Unless you’ve completely unplugged from the internet, you’ve probably heard about influencers. Influencers are just that, they influence consumers, and they can be beneficial to companies looking to reach a different target audience or expand their current consumer demographic. Social media influencers can help rebrand a company’s image by connecting with a younger and socially engaged demographic. Add in TikTok, a social media platform geared towards fun videos, and you have a new kind of influencer – the TikTok influencer.

What is TikTok?

TikTok is a short-form video app that launched in 2016. It surpassed 1 billion users last September according to Sprout Social. TikTok is a more unique form of social media content compared to Facebook and Instagram; TikTok encourages fun & silly content with music, sound effects, voice overs, dancing and quick editing that is entertaining and easy for viewers to consume.

What is an Influencer?

According to Merriam-Webster: an influencer is a person who is able to generate interest in something (such as a consumer product) by posting about it on social media.

While Merriam-Webster doesn’t get specific with the type of social media platform an influencer uses, influencers are generally associated with Instagram & YouTube (and now TikTok) more than Facebook and Twitter. While Facebook has its share of influencer accounts with large followings, they have a stricter policy with regards to giveaways and contests, which are staples in an influencer’s content plan.

There are a few different types of influencers. In general, a micro-influencer is someone with 10k-50k followers, while someone with over a million followers is considered a mega-influencer and accounts in between the two are macro influencers. At one time, a mega-influencer might’ve been limited to actors, athletes and musicians, people who had access to millions of fans. However, more and more “regular” people are building huge followings on various social media platforms. With Tik Tok curating and encouraging more unique content, it has made it even easier for a non-celebrity to build a following.

Top TikTok influencers

Here are a couple examples of TikTok influencers who were not celebrities prior to joining TikTok.


Charli is the second most followed person on TikTok with 142.1 million followers. So, it’s no surprise that she’s collaborating with sponsors. She recently partnered with Amazon to produce content. A video of her making tea (literally, just making tea) as part of #founditonamazon, a page on Amazon that helps you discover items selected by brands and influencers, has 1 million likes and 14.5 million views. It’s important to note that she was not a celebrity prior to joining TikTok. Since becoming a TikTok superstar she has been featured in films and had her own docuseries on Hulu.

What’s interesting about her as a TikTok influencer is that in a recent post she discussed her own brand of perfume which is exclusively at Ulta Beauty and the straight-forward “buy this product” video is reminiscent of a simple Instagram post. It has no songs, quick editing, or trendy dance moves it’s just a basic branded video. TikTok’s surge in popularity was in large part due to the fun and silly content, so it will be interesting to see if these basic brand posts (more sales, less entertaining) will be more frequent on TikTok. It is a departure from what made TikTok different. This shift to more salesy videos from influencers might be inevitable when a platform has a billion users.


Addison Rae has 88 million followers on TikTok. According to Wikipedia she moved to Los Angeles specifically to “pursue her TikTok career.” In 2020 she was the highest earning TikTok personality according to Forbes. Addison has her own cosmetics line, collaborates with a variety of sponsors, released a single and acts. She became an influencer first, then a singer/actor. This is drastically different than how it used to work; in the early years of social media people were a singer, actor or athlete first, then as a result, received a huge social media following.

In addition to the ones mentioned above, the others rounding out the top 10 accounts on TikTok are as follows:

Khabane Lame, Bella Poarch, Will Smith, Zach Zing, Kimberly Loaiza, the official Tik Tok account, Burak Ozdemir and Dixie D’Amelio.

By comparison, the top 10 Instagram accounts ranked by number of followers are:

The official Instagram account, Cristiano Ronaldo (footballer), Kylie Jenner, Lionel Messi (footballer), Selena Gomez, Dwayne Johnson, Kim Kardashian, Ariana Grande, Beyonce and Khloe Kardashian.

How many names did you recognize in the TikTok list vs the Instagram list? TikTok embraces unique voices while Instagram still favors celebrities. Also notable, five of the top 10 TikTok accounts are from the United States while eight out of the top 10 Instagram accounts are based in the United States.

Compensating Influencers

There are several ways that brands can compensate an influencer who posts about their brand.

  • The influencer and brand would negotiate a flat rate or payment schedule depending on the number of posts.
  • Free products. Whether it’s a trip, meal at a fancy restaurant or coffee on the house, if an influencer receives something in exchange for posting about a brand, that is consider a transaction.
  • The influencer could get paid a percentage of sales.

Influencers are required by law to be transparent about their branded posts; they are required to use a hashtag (#ad #sponsor or similar) on all posts where they received something in exchange for posting on social media.

How Much is an Influencer Post Worth?

According to Hootsuite, the “unspoken industry standard” for an influencer post is $100 per 10,000 followers + extra for additional factors (travel, renting a studio, etc.).

Most influencers will have a press kit with their rates.

Brands on TikTok

Besides the official Tik Tok account, there are no brands in the top 50 TikTok accounts. This, along with the fact that only one celebrity (Will Smith) is in the Top 10, demonstrates the unique and authentic content people enjoy on the platform. Viewers want to see fun, silly videos, not scripted content from brands.

There are eight brands in the Top 50 accounts on Instagram and 30 brands in a list of the Top 50 Facebook accounts.

Should a Brand Have a TikTok Account?

The lack of brands in the Top 50 might make you wonder if your brand should create an account on Tik Tok. Unlike Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, which can be served the same content from a brand, Tik Tok requires different content, editing through the app and knowledge of trends – which can take a significant amount of time to curate.

Things To Consider Before Creating a TikTok Account

  • Does it make sense for your brand to be on TikTok?
  • What are your goals for TikTok?
  • How will you measure success?
  • Do you have the resources to keep up on the constantly changing TikTok trends?
  • Are brands in your industry on TikTok?

Not All Brands Need or Should Have A TikTok Account

One way a brand can have a presence on TikTok without actually creating a brand page is to work with already popular TikTok influencers. This allows you to reach a new, broader audience without having to maintain and curate content for yet another social media platform.

Things to Consider When Collaborating with a TikTok Influencer

  • Does it make sense for your brand to be on TikTok?
  • Are TikTok Influencers posting about other brands in your industry?
  • Who are you hoping to reach?
  • What is your budget?

How to Find a TikTok Influencer

  • Research accounts in your industry. You can do this by searching hashtags related to your industry.
  • Use an influencer agency.

In Conclusion

TikTok is a popular social media app that doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. Brands should determine how TikTok fits into their social media strategy, or even if it does. By reviewing the type of content on TikTok, brands can get a sense of how that fits in with their individual brand personality. It’s also important for brands to understand the extra work needed to create continuous content for TikTok. If a brand doesn’t have the resources, or desire, to have their own TikTok account, they should consider collaborating with a TikTok influencer. Influencers can help brands get in front of the TikTok audience without the hours of work to maintain an account.