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How to Find TikTok Influencers (Creators) to Represent Your Brand
Just because your favorite TikTok creators know how to make fun, engaging videos doesn't mean they know how to sell a product.
To make TikTok ads that convert, your creatives must entertain and promote—you need both.
In the last chapter of our TikTok ads guide, you learned the formulas and best practices that successful advertisers use to create high-converting TikTok ads.
Now we’ll show you how to partner with TikTok creators who can help you produce those ads.
This chapter teaches you how to find the right TikTok influencers and train them to promote your products in an engaging, desirable way.
What you'll learn:
- Part 1. How to prepare a brief for creators: To get the best out of creators, you need to give them detailed instructions. We'll show you how to prepare a creative brief that gives clear direction—without stifling creativity.
- Part 2. How to source content creators: We'll show you where to look and what to look for in a potential collaborator. We'll also give you a simple framework for paying creators.
By the end of this chapter, you'll have a process to articulate your creative expectations to creators. And you’ll know how to find the right talent to turn your ideas into engaging, appealing ad content.
Part 1. Manage the production process with a creative brief
Most brands source their influencer content like this:
- Reach out to a bunch of different types of influencers.
- Send them some products.
- See what comes back.
But that quantity-over-quality approach rarely works out. Often, the resulting videos don’t achieve exactly what the brand needs.
Creators may know how to make engaging content for you, but in order to promote your products correctly, they’ll need some direction. That's where a brief comes in handy.
A creative brief is a detailed document outlining your strategy and objective for any creative project—kind of like a set of instructions.
We recommend creating a brief before you start looking for creators. The process is more efficient when you know what you're looking for and what you expect out of your creator relationships.
A creative brief helps you:
- Maintain quality control
- Keep your budget in check
- Improve efficiency
- Manage relationships with creators
- Teach them how to position your product
- Minimze the chances of costly reshoots or ending up with a bad result
We recommend including the following information in your brief.
- Specify deliverables
- Include talking points
- Storyboard product shots
- Set content guidelines
- Share examples for inspiration
Note: We included a downloadable creative brief template for you at the end of this section.
1. Specify deliverables
Define your advertising goal (i.e., purchases, sign-ups, app installs), and specify the number of video assets you want.
Note: We recommend requesting 5-10 different openers for each video you commission. This may sound like a big request, but the opener is only a second or two long—potentially a single frame.
The opening is the most critical part of your ad creative, and you'll need to test several hook options to find out which performs best.
Experienced TikTok creators understand the value of a strong hook.
2. List your value props (talking points)
You don't need to provide a detailed line-by-line script (if know your way around video marketing, feel free), but you do need to consider the messaging points you want the creator to communicate.
The best way to do this by simply listing the value props you want mentioned in the video.
For example, here's what a fictitious cosmetic brand's talking points might look like:
Include the following messaging points (mention at least two):
- All-natural skincare
- Easy to apply and won't dry out your skin
- Compatible with all skin types
Be specific and list the exact value props you want to be included.
3. Storyboard product shots
A storyboard is a graphic representation of how you want your ad to go, shot-by-shot. It can be used for shooting and editing content.
A simple, product-focused storyboard gives creators a framework to follow. It helps them focus on the direct use case and show the product in action, rather than just talking about it or shooting a fun skit.
Use your value props and what you know about your target audience—your customer research—to answer the following questions:
- Define the situation: When and where is your product used? Who is it supposed to help?
- State the problem: What problem(s) does your product solve?
- Explain the process: How does your product work? What does it do?
- Show the solution: What results should the customer expect? How does the product make their life better?
Notice how your answers naturally shape a story structure—which, as we discussed in the previous chapter, is the ideal format for TikTok ads.
If you know what type of UGC you want, include that as well. For example:
- TikTok made me buy
- X reasons why
4. Set content guidelines
- Do's and don'ts: List any do's and don'ts you have around language and phrasing, competitor mentions, or buzzwords related to your brand.
- Product knowledge: Make sure the creator knows how to use your product correctly, so they look comfortable with it on camera.
- Editing: If the creator is responsible for editing your videos, provide direction on text overlays, video effects, and other post-production details Example instructions: “Use text overlays to call out benefits, and feature the coupon code 'TIKTOK15' in a balloon at the end of the video.”
5. Share examples for inspiration
Share ad examples to help articulate what you want.
Browse TikTok's Ad Library for ad inspiration. You can sort by industry and region and see some basic engagement metrics.
In your content brief, include links to a few of your favorites. Note specific shots or visual effects you want to recreate.
Creative brief template
- Use this template to fill out your creative brief.
- If you plan on partnering with creators to run Spark ads, here's an easy step-by-step guide to include with your creative brief.
Part 2. How to find TikTok content creators
We’ll cover five steps to finding TikTok creators:
- Search for creators in your niche
- Verify audience engagement
- Make a list
- Personalize your outreach
- Negotiate a deal
But first, we want to clear up a common misconception. The best influencer for your brand isn't necessarily the biggest influencer.
When deciding what kind of talent to look for, we suggest narrowing your search to creators who make quality content in a similar industry as yours, not the size of their following.
Why focus on lesser-known influencers?
For starters, lesser-known influencers give brands the most bang for their buck.
Here's a rough breakdown of pricing per post based on the size of an influencer's follower count:
But more crucially, TikTok users see nano- and micro-influencers as “people like me,” making viewers more likely to trust and take action based on their recommendations.
With smaller influencers, you aren't riding on anyone's celebrity, only the quality of their performance.
Another benefit of lesser-known influencers: You can commission a higher volume of creatives to test in your campaigns.
And since many of them are either early in their careers or striving to work as creators full time, they’ll work harder to deliver a result you’re happy with.
Counterintuitive? You bet. While other brands are trying to land deals with TikTok celebrities, you'll focus on finding expert craftspeople who know how to engage an audience.
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Now let's walk through the process of finding the right influencers for your campaigns.
Step 1. Search for creators in your niche who fit your demographic
The TikTok app is hands down the best way to find creators. But there are some other solid options too (both free and paid)—we've included them in a bonus section at the end of this chapter.
Use TikTok as a search engine, and look for creators with 10-50k followers in your specific niche. Use hashtags to guide your search process and find creators who fit your demographic.
For example, if you're an ecommerce store that sells cruelty-free skincare products, you'd quickly discover popular hashtags like:
- #crueltyfreeskincare (17.5 million views)
- #crueltyfreeskincareproducts (6 million views)
- #skincarecrueltyfree (194k views)
Browse Top posts for popular hashtags in your niche and start putting together a list of videos / creators that catch your eye. The simplest way to do this is by following accounts and bookmarking your favorite videos.
You can also scan your For You Page (FYP). TikTok's algorithm is exceptional at showing you content you like, which increases serendipitous influencer discovery.
Step 2. Verify audience engagement
Next, cross-check 20-30 videos for each prospective collaborator to get a rolling average of engagement and weed out larger accounts with poor engagement rates.
Since content creation is your primary goal, follower counts and average views aren't important metrics to look at. Instead, focus on number of comments and shares to get a better sense of engagement quality.
However, since you’ll be negotiating rates, keep in mind that creators with substantial followings typically request larger fees than those with smaller followings.
Step 3. Whittle down your list
Take note of any creators whose videos resonate and who seem like they could be a good fit for your brand. Check for strong engagement, but also pay attention to your subjective evaluation:
- Are they believable and comfortable on camera?
- What are their environments like? Do they put some thought into their surroundings or treat them as an afterthought?
- How is the lighting?
Chances are, if you like someone's content, your audience will too—especially when you consider it from their perspective as potential customers (i.e., is the content believable? Is it good? How do I feel when watching this?).
Tip: Make sure to engage (like, comment, share) with content you want to see more of. You'll see more videos just like it on your FYP—a simple way to keep your creator pipeline full of new prospects.
Step 4. Personalize your outreach
On TikTok, you can't DM anyone unless they follow you.
To get a creator's attention, comment on a few of their videos. Applaud something they did well.
Then send a message via Instagram DM or email and see if they'd be interested in free product or payment to record content (most creators list this info in their TikTok bio). Personalize your message to increase the response rate.
Here's an example script:
"Hi [first name]! We found your account on TikTok and were blown away by [something remarkable about their content or on-camera performance]. We'd love to partner with you on a TikTok project. Please let us know if you'd be interested and we'll provide next steps. - [your name].
Well-known creators are hit up by brands all the time. And even if you're targeting lesser-known accounts, a courteous, sincere message is more likely to get a response than one that seems copied and pasted.
Note: Keep in mind it's not always about the money. Most creators care greatly about the quality and number of followers they have and want to work with brands that are a good fit, not just any endorsement opportunity.
Step 5. Negotiate a deal
Reference the pricing chart above for a ballpark range.
If you sell a physical product, it's worth asking the creator if they're open to gifting—exchanging your product for content. Lesser-known creators who are still trying to build a name for themselves are often open to it.
We recommend hopping on a call with a creator you're interested in working with before making it official. We've found that creators get it right when you talk to them first to align on content ideas and discuss the details in your creative brief.
Consideration: If you've sourced Instagram influencers for previous influencer marketing strategies or creative production, reach out to them. See if they have a TikTok account and can help you create short-form videos that appeal to your user base.
Bonus: More ways to find TikTok influencers
You shouldn't have any trouble finding influencers straight from the TikTok app.
For a more advanced search option or done-for-you content creation service, consider one of the following resources.
1. TikTok Creator Marketplace (free to sign up)
TikTok Creator Marketplace is TikTok's official influencer marketing platform.
There are over 50k content creators on it, and it's free to sign up. All creators on TikTok Creator Marketplace have at least 100k TikTok followers, making it ideal for companies looking for more conventional influencer partnerships.
It's essentially a TikTok influencer search engine. Deals are negotiated directly through the platform.
2. Upfluence (Creator Marketplace alternative)
Upfluence is another popular influencer marketplace that connects brands with influencers.
It's similar to TikTok Creator Marketplace, but it isn't specific to TikTok. You can find the right influencers to collaborate with on your ads and influencer campaigns for any channel. This is a good option if you're looking to work with better-known influencers with larger followings.
Upfluence lets you filter by demographics, follower size, industry, and more. It has built-in campaign management and campaign reporting tools.
3. Billo (value option)
Billo is Upwork for ecommerce video content creators.
This is the most affordable option for startups—you can get started at $59 per video.
Similar to Upwork, there are a ton of freelancers, but the quality is uneven. There's talent to be found, but you might have to do some digging to find it. This is where a creative brief comes in handy—it sets expectations and helps you qualify candidates upfront.
4. Beeroll.io (premium option)
Beeroll is UGC SaaS. Like a marketing agency, they handle the entire production process for you, from sourcing creators to creative direction to editing ad variants.
Beeroll is more selective than Billo about which freelancers they work with, which means the quality is higher.
À la carte videos cost $149 each, or you can pay $99 per video with a bundle package.
Creative strategy is just half the equation
If you stuck with us this far, you've learned how to execute a TikTok ads creative strategy at an advanced level.
However, sitting on a pile of ad creatives won't do you any good—you need to put them to work.
If you want to make money with TikTok ads, you need to pair great content with a clear-headed media-buying strategy. One that lets you reach and convert as many of the right people as possible.
In the next chapter, we tackle TikTok ads media buying from all angles, leaving no stone unturned. You'll learn how to nail your campaign strategies and run ads profitably from day one.
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