Williams’ presence on TikTok and her innate ability to understand the platform appealed to the agency, according to Betsy Ross, OKRP’s head of client business. “We looked at who Bernie is on the platform,” Ross said. “We had the need for content to take advantage of real-time trends. Who Bernie was became the answer before we knew what the role was going to be.”
Williams joined OKRP as a trendsetter last summer. (She’s since been promoted to senior social strategist.) Since joining, she’s used her understanding of social trends to help the agency find ways to tap into current trends for clients and leverage the insights she’s gained as a creative and producer , to edit the content in such a way that it has a better chance of going viral.
As TikTok continues to grow and become a staple for advertisers, some marketers and agency heads are using the platform to scout for talent or take a closer look at the personal profiles of potential hires. In this way, agencies hope to find talent with a better understanding of the platform.
“Client demand for TikTok content is increasing,” said Bridget Jewell, group creative director of Dentsu Creative, social division, adding that the agency’s team focused on TikTok content has tripled in size over the past year. The agency started using people’s personal TikToks as a way to find talent and “put candidates in the pipeline,” according to Jewell. “It’s easy for us to see that they can make content that will resonate,” Jewell said.
Other agencies are paying more attention to portfolios that include TikToks that illustrate what potential employees can do for their clients on the platform. Demonstrating the ability to create the kind of content that would work well for clients has long been a part of advertising—extending that to TikTok is simply an evolution of that idea to fit the needs of agencies today, according to execs.
“The ability for someone to gain a social following is a really cool experience,” said Gabe Gordon, co-founder of social shop Reach Agency, adding that while the shop has hired creatives in the past, that wasn’t the only reason they were hired. “This is unique in the era in which we operate. Before, people couldn’t do a TV ad or a banner ad for entertainment. It’s a paradigm shift that people are given the opportunity to get the experience they need and accelerate.”
While Gordon clarified that Reach Agency doesn’t hire based on social following, he noted that there’s been an uptick in resumes, especially creative resumes where people share TikTok content they’ve made. At the same time, last summer’s hire stood out in the shop with TikTok, which she made specifically to apply for Reach. “We saw her incredible ability to tell a story,” Gordon said of TikTok. “It helped her stand out. She showed us she could get the job done.”
Glenn Ginsberg, president of QYOU Media, echoed that sentiment, noting that potential hires’ personal understanding of the platforms comes through in interviews and that when they show personal profiles, “it helps them stand out.”
“When we see someone who is clearly in the mix, gives us the understanding to tell a story in a few seconds, and format creators and creatives, that makes the difference,” Ginsberg said.
The need for the kind of expertise that someone might have from their own personal profile on a platform like TikTok is probably more important to boutique agencies than to holding companies, according to Christy Cordes, an ad recruiter who noted that “any employee represents the agency much more ” in boutique stores. “We’re seeing boutique agencies, younger agencies want to see that someone has mastered the platform before they hire,” Cordes said.
That’s not to say that agencies in general are now scouring TikTok for potential hires, or that a personal profile will make or break someone’s ability to be hired. Marinda Yelverton, senior vice president of brand solutions at maker commerce company Whalar, explained that hiring talent who are also makers can be beneficial because they also offer the creator’s perspective. But it’s really “a benefit, not a screening criteria” for the store, Yelverton said.
That’s a view shared by Shuri Jones, group director of paid social and influencer at Rain the Growth Agency. “If you have a creator mindset and work in social media, there’s value in showing potential stores that you can create content,” Jones said. “It’s not necessary, but it’s an extra help.”
However, that’s less important to Jones than a candidate’s ability to talk about trends in the content they consume and how brands can tap into that content.
“Someone’s personal social profile is less important to me than their opinion as a user of that media,” Jones added. “Can you identify three trends on Pinterest? What are your favorite Instagram accounts to follow? What’s your trend on TikTok lately?”
Jones continued, “I want to know less about how you produce content and more about how you consume it. To me, our job is to be in the eye of the consumer and how our brands interact with consumers.”