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How to get budding TikTok stars to hype your products, without paying influencer prices

Brands like Scrub Daddy are partnering with up-and-coming TikTok stars before they get big—and expensive.

How to get budding TikTok stars to hype your products, without paying influencer prices
[Source Photo: Artem Podrez/Pexels]

Influencers are often the gateway for companies to become TikTok-famous–but it can sometimes be challenging to find the right partners that align with your brand. Unless your company is in a well-established category on the platform like beauty, where there are thousands of creators to choose from, it can be time consuming to find collaborators.

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Big brands often rely on agencies and consultants to source and manage their partnerships with influencers to build buzz, handing off the complexities of negotiating and managing relationships with creators. For smaller brands and startups, a helpful self-serve alternative is TikTok’s Creator Marketplace, a platform where businesses can search for vetted creators based on three categories: audience, content engagement, and topic.

One big advantage of brands using the Creator Marketplace is that they can easily discover up-and-coming creators who are growing quickly on TikTok and are new to working with advertisers. It’s an arrangement that can be beneficial for both parties: An endorsement from an advertiser will likely help the creator attract other brand deals, and these early sponsorships are often much more affordable.

That’s what has worked for Scrub Daddy. The cheerful brand of sponges, which gained a following after its Shark Tank appearance in 2012, has grown its TikTok following to 1.7 million, partly by partnering with creators early in their rise to fame. “We had to find someone who was up and coming that wouldn’t break the budget because this was an experiment for spending money,” says Will Augenbraun, chief strategy officer at Scrub Daddy. “And we wanted it to be natural and not forced.”

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The right match turned out to be TikTok’s self-dubbed “queen of cleaning,” Vanesa Amaro, a housekeeper who now has more than 5.4 million followers on the platform. She’s known for her lighthearted tutorials and product recommendations for cleaning everyday items like ovens and kitchen drawers. The partnership with Scrub Daddy was her first, and she frequently featured Scrub Daddy products in her videos, often earning millions of views. The products were a natural match with her audience and content.

“I would say it has benefited me in so many different ways,” says Vanesa Amaro. “It was more of a learning experience at the beginning. So, learning how to work with companies. Scrub Daddy gave me my first intro to the actual influencer world.” Offering a monthly retainer in return for approximately three posts per month, Scrub Daddy increases this fee based on her follower growth, given the company stands to reach more people as she grows. Amaro found this arrangement more attractive and lucrative, since there’s more opportunities to grow together in the long term as well as earn recurring income compared with a typical one-off deal. 

Amaro, who says the best way to determine your prices as a creator is to compare notes with others who have similar followings, suggests those who have a million followers or more charge $10,000 per post minimum. 

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Amaro has since partnered with other brands like Clorox, Hefty, and Hoover, but because Scrub Daddy got its foot in the door first, it was able to strike an affordable deal before there was any competition, says Augenbraun. Most important, the brand was able to build a long-lasting relationship with her. She has since created a product line with Scrub Daddy, become an advisor on campaigns and product launches, and is even helping the brand build relationships with other creators. She helps Scrub Daddy find new partners to work with on TikTok and reaches out to them on behalf of the brand. Today, Scrub Daddy now has deals with about 25 influencers on TikTok.

Ready to find your own influencers? Companies can search the Creator Marketplace by an influencer’s location, gender, age, and mobile device preferences, as well as the size and location of their audience.

You can filter results by the average views a creator’s videos earn, engagement rate, and level of expertise partnering with brands. Most important, you can narrow the results by the topics influencers cover, such as sports, arts and crafts, jewelry, cosplay, or something else.

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To zero in on fast-growing creators, review creators with 10,000 to 100,000 followers, and select “emerging” under “brand experience,” as this will only showcase people who are new to brand partnerships. Alternatively, you can turn on the “only show fast growing creators” feature. 

In order to be part of the marketplace, creators must be 18 years old, either apply for approval through a self-application process or get invited, and have at least 10,000 followers. Any organization can access the marketplace with their TikTok Ads Manager account, or by registering with documentation like a tax registration certificate or license of incorporation. Also keep in mind that you don’t necessarily need to manage your partnerships with creators through the marketplace. You can also contact them directly, which some influencers say they prefer. Email addresses are often listed in their profiles.

Brian Honigman is a marketing consultant, adjunct professor, and LinkedIn Learning instructor.

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About the author

Brian Honigman is a marketing consultant, adjunct professor, and LinkedIn Learning instructor.

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