TikTok: The secret employer brand and recruiting weapon

Before I get into why your employer brand and recruiting strategies should involve TikTok, first you must understand what TikTok is, its current state of growth and its current demographic group. Only then, can you fully understand the value of being in this space.

So what is TikTok?

TikTok (formerly known as musical.ly) is a social media platform for creating, sharing and discovering short music videos. TikTok was launched in China in 2016 under the name “Douyin” until eventually rebranding as TikTok a year later for the international market.

TikTok has become one of the fastest-growing apps on the market. TikTok was the number #1 downloaded free app in the market for several months in a row in 2019 and still captures #1 every now and then in 2020. It has taken social media by storm and it appears to show no signs of slowing up.

Is it really that popular? YES!

According to Marketing Charts, TikTok’s total unique visitors in the U.S. looked like this…(Source: Media Kix)

October 2017 – 2.6 million
June 2018 – 6.8 million
September 2018 – 7.5 million
March 2019 – 14.3 million

In Australia, latest Roy Morgan data shows that over 1.6 million people, especially youths, are already on the platform.

TikTok’s biggest engagement and surge of downloads usually comes after influencers or celebrities post hashtag challenges. Talk Show host, Jimmy Fallon issued a #tumbleweedchallenge on “The Tonight Show.” encouraging users to upload a video and act like tumbleweed…Silly right? But incredibly effective. The challenge generated 8,000 videos with over 9 million views in seven days. (Source: Media Kix). It has generated over 30 million views to date and counting.

Who is using TikTok?

TikTok’s current success with a younger demographic is quite similar to the likes of Facebook and Snapchat in their earlier stages. With a much different purpose, TikTok’s platform allows its users to be video content creators much younger than ever before.

Facebook which started off as a college-only platform would later expand and capture new demographic groups as its popularity grew. Similar to Facebook, Snapchat actually captured an even younger audience with its quick video messaging function. Both platforms now cater to the masses by being present throughout different demographic groups.

Don’t be fooled by TikTok’s younger audience. According to MediaKix, two-thirds of TikTok’s users are under the age of 30. In the U.S. alone, 60 percent of the app’s monthly active users are between 16-24 years old. TikTok reported that it’s users spend an average of 39 minutes per day in the app and an average of 8x opens a day. With this much activity and online usage, this is an amazing opportunity for employers to take advantage of.

If history repeats itself, TikTok will eventually spread to other demographics and it will become a platform you won’t want to miss out on.

Biggest objection to being on TikTok

“The users are not in my target group nor am I recruiting that young.”

Are these the same people who said Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat users weren’t their target audience either? Or that these platforms would cease to exist in a few years?

Don’t be stubborn. All employers and brands have a unique opportunity to get some serious real estate in TikTok before it turns from a “nice-to-have” into a “must-have”.

Yes, it may not be your down-to-the-core target audience but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be present in this space. Just as history as shown us, in order for social media channels to evolve and grow, they must spread to different demographic groups. There is the obvious objection that “well what if we are specifically targeting 50+ year olds, this really makes no sense for us”.

Remember, no one is asking for you to change your content or recruitment strategies or even dedicate 90 percent of your resources towards this platform. Just by simply putting 5-10 percent of your resources into understanding how this platform works and the creativity you can acquire from it in the future is a win-win. Not only will you be one of the earlier employers in this space but you will also become an expert before anyone else in what type of content works and what does not.

Just as Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram evolved to cater to their new demographics with new features and ad space, so will TikTok. Who knows, maybe it will be a way for job seekers to show their creativity in a job interview. With TikTok’s incredible organic reach, at little to no cost you can begin implementing an employer brand and recruiting strategy that will resonate with current and future job seekers at zero cost.

How are Employers using TikTok

As I mentioned earlier about TikTok’s demographic and growth, now is as good of a time as ever to start creating buzz around your employer brand. TikTok is currently one of the few existing platforms yet to be saturated with marketers and ads.

See how some employers are using TikTok…


One of the earlier employers to get into TikTok was Guess.

They teamed up with TikTok to launch a targeted campaign towards Millennials and Gen Z in the U.S.

Guess launched #InMyDenim as a challenge to increase sales and give TikTok their first real footing in the U.S.

This hashtag challenge has generated 38.7 million views.

Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren was the first luxury brand to use TikTok’s sponsored hashtag challenge plus feature. The challenge asked users to post videos of themselves using or wearing Ralph Lauren products, and include #WinningRL.

This hashtag generated 734 million views.


Macy’s took full advantage by promoting a back-to-school challenge (#AllBrandNew) that encouraged students to post videos wearing back-to-school outfits.

This hashtag generated 1.6 billion views.

How to build your Employer Brand on TikTok?

Creating content on new channels is never easy. Using what we have learned from Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Youtube, some similar content strategies can and should apply.

Some things never change…Focus on your People!

Similar to other visual and video dominant platforms, TikTok is an app that will work in your best interest when you focus on your people and work life culture. An interesting take would be to showcase even your CEO or Founder getting on the app and showing his/her more human side. With a creative take, it would be beneficial to show that CEOs and Founders are not so scary and that they can get involved in a younger platform to. It would make an employer seem less daunting and more interesting for potential applicants. 

Heck, if I saw any CEO creating content on this platform, I would immediately show more interest in that company!

Give your employees the spotlight…Employee Take-Overs

Allow your employees or teams to take control of your TikTok account. Let them show what being an employee at your company is like. Employees should share the team activities that go on during the day, the competitive ping pong matches during lunch or even the random stretching hours! The goal is to showcase a typical day at your workplace while also being creative and fun in your short videos! 

Remember, don’t be shy and don’t try to be perfect! Raw, authentic footage is what will attract not just top Talent but the right Talent to your company. 

What every candidate wants to know…Showcase your EVP!

By providing an authentic and honest behind the scenes view of what life is like at your company, it will be easier for potential applicants to see themselves working for you. More importantly it will even allow you to showcase your EVP throughout different demographic groups. By being so open and straight forward, you will only attract Talent that sees themselves working for you. That is what you want right?

Use what works and apply it to your Employer Brand…Hashtag Challenges!

As a means to promoting employee engagement and workplace happiness, imagine a company having an internal hashtag challenge going around. It would create more buzz around your company while aiming to encourage potential applicants to apply as well! Take what is already proven to be successful on the platform and give it a business minded twist!

TikTok Recap

With the current growth of TikTok and its demographics mostly set between the age of 16-30, this platform is a currently in the must-have phased. I believe it will only grow more popular amongst employer as time goes on.

Setting the tone for your employer brand to this target audience is short term and long term thinking. It will yield a greater ROI when the younger side of TikTok users begin job seeking. Developing a strong sentiment around your employer brand will make your brand top of mind when it is time for TikTok users to find a job.

Capitalising on trends, creating platform-specific content, and knowing your audience and how that overlaps with TikTok’s core demographic will ultimately help you be successful on this platform.

Cover image: Shutterstock

This article first appeared on LinkedIn on 11 February 2020.

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