TikTok Case Study: Doe Lashes' Breakout Success
It's not necessarily that helpful to learn that brands like Gymshark and Morphe have gained incredible traction on TikTok. It's a given that they have enormous marketing budgets to put toward any channel they'd like to. The most exciting brands on TikTok are the breakout successes — emerging brands that have developed smart, low-spend TikTok strategies to catapult sales. These breakout successes include Doe Lashes, Starface, amika, Milk Makeup, and We're Not Really Strangers.
The top brands on TikTok use 7 different content strategies to go viral (read more on each strategy here):
Customers trying / reviewing product
Mega-influencers using product
Promotion from celebrity founder
Satisfying / ASMR content
Affiliates making TikTok trends videos
The breakout success brands use 3 of these strategies:
Customers trying / reviewing product - Doe Lashes, Starface, amika
Satisfying / ASMR content - Milk Makeup
Domain expertise - We're Not Really Strangers
Doe Lashes is arguably the biggest TikTok breakout success. Doe Lashes makes silk lashes meant for all-day comfort. The brand was started in 2020 by twenty-three-year-old Jason Wong, who also runs Wonghaus, a brand incubator. Just a year later, Doe Lashes is already worth 15 million dollars.
Doe Lashes' content has received over 16M views on TikTok. Two-thirds of the views are of content created by Doe customers and influencers. One-third of the views are of content from Doe Lashes' official account.
Why did Doe decide to use TikTok?
Founder Jason Wong views TikTok as the lowest-cost way to share content with a large audience. On Instagram, reaching a large audience requires working with influencers who already have a lot of followers (or paying for ads). Influencers are inundated with offers and charge a lot for creating content.
TikTok's feed is determined by an algorithm that shows users content tailored to the user's interests. The user doesn't have to follow the content creator. That means brands can essentially work with any creator, regardless of follower count. Doe has had success being the first sponsor for creators. For the most part, the only cost is shipping a free product sample.
Jason estimates that using TikTok brought down Doe's acquisition costs by 60%. Its blended CAC including TikTok is $8, compared to a CAC on Facebook of $27.
How does Doe choose influencers to work with?
Doe started off finding 20 influencers on Instagram based on the influencers' audience, personality, and past content. Doe also screened for influencers' openness to being coached on Doe's brand. Doe then spent about $200 shipping free product to influencers and saw a 10-15x return after the first month.
From the 20 original influencers, Doe picked out the ones who created the most successful TikTok content. On TikTok desktop, profile pages have a 'suggested accounts' sidebar. Doe uses the sidebars to generate lists of additional influencers to reach out to. As they're using TikTok, members of the Doe team also spot other influencers to connect with.
One of Doe's best performing influencers had just 200 TikTok views when Doe reached out to her. Using the guidelines Doe provided, she's been able reach 500,000 views. By connecting with creators with smaller followings and sharing engagement tactics, Doe has been able to create a network of influencers that are really excited to work with Doe. Doe is often their first sponsor so they work harder to create content and talk about Doe more frequently.
How much does Doe pay influencers?
For the most part, Doe just sends influencers free product and it's up to the influencer if they'd like to create content with it (there's no expectation to post). Doe observes what has made past content most successful and shares best practices with influencers. If an influencer creates really strong content, Doe may go on to pay them for future TikToks. The rates vary by influencer.
Doe also runs challenges to encourage customers to post content. In the challenge shown below, the winner received a year's worth of Doe Lashes and a spot in one of Doe's secret projects.
Sometimes Doe doesn't need to offer incentives for content at all. If the caption doesn't include a promo code or a competition tag, the content is most likely organic. Under #doelashes, you'll find a good number of organic TikToks from customers who love the product.
What kind of content does Doe post to its own account?
The best TikToks from Doe customers and influencers show them trying on and/or reviewing Doe Lashes. Doe's social media manager, Tiffany Phung, discovered the most successful content to share on Doe's official account through trial and error. These TikToks feature information Doe is uniquely positioned to share — the Doe brand story and educational content related to Doe products:
Doe lashes vs. Dollar Tree lashes - 2.2M views
The Doe difference - 730K views
How to set up the Doe LED light - 550K views
Monolids, double lids, and everything in between - 350K views
Lash placement - 200K views
Tiffany is a recent college graduate who majored in marketing and international business. Before joining the Doe team, her personal TikToks were already reaching millions of views. Tiffany believes Doe's TikTok account is great for connecting with potential customers but it's also important for the influencer network. Doe's TikTok account helps influencers discover the brand and understand what it stands for.
How does Doe track TikTok ROI?
TikTok doesn't currently allow links in captions (although the feature is coming) so it's not possible to directly attribute TikTok. However, Doe can see that TikTok is its second-largest channel for acquisition based on its post-purchase survey (Doe uses the Enquire Shopify plug-in). Doe also gives influencers promo-codes to share and can track TikTok performance through the codes. After its own TikToks went viral, Doe noticed significant spikes in website traffic.
Doe tested out paying to boost TikToks but saw poor results so it didn't continue the practice. Doe hasn't tried going live on TikTok yet because tests of Instagram Live saw mediocre results. Doe plans on trying out TikTok live and new seller marketplace features in the future.
To learn more about Doe Lashes' TikTok strategy, check out this interview with founder Jason Wong on The Brand Buildr podcast.
Learn more about the Wonghaus brand incubator at www.wonghaus.com
Learn more about Doe's social media manager Tiffany Phung at www.tiffanyphung.com