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Ross Gray: Cloud Campaign COO Talks About The Importance Of Influencer Marketing On TikTok And Why It’s The Best Marketing Strategy Today

TikTok changed the digital marketing landscape and opened opportunities for businesses to partner with influencers. Today, influencer marketing has become one of the most effective and in-demand strategies businesses can use. 

TikTok changed the digital marketing landscape and opened opportunities for businesses to partner with influencers. Today, influencer marketing has become one of the most effective and in-demand strategies businesses can use. 

In an interview, Ross Gray gives us more insight into the state of influencer marketing in TikTok, how it impacts businesses today, and how it’ll evolve in the future.

Who is Ross Gray?

Ross Gray is the COO of Cloud Campaign, an organic social media management platform. They work with marketing agencies managing anywhere from 1 to 3,000 clients. These agencies generally manage Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and TikTok. 

These agencies use Cloud Campaign to create content for different businesses and schedule it all out. The platform also handles content management, and community management, provides reports, and more.

“We specialize in working with marketing agencies. We work with a few thousand of them. I’m sure you’re aware of influencer marketing is growing rapidly. There are a lot of agencies now that work with businesses, helping them cross the bridge between influencers and businesses. I’ve worked with at least a few hundred agencies specializing in influencer marketing,” Ross adds.

Importance of Influencer Marketing on TikTok

TikTok is growing rapidly and has become one of the most interesting platforms in terms of influencer marketing. The biggest reason more and more businesses flock to TikTok is because of the engagement rates. 

Ross explains, “Just to give you an idea, if you have over a hundred thousand followers on TikTok, your average engagement rate is around 16%. As an aggregate, it’s about a 3% to 9% engagement rate across TikTok influencers. And that is so far and above all other platforms.”

According to Ross, every other platform has an engagement rate of less than 1%, except for Instagram, which is 1%. For comparison, Facebook is only 0.01%. 

“So, when you compare an engagement rate of 0.01% to 16%, it’s easy to see why everybody is going after TikTok influencers,” Ross adds.

How to Start Creating Marketing Campaigns on TikTok 

The more important strategy in creating effective marketing campaigns on TikTok is finding an influencer that matches the business’s brand, voice, and customers. The follower count is important, but it shouldn’t be the sole deciding factor in choosing which influencer to work with. 

Ross says, “One mistake businesses make is they just look at follower count, and that’s all, they go off. They just say, ‘Hey, this influencer has a lot of followers, and so therefore, that’s the person I’m going to partner.'”

Fortunately, there are now influencers in every segment of the market. This means businesses can find an influencer that resonates with their audience, even if they’re micro-influencers. 

“You don’t need to go after somebody with 20 million followers. What I generally encourage businesses to do and what I see agencies do is try to understand the business and the audience of the influencer and make sure that those match. And then just reach out,” Ross suggests.

But TikTok does have its downsides, like paying influencers way less than every other platform today. TikTok does not pay well for view per impression. This is why TikTok influencers try to branch out on Instagram and YouTube using content they made on TikTok. 

How to Identify Potential Influencers for Partnership in TikTok

Businesses should consider what their customers look up to and act like them — determine what they type when they’re looking for something online. 

Ross adds, “I met a plumber with a huge following on TikTok. And if somebody goes, ‘Hey, how do I install a vanity?’ that’s what they’re going to search. And now, all of a sudden, you’ll see these top-ranking influencers who can show you how to do that on TikTok or YouTube.”

Ross suggests businesses start searching, put themselves in their customer’s shoes, and determine what they would type online. After these steps, it’s easier for businesses to find trending individuals who made a name in the niches customers are searching for.

Biggest Mistakes Businesses Commit When Doing Influencer Marketing

As previously mentioned, many businesses are guilty of choosing an influencer based on the number of their followers and not considering any other metrics. Ideally, businesses should look into the influencer’s engagement rates, the quality of their content, and if their content matches the business’s brand. 

Another reason why influencer marketing campaigns fail is because businesses don’t set clear goals. Ross says, “Businesses will jump into something just because they want it to work and not establish the goals they want out of it. I think it’s really important to say, ‘Okay, we’re going to partner with an influencer because we want to achieve XYZ goal.’ And make sure those goals are clear with the influencers you will work with.”

Successful Influencer Marketing Campaigns on TikTok 

Many brands have worked with Cloud Campaign, particularly brands in ecommerce. The success of many ecommerce brands today is due to their partnerships with big TikTok influencers. This is especially true for businesses with audiences between 16 to 35 years old. 

“I’ve seen a ton of them [businesses] where you have somebody who will talk through your product, and you want to come across as real on TikTok. And that’s a great way to build your brand off of the recognition of these influencers,” Ross states. 

Influencers speaking honestly and openly about certain products on TikTok have become commonplace. More specifically, having influencers give an authentic review of products. This strategy has driven more traffic, engagement, and sales for many businesses. 

Measuring Campaign Success on TikTok and Other Platforms

An increase in the number of sales is an indicator that the influencer campaign is successful. That’s what businesses are going for, and that should be clear when partnering with influencers. 

Ross adds, “When you partner with an influencer, you’re using their trustworthiness and social validation with your potential buyers, right? They’re going to look at the credibility of the person associating themselves with your brand, which has so much pull. All the statistics show people are more likely to engage and buy a product if it’s associated with somebody that they trust.”

In summary, sales should come out of the campaign. There are easy ways to measure that, like using UTM or Urchin Tracking Module parameters on links that influencers send out. Businesses can give influencers special links so anybody who signs up or buys using that link can give businesses better attribution into who’s actually buying. 

Then there are intangible metrics businesses can use. Ross explains, “There are people who are going to see the video and use the link. They’re going to come to your website directly, and you’ll see spikes because of it. For intangibles, that will be building brand awareness and brand equity. Some of that is more of a long-term play and harder to measure but equally important.”

How Technology and AI Impact Influencer Marketing on TikTok

Ross is interested to see where AI in TikTok will go. He recognizes the popularity of ChatGPT right now and the number of articles written by or with the tool.

In terms of videos, which are more relevant on TikTok, Ross sees the space growing rapidly, as well. He adds, “You can see videos now where it’ll make it look like President Biden is giving a speech or talking about something, and it sounds like him, but it’s all AI-generated.”

Some influencers might end up using AI, and that could be scary. With AI, you can make influencers say things they didn’t say. For Ross, this is a weird era but is starting to happen. He says, “You have people endorse things that they didn’t endorse, and we’ll see how people combat that.”

What’s going to be interesting in the future is augmented reality. And many online platforms and companies have already jumped into this bandwagon. 

“There are lots of different companies right now — whether it’s Apple or Facebook — that are starting to get into virtual reality and augmented reality. And I could definitely see TikTok embracing that more and more. There are already talks of it,” Ross states.

Opportunities in Influencer Marketing in the Future 

The growth of TikTok and influencer marketing are two of the biggest things happening right now. Ross adds, “The last study I read was that 70% of marketers are increasing their budget on influencer marketing because it’s so effective. Everybody is saying that it has the highest ROI. So there’s no doubt that — assuming Congress doesn’t step in and something happens to the platform — influencer marketing is going to grow.”

“Specifically, TikTok influencer marketing is also growing at an absolutely rapid rate. That’s the biggest thing. I don’t see it going anywhere anytime soon, I just think it will get bigger,” Ross continues.

Ross also thinks businesses will focus more on micro-influencers in the future to better reach their audiences. When running a targeted campaign on ads or doing performance marketing, businesses cast a wide net. With all the targeting parameters that social media platforms offer, it’s challenging to narrow down a business’s specific audience. 

Fortunately, this problem is something influencers can help with. 

Ross explains, “If you get an influencer and their followers are comprised of your potential buyers, even in a niche audience like plumbing, as I mentioned, you could get specific with the people that are going to see your content.”

Another trend Ross sees in the future is businesses moving towards working with micro-influencers rather than the big names in TikTok or other social media platforms. 

Will TikTok replace Instagram?

TikTok and Instagram are two different platforms, and one will not replace the other. But as TikTok gained massive success since it launched, Instagram has started to embrace what TikTok has been doing. 

Ross says, “Instagram started embracing a lot of what has made TikTok successful. Obviously, they’ve massively started promoting videos, so you get more, better engagement if you run videos on Instagram, for instance. The whole new Instagram Reel process is supposed to almost completely emulate TikTok.”

For Ross, TikTok will not replace Instagram as there’s a place for both platforms. But he thinks that the two will remain competitive in the coming years. In fact, he has seen many influencers post the same content across TikTok and Instagram. 

“Something that I’ve seen lately is continuity. I’ve seen influencers that have their TikTok and Instagram accounts but post the same [content] on both platforms. There’s actually a statistic saying a significant number of Instagram Reels were created on TikTok,” Ross shares.

What’s Next for Cloud Campaign

Cloud Campaign moves pretty quickly and was the first to introduce TikTok when they opened up their API. They’re about to release their new AI tool, called CaptionAI. With it, agencies and businesses can have AI-generated captions, which can expedite their content creation process. 

Cloud Campaign will also continue to grow in the coming years. Ross adds, “Hopefully, we’ll go public in the next couple of years. We’ll see.”

Additionally, Ross encourages people to at least give influencer marketing a shot. It’s more cost-effective in the long run. Other forms of marketing are expensive, and businesses need to have ad budgets of thousands of dollars every month. 

“I would encourage marketers, if they haven’t already, to try influencer marketing. It really does tend to have the best ROI,” Ross concludes. 

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David Adler is an entrepreneur and freelance blog post writer who enjoys writing about business, entrepreneurship, travel and the influencer marketing space.

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