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Brands hire college kids to be their “chief TikTok officers”

Illustration by Kate Walker

Brands hire college kids to be their “chief TikTok officers”


The Future. Forget coffee runs — TikTok content creation could now be the foundation of a college internship. As brands turn to young people to help them build their TikTok presence and generally navigate the app, they’re relying less on traditional marketing agencies to connect with Gen Z. Because most students use TikTok daily and know what resonates on the app, their raw videos (that they often star in themselves) could attract more Gen Z shoppers and ultimately drive more sales.

Paid in cash, college credit, and clicks
TikTok is the most frequently used social media platform by 12- to 17-year-olds, where they’re more likely than any other age group to start a viral trend, reports the NYT.

  • The video recipe phenomenon known as “baked feta pasta” caused the cheese to temporarily sell out at some grocery stores.
  • An intern’s 11-second promotional video for Claire’s earrings generated 1.5 million views and 20,000 new followers for the brand’s TikTok account.
  • An intern’s TikTok post about a mall’s new lululemon store elicited 100,000+ views and drew crowds to the opening in Roseville, MN.

Employees of the moment
Because video is hard for brands to grasp, and the direct face nature of TikTok doesn’t fit into most marketing campaigns, hiring young people that get it just makes sense, according to Mae Karwowski, chief executive of the influencer firm Obviously.

Gen Z understands what’s funny and relevant on TikTok, so who better to navigate the platform for brands than them?

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