June 24, 2020

TikTok’s Rise & What it Means for Brands


TikTok. It’s become the shiny new toy during lockdown for many people, primarily Generation Z, who indulge in the video creation app. It was created in 2016, though the app didn’t manage to catch the attention of the UK market until around 2019. 

With the nation socially distancing, TikTok has entered the digital limelight in this COVID-19 world we live in. According to analytics company, Sensor Tower, TikTok has recently grown exponentially, achieving the highest ever downloads of an app in a quarter. The app had been downloaded up to 315m times in Q1 2020, of which 745K being in the UK. 

The user downloads are mostly inspired by celebrities and influencers who take part in hashtag challenges and trending dance routines on the app, resulting in a new pastime for social media consumers. The question is, what does this mean for the world of employer branding – for an employer’s social media strategy?

With the new generation of graduates making up 60% of the TikTok market, adopting the platform is a great way to connect with this audience in an informal way. And now is a great time to get in early and build a following. TikTok has seen a massive growth over the past few months, but it’s still classed as an emerging market, meaning this could be a potential opportunity to make an impact. If you’re looking to reach a wider demographic, do not discount TikTok completely, especially if it follows the footsteps of Facebook and Snapchat and how they developed in the early years. Although there hasn’t been much employer branding on TikTok yet, there has been lots of consumer branding content. Hugo Boss has created organic content and the hashtag ‘#Suitchallenge’ to increase sales, whereas Estée Lauder are promoting their day cream on newsfeed paid ads. Employer branding could benefit with these tools with their internal and external comms, whether it be promoting the work culture or variety of job roles externally, or informing and connecting with staff internally with engaging, reactive videos.  

If you are thinking about advertising your employer brand on TikTok, there are some key considerations to look at before implementing it into your social strategy. Below, I’ll discuss some of the pros and cons to adopting the platform.

TikTok ads are more expensive than their well-established competitors and there are some arguments on how effective the ads work, with some claiming that they’re not as frequent as other platforms. Yes, it may not be as saturated as Instagram or Facebook, however the format of TikTok advertising is subtle when placed alongside organic newsfeed content. This can make an impact on brand awareness and conversions, as they would recognise the brand in other settings. TikTok can be an effective investment to use for brand awareness, with less competition and (currently) a younger market, being ideal for those seeking young talent or building their brand culture.

Alternatively, there are tools which brands can use without having to break the budget. If you’re looking to post organically, visually engaging video content is a must, with user attention spans only lasting around 10 seconds or less. Ensure to consider hashtag challenges into your content strategy to gain exposure and new followers. You can also allow consumers to gain access into the company with immersive content, e.g. ‘a day in the life of our company’ and UGC from brand ambassadors to encourage authenticity.


Influencer marketing is a strong option for TikTok. The app is filled with users that simply follow influencers and consume their content. However, this is more beneficial to consumer branding, though it may have a knock-on effect on the perception of your brand to a younger demographic. Alternatively, there is a way to collaborate with known influencers to showcase corporate social responsibility through charity or awareness campaigns. Focusing on an employer branding perspective, brands can establish internal brand ambassadors to promote the company, culture etc, through their personal accounts.

Overall, TikTok has become a household name in the UK and is definitely the app to watch in the virtual experience economy we’re in. It’s important to note, though, that if you’re looking to target a wider demographic or require a specific skill set of applicants, Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram are probably still the best option. If you’re willing to make the investment, however, TikTok is an opportunity to start building a presence on the platform, get in early with micro influencers, and showcase your employer brand and the benefits of working at your company to Gen-Z – the future’s workforce.