TikTok marketing has been an increasingly common topic of discussion within the larger body of digital marketing literature. It recently featured in a very mainstream publication when Rolling Stone published a profile of a teenaged music artist who has adopted TikTok marketing as a major aspect of her strategy for fan outreach. The article is brief but may hold significant insights for anyone who is currently exploring how to make commercial use of the relatively young social media platform.

The artist in question is 17-year-old Tate McRae, and she started her online music career on YouTube, without any sort of TikTok marketing strategy. But after finding some success on the larger video-sharing site, McRae signed a contract with RCA and the label’s marketing professionals started to urge her toward a more comprehensive social media presence.

It took time, but TikTok marketing paid dividends, apparently contributing substantially to the acquisition of another 400 million video views. Notably, her YouTube and TikTok marketing strategies are very much intertwined, with each platform directing users to the other, thus increasing engagement across the board. This sort of integrated strategy is, of course, something that any professional web marketer should seek to encourage among their clients.

It’s also worth noting that those clients might very well need the professional help. This certainly seems to have been the case with McRae, whose first two months of TikTok marketing were relatively self-directed and un-monitored. It was only when RCA got involved that things started to really take off. Carefully-chosen partnerships with TikTok influencers played a major role, and this goes to show just how valuable that strategy can be, especially on a platform that skews young.

Still, McRae’s enduring success appears to have as much to do with her own sincere commitment to TikTok marketing as it does with any sort of scheme cooked up by RCA. The Rolling Stone profile gives the impression that she regularly engages with social media in the ways any normal teenager would. In the landscape of digital marketing, there are serious dangers associated with coming across as phony. Increasingly, social media users seem to expect commercial content to be neatly integrated into genuine experiences.

Of course, that sort of sincerity is a difficult think to replicate. It might be achievable for a web services company that has significant experience with TikTok marketing. But for normal users aspiring to self-promotion, it’s hard to engage with a young audience unless you’re actually one of them. And even then, professional help might still be a necessary kick-starter. This was apparently the case for McRae.

Once that ball got rolling, the 17-year-old clearly developed a flair for organic interaction with her followers. And maybe you can too, if you’re interested in TikTok marketing. But your level of interest has to be substantial. Because as Tate McRae and her label have learned, it isn’t enough to just keep producing content and counting on your followers to stay interested. You have to meet them on their own terms, interact with their content, even collaborate with them.

It takes a lot of work for TikTok marketing to avoid looking like a cynical grab for attention.