Social Butterflies: Fuel Your Gen Z Marketing
Say hello to your next target audience: Generation Z—new kids on the block who are coming into their own and influencing the bottom lines of countless businesses. This is a group that can no longer be ignored. Born between 1995 and 2010, this 65-million-strong generation already has access to about $43 billion annually and influences another $150 billion in family spending.
Cell phones in hand, they are constantly connected to the world around them. This around-the-clock connectivity has created the most digitally savvy and socially aware generation in history. The naïveté generally associated with tweens is not found in Gen Z, as they observe current events and the plights of people around the globe. You can bet that with this understanding of the world, they're keeping tabs on your brand's social responsiveness as well.
If you haven't been paying attention to them, now's the time to start. Here's what you need to know on how to best connect with Generation Z:
Focus on Authenticity
Gen Z views brands as extensions of their friend groups and wants them to behave as such, not as corporations seeking their money. They're connecting with brands that speak with a human voice. Why expect anything else from the first generation fully raised on social media? Save the polished brand image for their parents and strive to provide authentic human connections to these digital natives.
Share Your Spotlight
Members of Gen Z are constantly questing for their 15 minutes of fame; so much so that shining a spotlight on them can mean more than a cash prize. A brand looking to build engagement with Gen Z needs only offer a glimmer of social media fame. The good news is it's easy to make them feel like rock stars. Engage with them on their turf—try sharing their photos, favoriting, retweeting and commenting on their posts and they will definitely pay attention to you. Remember—you're friends now.
Some brands have taken it one step further, designing sweepstakes where the lucky winners actually get to participate in marketing campaigns. You can bet that when fame is on the line, engagement increases.
Find the Best Channels
With cell phone, tablet and laptop in hand, these teens and tweens are on the hunt for constant connectivity. They are drawn to social outlets that showcase photography and video. YouTube, Instagram, SnapChat and Vine currently reign supreme with Gen Z, providing creative outlets and access to almost instantaneous peer affirmation. This generation is so intertwined with social media that it simply IS the Internet to them. They expect brands to be available throughout the entire Internet experience, and for companies to stay up to date with emerging platforms.
Choose a Social Ambassador
Don't look to Hollywood when selecting ambassadors for your brand. Gen Z has redefined the title of celebrity, valuing the opinions of their peers over faces from the big screen. For this generation, taking advice from a trusted online personality is the equivalent of getting it from the most popular kid in school.
Scour networks like YouTube for influencers who fit well with your brand, and have a following that you would like to reach. Recruit them as ambassadors to push your product in their native environment. Using paid influencers for third party endorsement is an effective way to target specific audiences for your brand, and can really move the needle by influencing Gen Z's shopping decisions—without having to foot the bill for Taylor Swift to wear your shoes.
Flex Their Creative Muscles
Originating from their affinity to create their own trends as opposed to following others, Gen Z-ers crave outlets for self-expression. Provide them with a chance to showcase their creativity to gain peer validation, and you'll surely catch their eye. Start by building out your marketing strategies with experiences that Gen Z can customize and make their own. They are much more likely to share a brand experience if they have something unique that they are proud of to show for it. Allow them to do so, and you'll be building true brand ambassadors.
Rethink Your Grand Prize
Contests and sweepstakes are great ways to foster Gen Z's engagement with your brand, but make sure that the prize will get them excited. Unique experiences mean more to Gen Z than money, so offer them a chance to DO something special and watch the entries roll in. Anyone up for a walk down the red carpet?
As they grow into adults, marketers will have to continue to hone messaging to fit this generation's need for adaptability and authenticity. Trade the corporate tone for a more human one, and offer Gen Z unique experiences, sharing just a little bit of limelight. Make them feel special, and Gen Z will be good to you in return.