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How to convert Millennial and Gen Z TikTok users into readers

September 6, 2022 | By Roland Hamilton, Roland Hamilton, SVP Global Licensing – Jukin Licensing, a division of TMB

Although TikTok is widely considered a “Gen Z platform,” the video-sharing app also boasts an extremely high number of Millennial users. With over 100M active users in the U.S. alone, 32% of TikTok’s global users are between the ages of 25-34. With such a large and diverse audience – not to mention the recent revelation that young people are even turning to TikTok as a search engine over Google – there is a unique opportunity for digital publishers to adapt their strategies on the platform to reach critical audiences at scale effectively.

To do so, media companies must consider how best to leverage the viewing trends and the receptiveness these generations have to certain types of media. Below are key insights into how Gen Z and Millennial demographic similarities and differences fit into the larger social landscape, what influences their decision-making when it comes to attention, and ultimately what success looks like for digital publishers on the platform.

Where to find Gen Z and Millennial social media users

The rise of TikTok has significantly shifted the way people consume media. In fact, when surveyed about which sources of digital media they use the most, 37% of Gen Zers revealed TikTok takes up most of their time. While Millennials still skew a bit more towards Facebook (39%) and Instagram (19%), there is still a sizable audience of Millennials on TikTok. Nevertheless, as the preference for engaging short-form content continues to grow in popularity with Gen Z and Millennials, other social platforms are beginning to take note.

With so much buzz around TikTok’s growing user base and platform layout, it’s no surprise that Instagram introduced Reels. And, with 42% of Gen Zers sharing they also use Reels, it’s clear that this demographic jumps at the chance to create and consume short-form content no matter the platform. This insight gives publishers the perfect opportunity to maximize viewership of their short-form content. They can post virtually the same video to several platforms which means that they can cast an even wider net with little to no additional effort.

What’s influential in TikTok users’ decision-making

Though more social media platforms are mimicking TikTok’s strategies, 40% of Gen Z and 32% of Millennial users find advertisements on TikTok to be the most creative and authentic versus other social platforms. And two-thirds of users research products after seeing them on TikTok. This points to the platform’s power in helping to build brand awareness and influence purchase decisions.

This provides a unique opportunity for publishers to capitalize on especially when it comes to branded content. Last year, Buzzfeed signed a first-of-its-kind deal with TikTok, signaling the beginning of media companies leveraging the platform to create innovative deals between publishers and brands. This allows brands to capitalize on a built-in audience and allows publishers to attract new audiences – brand loyalists – to their content.

Branded hashtag challenges are one of many great tactics to attract engagement by enlisting consumers to become active participants in brand campaigns via user-generated content. So, empowering platform users to join campaigns by submitting their own content is the type of word-of-mouth marketing advertisers crave and built for the digital age. Using creative means to get information across results in a higher chance of user recollection and can help to increase follower count (for both publishers and brands), and eventually – readers.

Strategies for digital publishers to try ASAP

There are a few breakout media brands whose success on social platforms like TikTok provides insight into how digital publishers can best approach converting Gen Z and Millennial social media users into subscribers and promote consumer loyalty.

The Washington Post successfully uses TikTok to reach a younger audience and break away from its more traditional, serious tone. Morning Brew, the media company that aims to help professionals of all ages, began to use TikTok to help grow its newsletter subscriber count. The publication partnered with a creator to create authentic TikTok videos while also promoting the Morning Brew message. This enabled Morning Brew to expand its social media footprint as well as gain thousands of quality, engaged newsletter subscribers.

Digital media publishers have an opportunity to extend their reach by using social media platforms focused on short-form video content. Ultimately, TikTok truly allows for and incentivizes creativity that both Gen Zers and Millennials heavily respond to. Digital publishers can use a variety of features and trends to create effective, immersive, and interactive content to reach their target audiences with unprecedented efficiency. Authentically reaching consumers through TikTok will help media properties gather accurate data on consumer interest as well as humanize humanize the company by providing digestible content in a more relatable and accessible way.

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