identifying the right sampling platform: TikTok and Instagram/Facebook

Aug 05, 2022


For years, Instagram and Facebook (Meta) have been the go-to platforms for brands to reach and engage with consumers. Recently, we’ve experienced the emergence of exciting up and coming platforms, such as TikTok that have enormous potential. A question that we often get asked at abeo is, how do brands identify the right platform for a sampling campaign?

We understand that selecting a platform can seem overwhelming, which is why we’ve put together a guide to help our clients decide between a Meta and TikTok campaign, or a combination of both, and to help ensure that their paid media campaigns are utilizing best practices for converting leads from the most qualified and relevant audiences. The implementation of these practices will result in more meaningful interactions between brands and consumers upon the completion of sampling campaigns and maximizes the chances for successful acquisition of new consumers.

Meta and TikTok: Which is the right platform for your campaign?

We believe both platforms can help connect brands to relevant audiences and on the surface, they each have similar abilities when it comes to collecting leads. Both Meta and TikTok have their own version of an in-platform lead ad that allows consumers to sign up for a sample without exiting the platform, each offering the addition of custom questions to help brands collect consumer data. Where these platforms differ is advertising performance and creative best practices. Read on to learn more.


Meta – Facebook & Instagram Campaigns

Meta’s ad platform is robust, reliable and has a proven track record of successful campaigns, including abeo’s sampling programs. Meta campaigns also enjoy favorable costs associated with their campaigns as ads are expected  by users on the channel and audiences will engage with them. As Meta has been around for over 15 years, their targeting tools are more sophisticated when compared to alternative platforms. 


Given the low barrier for the reward of a product sample, it is critical that your targeting efforts on these platforms are dialed in to drive not just sign-ups, but also quality in terms of the consumer you want to reach. The ideal prospect for sampling campaigns is one that after trying the product will continue to interact with the brand and be acquired as a customer. Prospects who sign-up solely to receive a free product should be avoided. 

The following techniques are advised:

objective | new consumer acquisition

  • We recommend targeting lookalike audiences and leveraging native interests targeting that are relevant to your brand 

objective | retargeting previously engaged audiences

  • Lean into website visitors, product viewers, and disengaged past purchasers,  and exclude recent purchasers

demographics | Consider narrowing demographics if they are integral to your brand’s persona as they can be critical “guardrails” to ensure you’re reaching the right audience. 

exclusions | Include audience exclusions based on the overall campaign objective, such as past sample redeemers  or audiences with an expressed interest in free samples, free coupons, and free offers. 

ad creative

In combination with targeting, a successful Meta campaign hinges on impactful ad copy and creative. 

copy recommendations

Keep the copy short and sweet. Meta recommends limiting ad caption copy to 125 characters to avoid truncation. Provide a clear CTA in captions for what you’d like your audience to do. Use language that’s universally understood, such as “claim your sample”, “get your sample”, “get offer”, vs CTAs like “register” or “learn more”.

universal ad creative best practices, regardless of placement (in feed, stories, reels): 

  • We recommend leveraging GIFs or Videos to help stop the thumb. Designing an ad with motion may better capture attention and yield higher performance when used in campaigns for awareness and consideration. Images tend to work better for driving bottom-of-funnel conversion actions.
  • Incorporate logo and brand tagline if appropriate on the asset based on available space.
  • Utilize social proof in the creative or primary text. 
  • Ensure the offer is communicated upfront, in the caption text and on the video (if you’re using stories/reels) in the beginning.  Add text captions and overlays to emphasize the offer and/or key product benefits, while ensuring you select text colors that pop against the image or video. 
  • Establish a strong narrative and story to keep the audience engaged – showcase the product (not just packaging), such as the texture, a person using it, etc.
  • If possible, modify the creative for each placement size 

TikTok Campaigns

TikTok, with an incredibly large global user base, extremely engaged audience, and ability to help reach younger demographics, is a relevant channel for sampling campaigns. With that said, TikTok is still in the early stages of rolling out their ads platform. As a result, we will likely see higher costs-per-lead compared to other platforms with more mature advertising tools, like Meta’s Facebook and Instagram. Although we have seen higher CPLs on TikTok compared to Meta campaigns, the performance is highly dependent on budget and ad creative. 


TikTok’s current targeting parameters include consumers interests, behaviors, and lookalike audiences. 

interest-based targeting | advertisers can specify themes like haircare, skincare, cosmetics, and more.

on-platform behaviors and interactions | target consumers by what content they watch, share, like, or comment on and who they follow or view, such as particular creators who create content that falls within targetable criteria

lookalikes |  leverage lookalike audiences to “find” users that are most “like” existing users to expand traffic and engagement in a highly targeted way. For example, beauty brands could create lookalike audiences from purchasers of specific products that are indicative of the diverse audiences that they are seeking to reach.

ad creative: leverage raw, authentic content 

Given the time users have spent viewing organic/unsponsored content on TikTok, they may still have a bit of resistance to ads on the platform – making the investment in ad creative of the utmost importance. Highly polished, advertorial TikTok videos are unlikely to resonate with users on the platform and would lead them to swipe away. Instead, leverage raw and native content or user-generated content so that the brand comes across as being more authentic. 

  • Develop creative that embraces the uniqueness of the platform:
    • We recommend leveraging videos that appear as if they were made directly within the TikTok platform itself (e.g. UGC, uses the fonts/styling that’s available on TikTok, etc.)
    • Ensure the offer is communicated upfront, in the caption text and on the video in the beginning. 
    • Establish a strong narrative and story to keep the audience engaged – showcase the product (not just packaging), such as the texture, show a person using it, etc.
  • Utilize a mobile-first approach when creating ads:
    • Leverage a full-screen 9:16 aspect ratio when designing ads. 
    • Always design ads with the sound on as sound is a critical part of the TikTok experience. 
    • Videos should be purposely shot for the platform (avoid repurposing existing videos).
  • Keep videos short and to the point:
    • The first few seconds of the video are the most important, this needs to capture attention and speak to the offer (e.g. redeem your sample, free sample, etc.). Do not save “free sample” language for the end of the video. 
    • Video should be as short as possible but as long as it needs to be in order to communicate key messages (10-15s for conversion).
  • Provide a clear Call-to-Action within the video content for what you’d like your audience to do. Use language that’s universally understood, such as “claim your sample”, “get your sample”, “get offer”, vs CTAs like “register”.
    • Ensure the color selections of text / CTAs overlays really pop against the video. 
  • TikTok does not have as many CTAs compared to Meta, and especially don’t have a “Get Offer” CTA. 
  • Though their options for CTA’s certainly have room for improvement, of their current options, we recommend using  “Learn More” or “Sign Up” CTAs

With this information in mind, we believe sampling on TikTok is efficient if:

  • Your brand has a larger budget to support the higher CPL and/or a smaller amount of samples to fulfill (5,000 vs 50,000). 
  • Your brand has already earned some share of voice on the platform, with a large following and a track record of high engagement with your content 
  • Your brand can produce creative that will be successful onTikTok – it’s very critical that the creative feels native on TikTok, where users tend to swipe away if it looks too much like an ad. 

When choosing to run a campaign on a new and unique channel like TikTok, abeo always recommends running a test campaign in parallel to Meta campaigns. This allows your brand to collect learnings and apply optimizations to future campaigns.


who we are

abeo is a digital sampling agency that specializes in creating unique product sampling experiences. Our integrations are channel agnostic, allowing us to activate campaigns at any digital touchpoint as well as drive in-store for retail activation.

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