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How Brands Can Get Started On TikTok And Reach Gen Z


The clock is ticking for your brand to jump on TikTok, the popular short-video platform, and reach today’s fast-emerging, influential new shoppers: Gen Z. With over half of TikTok users aged 16-24 and 90% of them feverishly swiping through the app more than once daily, the platform is a promising avenue for reaching these young consumers whose spending power has skyrocketed to $143 billion.

As one of the first agencies to partner with TikTokMuteSix knows a thing or two about reaching this all-important demographic and serving up content that catches them in their thumb-stopping tracks.

The most important piece of the TikTok puzzle is the creation of native content, particularly influencer and UGC, as 70% of ad campaign success depends on the creative itself. Don’t think you can repurpose your other highly-produced and edited paid social content for TikTok. TikTok audiences, especially its younger users, are predominantly there for honest, entertaining storytelling and tend to be wary of typical product placements.

Rather than push sales-y ads, consider high-concept, low-production content instead, even if it means creating it with your iPhone. Put simply: entertainment first; sales agenda last.

To create the right content for a Gen Z audience, we’ve outlined a few steps every brand can follow to reach this all-important, yet often hard-to-please, audience.

Use the Right Content Creation Tools.

Taking advantage of TikTok’s most popular content creation tools will ensure a brand’s TikTok ad seems well-placed, resonates with the right consumer, and ultimately converts them to shoppers.

First and foremost, no TikTok ad is complete without music—in particular, upbeat, trending songs, because TikTok is a sound-on environment. The platform, which originated as a lip-syncing app, has stayed true to its roots despite its evolution into a more multifaceted social media/commerce platform, so it is critical brands include a soundtrack that’s music to a Gen Z user’s ears.

Another impactful tool to utilize is on-screen text. Ads featuring captions have a 25% higher reach than those without. Not only does on-screen text help with accessibility, but it also helps viewers better retain the content, which ensures a brand’s key value propositions or backstory are clearly communicated.

One MuteSix client to look to is MatchaBar, which used on-screen text to show how easy it is to whip up a cup of its frothy green tea matcha. As a result, the brand saw a whopping 2.1 million impressions.

Engage Gen Z shoppers even more by leveraging the “respond to comment” feature. This feature infuses a more native feel and allows the user to engage with the content. It also allows brands to edit their own questions so they can control the narrative and messaging. Tres Colori, the creators of personalized jewelry and gifts, saw over a 70% Thumbstop Ratio (a key metric signaling how many times a user stopped swiping to actively view your content) by having the content creator respond to an on-screen comment, “Where is your jewelry from?” The campaign also saw a Click-through Rate of 1.6%.

Create Authentic and Engaging UGC.

No matter how many followers a person has, on TikTok, you can become an influencer overnight. Gen Z audiences tend to trust these up-and-coming content creators, especially when they are relatable and endorse products with sincerity.

While older generations can be persuaded to buy products through brand loyalty or fear of missing out, Gen Z shoppers tend to be more budget conscientious and relate more to content that speaks to them on a personal level. To really reach them, you need to create relatable, trustworthy, and engaging content—and all within the first few seconds.

On TikTok, Influencer whitelisting is a process where brands will run social ads through an influencer’s social profile instead of their brand account. This allows brands to reach new audiences and create better-performing ads than advertising via their brand profile page.

When done for BarkBox, MuteSix saw 236K likes and positive sentiments in the comments in a single post, a key indicator of the ad’s success. MuteSix attributes these wins to the genuine enthusiasm of the happy client—in this case, the dog—as the excited pet owner unboxes the product and tosses its contents to her four-legged friend whose undeniable satisfaction is delightful.

Culturefly, another MuteSix client, also created successfully consistently viral influencer content because influencers showed their genuine reactions while unboxing their movie, TV show, and gaming “geek gear.” Their enthusiasm created a sense of believability and trust in the product and the results support this: 49K engagements and over 500K impressions.

Final Takeaway: Create the Right Content, Then Target Your Audience.

Once you’ve created authentic and engaging native content catered for a Gen Z audience, it’s important to use interest and affinity targeting to see which brands and topics they are associating with and searching for across the platform. Lookalike audiences, which allow you to find audience groups sharing commonalities with your existing customers, are also highly successful in reaching the right consumers at the right time.

However, before you target Gen Z users, be sure to create the content this entertainment-craving, budget-conscientious audience is looking for, in order to get their thumbs stopping, not swiping.

Special thanks to our friends at MuteSix for their insights on this topic.
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