Digital Marketing & Campaigns

5 ways for brands to reach Gen Z on TikToK

Written by Pim van Helten on 27, Jath 2020

Take a look and you will notice that nowadays fewer and fewer kids are playing outside like I used to back in the ’90s. So, where are the kids now? Big chance you’ll find them on TikTok. Previously known as, TikTok has become a huge hit with younger audiences, spreading from China to the rest of the world. With 800 million users worldwide, it was the most downloaded app in the world in 2018. Big numbers and big stories keep emerging around TikTok, even Mark Zuckerberg noticed that. If your target audience is Gen Z, then take a look at this.

What’s TikTok?

So what’s this TikTok platform all about? It’s about short videos of 15 seconds that play in a loop. Users can easily create and share video content. But what sets TikTok apart from other video-creation platforms? TikTok makes it possible for everybody to be a creator because it’s super easy to be creative and enhance your content with musical overlays, fun effects, AR filters and more. It seems less competitive, you can just be yourself without asking who is the prettiest of them all. Also, TikTok has powerful hashtags and you can easily reach lots of people because it’s not so crowded like Instagram. Yet.

TikTok’s mission is: ‘To capture and present the world’s creativity, knowledge, and moments that matter - directly from the mobile phone.’

TikTok audience

Maybe, at first sight, it seems like a silly platform for kids, but if your target audience is between 16 and 25 years old, then it’s a great place to build your exposure. TikTok is especially an effective platform for fashion and e-commerce brands willing to work with influencers.

Let’s take a closer look at the age break down. The biggest group (42%) is 18 to 24 years old. The second biggest group (27%) is 13 to 17 years old. Even 4% of 55+ is using this platform. It might grow popular overtime within other age groups, but for now, it’s Gen Z focused.

How are the users divided globally? Well, TikTok is still most popular in China with 500 million users, followed by United States with 30+ million users and according to CN for TikTok there are 3 million users in The Netherlands and 1 million in Belgium.

Getting curious about how to grow your exposure on TikTok? Here are the 5 ways to show off your brand, product or service:

1. Brand Takeover

If you want to take the spotlight at TikTok, for about 3 to 5 seconds it allows you to create a Brand Takeover ad. This ad will appear when opening the TikTok app and it’s the first interaction users will have. You might also call it a prestitial ad. Most prestitial ads are large and cover the whole site's page space. It can drive users to click and go to an external or internal destination. TikTok promises to get you category exclusivity - it means that they only allow one advertiser per day. Next to that, TikTok guarantees 5 million impressions per day.

2. In-Feed Video

This is a 5 to 15 seconds long, fullscreen, auto-play, audio-on video ad. TikTok makes these ads appear as native as possible by showing the profile pic, user name, likes, comments, shares and all other functions that organic content has. Via this ad you can direct users to external or internal destinations. It offers opportunities for amplification and earned impressions via sharing functions, and is available in auction ad format to better connect advertisers with consumers.

3. Hashtag Challenge

If you want to gain exposure with the Hashtag Challenge you better get creative. The Hashtag Challenges capitalize on the audience’s natural behavior to create and share content. It encourages user-generated content (UGC) by asking users to record themselves completing a specific action or following a set of directions to participate in the ‘challenge’. According to TikTok 35% of users participate in challenges and 16% of all videos on the platform are tied to challenges. With the right creative approach, the Hashtag Challenge is a great way to increase brand awareness and engagement.

4. Branded Lens

If you have money to spend then a Branded Lens would be a cool way to promote your brand. TikTok can produce 2D and 3D lenses in-house, to transform the audience’s environment for a price of $ 80K - 120K, depending on the complexity of build. It’s possible to partner up with TikTok and curate your own experience, while TikTok grants you a spot in their ‘Trending’ tab for 10 days. According to TikTok 64% of the users have used face filters or lenses. It encourages deeper engagement, with longer time spent, sampling and product discovery. If you pair your Branded Lens with a hashtag challenge it will encourage continued use and exposure.

5. Top View

TikTok came up with a Top View ad unit combining a Brand Takeover with In-Feed Video. The Brand Takeover ad naturally fades into an In-Feed Video ad with an overall length of 15 seconds. Enables you to direct traffic to your website or app. It has a high impact because it’s the first thing users see when opening TikTok, next to that you’ll get category exclusivity.

Targeting criteria

The targeting criteria TikTok offers, is still quite minimal in comparison with more advanced target abilities on other platforms like Facebook and Instagram. The basic aspects that you can target on TikTok are gender, location, age, languages (Japanese and English), operation system (iOs and Android), network type (wifi, 4G and 3G) and custom audiences (white- and blacklists). TikTok is testing the ability to target on interests and create lookalike audiences. So let’s see where it goes.

Now you have a clear overview of the possibilities TikTok offers for brands. If you need some good dose of inspiration then check out how other brands already put TikTik to use for their marketing.

All with all the targeting possibilities are still in its infancy and it’s quite expensive to advertise on TikTok. Like my creative director Rob once said: ‘If you want to reach out to kids without money, you need to pay up.’ Having a small budget there is no way to advertise on TikTok.

Instagram Reels vs. TikTok

If you’re patient then stick around to see how Instagram Reels - the clone of TikTok - is going to perform. If it will attract Gen Z and make them fall in love with it, it could happen that Instagram Reels will win the race. They did it before with Snapchat. For now Instagram Reels is launched in Brazil and I’m looking forward to see how it’s going to unfold.

Pim van Helten

Pim van Helten


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