TikTok Poses Massive Opportunity for Brands to Connect with Gen Z

December 18, 2019

[Header image credit: Canva]

By: Tal Rodan, Associate Strategist

Tik Tok is a social platform with a massive, passionate user base. Its features give young people the tools to easily become content creators. Brands need to start paying more attention to this platform and its potential to reach millions of Gen Z consumers.

In 2018, TikTok and Musical.ly merged under the umbrella of TikTok. Since then, it has quickly become the most downloaded iOS app and topped the Google Play charts. It has seen over 1.1 billion downloads as of March 2019, and is quickly chasing major platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.

With 500 million active users worldwide across 155 countries, TikTok is the leading destination for short-form mobile video content that engages users and motivates them to create exciting content. The platform’s mission is to empower and share the world’s imagination, knowledge, and moments that matter. It is a home for creative expression through videos that create a genuine, inspiring, and joyful experience. Users—half of whom are between the ages of 13-24, and are 75 percent female—spend 52 minutes per day on the app, propelling it among the highest of any other social platforms. TikTok has quickly captured a tween and teen demographic, as it is a social network that their parents and brands have not yet infiltrated.


Consumers make short-form videos on the app, mostly 15 seconds in length, with content around singing, dancing, sports, comedy, tricks, and lip-syncing. The app has pre-set filters and effects to edit the videos and some songs have specific recurring tropes that are meme-like to provide extra layers of structure and comedy. Users play off the ideas of other creators and mimic content for bigger laughs. Many consumers merely view content on the app versus creating their own by browsing the discover page or seeing videos in their feed of users they follow.


  • Organic Brand Channels: Brands are creating custom content for TikTok on their own channels and encouraging user-generated content from consumers.
  • Influencers: Leveraging influential users on the platform to post on the brand’s behalf.
  • Paid Advertising:
    • Sponsored Hashtags: An option for brands to pay to feature their hashtag challenges at the top of the discover page. There is a secondary option for Hashtag Challenge Plus, which adds a shoppable component.
    • Brand Takeovers: Images, GIFs, or videos where brands can take over a category for a day.
    • In-Feed Native Videos: Full-screen, skippable video ads.
    • Branded Lenses: Similar to Snapchat, will be available for users to add to their videos.


  • Consider content with mimicry and iteration in mind. Will the idea be easily able to repeat, or does it have the potential to become negative for the brand’s reputation?
  • Consider using influencers to help scale and tap into their audience.
  • Understand content formats that already exist. Specific formats exist on the channel and can help drive success.
  • Consumers are looking for high-impact drama in a short amount of time. With only about 15 seconds to make your video compelling, music with intense mood shifts or beat drops lend well to driving the micro-story or providing an element of surprise.
  • It is advisable that brands create bespoke content for TikTok, rather than repurposing existing social video content.


  • This platform is not nearly as saturated as other major platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube, and it provides a channel for brands to connect with a younger demographic, especially if Gen Z is a target audience.
    • Can be impactful in meeting several objectives, including building brand awareness, brand affinity, and driving conversion.
    • While there are brands already on TikTok, there is still an opportunity for brands to be one of the first movers to the TikTok platform. This can provide a huge advantage by establishing themselves on the platform as a leader and increasing reach.
  • Brands need to take a test and learn and approach to the platform to ensure they have measures in place to understand success.
    • Create their own channels and upload relevant videos, create a hashtag challenge and encourage user-generated content.
    • Run an influencer campaign on the app to reach a large, dedicated audience.
    • Pay to advertise on the channel – the ad options are in their very early days.