,000 a month to hire an agency to manage a brand’s social media accounts.
While the salaries of TikTok creators vary, according to Hope-Elizabeth Sonam, head of talent experience at We Are Rosie, the salary for a full-time TikTok creator for the marketing community ranges between $40K and $80K a year.
Much of that is due to the fact that a brand is only hiring one person and not a team. That one person is responsible for directing, storyboarding, editing, and monitoring social media performance.
Of course, brands can also simply pay TikTok to sponsor its content. TikTok requires brands to spend at least $500 on the ad campaign and then charges $0.50 for every 1000 views.
This option may be cheaper for brands up front, but as stated above, TikTok users don’t respond to sponsored content that lacks personality. So, this may just end up being a lot of work and a waste of money that yields no results.
Another option is to collaborate with creators and pay them per post. However, if a brand wants to post regularly and keep its audience engaged, that may end up being much pricier than simply putting a creator on salary.
Izea did a study on the average cost of posts based on the tier of influencer and it breaks down as follows:
- Nano influencers (1000 - 10,000 followers): $800 per post
- Micro influencers (10,000 - 50,000 followers): $1,500 per post
- Mid-tier influencers (50,000 - 500,000 followers): $3,000 per post
- Macro influencers (500,000 - 1,000,000 followers): $5,000 per post
- Mega influencers (1,000,000+ followers): $7,000+ per post
As you can see, in a lot of instances it makes financial sense to bring an enthusiastic creator in-house as a full-time employee. This approach has already been working for brands like Olipop, Nerf, and Jones Road Beauty.
TikTok creators bring a network of followers and other creators with them
Lastly, and maybe most critically, if a brand hires a TikTok creator to handle its account, it immediately puts that brand in front of that creator’s already established audience.
“These content creators already have a community and fan base supporting them. By hiring them, you expose your brand to their audience, which may immediately help you generate a ton of leads and increase your conversion rates,” says David Bitton, co-founder & CMO of DoorLoop.
Taking advantage of a creator’s network is not a new concept. Brands have been using affiliate marketing and collaborating with influencers for years now.
Take Taki’s collaboration with Charli D’Amelio getting 30 million views and 3 million likes, or Nike trying to capture the dancer demographic for its shoes by collaborating with choreographers and dancers like @lilbuckdalegend and RIEHATATOKYO.
The difference in hiring a TikTok creator instead of just collaborating with one, is that it won’t be single posts that get in front of their audience. Instead the creator’s audience will become the brand’s audience—and that’s invaluable.
Additionally, brands can take advantage of its full-time creators collaborating with other creators their full-time employee knows. This way, brands get double the audience exposure.
For example, creator Elyse Myers regularly collaborates with other creators and even celebrities like Lance Bass and atdmusic. Each time she collaborates with others, her posts receive at least a couple million views.
TikTok creators give brands the ‘in’ with TikTok users
Isabella Bedoya, founder of Fame Hackers, sums everything up nicely:
There's a huge disconnect between the way brands think marketing works and what Tiktokers want to see. By hiring creators, brands have the unfair advantage that they are hiring creators that know exactly what's working on the platform and how to join the conversations already happening on TikTok.
Bottom line? Hiring TikTok creators to run a brand’s social media is just smart business.