How a teeth-whitening brand gained 100,000 followers on TikTok by sponsoring a 'wave' of content from the Hype House and Sway LA
HiSmile and TikTok
- HiSmile is a teeth-whitening brand with a history of paying high-profile influencers like the Kardashians to promote its products on social media. Now the brand is turning to TikTok.
- The Australian company recently hired TikTok stars from the Hype House and Sway LA - two Los Angeles-based "collab houses" - to try to create a wave of attention-grabbing videos on the app.
- Creators involved in the campaign wore matching sweatshirts and rolled out sponsored videos sequentially over a 24-hour period to maximize its visibility on TikTok's content discovery page, "For You."
- The campaign helped HiSmile add 100,000 followers to its TikTok account in the span of a week. It also drove two million likes, 10,000 comments, and 29 million video views that included the company's hashtag.
- Business Insider spoke to HiSmile's second-in-command to learn the inside story of how its campaign was conceived and executed.
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The teeth-whitening brand HiSmile knows how to grab attention on social media.
The 70-person Australian startup, founded in 2014, previously hired celebrities like Kim Kardashian West and Conor McGregor to promote its teeth whitener on Instagram, sparking both social-media virality and fan criticism in the process.
Now it's tapping some of TikTok's biggest stars to boost awareness of its brand on the social app popular with Generation Z.
In late February, the company launched a one-week influencer marketing test on TikTok specifically designed to "make a wave," said Justin Gaggino, HiSmile's former head of marketing who now holds the title of "2IC" (second-in-command) at the company.
The campaign, which also involved a fifth TikTok creator (Sarah Magusara, who doesn't live in either house but HiSmile viewed as a trend-setter), helped the company add 100,000 followers to its TikTok account in the span of a week. It drove two million likes, 10,000 comments, and 29 million video views with HiSmile's hashtag.
Capitalizing on the "collab house" moment - a phenomenon in which some of TikTok's top creators have begun living together and cross-promoting each other's content - was central to HiSmile's vision.
The company chose its campaign strategy after identifying which TikTok creators showed up the most on the platform's "For You" page - a section of the app where TikTok algorithmically surfaces content that it believes a user will enjoy.
"What we saw from our research and from our understanding of the platform is that they were the ones who were really driving the sentiment of the platform and the people who are really being the tastemakers for that platform," Gaggino said of the two Los Angeles-based "collab houses."
'We were looking to make a wave, a butterfly effect on the platform'
Consumer brands have been leaning into TikTok this year as the platform has shown to be a vehicle for fast follower growth and high audience engagement.
Milkshake company F'real Foods was already blowing up on TikTok when its marketing team downloaded the app in June 2019. It's since added over 400,000 followers. And the donut and coffee brand Dunkin' earned hundreds of millions of free video impressions from a single user in the first two months of 2020.
HiSmile designed its campaign with an eye toward achieving similar virality. The company built its campaign strategy around five influencer clients - Avani Gregg and Daisy Keech of the Hype House, Kio Cyr and Griffin Johnson of Sway LA, and Sarah Magusara, an Australian creator with 11.5 million TikTok followers - who rolled out sponsored videos sequentially over a 24-hour period starting on February 19th.
"We were looking to make a wave, a butterfly effect on the platform," Gaggino said.
To ensure consistency for its campaign, HiSmile sent hoodies to each creator with the words "No Sensitivity," a HiSmile phrase referring to its "no sensitivity guarantee" for its teeth-whitening product. The company then asked the Hype House's Gregg to create a custom dance and choose a song that each creator would then repeat in their videos.
"[Gregg] was someone who consistently was appearing on our 'For You' pages," Gaggino said. "She also had an interesting crossover between Sway LA and Hype House where she's [dating] somebody from the Sway LA house, and that kind of crossed over and it's interesting," he added.
Gregg encouraged her followers to create their own videos with the HiSmile dance by saying she would "like" them. Since HiSmile's campaign launched two weeks ago, about 6,300 videos have been created using the campaign's sound, "Where This Flower Blooms (feat. Frank Ocean)" by Tyler, The Creator. (Several of those videos were created by HiSmile for its own TikTok account, which currently has about half a million followers).
Gaggino said the company paid each creator a different rate based on follower count, engagement rate, and an internal assessment of their ability to drive trends and positive sentiment for its brand.
Negotiating with different agents also played a role in the final price for each post, Gaggino said. Sway LA's creators are managed by TalentX Entertainment, while the Hype House's 19 residents are represented by a variety of agencies like UTA, WME, and A3 Artists Agency (formerly Abrams Artists Agency).
TalentX declined to comment for this story, and none of the creators involved in HiSmile's campaign responded to requests for comment.
TikTok has been three to four times cheaper than Instagram or Facebook for driving website views for HiSmile
The popularity of the HiSmile dance stemmed from a combination of influencer marketing, organic reach, and paid marketing on TikTok.
HiSmile used TikTok's self-serve ad platform to promote its influencers' videos to other users in-feed using a "Shop Now" button as a call-to-action. It used age, geographic, and behavioral targeting to promote its five influencers' dances to users aged 16 or older in the US, UK, and Australia who TikTok's ad tool deemed interested in topics like personal care and beauty.
"We're testing using those demographic and behavioral pieces of information and trying to segment the audience by that and seeing what works," Gaggino said.
Gaggino said TikTok is significantly cheaper than Instagram and Facebook for paid ads, which he attributes to the fact that it has fewer advertisers and therefore less competition in its ad auctions.
"It's definitely three to four times cheaper for someone from TikTok to land on our website than it would be on Facebook or Instagram advertising," Gaggino said. "It's the quality of that user that is still something up for debate and it's still very new in its life cycle," he noted.
Other companies have found TikTok's self-serve platform similarly cost effective. The fintech startup, Tally, told Business Insider that TikTok ads were 300% cheaper than Instagram ads for driving app installs.
For more on how companies are using influencers to promote their brands on TikTok, check out these other Business Insider Prime posts:
- TikTok star Charli D'Amelio gave Dunkin' 294 million free video impressions in under 2 months and got her own cold-brew tap as a thank-you: Brands are taking over TikTok, making appearances in both organic (unpaid) videos and sponsored posts created by influencer marketers.
- Leaked campaign brief shows the video ideas Cash App pitched to TikTok influencers, including 'when you win a bet by doing something dope': Cash App paid dozens of influencers to promote its app on TikTok. Here are the content ideas the company shared with creators for sponsored posts.
- A milkshake brand blew up on TikTok, and its 460,000 followers have changed how it approaches marketing and its target audience: With 460,000 TikTok followers, the milkshake maker F'real has built a larger following than national brands like Chipotle, Walmart, and Burger King.
- CASE STUDY: TikTok ads have been 300% more efficient than Instagram ones in getting new users for fintech startup Tally: As more adults sign up for TikTok, fintech brands are using influencer videos and its self-serve ad platform to advertise on the platform.
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