It was Greta Rowley’s younger sister who first introduced her to TikTok in late 2019. Together, the two have been filling their time by recording themselves singing and dancing in their living room. Corona virus pandemic Restrictions have been tightened across the country.
“I didn’t have a lot of followers — most of them were just random friends on TikTok,” Rowley told CBS News.
Eventually, Rowley moved away from posting simple dance videos and instead began offering viewers a closer look at her daily life, from her morning routine to snippets from a weekend trip she took with fiancé Sebastian to trying on wedding dresses.
“I like people to see more intimate parts of my life, like my relationships with my siblings, my relationship with my parents and my relationship with Sebastian. I don’t get overly involved, but I like to feel like they’re part of the family dynamic,” Rowley said.
This casual intimacy is the hallmark of an emerging generation of online influencers who are using social media to foster a sense of personal closeness with their fans. More broadly, Rolli’s transformation marks TikTok’s evolution as a platform from a platform known for viral dance and animal videos to one that increasingly connects professional content creators with businesses and brands eager to connect with young digital consumers.
For today’s most successful influencers, “authenticity”—or at least the semblance of it—is itself a product that can be captured in high definition, edited, and eventually sold to a larger audience hungry for a meaningful connection with their favorite internet personalities.
Taylor Sher, CEO, Inc Sheer talentwhich represents a group of noteworthy influencers, among other clients, said TikTok has surpassed other major social platforms in terms of its importance to advertisers.
“We have a client who allocates spending every month toward influencers and for months on end we’ve been allocating all of their spending to Instagram and YouTube and then all of a sudden, they’re like, ‘Actually, we’re going to take 90% of that and put it into TikTok,’” she told CBS News.
Meanwhile, hashtags like #GRWM (Get ready with me) #skincareroutine, #gotoworkwithme, #organizewithme has opened up new opportunities for anyone to become a TikTok influencer. Combined, these hashtags contain billions of videos spread all over the social media app.
The idea is simple: creators record videos documenting their favorite products as they start their day or prepare for an event.
Alex Earle, a 22-year-old student at the University of Miami, is another prominent influencer who has managed to capitalize on the growing appetite for personal content, gaining 2 million followers in one month by posting content about her life.
Earle on TikTok is a big sister like no other. She takes trips to Dubai to promote brands, while not skipping a beat to keep up with her college classes. Her followers come for her Get Ready with Me content but keep hearing about her acne concerns and her dating and relationship life with her roommates. She is sociable and even communal, while also being charming. Most of all, it’s glowing with the internet’s most valuable commodity: your attention.
Analyzes show how effective this recipe is in the right hands. On TikTok, the hashtag #AlixEarle has received more than 738 million mentions, while #AlixEarleMakeup has attracted nearly 53 million as her followers sought to recreate her makeup routine.
Merging brands with creators
When TikTok first exploded in popularity, Famous content creators like Charli D’AmelioBella Pork and Addison Rae saw similar subscriber growth through uploading performance content. The platform has served as a launching pad for jobs selling makeup, appearing on reality shows and recording music outside of the app.
‘An army of small powerhouses’
But that was her time, says Cher. “There are still creators out there who are based on that, but I’d say the vast majority of them are themselves very organic, so you’ll find that people are really drawn to what they enjoy,” said Cher.
While it’s still early to tell if creators like Earle and Rolli have the same level of fame as their predecessors, brands and companies are taking into account how invested their followers can be in the daily lives and routines of their fellow users and the products they use.
Sarah Wilson, Founder and Director of Digital Strategy Consulting SW projectsHe said that some brands are getting ads from TikTok’s advanced search feature.
“The best brands are indistinguishable from creators. So when you see a brand like Shein, it’s so huge that I think you go TikTok, there are billions of views of #SheinHaul on TikTok, so they’ve basically delegated an army of micro-influencers to represent them.” Wilson said. This is a presence for the brand on the platform… We now have creators doing Shein Hauls to represent the brand.”
speak the language
With over a billion users, TikTok’s audience is primarily split between Gen Zers and younger millennials. While Millennials are on the app, Wilson said, Gen Zers are driving the conversations, consumption types, and trends.
“It’s still very much a Gen Z-centric platform,” Wilson said, adding that “brands are definitely waking up for at least the last year to the power of TikTok to open up an audience that they really want to reach.”
She points to Duolingo and Ryanair as two brands that have mastered TikTok slang in attracting young users of the app.
“The idea of speaking the language is very basic because brands often come up on TikTok and they love speaking Greek when the language there is Italian and it doesn’t work,” Wilson said. “It’s not right, it’s not right, it’s not appropriate, and users can smell it right away.”
Another way TikTok is a game-changer for social media: useful information. It is a short video platform where people look to other content creators for practical knowledge as a form of entertainment.
“I think what’s interesting is that we’ve evolved from dancing to learning as a form of entertainment, and that’s really the key,” said Wilson. “And what brands need to understand is that this is an opportunity where people want to entertain and they want to learn as well, and those two things aren’t mutually exclusive — in fact, they’re deeply connected. I think it’s the brands that understand that that I think are the brands that will win.”