Rewriting Marketing Rules for Gen Z Social Platforms
Our first true social natives are coming of age. Gen Z now holds over $44 billion in buying power and brands need to take notice sooner rather than later. Not only do young consumers now have more of their own disposable income, but they are also influential in their buying decisions and trendsetting.
Social media has been a key part of this generations’ formative years, and in return, Gen Z has altered social media to fit their needs and values. This presents a unique challenge for brands to spark meaningful conversations with Gen Z across the social media ecosystem.
Brands need to think about not only where to find Gen Z, but how to creatively speak to them in a way that will engage them while aligning with their values.
Where to Find the Elusive Gen Z
To reach Gen Z, the social networks of yesterday aren’t enough. Facebook demographics continue to skew older than 25, and new networks on the block, like TikTok and the re-emergence of VSCO, have a rapidly-growing Gen Z base.
In addition, Gen Z is known for being fickle and astute as they are open to bouncing around from network to network, rather than embracing a single social network as a place for all of their content consumption.
Gen Zers are looking for places to share their own ideas and embrace others’ creativity, which is why TikTok has seen so many viral moments.
It’s important for brands to quickly understand and adapt to new platform technologies — although that does not mean there needs to be a heavy organic presence in each.
The Content Shift
The rise of platforms like Snap and TikTok, the influx of ephemeral messaging via stories-based content formats on Instagram, and the millions of hours worth of livestreams and video content on Twitch and YouTube led to a paradigm shift of how content is consumed and explored. Video is king for Gen Z, and brands need to find ways to break through the clutter and connect with these consumers.
Content should feel native to the platform, and brands will need to avoid a record-scratch moment — interrupting highly engaging content with a static advertisement or a standard TV spot.
When strategizing, consider each platforms’ unique style and the user flow of the app to better understand how to advertise and reach this audience.
A Generation Who Cares
Lastly, it’s important for brands to have a clear POV. Gen Z grew up in the post-9/11 era — with the lightning speed, 24/7 news cycle — making them one of the most well-connected, globalized generations the world has ever seen. This has shaped their ideals and their unique points of view. They are activists, they care about the environment, and they buy into brands who share those same priorities.
Brands like Forever21, which do not keep up with Gen Z’s ideals in supporting sustainability, will continue to fail, and fail fast.
Brands that are willing to have a strong point of view and are open to sharing their core values will better connect with this generation.
In addition to looking for brands that share their ideals, Gen Z is highly influential and influenceable. They are 1.3 times more likely to purchase a product sponsored by an influencer they admire than a product featuring a celebrity endorsement.
Bringing your brand to life in an authentic way via influencers is important to connecting with Gen Z.
Where Do We Go From Here?
The social media landscape is changing at lightning speed, as platforms can reach a saturation point only to die off faster than ever. The big kid on the block, Facebook, isn’t going away anytime soon, but brands will need to chart a new course to engaging with Gen Z as quickly as possible. And with this, Facebook and more mature social networks will need to find ways to embrace Gen Z’s creativity, help give them platforms to share their ideals, and push the boundaries for streaming entertainment.
Related story: 7 Steps to Advertising to the Emerging Gen Z Consumer