Though Paula’s Choice has been active on TikTok since Aug. 2020, it was not until Oct. 2021 that it finally leaned into a paid campaign on the platform.
Paula’s Choice developed a six-week TikTok brand awareness campaign that was based on the idea of debunking skin-care myths and used the hashtag #BeautyBeginsWithTruth. Paula’s Choice worked with six dermatologists for the myth-busting portion of the campaign and gifted products to 1,500 influencers. It also hired an additional 18 content creators in the beauty and lifestyle space to create videos around the topic of skin-care information they wish they had learned earlier.
“This was really cementing what the brand was [on the platform] and being part of TikTok for the long term,” said Erika Kussmann, CMO and gm of Paula’s Choice. “We’d received buzz, but we felt like there was more [potential]. We looked at impressions and views as our key targets because it was about getting the brand in front of more people.”
Paula’s Choice set a benchmark of 29.7 million views and reached 43.6 million. Influencer gifting drove 8.5 million unpaid impressions and $963,000 in earned media value, while the brand’s TikTok account during the period gained over 6,600 followers — it now has over 36,000. Influencer marketing agency Fanbytes worked on the #BeautyBeginsWithTruth campaign, including by devising the creative and influencer strategies before executing the campaign on TikTok. It simultaneously ran paid media in the form of TikTok Spark Ads.
According to a 2019 article from AdAge, TikTok advertising can cost be $50,000-$120,000, depending on the ad format and duration. Kussmann declined to provide financial figures, but said the brand’s TikTok budget was smaller, compared to its past Instagram campaigns. She exoects the TikTok budget to grow in 2022, compared to 2021.
After the first week of the campaign, Paula’s Choice paid to boost the reach of six videos from influencer accounts that were gaining (unpaid) traction and engagement. That included posts by Sarah Palmyra (@SarahPalmyra, 832,000 Tiktok followers) and Dr. Muneeb Shah (@DermDoctor, 13 million TikTok followers).
Liamara Caesar, account manager for beauty and fashion at Fanbytes, said that the posts organically did well, primarily because most of the selected influencers were skinfluencers who were able to provide “short and snappy” information, in addition to application guidance.
“During the lockdowns of the past two years, a lot of skin-care experimentation took place among consumers. So there was a genuine demand for a safe space and judgment-free zone to be created,” said Caesar.
Kussmann said, going forward, Paula’s Choice will “pulse” these types of campaigns and activations throughout the year. She said she has found that the biggest driver for visible sales boosts is unpaid viral moments. According to Paula’s Choice internal data, the timeline between an individual discovering the brand online and making a purchase is up to 50 days.
“It’s important to have really identified your objectives as a brand before stepping into the TikTok world,” said Sophie Freeman, director of beauty and fashion at FanBytes. “If driving conversions is the main objective, brands must manage their expectations… It’s important that enough effort is put into [an] awareness campaign initially, to position the brand in a place that will enable conversions down the line.”