Photo by visuals on Unsplash
I was recently approached with an offer to run a digital marketing campaign that was to be primarily focused on TikTok, would utilize a handful of TikTok “influencers,” with a budget large enough to pay these influencers whatever the going rate would be for a person with a sizable enough audience.
I politely declined.
Nothing against Tiktok, but I’ve had a somewhat longstanding issue to this approach to influencer marketing. Many of us spend hours on various social media platforms, be it Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, etc., but when it comes time to use these platforms for business purposes, we tend to just shut our brains off when trying to think of something that is really going to resonate with people.
TikTok is the shiny new toy in the world of social media marketing, and with the average user spending 89 minutes per day watching these super short videos, it is also the newest platform on which to totally waste your advertising dollars. Simply put, a few influencers running your ad or wearing your brand will never be enough to conquer the short attention spans of Millenials and Gen-Zers. If you’re a Millenial or Gen-Z you know this. You could’ve just watched the most awesome video you thought you would ever see and if you don’t save it, 5 30 second videos later, you’ve already forgotten about it. You’ll try to search it and you won’t find it. Google will be no help either because social media moves even faster than Google does.
Furthermore, it has been found that influence actually plateaus and wanes the bigger the following. What I’ve often noticed in the preliminary stages of planning a viral marketing campaign is that many businesses, perhaps captivated by the “shiny new toy effect,” lack the introspection to note that in the same way that they apparently think with two different brains when using social media for leisure versus business, but so too do most influencers. This is why maybe 95% of the influencer campaigns I see end up being terribly ineffective.
The 5% that are very well done all convey something I like to call the “decentralization factor,” and for those that saw Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s the “We Are Groot” factor. It’s the smaller and closer you make something feel, the easier it is for more people to want to pick it up and carry it along and be a part of it. Years ago, a competitor of mine had a rooftop lounge that was decorated with hanging lights that were easily distinguishable and made that particular rooftop stand out. This competitor had a truly inept Instagram and a team that really had no idea how to showcase it, so it seems only fitting that their best advertisement came unintentionally, in the form of a pair of feet kicked up with the lights overhanging as the sunset and the stars began to come into view. There was no caption, just a pinned location that let you know where the user was.
To put it simply, the decentralization factor encourages the common person to participate. It is small, simplistic, and modular, but builds on itself to become a system. The math makes sense, too. Engagement declines the bigger the influencer (and the cost of the influencer likely increases as well). By increasing the number of influencers, engagement increases and is more likely to have a multiplicative effect as brand exposure continues to increase.
You don’t need a lot of money to run a decent influencer marketing campaign. In this day and age, social media has made it easier than ever to share where we are, what we’re doing, and who we’re doing it with, and how it’s going. Keep this in mind the next time you are planning an influencer campaign.
You can find this and many more tips on branding and influencer marketing in my new book Clout-Based: Three Essential Tenets of Influencer Marketing.