Advertising Content Creation: The Importance of Testing on TikTok & other Social Channels

May 11, 2021 2:30 PM3:30 PM EST

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Key Discussion Takeaways

Over the past two years, TikTok has become an outright phenomenon. With people at home throughout the pandemic, the video platform turned into the #1 downloaded app on the Apple Store. With so many eyes on one platform, the opportunity for advertising has never been better. The only problem is that TikTok is notoriously hard to predict, and massive trends seem to come out of nowhere. How do you advertise on something so unpredictable?

Casey Murray of Cohley and Nina Luker of Shuttlerock are two people who spend much of their time trying to solve exactly that problem — and they’re pretty well equipped for it. Cohley is a content generation platform that helps businesses keep up with the intense demand for new content. Meanwhile, Shuttlerock creates handcrafted video advertisements across a variety of media. Together, Casey and Nina have the experience to help demystify TikTok.

Aaron Conant hosts Casey Murray, the Director of Partnerships at Cohley, and Nina Luker, the Head of North American Partnerships at Shuttlerock, to get their insights on advertising for TikTok. Casey and Nina dive into the unique audience on TikTok, what content performs the best, and how to adapt to changing trends.

Here's a glimpse of what you'll learn:


  • Casey Murray of Cohley and Nina Luker of Shuttlerock discuss what’s made TikTok so popular over the past year
  • How do brands get started on TikTok?
  • The difference between influencer marketing and advertising
  • Considering the unique target audience of TikTok
  • What are the best practices when advertising on TikTok?
  • Casey and Nina talk about when to use hashtag challenges, in-feed ads, and sponsored influencer content
  • Should you use different hashtags for different social media platforms?
  • Which content performs best on TikTok?
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Event Partners


Cohley is a content generation and testing platform that helps brands create content for social ads, email marketing, websites, and more.

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Guest Speakers

Aaron Conant LinkedIn

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

Aaron Conant is Co-Founder and Chief Digital Strategist at BWG Connect, a networking and knowledge sharing group of thousands of brands who collectively grow their digital knowledge base and collaborate on partner selection. Speaking 1x1 with over 1200 brands a year and hosting over 250 in-person and virtual events, he has a real time pulse on the newest trends, strategies and partners shaping growth in the digital space.

Casey Murray

Director Of Partnerships at Cohley

Casey Murray is the Director of Partnerships at Cohley, a leading content generation and testing platform. Casey’s focus at Cohley is to optimize integration and tech partnership programs, website SEO, and align sales best practices with content.

Previously, he was the Director of Business Development and Partnerships at PowerReviews, where he led their agency and tech partnership team.

Casey also has experience helping companies build and develop great leadership teams — a role he had as the Account Executive for Hireology, an organization that creates highly accurate systems for identifying the best candidates for job positions.

Nina Lucker

Head of North America, Partnerships at Shuttlerock

Nina is the head of North America partnerships at Shuttlerock, a creative tech platform fusing human craftsmanship, creative expertise, and proprietary technology in scaling creative production. Nina manages the partner relationships amongst Shuttlerock's seven badged partners (TikTok, Facebook/ Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Hulu, Twitter and Google).

Event Moderator

Aaron Conant LinkedIn

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

Aaron Conant is Co-Founder and Chief Digital Strategist at BWG Connect, a networking and knowledge sharing group of thousands of brands who collectively grow their digital knowledge base and collaborate on partner selection. Speaking 1x1 with over 1200 brands a year and hosting over 250 in-person and virtual events, he has a real time pulse on the newest trends, strategies and partners shaping growth in the digital space.

Casey Murray

Director Of Partnerships at Cohley

Casey Murray is the Director of Partnerships at Cohley, a leading content generation and testing platform. Casey’s focus at Cohley is to optimize integration and tech partnership programs, website SEO, and align sales best practices with content.

Previously, he was the Director of Business Development and Partnerships at PowerReviews, where he led their agency and tech partnership team.

Casey also has experience helping companies build and develop great leadership teams — a role he had as the Account Executive for Hireology, an organization that creates highly accurate systems for identifying the best candidates for job positions.

Nina Lucker

Head of North America, Partnerships at Shuttlerock

Nina is the head of North America partnerships at Shuttlerock, a creative tech platform fusing human craftsmanship, creative expertise, and proprietary technology in scaling creative production. Nina manages the partner relationships amongst Shuttlerock's seven badged partners (TikTok, Facebook/ Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Hulu, Twitter and Google).

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Aaron Conant

Co-Founder & Managing Director at BWG Connect

BWG Connect provides executive strategy & networking sessions that help brands from any industry with their overall business planning and execution.

Co-Founder & Managing Director Aaron Conant runs the group & connects with dozens of brand executives every week, always for free.

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Discussion Transcription

Aaron Conant  0:18  

Happy Tuesday everybody. My name is Aaron Conant. I'm the Co-founder and Managing Director of BWG Connect. We're a networking and knowledge sharing group, we stopped counting at about 7000 brands. So somewhere between seven and 10,000 brands now, who do exactly that we network and knowledge share together, there's no cost to join. And we talk one on one with 30 to 40 brands a week to stay on top of the newest digital trends. If anybody like the list of events, just ping us, shoot us an email more than happy to get that over to you. While we're talking to those brands, we're getting the ideas to stay, to stay on top of those newest trends, strategies, pain points, whatever shaping digital as a whole. When the same topic comes up over and over again, we host an event like this and so super excited for the call today, we got some great friends and great partners of the network on. A couple housekeeping items. As we get started here, though, is around, you know, we're starting a few minutes after the hour, just gonna let you know, we're gonna wrap up with three to four minutes to go on the hour as well. So we're gonna give you plenty of time to get on to your next meeting without being late. The next thing is we want this to be as educational and informational as possible. So at any point in time, if you have a question, drop it in the questions tab. And we'll field those questions get them answered real time. And the flip side of that is you can always email me Aaron, and we'll field questions that way as well. And quick note, if we don't get to it or if you follow up, you didn't get a question answered, you can shoot me an email after the call a week from now whenever it is more than happy to jump on the phone or shoot your quick email response. So with that being said, we're gonna go ahead and kick this off. tons of questions right now popping up specifically around TikTok and I think a lot of it is and there's other social media platforms and TikTok seems to be a focus right now. And I think it's because we kind of anniversary now when they started to blow up. You know, there is this huge surge in interest in what's going on. And so we got some great friends, great partners of the network, both at Cohley as well as Shuttlerock, Casey and Nina. So they've agreed to jump on the phone today and share kind of the insights. They just get to coming off and world where, you know, we're just chatting about how awesome of an event that was. And so they agreed in this setting to kind of jump on and share key thoughts as well. And with that being said, let's kick it off. You know, Casey, I'll kick it over to you first, if you want to do a brief intro on yourself and Cohley, that'd be awesome. And then we can kick it over to Nina for an intro there. And then we can jump into some of the stuff.


Casey Murray  2:46  

Excellent. Yeah. Thanks so much. And thanks again for having me. My name is Casey Murray. I'm the director of partnerships here at Cohley. So I oversee both agency and creative partners such as Nina and Shuttlerock. So we have the pleasure of working with them. And then I also oversee technology partners such as our partners at TikTok. And so I joined the team back in January. I've been loving every minute since. And so with that being said, I'll go ahead and pass it off to my friend Nina.


Nina Luker  3:11  

Awesome. I'm Nina I head up partnerships at Shuttlerock. And my day to day is working with our seven badged creative partners ranging from Facebook, Instagram, Hulu, TikTok, Pinterest, Snap, you name it. And at Shuttlerock, what we mainly do is we take existing assets, such as product, still shots, videos, long or short form, we take brand guidelines. And then we optimize using the best practices across all of those partners. So it's a really niche field. But it goes hand in hand with Cohley. And that's why we're here today and excited to kick things off.


Aaron Conant  3:53  

Yeah, it's awesome because the work around content as a whole is you look at how much is being consumed top of mind, everything from you know, cost to content creation, how many assets we have to have and what we're doing with it, but tons of questions on my side from that standpoint as well. But just a quick reminder, for those of you who have dialed in, drop any questions along the way in the Questions tab or email them to me Aaron But you know if I think high level and I'll kick it over to you, Casey first and then I'd like to hear from Nina as well is, you know, what have you seen over the past year with TikTok so it seemed like there was a flurry of calls that i would i would field around it. Those kind of died off a little bit. And it's kind of like it's just the excitement, but it's still a great platform. We'd love to hear your thoughts there and what you're seeing, so I'll take it off to you, Casey and then we'll jump over to Nina to get thoughts there. 


Casey Murray  4:47  

Yeah, so I suppose I'll start it off by taking off my marketing hat for a moment and think about it from a consumers vantage point. I think that pandemics certainly helped. TikTok they're definitely one of those platforms that benefitted from people being at home, bored in the house bored bored in the house. I mean, that's a trend from TikTok. So naturally, people were downloading the app. And ever since 2018, I believe it's continued to be the most downloaded app in iOS and the Apple Store. And so people are continuing to download it, people are continuing to still be bored in the house. Even as vaccines roll out, people are still asked to stay indoors. So from a individual consumer standpoint, I see it as a platform that wasn't like buying that it's just simply going away. This is a unique platform. It's an immersive platform, which we'll go over. But I see it as just in had been a strategic time for a marketer to really tap into a unique platform and connect with consumers on the new level. And from an advertising standpoint, which we'll go over. This is such a new unfamiliar territory, which is why Nina and I are so excited to talk about it because there are so many uncharted waters, so to speak. So we'll be covering a lot of the do's and don'ts and best practices. But yeah, from my perspective, I see it as just a platform that's going to continue to grow and specifically from an advertisement standpoint, it's gonna only get bigger from here. 


Aaron Conant  6:10  

Awesome. Nina, your thoughts? 


Nina Luker  6:12  

Yeah, so I'm also gonna take off my marketing hat. I had a pretty personal relationship to TikTok. So in March of 2020, I was diagnosed with stage four Non-Hodgkins lymphoma. So I had my world turned upside down and didn't really nowhere to turn to. This was also the day the World Health Organization declared the pandemic, a pandemic. So I turned to TikTok as just an outlet for me to express what I was feeling what I was going through, as a young adult getting cancer, definitely not the norm. So I used it as my way to share a story. And what it provided me with was a community of hundreds of 1000s of people to support me and say, encouragement, inspiration and just keep me at a baseline of positivity. So when I see TikTok, I see it in a perspective that is so foundationally at an emotional level, then if you bring in the advertising aspect, you can tell a story that no other platform can really touch because it is so organic and authentic. And I think that's going to be the root of our conversation is really providing that emotional human touch with every aspect of advertising on TikTok. And if I can share any knowledge from my own experience, it's just TikTok is going to explode even greater and we're lucky for it.


Aaron Conant  7:46  

Awesome. I didn't know that, that's cool. You know, so from your standpoint, like, you have an interesting perspective, though, and so you can put on the personal hat and the brand hat. Right. So I have a lot of people I want to start you know, high level and we can get into some of the weeds but how does uh, you're talking to brands, how do brands get started on TikTok?


Nina Luker  8:09  

Yeah, so I can kind of touch on it. I think there's three areas to start. So there's the first part where you can just repurpose assets. So if you've never advertised on TikTok, you can use existing advertisements on the platform. There is also an amazing resource with a TikTok business help center that you can optimize use their own algorithms, they can really cut and splice for you given just repurposing assets. The next step is editing for TikTok, this is where you start to really see some more of that success. And that's where Shuttlerock really does come in is actually editing. So it's organic to the platform. And then thirdly is where the gold standard of I think where Cohley comes into play is creating for TikTok. And that's really leveraging UGC, co-created content, to have that story and be as impactful as possible. So those are the three kind of starting frames that I would recommend. But Casey, what are your thoughts there?


Casey Murray  9:16  

Thanks, Nina. So from my perspective, I think that it's really important. Just like Nina mentioned with her personal story, to let any content creator, be themselves and be authentic on TikTok, because TikTok is such a unique platform. This isn't really a cookie cutter, sort of, you know, marketers out like an algorithm, so to speak, a plus b equals c squared. So you need to really let creators be themselves and you're not going to create the next viral trend on TikTok in a marketing room. It's really going to happen from creators like Nina, sharing their story being themselves and being authentic. And so for Cohley, we help brands to generate content whether it's influencer marketing or visual assets, ratings and reviews, were just hyper focused on helping brands to generate content directly from customers and creators like me. And so I believe that it all starts with just tapping into the creators on TikTok, telling them about your brand, letting them work with you and showcase your product or your application or whatever the case may be. But most importantly, letting them be themselves. Because that's the way that TikTok works. And that's like myself scrolling through TikTok, I want to see content made by consumers for consumers.


Aaron Conant  10:31  

So you're connecting, you know, from a quality standpoint, you're connecting the brand, with UGC generators, right? The authentic people that are out there, just understanding the ecosystem here, right? And then, okay, on a larger scale, which is awesome, because what's really difficult right now is content generation as a whole and doing in real fashion. Okay, awesome. And then the connection with Nina right is then optimizing it and being able to use it in a variety of platforms in 100 different ways. It's maximizing all of the content you just got in a variety of different ways. Oh, I understand now why you guys crushed it at ad world because, I mean, you think about the cost of this right now is through the roof. And so the consumer is not just consuming goods in a digital fashion, but consuming content faster and faster. And so a quick question that comes in, like Instagram and Facebook. Can you promote or boost creator posts on TikTok?


Nina Luker  11:42  

Yeah, either one, or would you? Yeah, yeah. Yeah, absolutely. So I would filter this into the more sponsorship influencer track. So a brand, let's say, Clorox wants to touch on a few influencers, then they promote through having that relationship and have it look organically. Now in terms of like, boosting and bumping it up. That is more on the media side of things. So what our specialty is, is just creating the creative and then optimizing it using those best practices and making sure it's really organic to the platform. But on the media side. That's kind of a piece of the puzzle that does create TikTok as a kind of challenging platform, and that's what we're hoping to debunk. But yeah, it's not always easy.


Casey Murray  12:38  

Yeah. And just, just to add to that, I think it's a best practice. It's always your best bet to start with an organic post before you think about boosting it. And so for me, I think about influencer marketing, almost like a litmus test to advertising on social channels. Because letting an organic post especially as it comes to TikTok, that doesn't really have a predictable rhyme or reason to it. As an advertiser, you basically have to throw caution to the wind. And from our vantage point, we find it's best to work with several influencers or content creators, and monitor those social posts. See how they perform organically because somebody that has 5000 followers versus 1 million followers, those posts are treated equally on TikTok. That person with 5000 followers may end up having posts that outperforms the person with 1 million where Facebook and Instagram are more reliant on follower count and you know trends and predictable engagement, TikTok doesn't believe in that. It's an unpredictable algorithm. So your only best bet is to have a lot of organic posts, find your winner, and then that's the one that you should think about boosting.


Aaron Conant  13:49  

Awesome so you know another question that comes up a lot we've got some more coming in here is what's the difference between influencer marketing and advertising on TikTok? Right? I mean, you've--I'd love to hear your thoughts on that because they're a little bit different in many ways. We'd love to hear, I'll kick it to you first, Casey. 


Casey Murray  14:06  

Awesome. Yeah. So for us, like I mentioned, I think influencer marketing can work as an initial litmus test, again, to see what the engagement looks like on TikTok, what are the likes, shares, comments, that sort of thing. But ultimately, influencer marketing and advertising are quite different. I think, in short, advertising, as a marketer as a brand or as an agency. You have a mission, right? You have a call to action that you want to get from the advertisement whether it's downloading the application that you're sponsoring on TikTok, whether it's getting somebody to go to a CVS and buy, you know, Kingsford charcoal, right? There's a call to action that comes from the advertisement, whereas influencer marketing should be used as you know, that initial stage in the buyers journey to build brand awareness. And as it pertains to influencer marketing and tapping into the right person to showcase your brand and product. I think it's important to let them be themselves because it's all about building that awareness around your product and your company with the use of their following and TikTok's, unpredictable algorithm. Nina, did you have anything else to add to that?


Nina Luker  15:15  

Yeah, I actually have, like, kind of my own perspective on the two because what you can do with influencer marketing, and then add that element into advertising. So actually merging the two also has its own secret sauce. So taking that UGC content and adding a call to action, or having elements of the brand look and feel or tone of voice involved with the influencer, has a spot on TikTok that, I don't think it's really been touched. And it's not always easy, because you don't want to take away from that organic native feel that an influencer has. But you also want to have a CTA at the end that says, "Go to the website or download this app." So I do think they're two separate things. I think the secret is though, merging them together and finding that happy balance.


Aaron Conant  16:18  

Awesome. So a couple questions that come in here. And one is, you know, when you're when you're getting started, right, because we took a how's the brand get started on TikTok, but you certainly should walk through that process, or is it okay to write so this is a brand has never been brand has never touched TikTok? Do you remember, do you recommend waiting for a following? Or do you go straight to, you know, the Cohley/Shuttlerock model for getting the content and getting it out there?


Casey Murray  16:48  

So I think Nina touched on a great point, I think it's your best bet from my perspective. And, you know, feel free to chime in. Because I know that Shuttlerock has a ton that you're doing on top of just utilizing UGC, where brands can get started, specifically with Shuttlerock without having any assets today. But from my vantage point, I think it's important to just think about your influencer strategy and start testing the waters with other individuals like Nina, who already has a following already has their own respective narrative, and may already have an affinity to your brand. And so tapping into those folks and letting them organically showcase what you're trying to promote in an organic way, I think is the best first step. But I'm sure Nina has additional thoughts.


Nina Luker  17:33  

Yeah, I mean, if you've never done anything on TikTok, I think you're kind of missing the mark. I'm just trying it because it is such a new platform that has so much potential. Now. You don't want to put all your eggs in one basket. It's all about test, learn, adapt. And that iteration can be frustrating. And it is expensive, just like any other platform. But without starting somewhere whether it is repurposing assets, or going to Cohley and actually shooting with creators. There is a sweet spot. And I think it's just a matter of dipping your toes in the water and seeing what works best and what resonates best and not letting some of those limitations intimidate you.


Aaron Conant  18:25  

Awesome, love it. Another question that comes in is why even start on TikTok what's unique about it as a whole. Because right now, what's happening is, you know, paid media budgets, they have blown up right from a digital side over last year, but also at the end of the day. Yeah, just because you were given that much money to spend doesn't mean you're not going to be held responsible for it. If anything, there's going to be more eyeballs on it. And so if somebody is, like, apprehensive about doing it, you know, why even why even start, like what's unique?


Nina Luker  18:58  

I can start here. So what's unique to me, is the target audience. So not only is it a non-passive platform, and by that I mean, you can't look at TikTok and drive. Or you can't look at why maybe you shouldn't be looking at any social platform and driving but you are so immersed into this platform. And it's very different than Instagram or Snap where you can be doing three things at once. You have to be fully engaged. So if you think about that as just a standalone aspect that is very unique. It also allows you to target a very specific audience. So you can look at gender, location, interests. This is a highly Gen Z Gen X platform. And those are the most influential people to be targeting given that they have a lot of power over their parents. So I would say there's so many small pieces to TikTok that really should take away the guessing game and just say, let's get started.


Casey Murray  20:10  

Awesome. I completely agree. And I think it's, I don't know if this is too bold or too big to think in this way. But I think it's almost like a marketer considering back in the 90s, going from print to digital, as we think about social media advertising and just engagement, because it is such a scary new way to connect with consumers. And, you know, maybe target audience members, or even folks within Gen Z are millennials, who are actually impacting what their parents are buying. So a lot of people are originally at first that Tiktok thinking, you know, we're not trying to sell to a 16 year old, our target audience is 40 to 50. But that 16 year old is going to have a lot of clout in their house. And if they see something cool, they'll say, mom, check out this brand. And I was on a TikTok webinar a few months ago, where our partner brought up one in five purchases from you know, I hate to call them boomers, but you know, the Gen Y, or even the older community is actually making a purchase from informed decisions by their children. And so it's a unique way to connect with consumers, even beyond what the target audience you're considering is because everybody has an impression, and I think it is a unique platform in that.


Aaron Conant  21:26  

So many of you, it's interesting that you say that, especially in the onset of the pandemic, when the whole families are spending more time together, colleges, universities are sending people, you know, kids home. And I think that's spread like wildfire up in age group where normally it would have been more isolated. And that just, you know, pour gasoline on the fire and just, you know, flooded even upper to an older demographic as a whole. You know, if you think about like creative as a whole, that's another thing that comes up quite often. I, you know, the freedom that's there, if you want to talk about like benefits around that as a whole.


Nina Luker  22:07  

There are so many ways. One thing I didn't touch on that I think is so critical, as well as there's such huge communities on TikTok, that are very specific. I mean, you can use any hashtag and look at a specific kind of vertical within TikTok that you can cater to. So maybe it's motherhood, maybe it's cooking. I mean, you could go down any rabbit hole and specifically target for those communities. And the engagement level that is happening within those communities is just unmatched. But on the creative side, because there's so much freedom, there's also a lot of best practices that do fall in that creative. So it's really important to understand them from a high level perspective, but also not let them limit you and being as creative as possible. When you are putting something together. I can go over a few of those. But Casey is there anything top of mind that I'm missing from a creative standpoint other than those best practices?


Casey Murray  23:18  

So I love the additional point there. And one thing to add from my, my perspective is the importance of diversifying the folks that you do work with if you are going the user generated content route, because with TikTok being as unpredictable as it is, the only way to hedge your bets is really having a lot of different folks from different walks of life, to advocate for your brand, because you truly do not know what's going to resonate. You know, somebody like Adore Me, who's been working with us for five years, has seemed to crack the nut with Tiktok. And they do so by leveraging Cohley to reach out to 20/30 people at a time to generate content to find those one to two top performers. And more often than not, it's actually outside of what you would think that traditional lingerie brand would think or how that would resonate with the audience. It's a lot of different walks of life. And I think it's really important to diversify and to over exemplify DEI during this time of life. So I think it's important to work with a lot of different people.


Nina Luker  24:20  

So happy you said that. I mean, just in our day to day, just having that as now a foundational part of how you think is so critical for any brand. And incorporating that diversity is going to resonate very deeply on TikTok specifically given the diversity of thought and content that's on that platform. But as a general kind of rule of thumb when you are optimizing for TikTok ads. There are a few like four or five specific things to always consider and that being that sound is king. If you log on. And if you're creating something that doesn't incorporate sound, you're gonna miss the mark, every single person opens TikTok with full sound, though a little different than Snapchat, or Instagram or Facebook. The length is also a kind of key player within advertising. So you do want it to hit that 11 to 15 seconds, because if you're, let's say, doing an app install, you will not have the download button until that nine second mark. So if you aren't hitting nine seconds, your CTA is going to get left behind. Everything is vertical, you really do have to mind the safe zones. So depending on how much--how many lines you have in your small copy, or in your caption, which is either one, two or three lines, you are going to have a little different of where your content is being portrayed. So if you don't know these little nuances, that can hurt your chances of optimization for the platform. And I just kind of throw those out as just general disclaimers, but you can be as creative as possible and leveraging UGC content is going to see the most impact because no one wants to come over a professionally branded, perfect ad because that's just not our TikTok works. So those are just a few key narratives. I can go over a more there's probably 15 in total, but those are the key ones that I always consider


Aaron Conant  26:32  

I want to tackle those with just a quick question that came in about you know, music on TikTok. Right. So music is made available to brands like what is there today is very limited. And how do you when you're doing the content and you're creating this? How are you bringing in music as a whole to stay on top of trends?


Nina Luker  26:55  

Yeah, so TikTok has a smart library of music. So you can actually upload and create they have, technically say they have 1000s of different options, but it is limited, you're not going to be seeing the same soundtracks that are trending on TikTok. So yes, that is more challenging piece. But it doesn't necessarily matter. If you're using a specific trending sound, you just want to make sure that the music does match the tone and dynamic of the video. And that can be little key animations and kind of sound effects that add an element of kind of a hook or engagement level. But there are workarounds. And there's partners that can offer a lot larger opportunity and library of music to add elements into things. But there's ways to be creative with music given the limited scope.


Aaron Conant  27:52  

Awesome. Love it. No, and you were mentioning just going to were chimed in and said hey, you'd mentioned additional like key best practices would love to hear would love to hear those. I know a lot of people are taking notes.


Nina Luker  28:06  

Casey, do you want to add any and I can then tackle some more? 


Casey Murray  28:11  

So I think this is really Shuttlerock's wheelhouse in your wheelhouse in particular. This with the best practices, I think that you do a great job of summarizing it. So I'll let you kick it off.


Nina Luker  28:22  

Okay. So I think the biggest so there are different ad placements across TikTok. And each ad placement has its nuances, I could go down into each of those. But the few that I am missing are having something to hook the user immediately. So whether it is a brand takeover, a top view or in feed placement, you want something that is going to feel organic to start. So it kind of matches the normal flow of content. But it's also engaging enough for them to keep their eyes on the screen. So if you're looking at a brand takeover, which is what the first initial video comes up on your TikTok screen, it's gonna play for three seconds without a user having any, they can't exit out of it. So they have three seconds to talk and say, I want to stay I want to keep my eyes until the end. And typically there's that CTA at the end. So what are you going to do within those first three seconds that feels organic, but makes them want to stay? And that is so specific, and it's really hard to say that's going to work where that's not. And that's where test, learn and adapt, you're gonna always have to iterate off of what you learn. And so I think that's a really key piece. And if you can focus a lot of your energy within those first three seconds, you'll see a lot of success, but also kind of pushing the limits because what might work like Casey said with Adore Me, you might actually have no idea that one part of it is going to work more than another. So be as creative as possible and leverage people that might have an idea that you would have said absolutely not. Whether it's an employee or a friend, leverage their own thought process when you're developing for TikTok to get a completely diverse way of thinking, and try it out.


Casey Murray  30:26  

And just add to that, two points as selfishly, as a musician I love when brands are able to incorporate the sound and the song choice and particularly on TikTok, there's a wild trend of the bass drop. And oftentimes I see that as the CTA, or the big reveal about what it's about, if it's an app, if it's a product, if it's just brand marketing. I love the big reveal with the bass drop. But I will say that three seconds are important, a lot of brands will start out with a bang, a really catchy tune right away, I love to see that. But to Nina's point yet diversifying the content and the types of assets in which you're deploying, especially from an advertising standpoint, just putting all your eggs into one advertisement or to one influencer marketer, is really not going to do you much on TikTok with the non predictable algorithm to determine what goes quote unquote, viral and what actually resonates or what is a dud? You know, it's tough to predict. So by diversifying that by working with several different content creators and making different iterations on your advertisement, you're going to have the best bang for your buck.


Aaron Conant  31:33  

Just on that point, when you're dealing with content creators, you know, a lot of people are asking, you know, what are best practices around those, right? Because it's kind of like, it's been building momentum. And it really blew up over the past two years. And there's a, there's some stumbling blocks, but you guys live in this space? What are some best practices around, you know, the content creators when you're interacting with them as a brand and engaging with them, right? Ron writes to what they're producing, we'd love to hear that.


Casey Murray  32:05  

Yeah, I'd love to talk about this. So from my perspective, I think it's extremely important from a brand's perspective to jot down exactly what your goal is similar to, as you think about an advertisement on TikTok, it starts with a goal. You're trying to get people to your website, or you're trying to get them to buy your product, download your application, whatever the mission, or the goal is, should be the focal point. And it works the same with starting with content creation. And so spell out exactly what you're looking for, and what's called a creative brief. Many creative agencies are familiar with this concept. You're spelling out what you want the creators to generate on your behalf. But I think what's important and often times overlooked, when working with influencers or content creators, is trying to omit the creativity element of it. Because you will almost pigeonhole yourself by saying, Do exactly this, in this formula, 1,2,3,4,5 step process. And somebody like me, or somebody like Nina, if I got a creative brief that said, do this. And if I wasn't even aware of your brand, that will rub me the wrong way, I won't want to work with the brand brands need to understand or advertisers need to understand that if you're working with an influencer, you can give them guidance, you can show them the Northstar. But at the same time, you need to allow them to be themselves, be authentic, and truly showcase why your product and they are a marriage in one and why it makes sense. Nina, anything else there?


Nina Luker  33:37  

I love that it speaks more personal level. Because if I was to and I've been asked a very small amount of times to do this kind of work, where I'm actually promoting something on my own channel and the brands that come to me and say, we love your story. These are a few guidelines, but run with it. Those are the ways that they've seen the most success. I've seen the most success. So I can just echo exactly what you're saying and being thoughtful and almost not micromanaging creators in a way that does contain your tone of voice for your brand, but ultimately gives them the freedom to share what they think. So I love that you added that.


Casey Murray  34:26  

Yeah, and one more thing to add. I forgot to mention it's important when working with influencers that you ask for rights in perpetuity upfront, because that can be a disaster down the line. If you have this wonderful video on TikTok that maybe goes viral from somebody and you want to repurpose that you want to promote that you want to use that in a future advertisement but you didn't get rights in perpetuity from the influencer. That's going to be a nightmare. And so getting that up front is critical when thinking about influencer marketing, because once you have that, you can run rampant with it. You can even utilize it and other channels like Instagram or Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, what have you. And so it's a big, big, big requirement to get that up front.


Aaron Conant  35:13  

So another question that comes in. So on that side, are you do you help brands with that?


Casey Murray  35:20  

So Cohley has a greater community amassing 100,000 folks, primarily in North America, but by participating in Cohley campaigns, you've given rights in perpetuity to both the brand and Cohley, anybody between. So as a brand utilizing Cohley, you do get rights in perpetuity with that any piece of content or asset generated.


Aaron Conant  35:42  

Awesome. Awesome. So another question comes in around different types of ads, the hashtag challenges in feed ads sponsored influencer content, any thoughts on those?


Nina Luker  35:56  

Yeah, I can touch on a few of the different placements and how they're different, as well as kind of what they're best used for. So brand takeover. That's what I was describing earlier, which is the first ad you see when you open the app, this is in reserve. So this means that it's a little bit more of your traditional media, you do have to reserve a day, but you get that 100% Share of Voice. It is a cost per day model. And I'm not going to go into the media buying side. But I do think it's important to just let someone know, there are differences and reserving and purchasing these, this is a great time to use more of a brand awareness play. So that's kind of the main piece. And the other plot or the other ad format that does go hand in hand is top view. So similar, it's in reserve, you can actually reserve both top view and branded takeover and they can work hand in hand pretty well together. This is when a user goes in to the actual for you page, and is prompted with the first ad. So instead of just opening the app itself, that is the top view and then once you go into the for you feed, that is when top view comes into play, similar you have 100% Share of Voice, the sound will be on really, really strong engagement levels, it is more expensive, and it is again in that reserve .Then you have in feed. So this really follows any objective in mind, this can be direct response consideration, brand awareness, you have up to 15 seconds, I did mention that you would typically want to be in that 11 to 15 seconds range. And this is in the auction, so it isn't on reserve. There's differences within each. So there's native diversion, and one day max. I'm not going to really go into the nuances here. But it is really important to understand, given your objective and what you are putting onto the platform that they have little nuances to each. The last two I'll hit on are the hashtag challenge. This is in the discovery phase. So you can actually create a hashtag. This provides a whole nother layer of engagement. So if you want creators to be a part of the story you're trying to share a hashtag challenge is a wonderful way to do it be as creative and unique as possible. When you're doing these it could be surrounded us seasonal aspect or a maybe it's a direct response, maybe there's a big sale that's going on. You can cater things around moments. And then lastly, you do have that sponsored influencer content. So this would be me going or let's say I'm a cleaning brand and I want someone to speak on behalf of this product. I would then go to a creator and say here's a brief please share about this. Casey, this is in your wheelhouse. But those are the kind of nuances and differences within the placements. And I can kind of touch on any other questions that might lie in those.


Casey Murray  39:33  

Yeah, and and we've seen brands be highly successful utilizing both hashtag challenges as well as sponsored influencer content. I think the hashtag can almost serve as a collective for the brand to you know, build notoriety, not just around the brand, but if it's a household brand that's been around for hundreds of years, leveraging a hashtag challenge to make a unique based on a seasonal trend that maybe it's around suntan lotion, where If you're trying to reach people like me in Chicago, you're not gonna get very much traction in December trying to run a suntan lotion campaign. But if you're doing geo traffic, you know guidance based on how TikTok works with advertising, and you have that hashtag incorporated into it, it can pay dividends based on the geo targeting. And based on the seasonality of it. We've seen a lot of brands utilize that on a seasonal campaign. And it's been very successful for them.


Aaron Conant  40:27  

And just a quick question that I want to go into content as a whole, is it better to use the same hashtags across all platforms or separate them depending on the platform?


Casey Murray  40:38  

So I'll take my take first, and then I'll pass it to Nina. So I think all together, it's important to differentiate the platforms, right? It's important that you have different hashtags to try to appeal to the different audience members, because if you're trying to target somebody on Facebook, having a cool trendy hashtag that would work on TikTok might not work for my parents who are active Facebook users, where I'm on TikTok, so if you're trying to reach me, you might want to use one of the cool whippersnapper hashtags, but I saw more like Facebook than TikTok saying whippersnapper. long and short, I think it is important to understand the segments within each respective social channel. And adhere to that based on a targeting standpoint.


Nina Luker  41:22  

I love that I would also add to have a few that are consistent. So keep a few key words that you want to have across all your pieces of media stay consistent, and then add those layers that do have the nuances depending on who you're targeting. So that just allows you to have that diversity, but also keeping that consistency as you expand to different products, different targets, maybe it's a different moment, you can keep them in one place.


Aaron Conant  41:57  

Awesome. So next question comes in is around content is a whole like what type of content have you seen work the best for TikTok, you know, say compared to Snap or Instagram or something like that, we'd love to hear your thoughts there.


Casey Murray  42:14  

So I suppose I can kick us off, and then I'll pass it back to Nina. Um, so we we believe in a concept called content engineering. And so it sounds kind of intimidating. A lot of people here engineering. I was particularly nervous when I heard it coming out to Cohley. But it's actually it's not intimidated. It's literally just a virtuous cycle of content generation. And so it all starts with generating content and activating in the channel like TikTok, or Facebook, and then measuring the results on the respective channel based on engagement based on reach based on how people are responding to it, so that you can make informed decisions to generate content based on your top performing assets. And so what I mean by a virtuous cycle is you run an initial campaign, you find two out of the 20 videos on TikTok, all features somebody wearing the you know, this button down shirt, but they're dancing with their dog versus the other 18 or just people dancing around or people trying on variations of shirts, you can have an aha moment and save based on testing. We found that the two two videos with the dogs are performing Great. So then the next campaign you run, let's make sure to incorporate pets. And so content engineering, it's the idea of generating content and making informed decisions based on the measured results. 


Nina Luker  43:37  

Wow, that was a beautiful answer. You can't really talk that one. I would say also the I get a question a lot like, oh, how do I make my video go viral? Or how do I make my ad go viral in a way that has high engagement? And I wish we could have an answer to that. And the hard part about this platform is you won't ever know. And that's where it gets frustrating. You could ask any TikTok brand partnership manager or any high up exec and ask is this going to perform. And unfortunately, it's just a matter of what Casey is saying is just testing and learning. So the more diversity that you can bring to the table, the better off you're going to be to find those viral videos or those viral high engagement ads. And TikTok is unique in that way. But how it compares to other platforms is a little different. So there are benefits to being on Instagram and being on snap and having different target audiences across the board. So you know that our conversation now is really heavily on TikTok. But like Casey said, you really do have to understand what your objectives are, who you're targeting, and then really understand each of these platforms to see which one's going to resonate both best, it's not always going to be the case that TikTok is the perfect place for your ad or for your brand. And understanding that is pretty critical. So that's just something I always like to point out is there's no silver bullet with creative? And that's why you always have to refresh and keep the process going.


Aaron Conant  45:24  

And just a question that comes in around content is when you're creating the content in the instance where there's another brand that shows up, right? Maybe it's something they're wearing, maybe it's something they're drinking, you know, there's another brand of the back end, does that limit, you know, your ability to use content?


Casey Murray  45:46  

Nina, did you want to kick that off? Or would you like me to?


Go for it.


Cool, so it really depends if you're running an influencer marketing campaign, you have an agreement in place with the influencer. And let's say you're Adidas, and you want to showcase a new MDX shoe. But the person that you've agreed to compensate for this influencer post shows you a video of them on a basketball court, but they're wearing Nike socks, kind of a conflict of interest. So the advantage of having an agreement upfront, spelling out the creative brief, which again, should serve as an agreement that says, These are the do's and these are the dont's based on the content we're looking for. Again, give them the creative control to go to a basketball court and actually showcase the shoes on their own. But call out that, hey, don't include Nike wear Adidas. So the idea is that you should have that little bit of control that says do not showcase up because if you're paying for it, that in its own right, it's an advertisement, you would never see Nike and Adidas on a similar ad unless it was Dick's Sporting Goods, which is trying to sell any and every brand in between. 


Aaron Conant  46:59  

Awesome. That one or their use cases of traditional brands. And I think you kind of mentioned this at the beginning, Casey, where, you know, they've taken advantage of TikTok. You know, I think you were saying like, hey, you're an older brand. And then is there any change in the demographics that you've seen around it, but we'd love to hear if you have any, like, case studies around that.


Casey Murray  47:25  

So, for me, I've just noticed a lot of trends that start on TikTok have been adhered by, you know, brands like MillerCoors, they're actually starting out doing TikTok ads, where there's this big reveal, I don't know the song, but it's, it's like somebody is staring. And then they turn and suddenly they're in like, somewhat about sexy, scandalous outfit, and the lights turned dark. But they started doing that with Miller. And then they started doing it with Coors. And they started on TikTok and now I'm seeing on Hulu connected TV commercials that are literally taking the trend and doing it that way. So I think a lot of what we're seeing with traditional brands that are saying what the hell is TikTok, how do I TikTok, a Tock Tick, what is this? They're really just following trends and they're making, they're making marketing bets based on what they're seeing on TikTok, and it's actually working for them. So TikTok isn't just a platform to penetrate and showcase your brand or new product or whatever you're trying to advertise. It's also a way for you to make informed decisions about future advertisements, because consumers are telling you what they like. And consumers are telling you based on trends, what's resonating with them. So I find it almost interesting that it works in a you know, bilateral sort of way.


Nina Luker  48:41  

I also would add TikTok has this educational baseline, so everyone on there is just takes taking in content constantly. And a lot of it is to a degree educational. So having a traditional company that might actually not fully have that brand awareness on a certain product or where their stories coming from, or maybe it's a tiny element that hasn't ever been exposed. That educational element on TikTok is a perfect way to start finding those key narratives and playing into them. And even if you are a company that has a certain product, that it has been the key focus for the last multiple decades, try to find something that's really different about that company or that brand that you can highlight and see if that starts to resonate. This is a perfect time to really use that uniqueness within a traditional company and bring out emotion and say this is who we are and this is why we're going to impact a buyers life.


Aaron Conant  49:53  

Another great question that comes in is around how often should people be publishing fresh content to Tiktok? What have you seen? And this is outside of like, I think there's two sides. There's the branding, like the actual advertising side and the other one is just straight up, you know, just posting content?


Casey Murray  50:14  

Yeah, I think it's all the time, I think it's to go in line with content engineering, you should always be testing and always be generating content, to find your winners and to remain relevant in channels like TikTok that are unfamiliar to everybody. With algorithms that are truly unpredictable. Your only way to win in these channels is by having a constant stream of firehose of content, that you're testing and making future informed decisions based on top performers. 


Aaron Conant  50:44  



Nina Luker  50:45  

Yeah. And to do that you have to scale so that volume is not easy. So it's easy for us to say like you need a lot and diversify and execute and do all these things that we're sharing. But you do need to enable yourself to be there. So it does take either a partner or a just a regular cadence of turnaround, that is within the days, not the weeks to months. So if you're looking to launch a campaign, that's going to be take three months to make, how are you going to scale and iterate that content have a lot of iterations within a couple days, rather than looking at it in a more traditional sense, which could take a really long time. So it's being scrappy, it's leveraging people or partners who can help enable that. And then kind of taking the heavy lifting off your own shoulders.


Aaron Conant  51:40  

Awesome. And I see we're almost to time here. And I want to kick it over to you for key takeaways. Just quick before I do that, I want to say a quick thank you to everybody who sent in questions, I know we couldn't get to them, get to all of them. We're trying to get responses out to everyone that came in. If there's other ones that pop up later on, just email them to me Aaron we'd love to have conversation with anybody who dialed in today. That's how we stay on top of these items, we don't sell anything here. But I do talk with 30 or 40 brands a week. So more than happy to network and knowledge share, use us as a platform. Like I said, over 7000 brands now we've got a short list of the top service providers. And that's everything from Amazon to direct consumer to fulfillment to you know, SMS mobile messaging, international expansion. And then obviously, on the content side of things, you know, on that short list is 100%. Cohley and Shuttlerock, great friends and partners of the network. So encourage anybody have a follow up conversation with them, hear what they're doing the space. You know, thanks, Nina and Casey, for your time today, let us put you on the hot seat as these questions rolled in, but also sharing as much knowledge as you could. With that, you know, Nina, I'll kick it over to you first, if you want to do a quick key takeaways, and then I'll kick it over to Casey and we'll wrap it up.


Nina Luker  53:01  

Sure, well, my only key takeaway is be authentic, and leverage people who have a story and can bring out emotion and just get started. Try it out. If you haven't tried it, give it a try. If you have tried it, start to leverage different ideas and use people or partners to help Ideate. So it's been such a pleasure Aaron and always Casey. It's always so nice to talk about this stuff. And we're always a resource for anyone who has additional questions.


Aaron Conant  53:36  

Awesome. Thanks, Nina. Casey?


Casey Murray  53:38  

Awesome. Um, I will try to do my best I want to an Alec Baldwin impression here. But I'll put on my Glen Ross hat and say always be testing. Right. It's a predictable realm, whether it's TikTok or Snap, Insta, Facebook, just always be testing. And always be pushing the boundaries, right. Try new things, because you truly don't know what's going to resonate until you try. So be testing be iterating. And yeah, if you have any questions reach out to Aaron, they can put you in touch with us, Nina and I would love to talk.


Aaron Conant  54:11  

And I usually wrap it up right here. But a great question came in. And the person's first name is Aaron. So I'm going to it favorite brands to follow on TikTok?


Nina Luker  54:21  

Huh? Oh. 


Aaron Conant  54:26  

Or are they people? 


Nina Luker  54:27  

They're people I don't follow. You don't really follow brands. And maybe you like a lot of people don't I wouldn't follow Miller Corps and be like, they're wonderful creators. Now. Do an they advertise really well? Sure. But I follow people and it's mostly around humor, because I kind of need that uplift.


Aaron Conant  54:50  

I love it, that's a great point is the UGC. Right. That's the reality of it all. Awesome. Well, thanks again. Nina. Thanks, Casey. Thanks to everybody who dialed in. Look for a follow up email from us. Shoot me an email Aaron if you'd like a short list of top service providers in any area, or you'll catch them on one of our events here for sure. Thanks again. hope everybody has a fantastic Tuesday. Everybody stay safe and look forward to seeing you all on a future event. Thanks, Nina. Thanks, Casey. Thanks. 


Casey Murray  55:17  

It was fun. 


Nina Luker  55:19  

Thank you

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BWG Connect provides executive strategy & networking sessions that help brands from any industry with their overall business planning and execution. BWG has built an exclusive network of 125,000+ senior professionals and hosts over 2,000 virtual and in-person networking events on an annual basis.
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