Technology

TikTok is open for business

LINK agency works with advertisers and influencers to build a strong TikTok presence that doesn’t just have the potential to make them go viral, but to grow their brand as well.

Image source: Olivier Bergeron on Unsplash
Image source: Olivier Bergeron on Unsplash
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LINK brand factory is an agency focused on establishing brands on TikTok. They have achieved one billion organic impressions on campaigns across a wide range of clients. Founded by Francisco Lopes and Francisco Schmidberger in 2019, the Beverly Hills-based agency specializes in content creation, branding, influencer marketing on TikTok, as well as TikTok challenges and creating viral videos. 

As it stands, the most challenging aspect of advertising on the platform is the lack of guidance available due to how new the platform is. LINK staff is there to research potential clients and assess their needs to see if and how they can level-up a brand presence by connecting brands with content creators. LINK is all about creativity, and combining music and marketing is one of their top strategies. They leverage top producers and platform expertise to create a catchy tune or jingle for a brand. 

The agency boasts a 10 billion community reach and access to over 20,000 influencers and they have generated 1.2 billion organic views across their many TikTok campaigns. When it comes to social media marketing, linking brands with influencers to form a successful strategy and create an optimal campaign is what LINK is all about. The Sociable spoke with Lopes and Schmidberger about using TikTok for advertisement, the LINK agency strategy, and common marketing mistakes to avoid.

Image source: LINK
Image source: LINK

TikTok is taking off for brand marketing 

Loosely described as a social network for amateur music videos, TikTok places content on its homepage which targets each individual user, based on signals picked up by its algorithm. Users can create and upload a 15-second video and incorporate lip syncing, music, filters, and other effects. TikTok started out as Musical.ly, which rose in popularity as just a lip sync app. The Chinese company ByteDance bought the app in 2018 and relaunched it with additional features.

TikTok is the fastest growing social media platform in the world. TikTok has one billion users worldwide making the social media app 9th in terms of social network sites, ahead of LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Snapchat. The short-form video app saw rapid growth during the COVID pandemic as it surged ahead of all other apps in 2020, with 850 million global downloads. 

Francisco Lopes, co-founder at LINK (Image source: LinkedIn)
Francisco Lopes, co-founder at LINK (Image source: LinkedIn)

Now, TikTok is also a destination for brands. To reach a group of primarily young potential consumers, major companies and media outlets have made an appearance on the app to improve their visibility among a mostly Gen Z user base. When the Washington Post hired a TikTok expert team, their TikTok following exploded to reach one million followers.

Everyone has an audience

“One of the reasons TikTok is taking over as a marketing platform is because of the unbelievable algorithm they have built. TikTok is an entertainment platform in its essence. You go on there to watch content of people you have never seen before,” says Schmidberger. TikTok is a successful marketing channel that does not require an established follower base. It is possible for anyone to reach a large number of people with no budget. The default way to find content is through the recommendation algorithm, not through building networks of “friends” or “followers.”

“You don’t need an established audience to be discovered. As long as you understand the audience you are trying to target you’ll see videos going viral and getting tens of thousands of views. In terms of brand awareness TikTok is the best digital platform out there,” says Schmidberger.

Marketing to the next generation

60% of TikTok’s users are between the ages of 16 and 24, which is something brands should be aware of, so that their target audience demographic can connect with a product. “This is a platform whose users are invariably young. And we take that into account when choosing the ideal customer profile,” Schmidberger added. 

“We target gaming companies and toy companies, however we are seeing inbound interest from some companies who have older audiences,” he explained. Marketing to every demographic remains relevant and necessary for brand success. “What people often underestimate is that yes you do have 60% that are very young, but 35% are above the age of 30. Considering that there are over a billion users on the platform, that’s a big demographic.” 

Francisco Schmidberger, co-founder at LINK (Image source: LinkedIn)
Francisco Schmidberger, co-founder at LINK (Image source: LinkedIn)

In a few years, younger TikTok users will be a bit older, with evolving tastes and needs. According to Schmidberger, the companies that will win the long game are the ones who are now nurturing the future generation of consumers. 

Common mistakes 

One of the main mistakes, according to the creators of LINK, is to treat TikTok like any other social media platform. A creator’s page is essentially their own TV channel so to speak, therefore the content that gets the most views is the content that aligns with their format, or style. “If a creator goes ahead and posts something that is completely off brand and off their format that is a straight ad, their user base is going to recognize that and is not going to engage with it. So really when working with creators they need to integrate the brand into their content,” says Lopes.  

Some brands hear about the hype and just want to get on TikTok to run a test and create a quick campaign without even having their own presence on the platform. However, there is a process and a method of building a community to drive the metrics that ultimately result in conversions and sales. A brand needs a more strategic takeover approach. Schmidberger says that a brand not having their own platform on TikTok can be likened to “having a store that you are advertising for but you have nothing in there to sell.” Just like creators, brands that curate a presence on the app have optimal success.

Image source: LINK
Image source: LINK

Creativity means success

The two founders have a success story to prove how creativity pays off.  LINK created a song for a brand and the song went viral on TikTok. Over 11,000 users created using the song and the brand campaign had over 100 million organic views. “That’s an example of the creativity that goes into a campaign. We made a song that vibes with what the brand is all about and we leveraged what we know about TikTok to make that song go viral. Their followers went from 120k to over 300k in the span of two weeks,” the founders point out.

Lopes and Schmidberger say the biggest misconception is that they are just a middleman connecting influencers with brands. But that is just a small part of what goes into a successful campaign. Creativity is vital on an app like TikTok and is exactly what makes LINK agency stand out. 

Disclosure: This article mentions a client of an Espacio portfolio company.

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