TikTok marketing campaigns are relative newcomers to the influencer marketing industry. Chinese owners ByteDance introduced the platform to the US back in 2017, before acquiring and then merging it with the popular Musical.ly app in August of 2018.
Although TikTok is social media’s newest kid on the block, the app has had an astronomical rise to the top. Reports in November indicated that TikTok has so far been downloaded 1.5 billion times, making it one of the most popular platforms in the world. TikTok finished the 2019 year becoming the number one most downloaded app in both the App Store and Google Play.
Now, with brands and influencers feeling more comfortable on the burgeoning platform, it has truly begun to demonstrate its potential as a marketing tool. Combined with a rapidly growing user base of young millennials and Gen Zers, TikTok has found itself in the enviable position of being the hottest influencer marketing tool of the year.
Here are 10 TikTok marketing campaigns that show just how useful the platform can be to brands and marketers:
Chipotle had its annual “Boorito” offer for Halloween this year, offering food at a reduced price for customers who ordered in a spooky outfit. Like other brands, TikTok has increasingly become a key part in Chipotle’s promotional campaign this year. The challenge involved users posting a video showcasing their before and after Halloween costume transformations, using the custom sound bite that Chipotle created just for the campaign.
The top five posts (based on number of likes) that used the #Boorito and #Contest tags would give winners free burritos for a year. Influencers who were sponsored to participate in the campaign included Brittany Broski, Zach King, and Jiffpom.
Throughout the campaign, the #Boorito tag garnered an astonishing 3.6 billion views, largely helped by partnering with influencers who could promote viral videos for the brand. Broski’s promotion racked up 160K likes in her advertisement.
This isn’t Chipotle’s first experience on TikTok. The brand has a history of success on the platform. It previously did a promotion for National Avocado Day using the tag #GuacDance, encouraging fans to post a video showing off their dance moves. The campaign got 250,000 submissions and 430 million video views in six days. Their latest campaign smashed those numbers out of the water, and will likely embolden them to pursue more campaigns in 2020.
Pharmaceutical brands have not been known to have the easiest rides when it comes to social media influencer marketing. Traditional advertising is notably harder for medicinal products. Because of FDA and FTC guidelines, influencers have to be extra careful when promoting health products. With social media stars often running afoul of requirements, brands have been cautious in how they use influencer marketing for medical brands.
Kim Kardashian’s dressing-down by the FDA caused many brands to rethink their strategies, with many now opting to avoid directly advertising medical products and instead forming partnerships that utilize influencers’ personalities to market products.
Mucinex’s campaign, its first on TikTok, was in this same mold, using creators to promote an over-the-counter product; a first for TikTok.
The campaign involved challenging users to a “transformation”; a common theme which suits the platform’s style well, making use of transitions. Transitions are slick edits from one video to another, typically done by users to show a quick, smooth change to their viewers.
To participate, users had to post a video contrasting them being “too sick” with them being “so sick” and include the tag #TooSickToBeSick, to promote their cough medicine. The challenge was a success generating over 889 million views.
They partnered with four influencers for the campaign; Jaydencroes, OurFire, dreaknowsbest, and Nick Tangorra. Jayden Croes’ effort notched up 501K likes. Altogether, the four racked up 1.8 million likes and over 20K shares.
Influencer marketing and movies go hand-in-hand. Entertainment brands have been using other platforms, like Instagram, to great effect for a number of years now. TikTok is no exception, and some entertainment products are well-suited for campaigns on the app.
The recently rebooted Charlie’s Angels was given a promotional campaign on TikTok, with over 15 influencers involved in the marketing effort. The campaign involved influencers performing a dance or skit to the lead single on the film’s soundtrack, Don’t Call Me Angel. TikTok, along with its predecessor Musical.ly, has become a hotbed for viral songs, and they are often regarded as key to a successful influencer campaign.
It’s the unique approach to music the app takes that differentiates it from other platforms and makes it an attractive option for brands and marketers. While stats are cagey, the historical indications are that the vast majority (85%) of people use other networks with no sound.
TikTok is therefore able to position itself as an app where most users will be watching and listening—a key consideration if you have three of the world’s biggest pop stars performing your tie-in song. The influencers used included Rebecca Zamola, Zoe Laverne, and Lauren Godwin, using the tag #CharliesAngelsUnite, which accrued over 4.2 billion views. 129.2K TikTok users uploaded videos using the feature song from the film.
Much like Mucinex, Kraft Heinz’s Kool-Aid had its first TikTok campaign in 2019, with a hashtag challenge and a chance to win $10,000. Users were encouraged to post videos of themselves enjoying the holiday spirit and using the tag #OhYEAHChristmas for a chance to win.
The campaign featured rapper Lil Jon and the brand mascot, Kool-Aid Man, with the pair posting three videos to the official account at @Koolaidmanofficial. Kool-Aid’s target market of younger audiences is well-served by marketing on TikTok. 60% of users in the US are 16-24 years old, making it an ideal platform for reaching out to younger consumers.
In addition to Lil Jon, influencers were brought in to engage in the campaign, such as Glitterandlazers, who has a following of 3.8 million users. Her post garnered over 1.3 million views and 79.1K likes.
Other influencers promoting the contest included kidrl, nickandsienna, and kingcamo_1, who have a combined following of 9.1 million users. Over 10K videos have been made for the challenge, which began on December 2nd and ended 10 days later. The winner will be announced early 2020.
Retail giant Kroger stands alone as the first company to participate in TikTok’s new “Hashtag Challenge Plus”. Hashtag Challenge Plus allows users to shop for products associated with a marketing campaign’s hashtag directly through the app.
This is done through the “Explore” tab, which features an in-app experience where campaign products can be purchased within TikTok. This tab has since been removed, but videos associated with the #TransformUrDorm tag have been viewed 875 million times.
This primarily serves as an additional means for TikTok to monetize its platform in a bid to avoid the pitfalls suffered by other similar short-form video platforms in the past. Kroger partnered with four influencers for the campaign: Joey Klaasen, Cosette Rinab, Mia Finney, and Victoria Bachlet, collectively boasting 13.8 million followers.
The campaign challenge itself centered around asking users to post videos showing their dorm transformations. The influencers’ uploads together racked up 3 million views, 252K likes, 1352 comments, and 1747 shares. The campaign hashtag has so far accrued 876.2 million views by TikTok users.
In spite of not being a typical hunting ground for a brand like Kroger, this campaign shows that TikTok can prove a vital tool for some brands in reaching out to those crucial Gen Z audiences that grow in importance every year.
Fitness is a vertical that performs extremely well with social media influencer marketing. Fitness influencers command substantial authority and popularity on Instagram, partly because of the aspirational nature of the platform.
Gymshark was early on the Instagram influencer train, investing heavily into the market. They have 2.9 million followers on their brand Instagram account. The company decided to translate this success from one platform to another, shifting some of their focus to younger demographics found on TikTok.
On January 1st 2019, Gymshark announced its 66 Days: Change Your Life challenge. Users were tasked with picking a personal goal, which they would then hope to achieve by March 8th, taking before and after pictures of their progress. The competition promised the winner a year’s supply of Gymshark goods.
Gymshark partnered with six influencers, at the time having a collective following of 19.8 million. They purposefully chose to collaborate with personalities who had higher followings on TikTok than Instagram, though some cross-posted their promotions there as well.
The campaign brought nearly 2 million likes, 12K likes, and an engagement rate of 11.1%. The campaign hashtag, #gymshark66, was viewed 45.5 million times.
As if any more evidence was needed that the biggest brands in the world are looking to TikTok to market their products; the world’s biggest company by revenue also got in on the act.
Walmart engaged in its first TikTok campaign—a common theme for big brands this year—by encouraging users to post videos of themselves expressing how Black Friday savings at the store make them feel with a jig.
The campaign used the tag #DealDropDance, which has to date generated a staggering 3.6 billion views on videos that included the hashtag. For the effort, Walmart signed six influencers: Montanatucker, dreaknowsbest, bdash_2, kidrl, kingcamo_1, OurFire, reaching over 17 million followers.
OurFire’s promotion, which featured the pair predictably dancing in a store, achieved over 57K likes, 488 comments, and 739 shares from their 5.5 million followers. Walmart’s involvement in yet another signal that the biggest brands are taking TikTok seriously as a marketing tool.
There are few other platforms that have such a defined and engaged Gen Z audience, and with brands catching on we can expect to see them utilizing it more frequently in 2020.
Unsurprisingly, cosmetics brands prove to be just as popular on TikTok as they are on YouTube and Instagram. Beauty brand TooFaced partnered with TikTok influencer Kristen Hancher for an ongoing campaign.
Using the hashtag #toofacedpartner, influencers post videos of themselves doing makeup routines with a before and after demonstrating their transformations. Hancher’s video featured her briefly makeup-free, before a quick edit to her transformation with her showing the products she used and a song played over the top.
The success of the video among fans was likely bolstered by her presenting herself with no makeup; uncommon for her typical upload. Her promotion garnered 1.8 million views, 167K likes, 1816 comments, and 2219 shares.
In addition to Hancher, other influencers have also partnered with the ongoing campaign. Victoria Lyn, Ewa Zawada, Laurie Elle, and Chloe Rose all signed up to participate by uploading their own promotions for the brand.
The influencers collectively account for 11.9 million followers. With Hancher’s 23.1 million, TooFaced’s reach for the campaign is a staggering 35 million TikTok users. The campaign’s tag has so far got a relatively meager 9.4 million views, but as a long-term project that unlikely to ruffle any feathers just yet.
Here we have again another brand launching its first foray into TikTok marketing. Not overly confident with digital marketing, Calvin Klein has used TikTok as something of an experiment to grow their online presence as organically as possible.
While most brands operate their strategies by seeking out influencers and leveraging their existing fan bases, Calvin Klein took a more traditional approach to their marketing. That is to say, they created an official account, hired big-name celebrities, and posted their promotional marketing material directly through the official account.
They have so far produced 22 videos, establishing a following of 5.1K. Under the tag #MyCalvins, stars such as Shawn Mendes, Kendall Jenner, and A$AP Rocky are briefly interviewed for the brand.
Given the relatively low view and like counts that the campaign has so far produced, it’s unclear whether this approach will prove to be successful in the long run. Social media platforms—TikTok in particular—thrive because their distinct subcultures.
The personalities that dominate them are often non-traditional celebrities for precisely this reason. It’s one of the reasons partnering with an influencer closely associated with the platform will give a marketer the most bang for their buck.
Video game company EA Sports is a match made in heaven for TikTok influencer marketing. The younger generations, Millennials and Gen Z, account for a large proportion of gamers, and TikTok’s gaming subculture is massive (videos with #Fortnite have over 14.3 billion on the platform).
A more comprehensive approach than most brands, EA uses TikTok to promote several of its games, such as Apex Legends, for which they recruited Brent Rivera. Rivera’s post, a comedy skit of him playing the game, which has so far got 700K likes from his 17 million followers.
Other promotions featured Gil Croes, the eighth most popular influencer on the platform with a follower count of 22.6 million. His video, also a comedic skit, featured the game Plants vs. Zombies and was liked by 505.1K users and commented on 1.9K times.
In contrast to these two huge online stars, EA also sought out a collaboration with Indie Cowie, a freestyle soccer player who helped promote Fifa 20. Her upload featured her freestyling in public, with a personal shoutout for Fifa 2020: The Groundbreakers. Partnering with a smaller influencer indicates a sophisticated strategy which is served by collaborations with a range of influencers of all sizes.
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