TikTok Growth in the US: Just Hype Or Perfect For Brands To Target Gen Z?

TikTok is an incredibly popular social media app among the US Gen Z, after Instagram, according to some surveys. However, there are various concerns as well when it comes to advertisements. The debate about the real potential of TikTok in the US is far from over.

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In 2020 all brands, businesses and marketers are obsessed with figuring out how TikTok has gained such massive popularity and user base among Generation Z. However, it is debatable whether the usage levels are as high as reported for the new social media app. Let’s try to clear this up and make sense of it by observing some of the latest available data from eMarketer.

According to a survey conducted by YouGov in the month of September 2019, only a mere 2% of the US teens, ages 13 to 17, were identified as frequent users of the social media platform TikTok. This was way behind Instagram which stood at 25%, Snapchat at 22% and even Facebook which was at 24%.

Source: Emarketer

However, there happens to be enough evidence which points to the fact that the short-video app TikTok is gaining a lot of momentum from Generation Z in the US.

TikTok user base in the US is expected to grow an impressive 21.9% YoY in 2020 to 45.4 million people.

According to the most recent edition of the biannual of Piper Jaffray’s “Taking Stock with Teens” survey, 4% of teens in the United States recalled TikTok as their favourite social media app in the fall of 2019, wherein up from the spring of 2019, when the app had not yet gained popularity, no respondents responded the same.

Source: Emarketer

Another survey conducted in September of 2019 by Morning Consult paints quite a different picture when it coems to TikTok users in the US. The report suggested that about 42% of US generation Z, aged between 13 and 16, used TikTok. While the percentage of US Gen Zers using Facebook and Twitter stood at 41% and 40%, respectively. It was also noted that the demographic mainly preferred to use Instagram which stood at a whopping 79%.

Source: Emarketer

Interestingly, the report highlights that TikTok is more popular than Facebook, Twitter and Twitch users belonging to the age group between 13 years and 16 years.


Overall, TikTok is the least popular social media platform in the US as just 22% of US Internet users use TikTok.

An October 2019 newsletter from Apptopia showed a similar pattern of popularity wherein the active mobile user base of the TikTok app in the US was 48% comprised of age groups 20 and younger which is higher than that of Snapchat which stood at 44.5% and Instagram at 43.5%.

TikTok Has a Platform to Target Gen Z?

It should be evaluated and determined by brands if and how they fit into the ecosystem of TikTok’s platform before they try and target their core audience which happens to be the young generation z.

Liz Cole, vice president and group director for social strategy at Digitas believes that brands which have reportedly decided to invest into TikTok advertisement already have an idea or a plan for activation that will make sense for the platform and its young audience specifically. She also hinted at the fact that there’s a lot of opportunities hidden in this social media platform as its completely new and fresh as of right now.

TikTok as a platform is consistently working towards growing their user base in the US despite the many hurdles that they are having to clear related to privacy concerns of the US regulators. Other legacy social media giants such as Facebook have already taken note of TikTok’s massive growth and has repeatedly raised their concerns while acknowledging it can be a worthy competitor to them.


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