How Brands Are Reaching Gen Z on TikTok

Image by Bea Vaquero on Dribbble.

TikTok is a fully-fledged marketing machine for businesses. It shapes our culture, media cycle, and most intimate relationships. But what makes TikTok different from other social media platforms?

One key differentiator is that 56 percent of TikTok’s 100 million monthly U.S. users are under the age of 24, commonly known as “Gen Z.” In comparison, the largest age group is 25-34 on Facebook and Instagram, 30-49 on Pinterest and Twitter, and 46-55 on LinkedIn.

Recent data shows that at all follower levels, from nano influencers (0K – 10K followers) to celebrity influencers (1M+ followers), TikTok has considerably more engagement than other social media platforms.

Comparatively speaking, micro influencers (10K – 100K followers) have an average engagement rate of 14-15 percent on TikTok and about 4 percent on Instagram. Celebrity influencers have an average engagement rate of nearly 20 percent on TikTok and only 1.21 percent on Instagram. Big difference.

Reaching TikTok’s young user base can be difficult for brands – especially alcohol brands. Regardless, TikTok must be a part of your social media strategy. Below are three things to keep in mind to reach Gen Z and earn high engagement on TikTok. 

Hone in on hashtag challenges.

You may be asking yourself, “Are hashtag challenges those ridiculous, choreographed dances?” Well, yes, they are. But more broadly speaking, a hashtag challenge is when one user sets out a specific task, and other users are encouraged to try it and add their own flare, using an associated hashtag.

Brands can utilize hashtag challenges to fast-track their growth and reach millions of users. The average branded hashtag challenge generates 6.1 billion views. You can either create an original challenge or put a twist on a new trend. The top five most popular challenge categories are entertainment, dance, pranks, fitness/sports, and home renovation/DIY. You can view a breakdown of the top-performing categories based on hashtag views here

Understand the TikTok network.

Interestingly enough, TikTok users are connected to one another, but you don’t see them socializing with their personal network. For example, I know that my friends and family use the app because we share videos on a daily basis. However, we don’t follow or engage with one another on the app itself. 

Brands need to consider this as part of their strategy. TikTok’s algorithm is currently second to none because it tailors to the individual. According to Forbes, “Other top platform algorithms depend on users inputting searches. TikTok is much less work for users. It observes myriad aspects of behaviors and preferences automatically, with less need for users to follow anyone.”

So, what does this mean for your brand? Instead of targeting your priority audience, you need to target the individual. Yes, all 100 million of them. 

One way brands are doing this successfully is by capturing unfiltered, unstaged content. We’re seeing content creators film in bedrooms, bathrooms, living rooms, and kitchens. This is a huge adjustment for brands accustomed to paying for professional photography, design sets, props, staging, and lighting. The production value is less important. 

Branded content is becoming more indistinguishable by the average user.

How does the saying go? Blend in to stand out? TikTok users don’t want to be inundated with ads. Instead, they want to be entertained, try out new dance moves, and engage with other content creators. The tricky part is creating content that resonates with TikTok users while staying true to your brand.

That’s where influencers come in. Branded content is becoming more indistinguishable because businesses are now giving content creators the creative freedom to share sponsored content with their audience. You’ve likely scrolled through dozens of videos without realizing they were ads. Influencers have tremendous capabilities when it comes to TikTok, disseminating your brand message in a creative and subtle way. 

Our recommendation: research and heavily vet TikTok influencers. Do they have a proven track record of delivering high-quality content and earning positive engagement? Is their audience in line with yours? Do their interests and values authentically match your brand’s? Do your due diligence to ensure they’re a natural fit.

Have more TikTok questions? We’re here to help.



12 TikTok Challenges to Inspire Your Next Campaign via Later

Branded Hashtag Challenges on TikTok among most successful for brands via Business of Apps

Instagram micro and nano influencers have higher engagement rates than celebs. But on TikTok it’s the opposite via Business Insider

Nano or Macro: How an Influencer’s Follower Count Impacts Engagement Rate via Later


TikTok Glossary Part 2 via Medium

TikTok Is Growing Up, and So Are Its Users via Adweek

TikTok reveals detailed user numbers for the first time via CNBC

TikTok Statistics – Revenue, Users & Engagement Stats (2021) via Influencer Marketing Hub