How Brands Can Rock TikTok to Reach Gen Z

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Gen Z is a unique and fascinating breed. This generation, which includes anyone born from 1997-2012, has never known a time without ordering anything they need online. Or shooting a quick text to chat with a friend. Or FaceTiming a family member who lives across the world.  

The first generation that is truly digital, Gen Z accounts for about 40% of global consumers with $143 billion in spending power. In fact, Gen Z has influenced $600 billion in annual family spending.

With the gigantic influence they wield over purchases of their own, their family, and their friends, Gen Z is now a priority for almost every brand, making it necessary for brands to shift their marketing strategies in order to connect with them and make an impact on their purchasing. 

Brands need to think strategically to reach Gen Z properly 

In 2021, the top platforms that have been favored by Gen Z include Instagram, Pinterest….and TikTok. Overwhelmingly TikTok. In fact, over half of Gen Z consumers are now on TikTok, and the hashtag #tiktokmademebuyit has over 5.1 billion views alone. 

Millennials’ average attention span is only 12 seconds long. But it turns out those 12 seconds were a luxury for advertisers — Gen Z has an even shorter 8-second attention span. That is why they go to platforms like TikTok in which they can consume information quickly and with little effort, and these platforms all have one thing in common: Engaging video content is king.  

As TikTok rose in popularity, platforms like Instagram and Pinterest took action to stay relevant and appeal to the needs of the Gen Z consumer, prioritizing video content and forcing creators and brands to shift how and where they share content.  

The successful actions of these platforms are a lesson for brands. If brands want to reach Gen Z and make an impact on their purchasing behavior, it is vital to be strategic about prioritizing platforms that they’re using and creating content that appeals to their consumption preferences. 

The good news is that developing a great content strategy for TikTok can carry over to the other relevant platforms that Gen Z inhabits.

How to help brands find ways to connect and drive value 

The only way to connect with Gen Z and understand how they will react to content being shared, especially on TikTok, is to be a student of the craft. It’s no longer enough to be a marketer; you must be a user. A creator. You must understand the ins and outs of Gen Z culture and see what they see. Brands like Chipotle and Ryanair are proof of this, as they are creating content that is authentic and impactful and speaking in Gen Z’s language … and winning their approval in droves.  

Armed with this knowledge of the consumer, marketers can align brand priorities with intelligent actions on social that drive real business value. Performing these three actions can create a successful organic TikTok strategy.  

  1. Use true-to-platform creative 

TikTok is not a place where users, especially Gen Z, go to see beautifully created ads. They want authenticity, and they see right through anything else. And they WILL vilify any brand that tampers with their experience.  

Only use creative specifically developed for the platform, and never repurpose ad creative for organic TikToks. Bonus points if you create content in the app itself. 

  1. Be active in the comment sections on the “For You” page  

On TikTok, one of the biggest features of the platform is the videos’ comment sections. Users “run” to the comments to see the funny things other users have said and oftentimes leave their own comments in order to become the “top comment” on the video. Brands on TikTok can scroll through the “For You” page and leave comments in order to have one-on-one interactions and gain deeper trust and connection with users.  

Tip: These comments should seem natural and human, almost like the comment was left from a personal account.  

  1. Always respond to consumers looking to engage  

It is vital to foster a community on organic social, especially on TikTok. Responding to comments on your own videos will not only create connection and trust with users but also increase engagement and boost content. 

Organically connecting with millions is changing how leading brands think about social marketing

Organic social can be a hard concept for a lot of brands to grasp, especially when they are well-established companies with marketing strategies that have served them well for years. 

Organic social has always been important to creating online, trust-based consumer communities. But that is especially the case now that the majority (97%) of Gen Z consumers say they use social media as their top source of shopping inspiration, and 72% of Gen Z say they’d more readily make a purchase from brands they follow on social media.

Perhaps the most fascinating consumer we’ve seen thus far, Gen Z has had such an influence that brands have had to completely change how and where they market to this new wave of consumers, or they will be left in the dust with other “cheugy” brands. (It’s OK to look that word up; I had to once, too.)  

By being strategic about platform priorities, emphasizing authenticity, and nurturing organic social, marketers can reach the influential Gen Z audience they need to survive and thrive. 

Chloe Duke is a senior social content analyst at digital marketing agency Razorfish. 

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