Brandon Doerrer
Dec 11, 2023

TikTok study reveals five best marketing practices when working with creators

TikTok partnered with creator marketing platform CreatorIQ on the report, which reveals creator partnerships deliver maximum bang for buck on the scrollable platform.

Photo: Getty Images.
Photo: Getty Images.

Creator partnerships may be the best way to get a bang for your buck on TikTok, according to a study from TikTok and creator marketing platform CreatorIQ, identifying five creator marketing best practices.

The study includes data from several studies the TikTok marketing science team has conducted between 2021 and 2023, combined with newer campaign analyses conducted by CreatorIQ.

CreatorIQ added up the impressions, engagement and reach of five branded creator posts on TikTok to assign each an Estimated Media Value—a measurement it uses to roughly gauge the dollar value of a post. A post’s estimated value varies depending on the platform, but Tim Sovay, chief operating officer at CreatorIQ, declined to provide a specific formula or divulge how CreatorIQ quantifies these differences.

Sovay also stated that the measurement isn’t intended to be a direct guess at a post’s dollar value, but rather come up with “a foundational number to understand how brands and creators are doing.”

The study combined CreatorIQ’s math with data the TikTok marketing science team has collected over the past two years. TikTok collected much of its data in the 2022 Elements of Attention study, which surveyed 1,650 users and tested 40 creator ads for instances of a best practice. Users’ eye movements were tracked while they watched these ads using research partner Lumen’s technology. Afterward, they were given a questionnaire to get the average measurements of brand recall and purchase intent.

The study’s first recommendation is that brand creator ads on TikTok must capture attention quickly, as 90% of ad recall comes from the first six seconds. One way to immediately grab attention is to show a creator in the first two seconds of an ad, according to TikTok’s 2023 How to Hook study.

CreatorIQ illustrated this point by analysing American chain Walmart's ad made by creator couple Matthew and Paul. In the ad, Paul immediately plants his hooks by stating that he’s blind and plans to cook his husband a meal using his Walmart+ membership. CreatorIQ estimates that the ad generated more than $168,300 in media value.

The second best practice is to showcase the creator immediately. Compared to thousands of ads examined between 2022 and 2023, ads in which a creator greets the audience have seen a 112% uplift in brand recall, while ads where creators address their audience by saying “you” in the first five seconds have seen 128% increase in purchase intent. Showing the creator’s face has driven 148% rise in brand recall for entertainment ads, according to TikTok’s 2022 Elements of Attention study.

To test these metrics, CreatorIQ looked at fitness bike Peloton's ad featuring fitness creator Ajahzi Gardner. Gardner opened her ad with “Hi, Besties,” before climbing onto her bike. For ads like these, CreatorIQ pegged the brand’s estimated value on TikTok between January and September at $5.2 million.

The study also found that sound is integral to the creator ad experience on TikTok. Creator ads with music drive a +61% increase in brand recall and a +177% uplift in purchase intent. Effectiveness increases when sound is accompanied by visuals, as ads that feature text overlay are 1.4x more likely to hook a user than ads that don’t, according to the Elements of Attention study.

Using a mix of sound and text, comedian Jonathan Bynoe made an ad for Vitaminwater that pitted him against a “friend,” played by himself. Bynoe tries to enjoy his drink while his “friend” wants to take a picture of it first.

CreatorIQ estimated that his two TikTok posts generated $391,500 in media value.

The study also recommends that creator ads on TikTok demonstrate the product being used and follow up with a clear call to action. When a creator shows off a product throughout their ad, the post sees an 89% boost in brand recall and 47% increase in purchase intent. And when they close with a call to action, those ads generate a 205% increase in purchase intent, according to the Elements of Attention study. 

Each best practice recommendation can also apply to celebrity endorsements, but creators may be a better use of media funds, as six out of 10 TikTok say creators are more influential than celebrities, according to the 2022 TikTok Made Me “Blank” It study.

The line between celebrity and creator can be blurry. When in doubt, creators are defined by their expertise on a particular subject, according to creator marketing agency Sway Group.

Campaign US

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