High-Lights: Our Tech PR POV

Thinking of Using TikTok to Reach Gen Z? Read This First.

Whether you’re Gen Z, a Millennial or even Gen X, chances are you’ve heard of TikTok. It’s the latest social media app that’s taking over and everyone wants to be a part of it. 

TikTok offers users the ability to express themselves through quick clips set to popular music (available via the platform’s expansive library), the app has become a fashionable channel for lip-syncing, dance, comedy videos, and more.

Celebrities use the platform to promote their own brand and the platform has cultivated its own influencers through the TikTok community. So if influencers are using this to successfully promote their brand, should companies be doing the same?

Given TikTok’s popularity amongst Gen Z, we took it upon ourselves to do a deep dive into the platform and determine how companies can use this platform to elevate their brand awareness.

What is TikTok?

Let’s start off with the basics — what is TikTok? It’s a Chinese-based video app founded in 2016 that allows everyone to be a creator and encourages users to share their passion and personal creative expression through their videos. TikTok combines Vine and Music.ly, a famous lip-syncing app that was acquired, in 2017 by ByteDance. 

In the short amount of time since being founded, TikTok has skyrocketed as a social media app. The app has been downloaded more than a billion times, there are 30 million-plus monthly active users in the U.S. and 37 billion U.S. video views a month. It’s reported that Americans are opening the app eight times a day, spending around 46 minutes a day in the app. 

How do brands currently use TikTok?

Despite the growth of TikTok’s user base and usage, it hasn’t yet reached the advertising heights of its competitors such as Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. According to its second-quarter financial report, Snapchat has 83 million daily active users in North America and 10 billion video views a day or 300 billion a month, beating TikTok significantly.

To stay competitive, TikTok offers five ad products including the hashtag challenge, a brand takeover, in-feed video, branded lenses and a “top-view” video. These require significant investment – a hashtag challenge will run you a minimum of $150,000 a day.

Brands have been utilizing these ad products by partnering with influencers or celebrities within the TikTok community to promote their products and increase their awareness, engagement and reach. 

Looking ahead, TikTok plans to build out its ad tech with “internet-based” targeting, which serves ads to audiences based on their behavioral characteristics – e.g. identifying people based on preferences and personalities learned from collecting data on their activity use within the app.

Is TikTok measurable?

While TikTok does have ad products, it’s not a fully open ad platform just yet making measuring ROI difficult. As it stands, it measures metrics similar to other social channels — think views, likes, comments, engagements, etc. With their hashtag challenge feature, they’re also able to measure from those that viewed the video and how many of those people created their own video using the hashtag.

Currently, there are doubts about how accurately the platform can measure videos and ensuring all followers are humans versus bots, a challenge most social media apps face. Until there is a better system put in place, brands using TikTok for advertising purposes will struggle with defining success based on metrics.

Should your company be using TikTok?

With 69 percent of users between the ages of 16 and 24, brands that have cultural relevance to this demographic will benefit the most. It’s an ideal platform for brands and companies that are looking for a creative way to increase their awareness and reach a younger audience. That being said, as it stands, this platform isn’t the best fit for the Cisco’s and Oracle’s of the world.