Create Authentic Content And Get the Most Out Of TikTok
September 9, 2021
Karen Robinovitz is a pioneer in the social media space. She was one of the first to create an influencer marketing agency, Digital Brand Architects, and see the potential in representing influencers and helping them to build their brands through social media. Now Robinovitz has turned her attention to TikTok and has done incredibly well on the platform.

She is the founder of an immersive slime/ASMR experience called the Sloomoo Institute in Soho. She uses TikTok quite effectively to promote the Sloomoo Institute and has 1.5 million followers. In this interview, she shares her insights on how to get the most out of TikTok.

How do you use TikTok as a brand?

You need an original point of view that speaks to your DNA. It doesn't need to involve dancing. For us, it is about connecting with your inner child if you're an adult or just embracing the children in general. We're about inclusion, acceptance, and mental wellness. What is great about TikTok when you're a brand is that you don't have access to music that won't violate any music rights. So it forces you as a brand to think of other ways to do things and embrace the trends that don't involve trending music.

I think it's essential to capture real moments, the bloopers because it's real. In the world we're in now, everyone's struggling, so seeing other people admit or own imperfection is key. Being authentic is what will make you stand out. Hashtag challenges are a really good way to build a movement. And I think that brands have a hard time wrapping their heads around figuring out what they do. And so I always say, What's your secret talent? What is the thing that you offer that the rest of the world doesn't have?

Can you sell things on TikTok? If so, how?

So right now, there are no direct sales in TikTok. You can have your link in the bio but I know it converts to sales because I see it. I see it in the Google Analytics and I see it in real life when people come to the store. Our audience feels like they know us because when they ask us questions, we reply. When they come into the store and want to make videos with us, we make them. It may not be for every brand, but our content is not being sponsored, so we have the freedom to do what we want. Our content is funny, silly, and playful. We’re not overtly selling.

Which luxury companies do you feel have successfully embraced TikTok and kept it on brand? Is it important to have the same brand identity across social media platforms?

I think there's a piece of your identity that is always your identity and never changes. I also think there are ways to make it native to that platform. My background is in working with luxury brands. And I know how scared they are to do anything new. But if they don't adapt, they just won't keep up. And I think that's part of the reason, even before COVID, we were looking at a fashion apocalypse. It's because fashion didn't adapt. And when they did adapt, they didn't want to lead. They all want to know who else did it, and everyone's afraid of making the first move. Burberry has always been a leader in that way. They're on TikTok. Do I think that other people could be doing more? Yes. Do I think that everyone is afraid to let go of the reins? Yes.

How do new brands get new eyeballs?

You should use hashtags. Also, when you're on TikTok, a discover button shows you all the trends and you can see what connects to you. Say I'm just home cooking; maybe your creative directors are really into cooking, that could become a weekly series as a way to personalize your brand. Or say you're launching an activewear brand, there's a trend called "fit check" that could be a way to show off the new line.

I have an eight and ten year old niece and nephew, and when I talk to them, I use TikTok language. And what results is they want to talk to me more. I'm manipulating them because I want them to want to talk to me more. I want them to think I'm cool. I'm using TikTok language to show them I get their world, and now they believe and see that I get their world. So my point is, look at what's trending, and then see how that works for you. And adopt it in a way that is right for you.

The bottom line is, how do you want to impact the world. Whether you're entertaining people, or you're providing something that will make them feel better, you're creating a movement that will help lead you to your answer.

How do you build your first followers?

You just have to start making good content. It takes time, it takes consistency, and it takes tenacity. So you can't just post once and be like, this didn't work. It's almost like one tactic in the world doesn't work. It's always the layering approach of multiple things that make a difference. You have to think about your point of view and commit to your content.

What is the best way to find and work with influencers?

You can go to agencies. I started Digital Brand Architects, which was the first talent agency for social media influencers. People used to say, how do you find these people? And how do you know who's going to click? What I told them was, I have three skill sets. One of my three skill sets is finding people. I would scroll for hours and pick out interesting people. And then, I would go into a deep hole to explore their content. If they’re a good fit, I start the conversation.

If you are advertising with TikTok, they will definitely help you. TikTok also recently launched a brand influencer search tool. So you can also look in their marketplace. But I do think it's important to go down that hole and ensure the person is right for you. Just because you might like one or two pieces of content doesn't mean they are a good fit for your brand. Also, if they're using a particular hashtag, go down that hashtag hole and see who else is using that hashtag because that might speak to you too.

What if you don't have a product but a service?

You could use TikTok just for your messaging. There are a lot of positive affirmations happening on TikTok, where people might just stand there, smile at the camera, and point to the words on the screen.

So it doesn't have to be about products. It could be about your message, your mantras, your philosophy, how you talk to people. I think that during these times, people also want a voice of reason. So being that voice of reason on this platform is a way to connect with not just the youth, but Millennials or Gen X's, or Boomers. There's a significant Boomer market on TikTok.

Can you speak to the intersection of founders and their companies as it pertains to social media at large? How closely should the personal brand and the company brand align? Is it necessary for the founder to have a media presence as well?

I think it's a very individual brand DNA question. And there's no right or wrong answer. It's what's right for you as a brand. I'd have to look at it very individually. Looking at the trajectory, some brands have had known creative directors but when the creative direction changed, the brand wasn't as successful. That's because people start to associate with personalities, and people want to connect to other people.

The bottom line is, how do you want to impact the world. Whether you're entertaining people, or you're providing something that will make them feel better, you're creating a movement that will help lead you to your answer.

I'll use Gucci as an example because I think they're one of the only luxury brands I've seen do a good job in social media. They are one of the only few brands I've seen take some of the best risks. They resurfaced as a brand, thanks to Alessandro Michele. Because of what he brought to the table and cultivated, he is now synonymous with Gucci. So if he steps down, they will have to start all over again. And that's a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it.

It's always the layering approach of multiple things that make a difference. You have to think about your point of view and commit to your content.

How can you make content that is easily used across several different platforms rather than creating something different for each one?

I do think that each platform has a slightly different way of doing things. But you can still shoot, slice and dice, and edit one way for TikTok and another way for Instagram. The portraits are going on Facebook, the product shots are going in your newsletter, but it all came from one shoot. You'll need a strategy across all those channels and then think about it when making content.

Making content on TikTok can be really easy. We're doing it all with an iPhone, and some of it looks glossy and great. Some of it looks rough around the edges, which works on TikTok. And then how are you delineating, and how are you checking off multiple boxes. We do our film shoots and then decide which part will be for stories on Instagram, and which part will be for something else. Think about everything you want to share, and then when you’re out and about you'll be ready to catch content on the fly.



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