It’s hard to overstate the global popularity of TikTok and how it has captured ever-coveted young audiences around the world. This social short-form video app is wildly popular with the young demographic, especially Gen Z – defined as those born after 1995 – which comprises 32% of the global population and has an estimated direct global spending power of $200 billion a year.
As Gen Z becomes the world’s most dominant consumers, this generation is increasingly eschewing traditional advertising and seeking personalised and authentic experiences from brands. To successfully reach and engage with this demographic, it is important to understand the digital culture they live in and create tailored strategies that speak to their individual interests and needs.
Decoding Gen Z
Gen Z is many things. Hyper-connected, highly discerning and tech-savvy, they are the first true digital natives who have grown up with the internet and smartphones. Gen Z’s media consumption habits are significantly different from previous generations and this is driving different demands and trends in the digital sphere. One such trend is the popularity of video content, in particular, short-form videos. Cisco estimates that video will account for 82% of internet traffic globally by 2022, up from 75% in 2017, and that live video will increase 15-fold to account for 17% of internet video traffic by 2022.
While video content is key to connecting with Gen Z, what appeals to their short attention spans and preferences is ‘bite-sized’, short videos where information or entertainment can be provided quickly and visually. Having grown up in a fast-paced digital world and bombarded with thousands of marketing messages even before they reach their teens, this highly selective group is quick to filter out what they want and don’t want to see.
Creating content that resonates
For brands and marketers who want to reach Gen Z audiences, TikTok is rapidly becoming the de-facto platform to build a presence on. The latest estimates by Sensor Tower show TikTok has surpassed 1.5 billion downloads worldwide as it continues its meteoric rise. With 500 million active users each month and more than 41% of its users between the ages of 16 and 24 years old, TikTok is arguably the gateway to Gen Z.
TikTok is essentially an app that allows you to create short videos. Picking up your smartphone to make a video may sound easy enough to do but if you want to find success on this platform, you’ll need to create content that resonates with this demographic. We’re not talking about highly polished and curated videos like those we are used to seeing on Instagram – quite the contrary. What resonates well on TikTok is the raw, authentic footage of people just being themselves.
Gen Z values the freedom of self-expression and TikTok allows them to do just that – expressing their individuality and showing their quirky side with the world. Whether you are lip-syncing in your bathroom, dancing like nobody’s watching, singing duets with your best friend, creating personalised memes or even performing your latest comedic act, the TikTok community relishes user-generated content that is real, relatable and full of personality. TikTok is a hub for users to unleash their creativity and humour, so the challenge for brands is to humanise themselves in a realistic and genuine way. Marketers need to understand that Gen Z is not passive consumers. They want to interact and engage with other users in their own unique way.
To connect with them, brands need to think of ways to entertain this community while at the same time, embracing their imaginative side to inspire the creation of their own personalised brand experiences. For example, in support of United Artists’ recent theatrical release of The Addams Family, The QYOU encouraged the TikTok community to #snaplikeanaddams with the franchise’s classic theme song. The campaign drew over 70,000 user-generated content posts; each a unique, personal take on the hashtag challenge.
An effective strategy requires you to speak to the right people, using the right tools. Working with impactful, relevant influencers on TikTok campaigns is one way to maximise your success and reach. Why is this an effective marketing tool? Simple. Influencers have a direct, deep and authentic connection with the social community, and they have developed slews of new formats to entertain and influence their dedicated fans. TikTok influencers are already playing a key role in helping brands tell their stories authentically and exciting communities through various opportunities to leave their own mark.
By identifying the talents of a high-value influencer, marketers can benefit from the qualities that mirror their target audience’s persona. This develops the trust and respect needed to result in a successful campaign. Marketers must ensure their influencer’s interests and values are authentically aligned with the look and feel of the brand. The content they produce can drive real interactions with the targeted audiences, as well as building the brand’s reputation further.
There are a variety of ways to reach the millions of Gen Z on TikTok but the key to success will always remain the same. This is a generation that loves to create and share content that is genuine and entertaining. For brands who want to be a part of this community, they will need to do the same. So be different. Be authentic. Most importantly, know how to have some fun.