How brands are activating Gen Z and millennial TikTok audiences

Roland Hamilton, senior vice president of global licensing, Trusted Media Brands

Although TikTok is widely considered a Gen Z platform, the video-sharing app also boasts a high number of millennial users. With more than 100 million active users in the U.S. alone, 32% of TikTok’s global audience is between the ages of 25–34

This large and diverse group of young people creates a significant opportunity for advertisers to reach critical audiences at scale on a growing platform. Brands that engage with these demographic groups via TikTok will have a greater chance of securing their buy-in than those that rely on traditional marketing tactics.

TikTok offers brands access to audiences that are particularly receptive to targeted advertising, making the social platform one of the most valuable assets for marketers. And as brands invest in campaigns on the platform, they’re surfacing insights into how Gen Z and millennial demographics fit into the larger social landscape, what influences their decision-making when it comes to attention and what success looks like for platform users.

Gen Z and millennial social media trends

The rise of TikTok is changing the ways people use social media. When asked which social platforms they use most, 41.4% of Gen Zers said TikTok takes up most of their time. While millennials still skew a bit more toward Facebook and Instagram, there is still a sizable audience of this group on TikTok. In response, many social platforms are noting the preference for engaging, short-form content growing in popularity within these demographic groups.

The growth of TikTok’s user base encouraged Instagram and Facebook to release their own short-form video feature, Reels, and the move may be working. A recent study found that 40% of Gen Z social media users prefer Reels, Stories, or TikTok videos when seeing brand ads on social media, revealing this demographic’s preference for creating and consuming short-form content regardless of social platform. Nimble brands can maximize Gen Z engagement by posting similar video advertisements on each platform.

Understanding TikTok audience decision-making

Despite similar offerings from other social media platforms, 40% of Gen Z and 32% of millennial users find advertisements on TikTok to be the most creative and authentic, according to a study conducted by the Pepperdine University’s Graziadio Business School.

In addition, two-thirds of TikTok users research products after viewing them, emphasizing the platform’s power to build brand awareness and influence purchase decisions.

Using TikTok’s video features and making the most of viral trends on the app can help advertisements stand out without taking away from the experience of the underlying content. The organic nature of social media ads also influences how Gen Z and millennial groups receive them. TikTok exhibits one of the least saturated and interruptive ad strategies, so Gen Z and millennial users are more receptive to these ads than those from other platforms.

In addition to their cohesiveness and timeliness, younger audiences favor TikTok ads for their ability to make an impression in a short time. But some ads are more successful than others; user-generated TikTok videos perform 46% better than traditional ads

Branded hashtag challenges also help attract audiences by enlisting consumers as participants in brand campaigns via user-generated content. Nissan Australia employed this tactic when looking to raise awareness for its new car, the JUKE, providing users with music for the contest and challenging them to make a car commercial voiceover. 

Encouraging TikTok users to submit content is the type of word-of-mouth marketing advertisers crave. It can create brand ambassadors that connect with those audiences advertisers may have had difficulties going after in the past. Using these creative means to share branded content helps foster engagement and increases influence over purchasing decisions. 

Best social media strategies for Gen Z and millennial audiences

The success of other brands on TikTok can provide insights into how best to convert Gen Z and millennial audiences into paying customers and establish brand loyalty. From partnerships to creative video adaptations, the opportunities to connect with two of the most influential demographics are endless.

Dunkin’s partnership with TikTok teen superstar Charli D’Amelio took the platform by storm. The coffee brand added D’Amelio’s signature coffee order to their menu and dubbed it “The Charli.” After announcing the launch and partnership, cold brew sales skyrocketed by 45%, and app downloads increased by 57%. 

TikTok’s user-centric platform generates and incentivizes brand creativity that resonates with Gen Z and millennials. Brands are creating effective advertisements and reaching target audiences with unprecedented efficiency.

Although much of the platform’s ad content focuses on awareness rather than product or service information, research has shown that many users research products after viewing TikTok ads. This makes TikTok a powerful platform for reaching customers and understanding consumer interests. 

Sponsored by: Trusted Media Brands

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