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Creators are the new Creative Directors
Thought Leadership15 July 2021

Creators are the new Creative Directors

By TikTok for Business@tiktokforbusiness
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In just two years, TikTok has become the world’s most-downloaded app, thanks to its inclusive mission to inspire creativity and bring joy. It’s a stage for performers, a field for athletes, a canvas for artists and a sandbox for users’ biggest and boldest ideas.

Not only has it created an online environment which delights as much as it entertains, it’s also turned the traditional ‘influencer’ stereotype on its head, with its new generation of Creators.

As Jo Burford, global head of marketing at influencer marketing agency Whalar, notes, TikTok Creators differ from traditional influencers in that they “approach content with a more performative and light-hearted approach.” Plus, “they respond to trending hashtags rapidly, and put out content without agonising over whether it’s perfect. It’s this free-spirited attitude that sets them apart.”

They’re also experts in their field, knowing the platform inside out and understanding exactly what their followers want from them. They live and breathe TikTok – making them the perfect partner for any brand wanting to fit in on the platform.

These Creators are talented producers in their own right. They don’t need a fancy studio or perfect lighting – just a phone and the TikTok app are enough. For example, top Creators including Abby Roberts, Estare, Elmo and Loren Gray recently collaborated with ASOS on its recent #AySauceChallenge. They used an augmented reality Branded Effect and bespoke music to show off their best outfits and channel their Asos vibe, which encouraged 167,000 users to take part in the challenge. The Creators’ enormous combined following generated an engagement rate of 15.9%, and saw a 25% increase in brand awareness.

Similarly, Nike’sfirst-ever collaborative TikTok campaign let the Creator take the lead. Ben Black – aka @Ben – is an established football Creator with over 3.2 million likes, who worked with Nike on their #MagicBoots challenge. He posted videos of footballers Andy Robertson, Phil Foden and Kevin De Bruyne showcasing the tricks they could achieve with Nike’s new boots. The Hashtag Challenge prompted over 69,000 users to get involved, generating 46.5 million interactions and increasing Nike’s TikTok following by over 60%. As Ben says, “On #MagicBoots, I turned up to four different locations on four different days with an idea, my phone and tripod – and it’s been one of the most successful TikTok campaigns.”

As native, established TikTok Creators, they instinctively know how to create content that aligns with our ground-breaking proposition, don’t make ads, make TikToks. Entertainment is everything when it comes to connecting with customers, with 75% of TikTokers saying they come to the app to be entertained. Creators know how to answer that need, producing content such as Munya Chawawa and Niall Gray’s collaboration with Old Spice, re-creating the iconic ‘The man your man could smell like’ campaign with an irreverent, British spin.

A new era of collaboration

Creators are a genuine alternative to the traditional Executive Creative Director (ECD). Their level of insight and understanding of the platform can compete with any agency, with the added guarantee of authenticity and an engaged audience. Creators are usually involved in a campaign from conception to execution, guaranteeing exemplary results and saving money to boot.

A recommendation from a Creator is like a glowing endorsement from your best friend – you know you can trust their judgement, so you’re reassured that any brand they align with is worth your time. This kind of intimacy at a huge scale is invaluable to brands, helping them reach high levels of engagement throughout a millions-strong community.

Creators can help brands think outside the box, and show new facets of their personality. For example, when Converse was creating a campaign to promote its Creative All Star Series event at London Fashion Week, it collaborated with a group of Creators who were mostly artists, and had nothing to do with the fashion world.

James Lewis, Jake Sweet, Tooty McNooty and Vexx (who have a combined following of over 12 million) created a Hashtag Challenge Plus, encouraging TikTokers to customise a pair of Converse and post it using the #ConverseAllStar hashtag.

The Challenge received nearly 3,000 entries, featuring an incredible range of customised shoes, from embroidery, to doodles, to Blu-Tack. The most impressive entrants were awarded tickets to the event itself, which the Creators also attended, going LIVE throughout the day and showing how the power of Creators can transcend TikTok and spill over into the physical space.

Using a famous face is almost guaranteed to rack up the likes, but sometimes the biggest heroes are found in the most unexpected places. M&S Longbridge posted a video of store manager, Craig, explaining how to use the new Scan & Shop service – and went completely viral. Craig’s warmth and energy epitomises what TikTok is all about, and touched the hearts of millions of users. Craig has since become the face of M&S Longbridge and a Creator in his own right, with videos of him doing everything from dancing with a packet of Percy Pigs, to posing in front of the Eiffel Tower.

Working with Creators like Craig, or others who have authentically reached fame via the platform, can not only give you access to a wider audience, but can be much cheaper in both cost and time. A recent study by marketing agency Obviously found brands which use Creators instead of production agencies to produce content are cutting costs by 50%, while seeing a 40% increase in ad performance. Easier, cheaper, and better-performing ads? Looks like ECDs are over – it’s time for Creators to take the reins.

Creativity at your fingertips

Once you’ve come up with the campaign concept and brief, let the Creator run with it – they know their audience better than anyone else, so give them the freedom to create the content they know their users love.

Ready to get started? Head to the TikTok Creator Marketplace (TCM). With over 10,000 hand-picked Creators across 20 countries, it’s the official platform for brand and Creator collaborations on TikTok. As Creator Sherice Banton explains, TCM is the best place to find your TikTok ECD: “You can analyse all the Creators, see their engagement rates and find the right Creator for you based on your campaign objectives or topic. You can then reach out to the Creator you’ve chosen, have that conversation with them and discuss your campaign goals and the terms.”

With TCM, you can filter your search by name, region, number of followers, content topic and more to help you find your perfect match. Whether you’re looking for a beauty guru, super-mum, yodelling goatherd or tarot-reading witch, they’re all only a click away.

You can review their metrics and top videos, contact Creators and oversee your entire campaign from within the platform. And as well as tracking campaign data in real time, the Performance Monitor tool lets you measure how your campaign went with a detailed post-campaign report, including number of views, likes and comments, engagement rate and audience breakdown. It also allows you to boost your TikToks to amplify your reach and drive action, with precise targeting and clickable calls to action.

As well as this self-service platform, we have a range of ways to make collaboration even easier. Our in-house Creator Solutions team can work with you to find the right Creator for your brand and objectives, and offer support and guidance along the way. We’ve also partnered with agencies including IPG MediaBrands and WPP to help brands collaborate with a diverse community of Creators and take their TikToks to a whole new level.

A two-way partnership

I recently hosted a session at TikTok Download on the topic of how Creators have become the new creative directors with Sherice Banton and Ben Jeffries, CEO and Co-Founder of Influencer Ltd. Sherice is one of our top Creators, posting comedy, lifestyle and beauty content to her 1.7 million followers.

We discussed what makes a good brief and how a Creator approaches it, and how a Creator can stay true to themselves while working with brands, ”The creative briefs I get on TikTok are much more open to collaboration. Amazon Prime came in, and asked what I would suggest doing for their campaign.”

On the subject of Creators as creative directors, Sherice reflected on how she can work so much better when brands gave her the freedom to be creative, and that the difficult ones to work with were the ones that tried to dictate every element of their campaign. In those cases, Ben advised “Authenticity is massive. It will come across naturally if you allow Creators to be authentic. If a brief is well thought out, clear, and you have the Creator involved from the start, you’re not going to get any disagreements, and it’ll be a smooth process from start to finish”, to which Sherice added “The nature in working with a Creator, is you have to give up some level of control”.

Both Ben and Sherice had also noticed some new trends emerging recently. From micro-influencers to top Creators, they’d also seen bigger budgets for Creator campaigns, showing how brands are starting to understand the importance of TikTok’s biggest stars in promoting their businesses.

Creators can benefit just as much as brands from this kind of collaboration. Working with brands can expand their audience, offer a new side to their personality and give them the creative freedom to experiment with new forms of content.

We support our Creator community in a range of ways, including providing each one with a dedicated community manager, who offers tips and profile opportunities. We recently launched a $70 million European TikTok Creator Fund to provide financial support to Creators wanting to turn their creativity into a career. In the wake of the pandemic, we’ve also established a Creative Learning Fund, which pays Creators to produce educational content so we can all #LearnOnTikTok.

By respecting our Creators’ individuality, advertisers can benefit from the truly unique service each Creator has to offer. Whatever your objective – whether it’s boosting your views, widening your reach, or maximising your conversions – all you have to do is trust your Creator, and they can deliver bespoke, creative TikToks which let your brand’s personality shine.