Leveraging TikTok influencers for marketing crypto startups: How to play with fire and win

by newconomy
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TikTok’s recent announcements made headlines in the financial industry: The platform is now penalizing its members for sharing promotional content about financial assets and cryptocurrencies. Reading this news as a founder of a crypto startup, you might find yourself with your back against the wall when it comes to using influencer marketing to your advantage.

But don’t panic just yet. It’s no witchcraft to run an influencer marketing campaign and still adhere to the new guidelines of the world’s most popular short-video platform.

Let’s look at how crypto startups can continue to work with influencers on TikTok and what kind of content creator collaborations are most suitable for the industry at this time.

Why TikTok decided to change its community guidelines

Until recently, it was pretty common for shady sales representatives to contact content creators on TikTok, offering them large sums for promoting their cryptocurrency. 

As a result, TikTok’s team decided to ban the direct advertising of crypto and financial transactions on the platform. After all, TikTok is prized for its independent and organic content as well as its young user base. TikTok can’t afford to have its platform turn into a breeding ground for financial service scams.

As a result, many crypto startups may feel lost when it comes to marketing on TikTok. If you’re running a legitimate business, the new TikTok rules against financial services shouldn’t be a cause for concern. Instead, they provide an opportunity. After all, TikTok influencer marketing achieves far higher success rates when aligning with the users’ content preferences: genuine, educational, and organic.

Genuine collaborations are the golden rule

Influencer marketing on TikTok has become a goldmine. Numerous indie companies within the beauty and fashion industry have transformed themselves into wealthy enterprises by putting their fate into micro-influencers. However, this potential does not belong to these industries alone, which is why more and more technological brands and financial service companies are investing in TikTok influencer campaigns

Regardless of the industry, when looking for influencers, it’s an absolute must to ensure that brand and content creators are a good match. Unfortunately, there are far too many consumers who are only interested in one thing: quick money. That’s why crypto and fintech startups need to conduct an intensive screening of their engaged influencers and identify:

  • Which audience does the influencer have? 
  • Is this audience relevant to you? 
  • What niche industry is of importance to the influencer, and how do my products impact that industry?
  • Will the influencer be knowledgeable enough as well as keen to share educational content? 

Keep in mind that only influencers who have the authority to talk about your product can become authentic brand ambassadors. So, by inviting them to get to know your company, offering them a trial or full access to your company’s products, you give them the chance to become well-informed fans without having to pay them massive amounts of money.

Focus on educational and added-value content

Gen Z and Millennials understand crypto much better and are more open to imagining a world of cryptocurrencies than the older generations. But their savviness is a double-sided sword. On the one hand, they are interested in discussing financial services, discovering assets’ potentials, and how acquiring crypto might impact the world.

On the other hand, both generations are also very keen on questioning the whole industry as well as the motivations of individual companies, so being ethical and transparent when contracting them as collaborators is key.

Even without the latest TikTok restrictions, startups should know that overly promotional content on TikTok performs poorly. Instead, content that is primarily educational, entertaining, and helpful can spread quickly among users. 

The main reason for TikTok regulating paid promotions when it comes to financial services in the first place is because too many companies were focusing on pumping up cryptocurrencies without any context behind their project. This is a huge red flag in TikTok’s book. 

The missing piece of the puzzle allows influencers to share their honest opinions about your project without blindly pumping them to their audience. Let’s take Virtualbacon – one of the most successful TikTok creators in the crypto sphere – as an example. Instead of promoting a specific currency or convincing his audience about buying from a company, Virtualbacon shares news, updates, and personal opinions related to the industry.

By providing context behind the assets that he talks about, Virtualbacon can abide by the TikTok rules while still discussing financial services. Now, if he was to pump cryptocurrency after cryptocurrency without any added value, it’s safe to say TikTok would do something about that.

Focus on relating to influencers through values

To avoid coming off as a company that’s solely focused on pumping a cryptocurrency, you need to focus on associating with influencers that share your values as a company and have a genuine need for your product. This way, your collaboration can go deeper than just telling people to purchase your cryptocurrency. Instead, you’ll find yourself an ambassador that can explain why this specific cryptocurrency is worthy of investing in. 

Let’s imagine a decentralized music streaming platform that wants to grow brand awareness and advocacy. The startup can talk, for instance, with content creators who produce music and tell them why their platform might be a better alternative to something like Spotify or Apple music.

Naturally, by approaching content creators who share the same values as your company, you will be able to onboard some creators interested in working with you. You’ll want these creators to use the platform and post some of their music on there to get the full experience.

Once this is done, and you’ve successfully recruited and educated some creators about your platform, have them create content to show their audience why you’re the go-to decentralized music streaming service. 

At this point, the influencer can speak about your company on a deeper level. Rather than just telling their audience to buy your cryptocurrency, they’re able to explain why this cryptocurrency is worthy of buying in the first place because they have hands-on experience with the platform.

Per the new TikTok policy, promotions on crypto coins are excluded from the discussion. The way to go is to push organic collaboration: A content creator that aligns with your values and corporate image will be much more valuable to your company and become an ambassador for your products without explicit notice.

So, the ace card startups in the crypto influencer scene should stake their marketing on is organic content. Insightful videos, exciting posts on the latest developments in the financial industry, professional articles, and expert knowledge aimed at a young, enlightened yet playful audience are key. If you follow these simple rules, nothing will stand in the way of a successful marketing campaign – an effort entirely worth the investment risk.

Guest post by Kyle Dulay from Collabstr

Kyle Dulay is the co-founder of Collabstr, an open marketplace for TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube influencers. He has been creating software tools for the creator economy for the past three years. In his spare time, he creates content about investing & entrepreneurship.

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