We previously discussed how influencer marketers can target the older generation. In this post, we cover the new fascination of Musical.ly influencers by moving to the other end of the age spectrum – Generation Z.

Where do teenagers and young adults watch video online? If you are over 25, you will probably say YouTube. You might add Facebook, which has seen a surge in video uploads in recent years. But if you are part of Generation Z, you are more likely to suggest Musical.ly.

Yet many older people, even many in their 20s, have never heard of Musical.ly. They have no idea that there are Musical.ly influencers out there who make a significant impact on the lives of many teenagers and young adults.


What is Musical.ly?

Musical.ly is a video-based social media platform utilised by teenagers. Although it only began in 2014, it is now very popular with Generation Z. It has over 200 million registered users, 60 million of whom are active monthly users. Musical.ly calls its users “musers.”

Musical.ly has a predominantly female audience– with 75% of its users being young women. Many teenagers love it, with 64% of all musers aged under 24. 13 is the official minimum age for users.

With these statistics, it is no surprise that a new generation of Muscical.ly influencers has appeared.

At its heart, Musical.ly is a platform for teenagers to make, upload and share short videos. The bulk of them are only 15 seconds long. These were initially all lip-synched videos, but nowadays musers can upload videos of all (family-friendly) types.

Musical.ly is a mobile app. It does not have an official web platform (unlike YouTube and most social media networks). If you must use a computer to view Musical.ly, you can use a site called Musically Viewer. Clearly, most of Musical.ly’s Generation Z support base use their phones to create and watch their videos. While some Musical.ly influencers may use more sophisticated video equipment, most just upload the videos they create on their smartphones.

Muscial.ly also makes it easy for their users to create compilations and upload these videos to other sites, such as YouTube.


Musical.ly Gained Popularity Through Lip-Synching

Muscial.ly gained its original popularity as a site where teenagers could upload videos of themselves lip-synching to their favourite music artists. Even some of today’s confident and successful Musical.ly influencers began on the site by lip-synching.

We have to remember that Generation Z (and younger) have grown up in the age of the selfie. They have few inhibitions about letting their friends and followers see them singing along to their favourite artist’s songs.

Where Muscial.ly has been lucky, is that the music companies encouraged this. When a young music fan uploads a video of herself miming to one of her musical heroes, she is also uploading the original song – a technical copyright infringement. The music companies were unfazed by this, though, and all major music labels have now signed agreements with Musical.ly, giving the practice a more legal status.

Musical.ly’s followers’ love of lip-synching has also had the effect of making the app a more active platform than most social networks. Most people with a Musical.ly account upload videos of themselves at some stage. Whereas the bulk of YouTube users just watch videos passively.

Musical.ly has a fan base of young people who want to contribute – who wish to make and share content with their friends.


The Rise of Musical.ly Influencers

As the numbers of kids using Musical.ly increased, it was inevitable that some of them would rise to the fore. The more social and extrovert teenagers thrived on the app.

But the best Muscial.ly influencers are those who have been able to demonstrate genuine talent. Most Musical.ly influencers can do more than just lip synch. They can produce their original material to entertain their fans – much of which isn’t musical at all.

With 13 million new videos uploaded to Muscial.ly each day, it takes something special to stand out. Yet another video showing you lip-synching Justin Bieber’s Sorry, is not going to gain you great social traction.

The kids who have earned crowns and are considered to be Musical.ly influencers have real talent. They sing original songs; they play musical instruments. These Musical.ly superstars make quality videos where they work on improving their video production values. They even produce videos that have nothing to do with music, for instance, clips where they show their comic talent or perform skateboarding tricks.

Muscial.ly influencers build an audience of young followers who love their content and treat them as heroes. They are much like any social media influencer in that sense. They build authority and trust with their followers. The only difference is their age – and the age of those who follow them.


The Power of Live.ly

The single most significant factor that led to Musical.ly’s success was the introduction of a companion app – Live.ly. With Live.ly, Musical.ly’s users can do more than just upload prerecorded videos. They can stream themselves live.

Live.ly gives a platform for confident and talented teenagers to perform short shows and concerts live for their followers.

Live.ly allows Musical.ly influencers to broadcast to their fans without even leaving home. And to the selfie generation, this is entirely normal.

Musical.ly introduced Live.ly in mid-2016. It gained 4.6 million monthly active users in its first three months on the iOS platform alone, before Musical.ly was able to launch its Android version. This was more support than Periscope achieved in total before Twitter shut it down.


Generation Z is Different from its Predecessors

If your brand targets Musical.ly’s target audience (predominantly young women aged 13-24) then Musical.ly is an obvious place for you to engage in promotional activities.

Generation Z virtually all have smartphones. Therefore the easiest way to grab their attention is by making an appearance on an app that they love. This makes Musical.ly an essential part of your marketing mix.

Muscial.ly introduced advertising in mid-2017, but it still in its early stages. Digiday reports that “Musical.ly seems to be struggling to find ad products that resonate in the U.S. market due to outrageous prices of its ad packages and the company’s limited sales outreach.”

But traditional advertising will always struggle to gain traction with Generation Z. They tend to avoid it where they can.

They are far more likely to take notice of promotions made by their peers – the people they most trust and believe.

Generation Z is unlike any previous generation. For a start, they don’t watch conventional television. Forbes goes further in its critique of our youngest age group. They report that Gen Z Hates TV. Generation Z watches video online as much as Baby Boomers continue to watch traditional TV. While YouTube probably receives the most views, Muscial.ly is also crucial to its fans.

For many years, television advertising was seen as the pinnacle of marketing success. The cost to advertise during peak time was beyond all but the largest of brands. But there is little reason for brands which target Generation Z to pay for television advertising now. The kids just aren’t watching. They are all on YouTube, Musical.ly, or perhaps Twitch in the case of gamers.

It makes far more sense for brands to shift their marketing budget to where their target audience actually spends its time.


Brands Are Working With Teenage Musical.ly Influencers

But Generation Z dislikes ads so much that they are not even prepared to watch them in those places where they do spend their time. You cannot just transfer a 15-second ad from television and place it on Musical.ly or YouTube. This would probably have an adverse effect and drive people away from your brand.

Muscial.ly influencers, however, have earned trust from their peers. When an influencer recommends a product, their followers are very likely to consume their message and take it on board.

Generation Z doesn’t like to sit back passively and receive messages, even from their influencers. This is one of the reasons that they love Live.ly. They have the chance to ask questions and interact with the people they respect.

Brands have awoken to the benefits of working with Muscial.ly influencers. Many brands have paid over $50,000 to influencers to create and share videos on their behalf.

One example from 2017 was influencer Bart Baker (featuring Chance the Rapper) promoting KitKat.

KitKat Musical.ly influencers campaign


The Shorty Awards even includes a category for Best Influencer and Celebrity Musical.ly Campaign. The winner of this category in their 9th Annual Awards was Coca-Cola with their Share a Coke: Turning Lyrics into Language campaign. They developed a social challenge to create videos using Coca-Cola’s songs and incorporate the corresponding lyric bottles Coca-Cola was promoting at the time.

Shorty Awards

Coca-Cola received an incredible 953,000 video submissions on Musical.ly, generating 134 million views. #ShareaCoke became the top hashtag on Musical.ly.

The Musical.ly influencer content on this Coca-Cola campaign resulted in 2 million engagements – which was a 28% engagement rate.

Cocacola Musical.ly influencer ad


Who Are Some of the Best Known Musical.ly Influencers?

There are quite a few stars on Muscial.ly, who hold coveted Musical.ly crowns. Muscial.ly gives these crowns to its stars: their best performers, who build substantial audiences, with active engagement.

Many of these Musical.ly influencers have discovered they can make good money from their online video activities – much better than most people their age receive.

Here are some of the best known Musical.ly influencers. They have all built substantial audiences. They perform live for their fans (often showcasing their comedy or sports talent, rather than music). Many have shown they are happy to work with brands if they like the product.

1.      Lisa and Lena – @lisaandlena

Lisa and Lena are 15-year-old identical twins from Germany, who have now built a network of an incredible 26.67 million followers. They still lip-synch most of their videos, but this hasn’t hindered their success. The sisters dance with choreographed moves and wear matching outfits. They already have their own clothing line and have been designing clothes since they were 11.

2.      Ariel Martin – @babyariel

Ariel Martin, aka Baby Ariel, has built up 24.3 million Musical.ly followers. She also sizeable followings on both YouTube and Instagram. She works with a studio to create professional videos. Although she has been overtaken by the coveted Number 1 position, BabyAriel is still the best-known face of Musical.ly.

3.      Loren Gray – @lorengray

With 22.94 million followers, 15-year-old Loren Gray aka Loren Gray Beech considers herself a style guru. She has also been featured in Teen Vogue and Seventeen magazines.

4.      Kristen Hancher – @kristenhancher

Kristen Hancher has risen in popularity over the last year, and with 19.74 million fans is close to breaking the 20 million thresholds. She is a Canadian singer, dancer, soccer player, and actress. She often teams up with other Musical.ly influencers to make videos on a wide range of topics.

5.      Jacob Sartorius – @jacobsartorius

Jacob Sartorius may only be 15, but his 19.42 million fans already talk of him as being the next Justin Bieber. He makes videos (and live streams) original songs. He released his debut EP, The Last Text in January 2017 and has since followed it up with Left Me Hangin’.

6.      Cameron Dallas – @camerondallas

Cameron Dallas is older than most Musical.ly influencers and has already made a name for himself on the other social networks. That hasn’t stopped 17.5 million fans following him here. His videos are more like the short videos you find on YouTube, often comical, rather than being musically-focused.

7.      Jojo Siwa – @itsjojosiwa

Jojo Siwa initially found fame on the television show “Dance Moms.” She has built a respectable following of 15.27 million on Musical.ly and has released three original singles. She won a Kid’s Choice Award for Favourite Viral Music Artist in 2017.

8.      Annie LeBlanc – @annieleblanc

Annie LeBlanc is a young gymnast who has found fame lip-synching on Musical.ly and has built up a respectable following of 12.65 million fans.

9.      Savannah Soutas – @savvsoutas

Savannah Soutas has 12.32 million fans. She is in her mid-20s (making her a veteran for this platform) and produces family-oriented videos. She includes her partner and daughter in her videos.

10.  Liza Koshy – @lizzza

Liza Koshy is an American actress with a sizeable following across a range of social networks. This includes 11.79 million fans on Musical.ly. The videos she posts here focus mainly on comedy, rather than typical music videos.


Musical.ly Influencers are Ideal for Targeting Generation Z

Generation Z lives in a brave new technological world. They have only known an internet-driven mobile world.

They are huge fans of active media and are not interested in old-style passive forms of advertising. While previous generations turned to television as a reward or for pleasure, Generation Z has a lot less interest in broadcast television than the past generations.

This all means that brands need to find new and innovative ways of marketing their brands if they want to remain relevant to this generation.

Working with Musical.ly influencers is an effective way to build up trust with this aware generation. If you can convince these influencers to support your brand, you have a good chance of convincing their fans of your relevance to their lives.


Influencer Marketing Campaigns – Targeting Generation Z

Thanks for reading this informative piece on Musical.ly and the growing divide between younger generations and traditional forms of advertising. We’re PMYB, an influencer marketing agency that uses scientifically-driven methods to identify the most effective influencers across the globe. We work with the biggest global brands and the fastest-growing startups across the world. To learn more about our work with Chromo-Influencers® and how to optimise your influencer budget spend please get in touch here.


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