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    Digital Marketing to Teens: How Snapchat & TikTok are Reaching Teenagers

    Digital Marketing to Teens: How Snapchat & TikTok are Reaching Teenagers

    Posted by Marie Schwartz
    Digital Marketing to Teens: How Snapchat & TikTok are Reaching Teenagers


    Creative online marketing to teens now deals more with Snapchat and Instagram than it does Facebook and Twitter. Teens are flocking to more teen-centric social media outlets, including Instagram, Snapchat, and of course, TikTok. And as it turns out, the best way to successfully engage teens with your message is on their terms and on their turf.

    While Snapchat and TikTok are great ways for teens to connect with their peers, they’re also fantastic tools for teen program marketers to advertise their programs directly to their best-fit participants through an app. In this article, we’re taking a look at how teen program marketers can leverage Snapchat and TikTok to generate more applicants and program participants.

    How Can Colleges and Teen Programs Use Snapchat?

    With its image-based approach, Snapchat has capitalized on America’s dwindling attention span. All about visual stimulation through pictures and videos, this platform has become one of the primary means of social interaction. Not surprisingly, several colleges are leveraging this social shift to their advantage to appeal to prospective students. With Snapchat’s paid advertising capabilities, and over 293 million daily active users, the outreach possibilities are virtually endless.

    Considering that the perspective of the campus and atmosphere is so vital to universities’ marketing strategies, the stunning and positive imagery they can display via Snapchat is ideal. Snapchat’s users submerge themselves in stories and experiences. This suggests that teen program marketers should highlight past participants’ experiences in their advertising initiatives. 

    Consider these statistics according to Snapchat:

    • Snapchat reaches 75% of millennials and Gen Z
    • On average, Snapchatters spend over 30 minutes on Snapchat every day

    Throw in the fact that nearly 69% of teens use Snapchat daily and it becomes clear that forward-thinking universities have gained the advantage. Now, let’s take a quick look at Snapchat advertising done right.

    Real-Life Examples of How Businesses Leverage Snapchat to Reach Teens

    Colleges around the world have been using Snapchat to reach their audience. Be it by gaining followers or creating advertising campaigns, here are a couple of examples of colleges that have figured out how to integrate a successful Snapchat strategy into their overall marketing:

    University of Michigan

    Using cross-channel promotion, the University of Michigan marketing team generated a tremendous amount of buzz on other platforms before their Snapchat account went live.

    “Immediately, we were bombarded with follows and Snaps from our students, prospective students, and alumni,” their marketing team revealed when asked what the response was from creating a branded Snapchat account. In just one week, they gained over 1,100 followers and received nearly 800 snaps. Less than 6 months later, they had grown their fan base to more than 1,800. 

    The University of Michigan uses this channel to drive brand awareness, increase engagement, advocate transparency, and build trust on the UofM campus. To say their efforts have been successful would be a considerable understatement!

    University of Houston

    In addition to several other social media tools, University of Houston joined the Snapchat community as a way to engage their campus in a more interactive way. Using the handle “UHouston,” they grew their fan base to 695 followers in their very first week.

    “Using Snapchat to tell the University’s story is in line with our style,” said Jessica Brand, UH social media manager. “Using a new and effective tool to reach students is a reflection of how the University is always looking forward and embracing cutting edge technologies.”  

    So far, the UH social media team has been using Snapchat to promote T-shirt giveaways, document student social activities, and gain insight into how students and prospective students want from their college experience. This strategy is very much in tune with the current social habits of the university’s target market. It’s no wonder they’ve seen such great success.

    Keeping Up With the Latest Tech: TikTok

    While leveraging Snapchat as a marketing tool is a great way to reach your best-fit audience, TikTok is the latest app captivating teens across the globe. TikTok is currently the most downloaded app in the app store. According to Statista, 62% of TikTok users in the US are aged between 10 and 29. 

    TikTok is awesome for brands who want to get creative with their marketing. By creating videos, keeping up with trends, and ensuring your most important audiences see your ads and videos, TikTok enables teen program marketers to maximize their ROI. 

    Real-Life Examples of How Businesses Leverage TikTok to Reach Teens

    TikTok enables brands to advertise their offerings in a holistic and seemingly less invasive way. By creating funny, witty, and eye-catching videos that are relevant to their target audience, TikTok Business Account users are able to build a cohesive marketing campaign that — as TikTok puts it — “empower businesses to think like marketers but act like creators.”


    Chipotle is the perfect example of how brands can leverage Business Accounts to grow their brand presence and engage with the TikTok community in a fun and authentic way.

    While Chipotle isn’t a college or teen program, their marketing team knew what they were doing when they joined TikTok in 2018. Since creating a TikTok business account, Chipotle has gained more than 1.3 million followers and generated over 20.7 million likes across the brand's 100+ videos. They also ran two Branded Hashtag Challenges (#LidFlipChallenge and #GuacDance) to further engage TikTok users. The results of these challenges were increased brand awareness and engagement.

    Universal Pictures

    Where do you go when you want to promote a new movie whose target audience is teens? TikTok, of course. That’s what Universal Pictures did when promoting their 2018 film “The House with a Clock in its Walls.” The marketing team used a Branded Hashtag Challenge with #FindYourMagic. The purpose of the challenge was to encourage users to show magic tricks and get creative with their videos. 

    It worked.

    #FindYourMagic led to over  1.3 million likes on Creator videos and more than 19,000 pieces of user-generated content. Additionally, the campaign captured 11,000 brand new official account followers.

    Final Thoughts

    The secret is out. Traditional social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are great ways to reach teens. However, Snapchat and TikTok hyper-focus on teens, and create content that truly resonates with teens on a daily basis. Therefore, it’s incredibly important that you leverage all social media platforms to make the most of your teen enrichment program marketing initiatives.

    Contact us at TeenLife.com to learn more about how advertising your teen program on our online directory can enable you to generate highly qualified leads and program participants. 

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    Marie Schwartz

    Marie Schwartz

    Marie Schwartz is the CEO and Founder of TeenLife Media. Marie launched TeenLife in 2007 after moving to Boston with her husband and two middle school sons and discovering that there were no information resources for families with older children. Today, TeenLife's award-winning website lists thousands of summer and gap year programs, schools, college admission resources and volunteer opportunities for teens around the world.