TikTok strategy: talking to Gen Z

Feb 8, 2023

All the time, comms professionals tell us , is “We need a TikTok strategy that isn’t just about dancing, or being there for the sake of it”.

New channels can feel daunting at the best of times, but TikTok is just such a different space that it is wise for brands to be sure they’re using it for the right reason.

You need to be clear about your purpose, and have the skills and creativity to make it work.

Comms Creatives Academy members Manchester Council have done an amazing job of this.

So I asked Lydia Green, Senior Communications Officer and one of Manchester’s TikTok legends, to share the TikTok strategy behind the engaging videos we see.

Over to Lydia:

At Manchester City Council, we’re using TikTok as a primary channel to engage with our city’s young people.


Manchester is a vibrant and youthful city. This year, a key priority for the council has been improving outcomes for young people in the city, and with that has come a renewed focus on how we communicate with youth audiences on social media.


A recent audit of our Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram revealed that only a very small percentage of our followers on those platforms are young people (18-24s).


And, while the stereotype of TikTok as a place for dancing, lip-syncing kids is shifting, it is true that Gen Zs (18-24s) still make up the largest age group in TikTok’s user base.


We saw an opportunity as part of our in our Social Media Strategy to develop our TikTok strategy: helping us to engage with younger residents where other platforms have been less successful.


But, since TikTok is an entertainment-based platform with its own culture, trends, and a super powerful algorithm, we needed a channel-specific approach to achieve success.


As a local council, our comms covers everything from public health, transport and recycling to leisure, parks and culture, and an important aspect of our TikTok strategy has been knowing that not every message we want to share is appropriate for TikTok.


Instead, we gear our TikTok content towards themes that we know perform well on the platform, such as events, culture, and lifestyle.


For example, we recently saw huge success with a behind-the-scenes peek at the new tipi bar in our Christmas Markets; at the time of writing, this TikTok has been watched 90.5k times with over 3k likes!


Where we have less exciting messages to share with our youth audiences, we need to be extra creative, reactive, and inject our famous Mancunian humour where appropriate.


For example, taking trending sounds and adapting them to our needs – like this video discouraging people from dropping litter or this one promoting our winter vaccination campaign – has helped us to transform a dry message into something fun and engaging.


Getting passionate, enthusiastic people in front of the camera, like in this TikTok about the launch of our new Mayfield Park, is also a key part of our strategy; we’re currently recruiting a network of staff from across the council to be involved in our TikToks.


As we develop this channel, having regular creative brainstorming sessions has really helped us to generate new ideas, produce a steady stream of content, and build on our learnings as we go.


Getting a group of comms colleagues around a table each week to talk all things TikTok over a brew has made sure it doesn’t just sit on the back burner; we are all part of its growth and generating fresh ideas to achieve our goals.


Of course, TikTok is ever-evolving so dedicating time to regularly check out what’s new, learn from other comms pros (like South Yorkshire Fire who are doing amazing things on TikTok), and develop skills (I’m a Comms Creatives Academy member and have found these courses super helpful!) is a must for TikTok success.


We’ve learnt a lot in 2022 – quadrupling our follower count and sharing our first viral video – and I’m excited to see where we take Manchester City Council’s TikTok in 2023.

Thanks to Lydia for this fab look behind the scenes, all of us in the Comms Creatives gang love her work and we’re continually impressed by the team at Manchester’s creativity.

If you want to get support to develop your TikTok strategy, join the Comms Creatives Academy to:

  • Work out what is right for your brand (one size does NOT fit all)
  • Make your TikTok strategy fit with and support the rest of your comms activities
  • Get loads of inspiration
Have a look around Comms Creatives Academy


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Hel Reynolds

Hel Reynolds

Author of this post

Hel is social media trainer and boss of Comms Creatives. She has been working in comms since 2005, and has been brushing up her expertise in social media for brands since the good old days of MySpace. She also draws the Comms Cartoons, and is usually attached to a mug of coffee.

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