- TikTok creators Greg Auerbach and Nate Twer earned a living this year by posting sponsored videos for brands like Chipotle, Orbit Gum, and DoorDash on their account, @GregTube.
- Like other influencers who have amassed big audiences, Auerbach and Twer are moving beyond brand deals to direct-to-consumer sales, selling a mask that you can wear on your wrist when it's not on your face.
- They turned to TikTok to advertise their Slapmask, earning over $100,000 in sales in the 48 hours after they posted a promotional video on the app.
- "It's a lot better when we have a stake in it, and it was great to see that TikTok can really work for conversion," Auerbach said.
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Greg Auerbach and Nate Twer went all-in on TikTok this year.
The Philadelphia-based video producers and childhood friends, both in their early 30s, run a TikTok account called GregTube. They generally post light content — Philly cheesesteak reviews and comedy skits of themselves slapping each other — when they're not creating sponsored videos for companies like Chipotle, Orbit Gum, and DoorDash.
The pair, who have more than doubled their follower count since January and now have 1.3 million fans, have earned a living this year by creating sponsored posts for brands. Like other creators who've built a large audience on social media, they're now moving beyond brand deals into direct-to-consumer sales, selling a mask that you can slap onto your wrist when you're not wearing it on your face.
"We're entertainers. That's what we see ourselves as," Auerbach said. "But when I had this idea for the mask that goes on the wrist, I looked around at everyone I saw walking in the streets and I just thought they could use it. So it wasn't so much about trying to find a product to push."
To manufacture the mask and create promotional photos and video content, Auerbach and Twer moved to Los Angeles to work with another friend, Nicholas Sih, who runs a supply-chain startup called Ninja Supply Corporation. The entire process from ideation to product launch took around four and a half months, Sih said.
"From my company's standpoint, we're a little bit at the whim of how well our clients can sell the product," Sih said. "I'm looking at who are going to be the next best companies or the types of companies that are going to sell a lot of units. Influencers and creators are quickly rising to the top of that list."
TikTok is proving to be an effective tool for e-commerce sellers
To promote the Slapmask, Auerbach and Twer posted a TikTok video on December 9 directing followers to a custom link to the Slapmask's e-commerce page (powered by Shopify) in Auerbach's TikTok bio. Within 48 hours, the TikTok post helped drive over $100,000 in sales without any paid promotion on the app, according to a screenshot of the team's sales dashboard reviewed by Business Insider.
"The bulk of the views were in the first few days, and most of the sales came from that video," Auerbach said. "Even when there was a lull in sales for a moment, we realized there [was] a slight lull in the views and then the views would uptick again and it would continue on."
Their success using TikTok to push e-commerce sales isn't an anomaly.
Etsy artists, clothing resellers, and "slime" makers have used the short-form video app to drive off-platform sales this year. And TikTok recently began testing an in-video shopping feature to make it easier for creators to link to e-commerce pages on Shopify and Teespring.
"Nate and I were super curious to see how well it would convert, like a product would convert," Auerbach said. "It's a lot better when we have a stake in it and it was great to see that TikTok can really work for conversion."
Is the Slapmask safe?
While the Slapmask video drove sales, public reaction to the post has been mixed.
Mel Magazine included Auerbach's and Twer's video in a story about "overconfident hustle culture bros" who "grew up idolizing The Social Network and The Wolf of Wall Street." And some TikTok users in the video's comments section wondered if the mask would spread germs between your wrist and your face.
Dr. Monica Gandhi, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, who has studied face coverings, said the Slapmask may be less likely to get dirty than a traditional mask that you hang beneath your neck or carry with a strap (though she noted all facial coverings should be washed regularly, per CDC guidelines).
"People who are exercising outdoors should carry a mask if they run into a crowd, but do not need to wear [one] when running or exercising without other people around," Gandhi told Business Insider. "This mask allows you to know where your protective face covering is at all times and take it off and on quickly."
Two infectious disease experts told Women's Health that the Slapmask could help encourage mask-wearing and should function similary to any other cloth mask when worn correctly and properly cleaned.
"We would obviously encourage people to wash their hands and wrists before they slap it on," Sih said. "We want to encourage people to wear masks in general, and we think there's a huge opportunity to help people comply with that mandate itself."
For more stories on how TikTok influencers are using the app to drive off-platform sales, read these other Business Insider posts:
- How a fitness influencer started training TikTok stars at Sway LA and Hype House and boosted his customer base 250%: Fitness influencer Alex Hager, 24, trains some of TikTok's biggest stars, including residents of the Hype House and Sway LA.
- A 15-year-old 'slime' influencer saw his sales and follower count soar after sending TikTok star Addison Rae samples of his homemade products: Slime creator Ricky Waite said his TikTok profile blew up after popular influencer Addison Easterling reviewed one of his slimes.
- How artists are using TikTok to drive thousands of dollars in sales and find new customers: With more than 2 billion downloads globally, TikTok has become a viable sales tool for artists looking to promote their art on the e-commerce platform Etsy.
- Houseplant sales are booming and so are 'plantfluencers,' the social-media creators sharing plant tips, products, and content: Plantfluencers, the influencers of the plant and gardening industries, are thriving as houseplant sales spike.
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