Make TikTok Work for You: How to Leverage the Brand for Your Gen Z Audience

TikTok is the latest mobile app that is taking the world by storm. Unless you’ve been living under a rock this 2020, you’ll find that some (if not most) of the people you know have started to make videos on the app.

Surprisingly, TikTok’s massive success can be largely attributed to a predominantly untapped target audience. Organizations often find this demographic to be a little challenging to connect with. 

However, the TikTok app might just be the gateway for brands to help them successfully market their products to the Gen Z audience.

TikTok and their Gen Z Consumers

A Forbes article mentioned that TikTok managed to successfully capture Gen Z consumers’ attention because the app made it possible to “democratize virality.”

Over the past couple of years, the growth of influencers has been explosive. The growth rate of these “TikTok-famous” influencers has been massive. As a consequence, TikTok users (especially their Gen Z consumers) are inspired by the notion that their videos might get viral too, and they can also have the chance to become an influencer too. 

Compared to other platforms like Snapchat or Instagram, TikTok’s content mostly consists of user-generated videos that involve music, dancing, and even lip-syncing to songs. Videos are often personalized with visual effects, filters, and AR lenses. Its tone and lighthearted humor make it stand out from the usual polished and curated content from other platforms.

Here are several TikTok demographics in a nutshell:

·   41% of users are aged 16-24.

·   56% of users are male, 44% are female.

·   26.5 million users are from the US.

·   43% of users are from India.

TikTok Growth Factors

TikTok users can upload a video that they shot themselves and then edit it with TikTok features that can slow down or speed up and apply different filters on their videos. It also has a “react” feature where users can shoot a video of themselves as a reaction to another video.

TikTok also has a “duet” feature where users can create a video with one video next to the other one. This was a unique feature from its predecessor app,, and it remains to be very popular on the TikTok platform.

The rapid growth of the TikTok platform in just a short amount of time has been surprising. Here are some of the main reasons for the explosive growth of TikTok:

·   Celebrity Endorsements

Celebrities can make a significant impact on an app’s popularity. Celebrities also garner a lot of followers on social media platforms from hundreds of thousands to millions. As such, an endorsement of a celebrity to use the app can persuade a lot of their fans to follow suit.

·   Localized Content

Despite being a global app, TikTok still focuses on localized content. A number of local challenges on the platform can derive a massive increase in its local user base. TikTok also provides suggestions to users for local topics, resulting in a significant growth in local videos created.

Brands can try using Shakr Local to create locally relevant video campaigns on Tiktok. Shakr will help create a unique and customized creative video to help your brand engage with your local TikTok audience. 

·   Ease of Use

As the app that democratized an online video’s virality, it’s not surprising that it’s relatively easy to use the TikTok app. Users appreciate the simplicity of creating and sharing videos on this platform. People who are new to TikTok will find that there is no steep learning curve to get immersed in it. All they have to do is to record a video and post on the app. Since videos will play in sequence, it’s also very easy to access and watch videos.

Is TikTok a good move for my business?

Before setting up your brand’s TikTok account, you need to decide first if TikTok is the right platform to market your business. Start by asking yourselves the following questions:

·   Is your target audience younger than 35 years old?

·   Does your business aim to target Generation Z and younger Millennials?

·   Are your products visually appealing on video?

·   Is your brand connected to the music industry or artists?

·   Would you consider your brand to be fun, casual, and trendy?

·   Do you have the resources to post regular video content on TikTok?

Step-by-Step Guide to Start your TikTok Journey

·   Choose your username and display name.

·   Write a catchy description in your bio.

·   Link the profile of your Instagram or YouTube accounts.

·   Upload a vertical aspect video with approximately up to 1minute in length. If needed, choose a filter, soundtrack, apply effects. You can also record a video in-app and edit it on the spot, or you can use Shakr to customize your videos further.

·   Write an engaging description of your video, and don’t forget to add relevant hashtags to it.

·   If you like, you can activate the “duet” feature so other users can react to your video.

TikTok Tips After the Initial Installation

After setting up your profile and uploading your first video, the next step is to start engaging with other TikTok users. Here are several ways on how to get you started:

TIP 1: Make the brand “discoverable.”

You can start by posting on your other social media platforms (e.g., Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) that you already have a TikTok account. You can notify your followers even further by making a website announcement that links to your TikTok account.

As the brand is new to the platform, you need to make your account discoverable by adding relevant #hashtags to your videos. You can look for the hashtags that you’re planning to use and see how popular it is. It would help if you also immerse yourself in the TikTok community by following popular creators involved in your industry, following your audience, commenting, and engaging with them.

TIP 2: Maintain the brand’s visual identity.

While TikTok may seem like a more laid back platform, it’s still advisable to maintain your brand’s visual identity and not veer too much from your usual tone and style. Remember that the look and feel of your TikTok account serve as the first impression that users see from your brand. Make sure that your account does not look out of sync with your other social media platforms. 

TIP 3: Develop a cross-channel approach.

Once you are already discoverable on TikTok, make sure that your new followers know how to find you on other social platforms. Linking your social media accounts will boost the brand’s credibility. You can also optimize your content calendar by creating a condensed TikTok video version of your Instagram or YouTube content. Your CTA can help propel your TikTok fans to see the full version on other platforms.

TIP 4: Be relevant to your target audience.

Establish video content themes that are relevant to your brand and target audience. Research on the kind of topics, hashtags, and video trends that your TikTok audience can relate to. Since this app is more laid back, don’t hesitate to experiment with fun and creative content that your audience will enjoy,

TIP 5: Maintain brand consistency.

Since the brand is new on the TikTok platform, you can stick to the topics that your brand is good at and post content that shows you are leading in your field. Post daily to make sure that your presence remains consistent. You can also experiment with posting at various times of the day to experiment with your platform engagement. 

TIP 6: Only post authentic, quality content.

Don’t forget that your video content’s quality, not its format, will make your video memorable to your followers. Be up to date with the current trends and challenges, but make it relevant to your brand’s identity.

The TikTok Algorithm: What brands need to know

Algorithm Tip 1: Brand exposure is solely based on each video’s performance.

A brand’s TikTok followers can still get a million views, even if they don’t have a lot of followers. TikTok’s algorithm prioritizes the engagement and interactions of each individual video instead of your brand’s full profile. 

When your video is published, it can be viewed by a small number of TikTok users on their For You page. If it had been received well by those initial viewers, then it has a higher chance of getting bumped to a larger pool of users. 

Algorithm Tip 2: The algorithm considers multiple indicators and not just “views.”

Rewatches, video completions, shares, comments, and likes are some of the multiple indicators of the TikTok algorithm. So if your brand’s TikTok video remains relevant to your audience and they find it entertaining and informative, then there’s a good chance that it will do well on the platform.

Algorithm Tip 3: Initial brand exposure is based on location.

When your TikTok video gets published, it will be initially shown to users with the same geo-location. As such, this platform is beneficial for small businesses to help increase brand awareness within their local community. You can also use Shakr Local to connect with TikTok users in a whole new meaningful way with its top-notch hyper-local video campaign creative at scale.

Algorithm Tip 4: Using trending hashtags and sounds work well.

Hashtags and Sounds are one of the best ways to make your videos discoverable on TikTok. Trending hashtags on TikTok videos are compiled into one Discovery pages and could get boosted in the For You pages. Using hashtags that are unique to your content will also help the TikTok algorithm what your content is about and show it to people who might be interested in it.

Algorithm Tip 5: Any video can go viral, even old ones.

Videos on TikTok tend to have a longer shelf life than other platforms like Instagram. TikTok’s algorithm continually monitors the performance of each individual video, even older ones. If your older videos have a spike in engagement, then it will still get served to new batches of users on their For You page.

TikTok Marketing Strategies to Hit the Ground Running

·   Hashtag Challenges

The TikTok community loves participating in a challenge. Users would regularly accept a challenge on the platform and upload videos in response to the challenge. If your brand wants to create a TikTok challenge, you need to create a relevant hashtag that goes along with it. Make sure that the challenge can help the TikTok community engage with your brand in fun and exciting ways.

·   Use Duets

Some brands might have missed the mark with Duets. Brands can use a hashtag campaign with duets to attract and increase engagement with their audience. Think of creative ways to interact with your audience using the duet feature. Some suggestions include: singing to each other, holding a conversation, high five-ing each other, or finishing each other’s sentences.

·   Use Influencers

While the platform may be relatively new, there are still many TikTok influencers that have millions of followers. Tapping onto TikTok influencers can boost your brand’s marketing campaign. However, it will still ultimately boil down to selecting the right influencers for your target audience. Give them the freedom to create the best content for your campaign since they know their own audience better than you do.

·   Use FOMO

FOMO is always a good online marketing tactic, and it can certainly be useful on TikTok. If you want engagement and participation in your campaign, then having a time limit will compel users to get involved right away. If challenges don’t include a time limit or any other form of FOMO and scarcity tactic, then people might put off participating, and they may never get around to doing so.

·   Build a community

TikTok involves more than just creating a single challenge and tapping an influencer. It requires participation and commitment. As such, you need to be fully prepared to build a community within the platform. It does not always need to be a big marketing push either. You can start by creating simple videos that will resonate with your target audience first and see what type of engagement you can get from it. 

·   Encourage user-generated content

The Gen Z consumers are fully immersed in the platform. They like to participate and get involved with things that are happening on the app. Try to engage the Gen Z crowd by also allowing them to participate with their own user-generated content about your brand. You can start by encouraging TikTok users to share videos of themselves while they use your products.

Tips for driving brand awareness for the Gen Z consumers

TIP 1: Avoid hard selling.

TikTok became popular due to its fun and creative user-generated videos. As such, brands need to avoid the blatant promotions of products in your videos since this might seem off to some of your TikTok fans. Be creative and interesting with your video content marketing promotions.

TIP 2: Promote products creatively.

Brands can still promote their products on TikTok, albeit in a roundabout way. One rule to follow is to be a content creator on the platform first before becoming a marketer. As such, you can introduce your products in more exciting ways by integrating them into jokes, memes, songs, challenges, and other similar user-generated content.

TIP 3: Use targeted ads

TikTok ads are relatively new, and it just started last year. However, there are already plenty of options that your brand can explore: 

·   Brand takeover ads

If you want to appear once a user opens the app instantly, then brand takeover ads may be what your brand needs. This type of ad can help drive TikTok users into the platform or onto an external destination like your website. It should be noted, though, that only one advertiser can use the brand takeover ad per day. Users also have the option to skip on your ad if they are not interested. 

·   Hashtag challenge ads

This ad is one of the most popular on the platform since it is all about encouraging TikTok users to participate in a challenge that showcases your brand in some way. The hashtag challenge ads are so successful because it leverages on the natural tendency of TikTok users to upload their own content on the platform.

·   Branded lens ads

The branded lens ads on TikTok are similar AR lenses concept that can also be found on Instagram and Snapchat. Branded lens ads can provide high levels of engagement rates on the platform, especially when you have a good follower base that will help spread your campaign’s message. 

·   In-feed native ads

In-feed native ads on TikTok have a similar concept to Instagram Stories. These ads have a Sponsored label that appears in a user’s For You page. It also has a clickable pop-up CTA such as “Download Now,” “Learn More,” or “Shop Now.”

Successful TikTok Marketing Campaigns from Brands

NFL’s Draft Day #GoPro Challenge

The National Football League (NFL) worked with TikTok to create a promotional hashtag challenge that coincides with the celebration of this year’s draft of college players. The #GoingPro challenge encouraged TikTok users to create videos that showcase their professional aspirations and pick amateur players to “go pro.” The challenge garnered more than 500 million views, and even the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell participated in the hype with a dance challenge.

Chipotle’s #ChipotleLidFlip Challenge

Chipotle created their own video challenge to encourage users to flip the lid over their Chipotle bowls. Aptly dubbed as the #ChipotleLidFlip challenge, the campaign has over 276 million views and more than 110 000 video submissions within the first week. The brand also tapped celebrity influencer David Dobrik who has over 5 million followers, to encourage the TikTok community to join the fun and flip their Chipotle bowls.

Kroger’s #TransformUrDorm Challenge


My dorm lookin fire now 😝🔥 Thanks Kroger! #transformurdorm ad foryou trend

♬ original sound – Joey Klaasen

Kroger’s #TransformUrDorm challenge last 2019 was aimed at the Gen Z crowd to show that their brand is more than just a grocery store. They wanted their brand to be one of the go-to shopping destinations for college students’ dorm room essentials. They also tapped TikTok influencers such as Joey Klaasen, Cosette Rinab, Mia Finney, and Victoria Bachlet to participate in the challenge. They are also the first brand to use TikTok’s in-app shopping feature as part of the new Hashtag Challenge Plus Ads. Users that engaged with the challenge can also shop for Kroger products online on a dedicated brand page.

Shakr is here to work alongside your brand to test the waters of TikTok!

TikTok is an exciting avenue to showcase your brand’s more whimsical side. Get ready to create winning video campaigns that will captivate your brand’s GenZ audience!

Shakr will help you create engaging video content that will help increase your brand’s visibility on TikTok. Want to learn more? Schedule a discovery call with us now!


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TikTok Marketing Guide. (n.d.). IcebergBuilder rīki & apmācības pārdošanai internetā.

#transformurdorm. (2020). Retrieved 21 October 2020, from

What is TikTok? A complete guide for marketers | Wyzowl. (2020). Retrieved 18 October 2020, from

Williams, R. (2020). NFL scores 580M views with Draft Day TikTok challenge. Retrieved 21 October 2020, from

Slye is an inbound marketing professional who specializes in growth-focused content marketing. He is the Managing Director at Content Hacker.

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