Want to drive sales on TikTok? Take cues from creators

June 20, 2022
Our research shows that core tenets of TikTok creator content—trust, authenticity, and participation—are closely tied to different points on the path to purchase.
cover tiktok-creators-purchase-journey

TikTok creators have changed what it means to be "influential." They care less about curating manufactured images and too-perfect feeds, and care much more about being sincere and entertaining. Yes, you can still see beautiful interiors and cool outfits on your FYP, but you also get honest stories of heartbreak, gaffes, and everyday mundanities. You get the good and the bad. You know, like how real life works.

We've watched creators lead this shift for years now, which has impacted everything from the music industry to product virality. And the whole time, we've been wondering: How, exactly, are they doing things so differently?

To get some answers, we commissioned a custom study from Hotspex to understand how TikTok Creators are redefining influence on the platform. It found that they're dedicated to authenticity, which defines the content they make; they're trusted by viewers; and they encourage participation

image-1 tiktok-creators-purchase-journey

And it just so happens that the core tenets of TikTok creator content—trust, authenticity, and participation—are closely tied to different points on the path to purchase. It's proof of what we've long known to be true: creators are an essential part of marketing and selling products. Let's look at each of those tenets, and analyze how they feed into the TikTok purchase journey.

Part I: Authenticity

64% of viewers say that creator content feels authentic and some of the most popular video formats, like POVs and "get un-ready with me" videos, are focused on realness. In short: Being real is the name of the game on TikTok. That's huge for product discovery and consideration. Viewers feel connected to honest Creator content. When that content features a brand, they can feel connected to that brand, too.

So whether you're working with a creator or making content from your TikTok Business Account, you, as a marketer, should prioritize authenticity and entertainment in your messaging. Don't try to oversell anything, or make a product out to be something it's not. It sounds simple, but in an era where marketing on other platforms is grounded in aspiration, it makes all the difference.

The easiest way to work with creators at the discovery/consideration stage is to boost organic content about your brand with Spark Ads. This lets you share real opinions of your brand and allows creators to earn money from their existing videos. Talk about a win-win situation.

Don't see your product or brand in existing organic content? No problem. You can partner with a creator to make some. Find the best creators for you through the TikTok Creator Marketplace, our self-serve creator database.

image-2 tiktok-creators-purchase-journey

Part II: Trust

Because TikTok creators are so honest, they've built a strong sense of credibility—and users trust them. So they're more likely to listen to what creators have to say, including when they talk about products or brands. This has implications for purchase decisions. 71% of TikTok viewers say that qualities related to a creator or influencer's authenticity motivated them to buy from a brand.

What does this mean for you as a marketer? When you build out branded content partnerships, let creators be themselves. That protects the valuable credibility of trust that creators have built on the platform. A great way to do this is by inviting creators into the process of making content as early as possible. You don't need to have a prescriptive in order to engage them. In fact, the less prescriptive you can be, the better—as long as your goals are clear, creators can help you build out your content plan from the get-go, resulting in a more native, entertaining campaign.

image-3 tiktok-creators-purchase-journey

Part III: Participation

A hallmark of TikTok content is co-creation—the idea that users can, and should, build on each others' videos. Creators encourage this by making videos that prompt people to respond in some way, like videos that start with "stitch this" or "duet this." They also welcome remixes of and references to their videos. This inspires more and more people to make videos. 62% of viewers say TikTok inspired them to make their own content after seeing a creator video.

This is big for post-purchase behavior. Unlike the traditional marketing funnel, which ends with a purchase, TikTok is bolstering a purchase loop. When a user buys something they found on TikTok, there's a good chance they'll make their own video review for TikTok and inspire other users to buy the product. Those other users might come back to TikTok and make a review, as well, and the cycle continues.

There's no way to guarantee user-generated content (UGC). But, oftentimes, when users see creators rave about a product in a video, they get a sense of FOMO—fear of missing out—and buy the product so they can be a part of that cultural moment. So partnering with creators on organic, authentic branded content can set you up for waves of UGC. And if you attach a specific hashtag to a video, or enable Duets and Stitches, you'll give users the tools they need to engage. Another tool that can drive UGC is Branded Mission, an industry-first solution that enables advertisers to crowdsource authentic content from creators on TikTok, turn top-performing videos into ads, and drive media impressions.

Bottom line? If you focus on making honest, entertaining product videos with creators, and try to encourage things like remixes, Duets and Stitches, you'll set yourself up for a wave of responses.

image-4 tiktok-creators-purchase-journey

That's it!

Sadly, this post is over. Hopefully you feel more equipped to work with creators on a campaign that drives success. If you're eager to learn more about the findings of our custom creator study, visit the Trend Story. It has more insights, including videos from a creator interpreting the findings from her point of view. Check it out now.


1. TikTok Marketing Sciences Global Creators Like Me Study, 2021, conducted by Hotspex

Please see our branded content pages for details about the branded content toggle and our policies which set out what can and can't be posted as branded content on TikTok.