TikTok Marketing Campaign Tips that Target Gen Z

person holding phone with woman on screen

By Tim Waldenback, co-founder of Zutobi

TikTok is the social media platform of the moment. With over 2 billion downloads and 850 million active monthly users, TikTok is home to passionate followers who enjoy trends and content creation.

The unique platform gives brands an opportunity to reach their audiences in an organic and fun way. According to a study among advertisers and influencers, TikTok grew more than 85 percent during the pandemic and 73 percent of influencers spend one to five hours a day on the platform.

The focus of TikTok is short-form video, which touches an audience that so many brands are trying to reach – Generation Z. Almost a quarter of the user base of TikTok is 18 to 24, and more than half are under the age of 34 or the millennial generation.


These generations are important as part of the consumer base around the world. In the US, Gen Z is projected to represent over 40 percent of all consumers in the upcoming years.

The challenge? Millennials and Gen Z have a shared negative opinion of traditional advertising. Reaching these audiences means coming to their levels and speaking their language, which isn’t an overly salesy, heavily produced ad.

They’re looking for authentic, organic and raw marketing efforts. What could be better than influencer marketing for that?

According to the same study, nearly 88 percent of the advertisers claimed to find the marketing campaigns on TikTok effective and nearly 54 percent increased their budgets for influencer campaigns on the platform.

Convinced? Take a look at these innovative and insightful tips to creating a TikTok marketing campaign that targets Gen Z.

Is TikTok Right for Your Business?

TikTok is a boon for marketers but it may not be the right choice for every business. Consider the following:

  • Are you trying to reach an audience of younger millennials and Gen Z?
  • Are your products aesthetically pleasing or eye-catching?
  • Do you have a fun, casual or cool image?
  • Are you a content creator, artist or musician?
  • Can you use your smartphone camera to film engaging content regularly?

The popularity of the app and ease of use make it ideal for marketing to Gen Z and millennials.

Plan to Experiment

TikTok isn’t widely used by businesses, yet. A lot of traditional businesses aren’t taking it seriously as a marketing platform, so you have an opportunity to get ahead of the competition. That said, TikTok is anything but traditional, so you may need to experiment a bit to find the content that works best for your audience.

Not sure where to start? The majority of TikTok users prefer comedy content, dancing and tutorials to other types of content. That’s a good place to begin with your content strategy.

Show Your Human Side

Remember how Gen Z and millennials reject traditional advertising? That’s a commonality of the generations but it’s not just with them. Most modern consumers are searching for the human element of a brand – they want to make purchasing decisions that support their values and ideals.

TikTok content is intended to be quick and user-controlled, which may be challenging for some brands. If you want to have tight control over your messaging, you may struggle with this part.

Before you launch your campaign, plan for the best and worst scenarios and be sure to focus on the human side of your brand. Tell the story of how you founded the business and what problem you tried to solve. Inject a little humor and fun into your content.

Influencers can be a huge help with this. TikTok influencers already understand what works on the platform and how to maintain some control over the conversation. Make sure you discuss your goals with the influencer in advance to make sure you’re on the same page.

Follow the Metrics

TikTok metrics may not be as obvious as other social media platforms but you can still track them. You just have to know what to look for – views, interactions and engagement through comments, actions and hearts. You can use these to evaluate the success of your content.

In addition, TikTok allows users to add links to their profiles, which means you can put a link to your business website and drive traffic. Influencers can also direct followers to your website.

Embrace Hashtag Challenges

TikTok uses hashtags with videos to help users search and discover content. Brands can use these hashtags to target their relevant audiences. A hashtag challenge takes the hashtag idea a step further to create a specific trend and “throw down a gauntlet,” in a manner of speaking.

Hashtag challenges are wildly popular on TikTok and many followers are likely to do their own challenge to be part of the trend. Many of these trends are photo or video challenges, such as comparing photos from the previous year or demonstrating a learned skill.

Putting out content with a relevant hashtag for your brand allows it to gain popularity and creates exposure for your business. As followers generate their own versions of the challenge, more and more people are seeing your brand and may become loyal followers themselves.

Create a Duet

TikTok’s duet function lets users create their own short-form video in response to a user’s post. When the content is posted, it looks like side-by-side videos of the original and the response, forming a duet.

How are duets used? Most people do something like:

  • Sing a duet together
  • Dance together
  • Perform linked actions, such as high fiving
  • Finishing each other’s sentences
  • Responding to questions

Obviously, these can be challenging since you’re trying to coordinate actions in a video with another. But as a brand, you can get creative and take inspiration from content that’s already popular.

For example, makeup artists use TikTok duets effectively as a marketing tool. Some will create a duet responding to an influencer’s makeup tutorial video, interjecting with tips and opinions on the products or techniques used.

Bring in an Influencer

Like any social media platform, TikTok is popular with established influencers. The platform even helped newer Gen Z influencers gain traction.

Influencers have been used for brand deals on platforms like Instagram and YouTube. TikTok works the same way – influencers promote products and services to their audience like anywhere else.

Working with an influencer is excellent but it’s important to vet influencers carefully. Like you, they have their own brand image, style and messaging, so that has to mesh with yours. If you’re going for elegant and timeless, choosing an influencer who’s edgy and controversial may not be the best choice.

Look for influencers targeting similar audiences and working with similar content to yours. Make sure what they’re about resonates with your audience, and the same for your brand. From there, you can let the influencers get creative about how they promote the brand.

For example, if you have a service that offers resources for student drivers to prepare for a permit test or driving test, an influencer with a teen audience would be a great choice.

Leverage Scarcity

Scarcity has long been a valuable tool in marketing. Think flash sales and limited-edition products.

How does scarcity work on social media? You can use scarcity to encourage your followers to engage with you. Followers have to make an impulsive decision on whether they want to participate in a challenge or take a promotion, for example. You can achieve this by putting a time limit on a challenge or offering a special promotion to the followers who take part in the challenge first.

These tactics drive popularity for your marketing campaign and attract higher engagement, which increases your reach.

Promote User-Generated Content

TikTok users want immersive content. Sharing photos or watching videos isn’t enough or else TikTok would’ve been much different than YouTube or Instagram.

The unique proposition for TikTok is that it provides content for users but also encourages them to get creative and make things for themselves. They want to be part of the content, so they’re quick to hop on challenges and other engaging content that inspires them.

Expand Beyond TikTok

TikTok has limitless possibilities for marketers but don’t forget that other social media platforms exist. Major platforms like Facebook and YouTube aren’t going away – TikTok is just part of the whole mix now.

Cross-posting your TikTok videos elsewhere can get the attention of other demographics that aren’t using TikTok. When you create content, link and share the video on your other platforms like Facebook or Instagram. While many Instagram users probably use TikTok too, they can drive further engagement on the platform and get you wider reach.

The Number One Success Driver on TikTok

All of these tips should help you get traction on TikTok and reach Gen Z followers but there’s one rule above all else. If you take only one thing away from this article, it’s this:

Gen Z is composed of digital natives. This generation grew up using social media, unlike the rest that adopted it at an older age. Even millennials, who saw the start of a user-friendly internet with AOL and instant messaging, only experienced social media as adults or older teens.

Because of this, Gen Z is more about authenticity and self-expression in online content than any other aspect of a brand. When you create content, challenges, duets or influencer campaigns to promote your brand, remember to keep your content as real as possible.

Encourage creativity and let your followers put their own spin on the conversation. Keep it fun, quirky, relatable and authentic and you’ll captivate your Gen Z audience.

Author: Tim Waldenback

Tim Waldenback is the co-founder of Zutobi, a gamified e-learning platform focused on online drivers education to help teens get their license. Tim founded Zutobi to make world-class driver’s education fun, affordable and easily accessible for all.