Cracking Open the Can: Olipop's Influencer Marketing Strategy Unveiled

Olipop aced TikTok with influencers and product placements.

Priya Nain

Priya Nain

March 17, 2023

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What do Camila Cabello, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Nick Jonas, Joe Jonas, Kevin Jonas, Mindy Kaling, Logic, and Gwyneth Paltrow have in common?

They're all backers of Olipop, the TikTok soda brand that's taking the world by storm.

With $30 million in Series B funding and a $200 million valuation, it's clear that Olipop is doing something right.

As the pandemic hit, Olipop faced the challenge of pivoting from brick-and-mortar stores to online sales, and that's where their influencer marketing strategy came into play.

Instead of relying on in-store events and promotions, Olipop turned to social media, influencer partnerships, and TikTok to build brand awareness and reach a wider audience. And it's paid off - the TikTok community has fallen in love with Olipop's healthier soda options, leading to viral videos and an explosion in sales.

Olipop's TikTok

But how did this fiber and prebiotic-packed soda become a social media sensation?

In this post, we'll dive into Olipop's influencer marketing strategy and how it's helping the brand go viral on TikTok.

4 Key elements of Olipop's Influencer Marketing Strategy

1. Laser-focused on influencer marketing & TikTok

Olipop's marketing strategy is laser-focused on influencer marketing and TikTok, and for a good reason. The brand found that traditional advertising methods were eating up its budget with little return on investment, especially with rising CPC.

So, Olipop decided to turn off all ad spending across other social platforms and put their resources into TikTok, forming creator partnerships and creating organic content.

Olipop's TikTok feed

Olipop has been so successful on TikTok that they have largely ignored other social media platforms like Instagram for creator partnerships. Instead, they reserve Instagram for more produced videos with aesthetic appeal that showcase the brand's unique personality and values.

Olipop's aesthetic IG feed

This approach has paid off for Olipop as they continue to build brand awareness and reach new audiences through influencer marketing on TikTok. Their own and the creator's videos get millions of views on TikTok.

In 2021, the brand even shut down all ads, focusing entirely on its influencer marketing efforts. While they have recently started rerunning ads, it's clear that Olipop's heart is in the hands of its loyal TikTok community.

2. Recruiting creators to run their social media

In the world of social media marketing, authenticity is everything.

Olipop learned this lesson the hard way when they initially outsourced their content creation to an external agency, resulting in lackluster results and only a couple of thousand followers even after spending many months and tens of thousands of dollars.

The content was salesy and lacked the entertainment value today's social media users crave.

Not even a hundred views on a video Olipop got made in the early days of experimenting on TikTok with agency-made content.

Realizing the importance of authentic content, Olipop decided to switch gears and recruit a creator to be the face of their social media pages. They found Sara Crane, a TikToker with ~8,400 followers, who works full-time on a retainer for the brand.

Sara Crane has become more than just a creator for Olipop's TikTok account - she's become the face of the brand. By appearing regularly in the brand's videos, she's built a rapport with their followers and developed a sense of trust and familiarity with the brand. This connection has been crucial in driving sales for Olipop, as their audience feels more connected to the brand and more likely to buy their products.

Olipop's TikTok feed with Sara, the in-house creator, as the main character

Olipop's decision to recruit a creator to run their social media shows the power of creators in social media marketing. Creators know how to create content that resonates with their audience, and their on-screen talent and deep expertise in platforms like TikTok make them valuable assets to any brand looking to build an engaged following.

3. Product placements instead of Olipop-dedicated videos

Olipop's early foray into influencer marketing began with "traditional" creator partnerships on Instagram in the summer of 2020. These partnerships were transactional in nature and aimed to drive sales by providing influencers with scripted information about Olipop to share with their followers, along with discount codes to incentivize purchases on the brand's website.

However, as Apple's App Tracking Transparency framework was implemented in mid-2021, Instagram's ability to collect and track consumer data was limited, making it harder for Olipop to evaluate the effectiveness of these partnerships.

But when it comes to influencer marketing on TikTok, Olipop has learned that subtlety is key. Instead of pushing promo codes and dedicated videos, the brand has taken a more laid-back approach, opting for product placements in organic content.

If you search TikTok with #OlipopPartner you will find hundreds of videos with Olipop as a product in the video.

Here's an example of a video from @juandchan drinking Olipop in a funny-content video

Olipop's partnership video

Here's another one from @mariandcandicee  with Olipop as choice of drink with meals

Olipop's partnership video

Why does this approach work?

Well, let's face it - nobody likes being sold to.

People come to TikTok for entertainment and education, not for a barrage of sales pitches.

By featuring their products in the natural content of influencers, Olipop has managed to tap into the platform's organic and authentic culture. It's a refreshing contrast to the more sales-focused partnerships on Instagram that the brand initially pursued.

And the results speak for themselves.

The brand's #OlipopPartner hashtag has amassed over 560 million views on TikTok, a staggering number that far surpasses the reach of their in-house produced content on Instagram. By prioritizing organic content and subtle product placement, Olipop has built a loyal and engaged community on the platform, driving sales without coming across as pushy or sales-y.

This approach is not just a smart move for Olipop - it's also indicative of a larger trend in influencer marketing. As consumers become increasingly skeptical of traditional advertising methods, brands need to get creative to reach new audiences. By collaborating with creators to showcase their products in a natural and authentic way, brands can build trust with their target demographic and drive sales in the process.

Lindsey Bond, the founder of Pluto Ventures, which is a small consultancy firm that specialises in TikTok had great advice on how to find creators for your brand on TikTok:

For traditional creators/ influencers on TikTok, there are two important things note: a)that the value of follower count is different and in some ways less important b) the best creators tend to be fairly hyper focused.
I recommend casting a wide net of creators of smaller size, in place of working with one or two big ones. This works because you have more chances in at bat in the viral lottery and it allows you to hit a wider range of audiences.
A common mistake with traditional creators/ influencers is to give them overly specific scripts and instructions. They are creators with an audience for a reason - they know better than you what kind of content will resonate with their audience. ~ Lindsey Bond

4. Dedicated page for affiliate partnerships

In addition to hiring creators to run their TikTok account, Olipop has also invested in building an affiliate program. On their dedicated affiliate page, Olipop encourages all types of partners, online or offline, to join their program.

Olipop offers a 10% baseline payout, which can increase up to 20% for top-performing partners.

One of the standout features of the program is the 7-day click referral window, which means that partners can earn commissions on purchases made up to 7 days after their referral. This is a great incentive for partners to promote Olipop products to their audiences, as they have a longer window of time to earn commissions.

A dedicated affiliate page can attract potential partners who are already interested in your brand and want to promote your products. By providing clear information about your program, you can attract high-quality affiliates who are excited to work with you. Olipop's affiliate page is a great example of this approach, offering resources and benefits to potential partners.

These affiliate partnerships help to reach people who read blogs…

Blog with an affiliate link for Olipop

Or are newsletter subscribers

A newsletter promoting Olipop

Takeaways for your brand

  • Olipop's influencer marketing strategy underscores the importance of experimenting and iterating based on what works best for your brand and your audience. While traditional advertising methods didn't work for Olipop, they were willing to pivot and try new approaches until they found the right fit.
  • Olipop's decision to focus exclusively on TikTok for influencer marketing is a bold move, as many brands still rely on Instagram and other social media platforms. However, their success on TikTok highlights the importance of finding the right platform for your target audience and investing in building a community there.
  • Olipop's shift towards product placements in organic content rather than pushing promo codes and dedicated videos is a savvy move. This approach highlights the importance of adapting your influencer marketing strategy to fit the platform and the needs and preferences of your target audience.
  • Building a dedicated affiliate page can help attract high-quality partners who are already interested in your brand. By providing clear information about commission rates, referral windows, and other benefits, DTC brands can attract affiliates who are excited to promote their products.

What's next?

Influencer marketing has become an essential part of many DTC brands' marketing strategies, and Olipop's success on TikTok is a testament to its power. However, developing a successful influencer marketing campaign requires more than just finding creators and paying them to promote your products. It takes careful planning, creative thinking, and a willingness to experiment and pivot when necessary.

Fortunately, there are resources available to help brands navigate the world of influencer marketing and avoid costly mistakes. One such resource is our newsletter, which provides valuable insights, tips, and strategies for developing effective influencer marketing campaigns. By signing up for our newsletter, brands can stay up-to-date on the latest trends in influencer marketing and learn from the successes and failures of other brands in the space.

Whether you're just starting out with influencer marketing or looking to take your campaigns to the next level, our newsletter can provide you with the information and inspiration you need to succeed. Signup here.

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