TikTok creators explain how they’re making tens of thousands of dollars by promoting apps in their videos

  • As TikTok stars look for new ways to make money, some are turning to app marketing where they earn a commission for driving installs of an app.
  • Unlike a typical sponsored post that is paid on a flat rate, app marketing is a form of performance marketing in which an influencer or publisher encourages their followers to click a trackable link that allows them to get paid for each app install they drive. 
  • Creators and marketers told Business Insider that they can earn tens of thousands of dollars from a single promotional video that goes viral.
  • Subscribe to Business Insider’s influencer newsletter: Influencer Dashboard.

TikTok has helped bring about a new crop of digital stars. But the short-form video app is still in the early stages of releasing features that allow its creators to make money, an important step for keeping its top influencers from switching to apps with more mature monetization programs like YouTube and Instagram. 

The company announced this week that it’s setting aside $200 million to pay creators who are “seeking opportunities to foster a livelihood through their innovative content.” But it has yet to introduce some of the standard money-making tools for creators that are available on other platforms.

TikTok currently offers a “virtual gifts” feature, which allows creators to earn money while livestreaming by receiving digital “gifts” from fans that can be converted into cash. The company built a creator marketplace to help its users more easily connect with marketers for sponsored posts that are negotiated off-app. And TikTok has recently tested a shopping button feature for a few of its top users (a product somewhat in line with Instagram’s shopping tools) on a limited basis. 

But many creators hoping to earn a living from TikTok don’t rely on the app’s built-in monetization features, turning instead to outside brand deals, paid song integrations, and more recently, app marketing.

Influencers and marketers told Business Insider that a single TikTok app promotion can generate tens of thousands of dollars in revenue for a creator. 

“I started doing apps around four weeks ago, and it was a gamechanger,” said Reagan Yorke, a 19-year-old college student who was recently paid tens of thousands of dollars to promote the group video chat app Bunch to her 2.5 million TikTok followers.

Yorke worked with the app-marketing company Yoke, which provided her with a tracking link to add to her TikTok bio that would give her credit for any app installs she drove from her account. On June 14, she posted a video promoting Bunch to her followers, and the video took off, driving 11.5 million video views, 2.5 million likes, and 531,000 shares to date.

“I literally posted it right before I went to sleep,” Yorke said. “I woke up the next day and I had like $20,000 in my account, so I was just like, is this real?”

Yorke told Business Insider she’s typically paid a rate of 70 cents for each download she drives.

“If you promote an app that your audience is going to like, they’ll trust you more,” she said. 

UK-based TikTok creators Bobby Moore, 17, and Eloise Fouladgar, 22, also use Yoke to earn money from app marketing, posting videos that direct their millions of followers to click trackable download links that they include in their bios. Both creators are managed by Yoke in addition to using the company’s app-marketing software as a source of revenue.

Moore’s recent promotion of the VPN app Hotspot Shield on TikTok earned the creator roughly $40,000, according to Yoke.

“It’s all based on performance, so if you’re able to really engage with your audience and drive a lot of installs with your videos, you get paid per download,” said Ercan Boyraz, Yoke’s head of talent management. “There’s not really a limit on how much you can earn.”

Some TikTok app campaigns are still paid out on a flat rate rather than on a performance basis

While some TikTok creators are adding tracking links in their bios to get paid for driving app installs, mega stars with tens of millions of followers like Addison Rae Easterling and Dixie D’Amelio are still negotiating flat-rate deals for app promotions, according to Thor Fridriksson, CEO of Teatime Games, which recently hired the pair to promote a new app called Trivia Royale. 

“We did a couple of posts with both Dixie and Addison and I have never ever seen an influencer campaign work as effectively as those posts by those stars,” Fridriksson said. 

“We didn’t have any links,” he said. “We had no way to attribute how many users came exactly from these influencers. But we know that when they posted the posts, the number of organic [installs] skyrocketed and kept going.”

Easterling posted her promotional video for Trivia Royale on July 12. The next day, the app rose from being the 25th most downloaded free iPhone app to the sixth most installed, one rank below TikTok itself, according to data compiled by the app analytics firm Sensor Tower. 

“At the same time that we did this [campaign], we did introduce a new feature in the game that became very popular,” Fridriksson said, noting that the app update likely contributed to its rise in the iPhone app store in addition to the company’s TikTok campaign. “It’s a little bit of these two things combined.”

“We were just really lucky to get into this mode of viral marketing so early on because I’m pretty sure that the value of these stars will rise very quickly,” Fridriksson added. 

For more stories on how TikTok users are earning money on the app, check out these other Business Insider posts:

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