Influencer Marketing Will Bring the Human Element Back to Your Brand
Updated: Jan 9
Brendan Gahan is this weeks podcast guest and, who is a partner and Chief Social Officer at independent creative agency, Mekanism, who is leading the agency's social division. He is also killing it over on TikTok (@brendangahan)
After doing a few TikTok branded hashtag challenges with influencers over at Mekanism, and watching his fiancé, who was racking up hundreds of thousands of views and gaining thousands of followers, gave Brendan the kick starter to get started on TikTok.
“I felt like I needed a creative outlet, and so I just dove in headfirst."
TikTok is the best social media platform to start your personal branding, especially if you have no other social media experience. The thought of getting in front of the camera can be really daunting, but the great thing is that TikTok helped evolve social media and make it more authentic. TikTok is all about being real and truly authentic, you get to just show up, be yourself, and have fun.
It is opposite of what you can expect over on Instagram or YouTube. On Instagram it is all about that picture perfect life and looking your best. Over on YouTube you better have a high quality production to stand out. But on TikTok you can authentically be you and shoot a video straight on your phone. It’s more about the substance of your content like what you want to say, or what you want to show, versus “Hey, check out how I look”.
Not only is TikTok changing the wave of how social media is perceived but even industry wide and is catching the attention of social media agencies like Mekanism. Brendan mentioned that TikTok was on his radar ever since it was Musical.ly. Brendan and his agency were able to sit down with TikTok in the beginning when the US office only had two Bytedance employee’s in their New York office, talk about being early adopters! The great thing is, is that TikTok is only two years old so if you decided to get started building your personal brand on TikTok you would still be early enough to be on the ground floor of TikTok.
The app is still so fresh that recently we saw the first ever ever e-commerce activation between TikTok, and Walmart. TikTok partnered with Walmart to host the first ever TikTok Live where you could shop from some of the apps favorite creators including, TikTok super star, Michael Le.
We can expect to see this event turn things up a notch over at TikTok. This activation was like a big stamp of approval for other brands, and e-commerce / social commerce groups to get started on TikTok. In China, live social ecommerce is a 136 billion dollar market and some creators are having 40 million viewers at a time. So we can expect to see this market grow here in Northern America.
“ Social media was sort of stagnant, and I really love that TikTok's coming in, and shaking things up.”
TikTok is really shaking things up by bringing the human element back to business. E-commerce in the past few years has been all about product, product, product. But how can you connect to a product in regards to following everything that product does on social media. Yes, you can have a personal relationship with it because of how it may help your life, but what if something better came along, there would be no loyalty to that product. But by bringing the human element to the brand housing that product or service is what is key to driving that long term loyalty.
One of the best methods that brands can do to help bring a human element to their brand is by increasing their influencer marketing. Influencer marketing brings the trust of a human being to the brand, and this is why brands who are using this strategy are having huge success, and are skyrocketing their following.
“Advertising is like a wet noodle, it's not the best way to funnel people to your product, but an influencer can build a community that people will follow anywhere.”
A great example of this was before the pandemic swept us away from what we new as a “normal” reality, my daughter, Jayde Vincent (also known as Jaydecandance on TikTok) did a meet and greet at our local mall. She posted a video with a few other creators saying they were going to be at the mall to meet some of their fans. Jayde mentioned that she thought there would be approximately 25-50 people show up, but what really happened was that over 2000 people showed up to meet her.
What caught my attention the most about this awesome turnout was the amount of my daughters fans purchased Vans shoes before meeting her because they know that Vans is her all time favorite shoe brand. I mean come on, these kids spent around $80 on shoes just to meet their favorite creator to be connected with her on a more personal level. This was a great experience to see first hand how powerful influencer marketing really is.
“It makes sense, these influencers are in our living room, and while watching it feels like you are in theirs day in and day out. You know more about them oftentimes then your IRL friends.”
Brendan and I had a bit of a rant about how many brands are just not seeing how smart influencer marketing is. Brendan said “I work in influencer marketing on the ad agency side and the social side, but for years, it's like pulling teeth to get brands to sort of buy into it and it's not new.”
He explained that 10 years ago they did a brand activation campaign with Crocs to host a meet and greet with some social media influencers. They Tweeted out only with a couple hours notice that the Crocs location would have some social media influencers in the building for the launch, and at launch time hundreds of kids mobbed the store, and they were not prepared for it at all.
Not only is influencer marketing changing the way brands work and bringing that human element to the brand, but it is changing the way we view traditional celebrities. Traditional celebrities have struggled with connecting on a personal level with their fans making them lose relevance and popular TikTok creators make their mark on viewers. In the past we connected with our favorite actors because we may have connected to a character they played, but in reality did we know much about them as a person. We know everything about our favorite influencers because they share everything, their struggles, their success, the drama, the wins, we can fully relate to them as a human.
“Influencers break down the barriers, they are looking through the camera, every aspect of it feels much more real.”
When influencers are talking to the camera or they are live, they are sitting in front of the camera looking into it, so you feel like you are hanging out with them. The live features on social media is changing the way people are able to build their communities. Rosie O’Donnell is a great example of this, as she recently started her TikTok account and she has been doing a great job dueting and giving back to her fans with shouting them out in her videos, and going live talking with her growing community.
Even The Rock recently showcased a video of him giving back to a big fan on his TikTok page. Finding out about celebrities through their movies, songs, or talents is an entry point in choosing to follow them, but by jumping on social media to share their personality is where they build that real community that will follow them anywhere.
Brands still have not figured out how to recognize their own best practices and how to apply influencer marketing. Many brands are doing one off posts, but
“Nike would never pay Jordan to wear shoes in only one game”
You might see a bump in sales over a day or two but the brand is now leaving themselves open as that influencer can start working with a new brand the next week. Brands should really look into bringing on influencers as a brand ambassador. Jordan is the ultimate ambassador for Nike. When you think of Jordan you think of Nike, and vice versa.
The consumers follow the person they trust 9 times out of 10 versus the brand itself.
TikTok Questions for Brendan
What TikTok strategies have been working for you?
That's a good question. I kind of went into it with my eyes wide open. I was like, this is something new to me, it's gonna suck for a while, and that's okay. That's part of the process. From the mental aspect, recognizing that to build an audience, it’s not a straightforward process, you're not gonna come out of the gates fully formed. It's an evolution. This gave me permission to not overthink things too much, and just make small changes, oh, this doesn't work that doesn't work, oh, I'll improve here and improve there. I think that is probably the single biggest factor.
I learned that opening with something that's provocative that will catch people's attention and a question using hyperbolic language also leveraging borrowed interests. What is something people are interested in and use it as an entry point to then tell their story.
I started filming in another room that isn't so echoed, and started using the ring light and getting lights in the background. It is not a beautiful production, it's basic, but it makes a world of difference. It's not dark and shadowy.
Kyle - Lighting and sound are key elements in growing your TikTok channel. If you have poor lighting or bad audio your videos will get skipped. It is one of the number one things I see when I do reviews of clients TikTok channels.
Do you think lighting is a good investment for TikTok?
I always agree that lighting is a really good investment. Use anything that can create good light. A ring light is 50 bucks, or you can just shoot by a window in the daytime. It does not need to be anything too complex.
What is a TikTok strategy that works well?
As I learned more about TikTok and figured out how to enhance my videos I went back and redid a bunch of my earlier TikTok’s and they turned out so much better. It is ok to revisit your old videos and enhance them and make them nicer. These little things really add up.
Kyle - I agree recreating your videos is a huge strategy and even reposting some of the videos you have done in the past especially if they have done well. There is nothing wrong with resharing your existing content.
Did you come to TikTok with an exact niche in mind?
I had a very general idea of what I wanted to talk about. I still talk about a number of different topics, but they're all sort of grounded in influencer marketing, social media advertising, you just can't expect that the thing you put out your very first TikTok or really for any platform is going to be this fully formed piece of content. You don't know how an audience is going to react. And so you might want to talk about something but you need to refine what that looks like. So it resonates with the community.
What other TikTok strategies stand out to you?
I think the borrowed interests thing is really important for me, for example, I talk about advertising, social media strategy and influencer marketing. There's a lot of different ways I could do it. I could just come out of the gates and start explaining some of these things, but instead I say things like “How did David Dobrik do blank? “ 90% of the people on TikTok are going to know who David Dobrik is. So now they're interested, you pose a question. It builds intrigue, and then you sort of deliver on that value. And then answer that question. You can do it in a way that gets to the point you want to get across, while you're incorporating that storytelling element, which really just makes a world of difference.
What videos are found on your for you page?
It's all cute puppies and farm animals, like beavers, otters, and pet raccoons. I just sit there and crack up half the time.
Kyle shares a strategy with Brendan
A great TikTok strategy is creating a second TikTok account.
This way you can have one personal For You Page that you can like and see any content you want, and one TikTok page that is geared towards your brand so you can see similar content to get inspiration.
Brendan - Yeah, I should probably do a similar strategy. Because when I am flicking through the For You Page I’m like oh, here's this cute raccoon. Some people have these weird pet marsupial's like beavers. It's like, Where the hell do these people get these things from?
Who are your favorite TikTok creators?
3. Rob Cancilla
Ginger Marketer has around 150,000 followers and has managed to quit his job. He's doing coaching and has built a small community and charges to get access to his resources and tips. It is amazing that he quit his job with just 150,000 followers.
Kyle - I know people with less than that have quit their jobs because of TikTok. In fact, I had Erica Cruz on my show and she had around 90,000 and was able to quit her tech job. The opportunities are endless on the app.
What would you say to someone one who is looking to start on TikTok?
I would definitely encourage anyone who's listening to give it a whirl, but you have to actually put in the effort like say you are going to post for 100 straight days. You have to give yourself some accountability.
Take it day by day, and make small changes along the way, it just takes time.
More about the Guest
Chief Social Officer - Mekanism
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