7 Ways to Fail Using TikTok in Your Influencer Campaigns

One of the more famous commencement speeches ever given was delivered by comedic genius Johnny Carson. Carson’s speech on the prescriptions for guaranteed misery in life was meant to be delivered as an inversion to the typical advice given to youths vis-a-vis a how-to list for success. Modeled on the famous algebraist Carl Gustav Jacob Jacobi for inverting problems in order to determine a proper solution, this is precisely how one can achieve success in creating a TikTok influencer campaign. By focusing on what will lead to certain failure, we can use this as a mechanism for avoiding it.

7 Ways to Fail Using TikTok in Your Influencer Campaigns:

1. Don’t bother to set a goal for your campaign. Hire every influencer you can find!

One of the easiest ways to ensure certain failure in any marketing campaign is to follow the advice of “Shoot! Ready? Aim!” Without proper goal setting when approaching TikTok, it can be easy to hire hundreds, if not thousands, of hungry influencers that are excited to earn money and make funny videos. Are they performing the right activities? Are they performing them in the right order? Without having a specific goal in mind, the campaign becomes more of a guess and way to lose money than it is a recipe for success.
Instead, consider following the SMART methodology. As an example, let’s consider a generic facial cosmetics company.

S – Specific. The goal cannot be vague (For example, a specific goal might be $50,000 in new sales, directly attributable to TikTok).

M – Measurable. Right away one might see the importance of measurability with TikTok. Only ads can be directly clicked off of a video, so how will you measure results: specific coupon codes? A specific URL?

A – Actionable. Thankfully, this is somewhat easier as the action is a sale. ‘A’ can also be viewed as attainable. Using that version of the methodology, is the $50,000 in new sales realistic or just a hope?

R – Relevant. Driving direct sales off a social marketing platform like TikTok is relevant for a Direct-to-consumer facial cosmetics company. However, if the cosmetics could only be purchased through a complicated process that requires a set of additional hurdles prior to purchase, similar to some B2B prospecting campaigns, then the goal wouldn’t be relevant.

T – Timeline. Over what time period will the $50,000 in new sales directly attributable to TikTok be earned in? A goal of one month is vastly different than one year.
Setting those smart goals will help the cosmetic company avoid the pitfall of not knowing why they are doing a TikTok campaign in the first place.

2. There’s no need to develop a buyer persona. Everyone will want this product!

The fallacy of many first-time entrepreneurs is in assuming everyone is a potential buyer of their product. This optimism usually leads to a lack of focus on the most likely buyers of the product. To combat this logical fallacy, it is often necessary to create what is known as buyer personas. Doing so will help you get into the mind of the people most likely to make a purchase based off your TikTok campaign.
For this example, let us choose a more difficult product example: guitars. Not just any guitars… High-end guitars.
⦁ Do you have any previous customers? The quickest way to understand buyer personas is by looking into your previous sales – if you are a newer brand, then you might need to focus on your primary competitors and their customers instead. In either scenario, some semblance of data is needed to start.
⦁ Presumably if you have previous customers or at least some data on whom your competitors’ customers are, you have their email. Using a service like Clearbit, you can traverse their social footprint, which becomes necessary to gain deeper insight into who your buyers really are.
⦁ Now that you know the social presence, you can begin formulating psychological profiles. Who do your customers aspire to be? Who are their influences? Are they interacting with particular pieces of influencing content on a regular basis as seen by their likes and shares?
⦁ Can you draw any inferences into whom their peers are? This is the magic – if you have decent psychological profiles of your buyers in groups, you can use a tool like LinkedIn Sales Navigator to try and find similar job titles and industries that might enrich the data further and show interesting connections. For instance, are your high-end guitar buyers all accountants for some strange reason? Are they of a certain age? Are they professionals in your industry or simply enthusiasts?
Knowing who the possible buyers are will help that guitar company determine everyone ranging from peer influencers to the enthusiast buyers and aspirational spreaders of their message, while avoiding the demographics that do not seem to be represented as buyers, at least for the first round of testing.

3. TikTok is hot right now. It’ll be perfect for my use case, right!?

It is true that when a network is hot, the attention has a tendency to beget more attention. It is also true that with newer networks, an influencer with a fast-growing audience may not know their worth, especially if it is the first time this influencer has experienced viral posts and general social success. That said, TikTok shouldn’t be used as the primary channel for every single use case, as there may be far better network choices.

The best way to assess this decision is by utilizing a social channel usefulness matrix:

How would TikTok fit into a matrix like this?

  • Open Reach – Snapchat is a great example of a network that does not have open reach as one must be a verified follower of the content. Conversely, TikTok is like YouTube, where anyone can access the short format videos created. Score that Y.
  • Visual – does TikTok support visual content? Clearly it does. Give it another Y.
  • Casual – the casual quotient often relates to brand guidelines which require a certain use of language and script adherence. An example would include trying to reach B2B buyers in a complicated service on Linkedin. Given TikTok’s primary demographics skewing younger, comparing it to the rest of the matrix, it is the largest Y.
  • Professional – similar to casual content usage, this becomes a question of whether if feels normal to encounter professional content on the network. At the time of creating the matrix, Instagram and Pinterest received a N in our scoring, though both have matured over the years. Presently TikTok would also score a N.
  • Detailed – is it possible to post a complicated, long format review of a product or service on TikTok? Currently, the answer is N. That said, depending on what happens with TikTok post M&A and technology partners are aligned, longer format videos may be the next evolution.
    Would this matrix have any bearing on using TikTok as the cosmetics or guitar brands in the previous examples? Probably not, unless the specifics of the product required more detailed explanation on what was occurring beyond a before and after video or duet.

Would this matrix have any bearing on using TikTok as the cosmetics or guitar brands in the previousexamples? Probably not, unless the specifics of the productrequired more detailed explanation on whatwas occurring beyond a beforeandafter video orduet.

4. Bigger must be better; hire the TikTok influencer with the biggest audience and move on.

Is bigger really better? One can only imagine how disastrous this strategy would be absent an understanding of whether TikTok is the right channel to promote on, to what audience, and for what goal.

The next step is determining the right influencer type for the campaign, which can quickly be determined by using another matrix:

Of the three types of influencers, which one best meets the needs of the campaign? If the goal is purely branding and the buyer personas are so numerous that the appeal is broad (such as a new flavor of snack foods), then aspirational influencers with large audiences might be appropriate. However, in each of the cosmetics and guitar brand examples above, is this the case?

For the cosmetics brand, a strong reach is desired in order to focus on sales. However, the most important demographic fit for the buyer personas is likely to be peers, as the cosmetics niche caters to look and feel. If those peers have a large audience, this is a bonus. Peer influencers have the innate ability to inform their viewers quickly and credibly about a product or service, encouraging sales. The emotional appeal is also a strong reason to use peer level influencers, and buyers desperately want to acquire the emotional state of those advertising the product as much as the product itself.

For the guitar brand, as the product is a high-end guitar which a steep price tag, content consumers need to know they can trust the opinion of the influencer, which leads many brands to favor an authoritative type. Authoritative influencers may not have the same reach as the celebrity aspirational types, but they are more trusted, capable of informing, and provide sufficient relevancy.

Having sorted out the general influencer types, a brand needs to get more granular, as there is a wide variance with TikTok influencers as it pertains to their probability of influence.
The probability of influence can be quickly distilled into:

Outcome = (Reach * Engagement * Relevance) – Cost.

Reach –this is easiest to determine as TikTok will display the overall audience size each influencer has.

Engagement – every influencer network and brand seems to have a different method of calculating engagement. You will find several great articles here on Influencer Marketing Hub to help you pick the method that best aligns with how you might measure engagement. For simple purposes on TikTok, one can divide the overall views a post receives by the number of followers an influencer has. Keep in mind that some posts are more evergreen and popular over long periods of time than others, so engagement is a moving target.

Relevance – by utilizing the matrix on influencer types, the relevance is better known. However, for the sake of argument, consider the cosmetics company once again. Is the cosmetics-centric TikToker who is 20 years younger than your core buyer persona more relevant with her consistent reviews of all cosmetic products than a TikToker belonging to the perfect demographic that has never reviewed a cosmetic product on her channel? You are assigning a fit percentage and it’s absolutely going to be a guess (at least initially), however it is going to be a very educated guess.

Cost – Some TikTokers are very open with their rates and some are not. The cost to take into account here needs to include all your hidden costs too, such as the product cost to you, shipping, and any other intangibles.

Going through this exercise will help to drastically narrow down, in a rough order, which TikTok influencers are best to hire based on simple math.

5. You don’t need to test your pitch, just email everyone immediately!

Numerous sales books have been written on the art of pitching. Interestingly, much of the material in those books has to do with prequalifying those one pitches. While some success might occur by flatly reaching out to every influencer uncovered in the previous steps, the failure rate on the bulk pitch is going to be a lot higher.

Instead, incorporate a culture of testing and focus on only providing the very best pitch, which means focusing on converting copy and a proper value exchange.

Brands should avoid sending multiple page pitches complete with brochures, PDFs of statistics, and a brand guideline. It’s too much!

Since the hard work of determining who to reach out to is done, it is now time to focus on reaching out those individuals with a simple, clear, and desirable message. The time for exchanging massive amounts of brand information can always come later.

As it pertains to the value exchange, be exceptionally explicit. Explain what you are willing to provide in exchange for very concrete actions. The worst pitches we see are usually vague and open-ended, in addition to being long and unfocused.

Finally, send your initial pitches out in batches, so you can test. If no one is opening up your emails, then the subject needs to be changed. If the influencers are opening the emails but no actions are taken then you will need to focus on your message. If that does not work, you will need to improve the value of the pitch being offered. If none of that works, are you really reaching out to the right TikTokers?

6. TikTok is good enough by itself. Why do anything else?

The worst thing a brand can do when faced with a successful campaign is leave it alone and let it run in isolation. The social landscape is exceptionally varied and diverse, allowing intelligent brand managers to make use of the ecosystem in a way that consistently expands returns on the initial influencer investment. If successful TikTok posts are being made that satisfy the overall campaign goals, what else can a brand do?
Co-Opt – if a brand has the permission to do so, why not transition the post as an embed into landing pages for social proof, into a blog by offering a written transcription of the review, or compile it with similar reviews as a “wall of love” or mega blog post?
Engage – If a brand has the ability to share your most successful TikTok review posts and encourage others to do the same, this is a low investment way to extend the success.
Amplify – amplification can mean spreading a post on the same network, spreading eyeballs to that post on other networks such as Twitter and Facebook, amplifying the post via TikTok ads, or a combination of all of these by reposting on other network channel, which then are advertised to lookalike audiences.
Retarget – if the brand is using the right ad network cookies, the visitors from the promotion can be uploaded into Facebook or Google for an extended retargeting campaign to improve conversion chances.
Email – the most overlooked marketing channel pairs wonderfully with TikTok. Since it was determined that the TikTok campaign is performing well, there will be one or more great reviews. These reviews can then be compiled into an email drip campaign to either prospective buyers, inactive customers that once purchased, or used in conjunction with a reward coupon for valued consumers.
Never let influencer content live in a vacuum; it can be used in a myriad of ways to extend its use.

7. Never look back. The campaign was probably good enough when it was initiated.

The only way to know if the Tiktok campaign was a failure or a success is to compare the result to its original goal. Over the course of a campaign, weak goals can be exposed, biases can be challenged, and tweaking may be necessary. The only way to fully understand the outcome is to perform a post-mortem.
In order to properly perform a post-mortem, the brand needs to commit to ample notetaking throughout the campaign process. Relying on memory over the course of a month or longer will result in lost details associated with how influencers responded to the pitch, the amounts and number that chose to negotiate, how long of a delay existed between pitch and posted review, as well as how many revisions were required.

Was the goal achieved?

Was the goal achieved from the expected buyer personas?

Was traffic better or worse than expected? Why?

What was the conversion rate? Did it differ by influencer? Why?

There are a multitude of other data-driven questions that require data-driven answers which can only come from copious notetaking and data acquisition throughout the campaign. From those answers might come new ones such as whether different roles need to be involved to increase the success of the campaign in the future, whether the process can be tweaked to: 1. Do more 2. Operate faster 3. Operate at a lower expense. Additionally, you will need to consider whether the campaign needs to be expanded to multiple channels, or even scraped entirely due to other non-TikTok campaigns outperforming.
By fervently focusing on the details of the campaign, after the campaign is complete and setting aside emotions that may arise from those successes or failures, a brand can set themselves up for success rather than fall victim to failure.

To avoid the seven ways to fail in your next TikTok campaign, consider signing up for a free demo of Intellifluence.


Joe Sinkwitz

Joe Sinkwitz is an executive, author, father, and husband, living in sunny Scottsdale, AZ. Holding dual bachelors of science degrees in Management Information Systems and Operations Management from the University of Arizona and an MBA from W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, he takes an analytical approach to the softer side of the persuasive sciences which comes with his 20+ year involvement in digital marketing. Focusing primarily in SEO (Principal of Digital Heretix), digital marketing education (co-founder of Digital Marketers Organization), and of course influencer marketing (CEO of Intellifluence), he distilled this background into 'The Ultimate Guide to Using Influencer Marketing', available on Amazon.

About the Author
Werner Geyser, founder of Influencer Marketing Hub, is a distinguished digital marketing expert with over 18 years of experience working with marketing agencies and marketing software companies. Werner successfully scaled Influencer Marketing Hub to 5 million monthly visitors, establishing it as a premier destination for influencer marketing resources. His keen expertise is further highlighted by his collaboration with social media marketing platforms such as Brandwatch and Upfluence, as well as his impactful contributions to top-tier influencer and digital marketing agencies including Viral Nation and NeoReach. His engagements with these industry leaders exemplify his depth of knowledge and the trust placed in his capabilities, positioning him as a leader of innovation in digital marketing.