If you’ve ever heard of or used Musical.ly, you’ll get the gist of TikTok.
Musical.ly was immensely popular with over 200M users. It was subsequently bought over by Chinese Internet giant Bytedance which merged it with TikTok, the Chinese version of Musical.ly.
TikTok in a nutshell: Former Musical.ly users can still film themselves lip-syncing or acting out comedy sketches for up to 15 seconds, with songs and sound effects available on the platform (or add in their own sound bytes!). One of the major incentives, which is a big selling point with brands and influencers, is collaboration — a split-screen diptych that appears when you reply to someone’s video. This feature is exclusive to TikTok.
In 2018 alone, TikTok was installed more times on the AppStore as compared to Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube, and Instagram. It also has 6 million US downloads as of November 2018, and while this is still just a margin of Facebook and Instagram, it has already surpassed Snapchat and Twitter.
Using TikTok for Influencer Marketing
TikTok doesn’t and shouldn’t function alone. They have an Instagram account, @tiktok, where they repost some of the more popular or viral videos, thus reaching an audience beyond just those who already have the app. The key is also to invest in influencers that have a sizeable audience across both TikTok and Instagram.
In January 2016, the number of followers on the @tiktok Instagram account first hit 1M. By the end of the same year, 10M people were following TikTok on Instagram.
More than 500 million people are currently using the TikTok app and 26M people are following their account on Instagram.
Here is a list of the hashtags currently trending on TikTok. While most of them are still viral content/meme-like posts, it is interesting to note that a socio-environmental cause like #sgearthhour2019 has made it to the list. This is attractive to a brand because it proves that there is opportunity for various kinds of hashtags to trend on TikTok. This makes room for further collaborations between influencers and products/services that brands can leverage on.
In November 2018, TikTok invested quite a bit of money to get Cardi B on board as a TikTok ambassador. She posted a video on TikTok, which she then shared to her Instagram, challenging Offset to a (w)rap battle.
Offset is not as active on TikTok (the only 2 videos he has uploaded were in response to Cardi B’s challenge) so he only garnered about 7K likes, but Cardi B got 40K likes on the video above. Watch the full exchange here:
Cardi B has gone on to promote brands like Pepsi on TikTok, telling us that this app is very much at the forefront of our future.
Who are the top TikTok + Instagram Influencers to work with?
1 – @lorengray (Total Tik Tok + Instagram Audience: 48.8M)
Loren Gray is the most followed influencer on her Tik Tok and Instagram accounts combined, with 30.5M on the former and 16.3M on the latter. She is a native to TikTok, having first made her debut on Musical.ly, and is generally famous for her doll-like appearance. She is flawlessly photogenic, which makes her an especially good ambassador: her feed is aesthetic and she is pleasant to look at.
Like most other influencers, she was at Coachella 2019. Here is a video she posted to TikTok, which provides a handy recap of the weekend complete with clips from performances, #ootd posts and such. Her average engagement rate is 5.10%, which is notably high for a macro influencer from the US.
She also has a very international Instagram audience, which makes her a good ambassador for global campaigns on both social media platforms.
2 – @lisaandlena (Total Tik Tok + Instagram Audience: 47.2M)
With 32.7M fans on TikTok, they are the app’s most followed influencers. Together with their Instagram audience of 14.5M, they have quite an immense following of 47.2M. If you follow the twins on Instagram you would have been able to use their custom Instagram filter for stories.
This post about sibling antics got 2.3M likes and the other kinds of content they share is often heartwarming and wholesome: personal stories, healthy eating tips, yoga exercises, coordinated dance routines and such. This makes them attractive to both brands and consumers because of their relatable, down-to-earth nature — brands can capitalise on their immense audience & reach for brand awareness while at the same time resting assured that engagement rates will remain high.
A cursory look at their audience distribution by country (on Instagram) gives us an idea of how global their influence is.
*UPDATE* Lisa and Lena have since deactivated their TikTok account.
3 – @babyariel (Total Tik Tok + Instagram Audience: 38.7M)
Second to Lisa and Lena is Ariel with 29.3M fans on TikTok and 9.4M followers on Instagram.
She puts out quite a lot of content, but mostly she uses the platform to release soundbytes of her original music. Right after her song ‘I Heart You’ debuted, she started the #iheartyou challenge on TikTok, as seen in the post below:
From the perspective of a brand, what is attractive about Ariel as an influencer is the fact that she is innovative. Upon releasing her single, she was able to craft various kinds of content on TikTok to promote it. She also hosts regular segments on Instagram which helps to curate an audience who trust her opinion.
4 – @jacobsartorius (Total Tik Tok + Instagram Audience: 29.4M)
Coming in 4th is Jacob with 20.4M fans on Tik Tok and 9M followers on Instagram. Jacob is shirtless half the time and a lot of the comments mention his ‘glo-up’, which is perhaps what has made him so increasingly popular. He is also occasionally funny and has a good fashion sense (arguably alternative with the black nail polish) which makes him a particularly influential icon amongst young people.
For example, the age distribution on his Instagram account is as follows:
The majority of his followers are young people, but at the same time fall into an age bracket that is older. As a brand, this is key information, because you want to put your product out there to people with purchasing power.
5 – @kristenhancher (Total Tik Tok + Instagram Audience: 27.8M)
Kristen has 22.2M fans on TikTok and 5.6M followers on Instagram. While she has the smallest following on Instagram of everyone in the list, her audience is steadily growing and she gained a good 86.4K followers just this month.
People call her the ‘transition queen’ and for good reason: her videos are seamless with the right touch of ‘stop-motion’ that we get from an app like TikTok. And these videos aren’t as easy to film as they look, despite only being 15 seconds long. A lot of work goes into the video-making and so to be titled ‘transition queen’ is quite a testament to how savvy Kristen is with the platform.
She mostly uses Instagram to promote various makeup and fashion products, but she also uses TikTok to create funny transitions for her brand collaborations, like this one that she made for @officialboohoo:
Here we get to see various outfit changes in motion, complete with the TikTok effects. Slap on a campaign hashtag and craft parallel content for Instagram and your brand is good to go.
TikTok and Instagram: A Functional Pair
Instead of looking at these platforms as competitors, we see value in using them in tandem. TikTok offers unique features that Instagram does not (and vice versa) so it makes sense that brands leverage on both platforms simultaneously to get the most coverage and content out of a brand awareness campaign. At the same time, the apps are both also not vastly different. Most influencers who are on TikTok likely already have a following on Instagram, and the 5 I have listed here are successful on both fronts, which just adds a facet of content stimulation for audiences and consumers.
We are excited to see what else TikTok comes up with, and what kinds of collaborative social media marketing campaigns we can look forward to on these two platforms.