TikTok vs. Reels vs. Spotlight: What Influencer Marketers Need To Know

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As discussed in last week’s blog post, despite Instagram and Snapchat releasing short form video feeds to mimic the success of TikTok, they each have unique differences and appeal to different audiences.

In this post, we’ll focus on how each of these features can inspire influencer opportunities for brands in 2021. These different approaches will help you organically bring influencers into your strategies when it comes to short form videos, and allow you to test and learn which platform may be right for your brand.


3 Ways to Approach TikTok with Influencers

  1. Think music and sound first. Starting with the one that started it all, what first made TikTok stand out was that it was a music- and entertainment-driven platform. After all, TikTok was formerly known as Musical.ly, where users created short lip syncing videos. Needless to say, music and sound are the primary tools that creators use to make content on the platform. Lesser-known artists have skyrocketed overnight because their songs took off on TikTok (i.e. like Olivia Rodrigo’s “Driver’s License” that broke records and hit Billboard’s No. 1 spot in a week). TV shows and movies jump into Top 10 Lists after a creator uses a sound or issues a challenge. If a brand or influencer creates a new original sound that catches on, it’s a surefire way to amplify a campaign on the platform.
  2. Go past the Gen Z demographic. According to Comscore data, the millennial and Gen X audiences are growing exponentially on the platform, thanks to lock down measures from COVID-19. Although younger generations continue to dominate the platform, TikTok continues to grow, and a variety of audiences are engaging there as well. 
  3. Give your influencers creative freedom. TikTok’s growth and popularity is largely due to its highly creative user-generated content. That means letting your influencers have the creative freedom that they need to be successful when talking about your brand, so that others follow suit and do the same. The most popular TikToks are usually relatable and authentic, so let your creators use your product and showcase it in a way that they actually would on their own. 


3 Ways to Approach Reels with Influencers

  1. Enlist established influencers with high engagement rates. Unlike TikTok’s algorithm that allows anyone to appear on their “For You” page, Instagram’s algorithm is still heavily focused on keeping you on the platform as long as possible. That means that the Reels that float to the top come from tried and true influencers with established presences. Reels is a new creative tool where influencers can expand to new audiences and engage their established fan base. 
  2. Categorize within clusters of interests. If you’ve ever taken a look at your “Explore” page on Instagram, you’ll see what its algorithm thinks is most interesting to you at that moment. It works in typical interest clusters (such as beauty, wellness, fitness, food, travel). Unlike TikTok, where you can follow niche communities from micro-influencers, Reels are already categorized for your specific interests. Think about what cluster of interest your product may fall in, and find mega-influencers in that category to create content around your brand.
  3. Try using TikTok methods. Unlike Spotlight, where Snapchat is banning uploading videos created on TikTok, Instagram still allows creators to upload TikToks to Reels. In this vein, consider using marketing techniques that have been successful on TikTok: issue a branded challenge to inspire user-generated content, create a brand-owned sound that creators can use to come up with a Reel, or establish long-lasting relationships with influencers to create a steady flow of content with your brand.


3 Ways to Approach Spotlight with Influencers

  1. Use unique Snapchat creative tools. Snapchat created Spotlight to compete for creators’ attention, not duplicate it. They’re encouraging creators to use the creative tools that made Snapchat famous at its inception, like filters, geo-locations, Bitmojis, and more recently, AR lenses and features. They’re hoping for a completely different look and feel of content that you can only find on Snapchat.
  2. Make privacy a priority. Spotlight doesn’t allow watermarks from other apps, and there are no public comments on posts, with Snapchat citing user privacy as a priority. Private messages are Snapchat’s specialty: according to Omnicore, 528,000 Snaps get sent every minute, and an average user sends 34 messages a day. In the spirit of sharing content one-to-one, Spotlights are a great vehicle for engagement. Consider a Guerilla-type marketing strategy where private messages play a role, like direct messaging a Spotlight to enter a sweepstakes, or forming an underground community spread through private messages. 
  3. Enlist tried and true creators. There are plenty of TikTok creators who have already started to migrate to Snapchat—the most prominent being Hype House, a group of creators that creates video content on these platforms. If your brand is already in relationships with popular creators, then try out Spotlight. Right now, communities established on TikTok are trying out Spotlight as well. As Spotlight expands and grows, more creators may continue to migrate over from TikTok. 


No matter which platform you choose to explore, one thing is for sure: social entertainment is the future, and it’s here to stay. TikTok has changed social media platforms and the way we use them. As up-and-coming influencers and creators explore Reels and Spotlight, marketers should look into a multi-platform social strategy that focuses on short video entertainment to stay ahead of the game.

If you’re not using short videos in your strategy yet, consider starting with one format that makes sense for your brand. If your brand has an established presence on Instagram, for example, consider working with popular Reels influencers to dip your toe in the social entertainment waters. If you know your audience is younger, or you’re trying to expand your brand’s narrative to new audiences, then consider adding TikTok to your influencer strategy. Every brand should think about their own unique approach as our industry shifts. 

Although it may seem like TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat’s short video features are starting to resemble one another, they still have distinct differences to build specific channel approaches with the right types of influencers for your brand.

Alyssa Palermo is an Associate Director of Social Strategy at Ogilvy. She has 8 years experience under her belt working on digital strategies for top clients like Samsung Mobile, TaskRabbit, Google Play, Oxygen, Smirnoff, Nestlé Waters, Lacoste, CeraVe, and Aetna. Her core belief is that all digital content should stem from positive, strategic thinking. alyssa-palermo-headshot


February 08, 2021
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