Social media marketing from the Gen Z perspective
Brands are continually building their presence on social media to connect with audiences, especially the younger ones.
Social media has become an indispensable part of the life of Generation Z, making it the perfect platform for brands to reach this target group. However, it’s not that easy to jump into an app and post content.
This generation is heavily exposed to social media and can sense when branded content is out of date, unreachable, insincere, or trying too hard. Another important factor is choosing the right social channel that will determine whether Gen Z will even see it or interact with it.
Here are some Gen Z thoughts on the best ways to reach our cohort on various social media channels:
For a generation put off by overt marketing, TikTok is the perfect platform. The algorithm in this app creates an “For You Page” that creates a video feed that takes into account all of your individual interests. Not only is this addicting the app, but it results in a majority of that age group downloading it, with 60% of all TikTok users being Gen Z. When someone recommends a product that they bought and loved in a video, it is almost impossible to resist the temptation to buy it because of the personal nature of the interaction. Instead of coming across as a company driving a product, it’s someone you identify with as to why you should buy it – most likely something you would love because the algorithm is so specific. The algorithm also makes it easy to go viral on TikTok, which results in products selling out instantly. A perfect example is Aerie’s crossover leggings, which sold out for months after a video of them went viral. The hashtag #AerieLeggings has more than 12 million views on TikTok.
Instagram is the go-to app for Gen Z to share and consume content. The app’s format, designed for sharing photos with captions, allows users to share photos that express their identity through an aesthetically pleasing feed or series of images. Gen Z is very active on the app because it lets her see what both her circle and favorite stars are doing. The presence of “social media influencers” is very present in this app. These influencers post sponsored content in a way that is optimally marketed to Gen Z. The influencer posts a photo with the product or service they are marketing so that it fits their personal brand so that it appeals to their audience. These influencers garner millions of followers who are fans of them and their lifestyle. So if they recommend something, the audience will likely listen. A good example of this is the fashion industry, where paid Instagram influencers act as localized models for brands. This creates an additional connection between the brand and the customer, as an influencer is more relatable, interesting and personal than an anonymous model. Instagram’s new Reels feature is also exploding online, trying to mimic aspects of TikTok’s “For-you-page” through similar algorithmic features. The presence of Instagram DM group chats is also very common within the app, so content can be easily disseminated in group chats.
Twitter is an interesting platform for Generation Z users. Although they may not have their own Twitter account or may not have a post on the platform at all, many Gen Zers see “trickle-down content” on other social media sites, that link on Twitter posts and accounts. Articles, memes, screenshots, and announcements posted on Twitter are often distributed much more frequently on other platforms compared to competitors. On Instagram, you’re more likely to see a Twitter screenshot than Facebook, LinkedIn, or Reddit, possibly due to the bite-sized content on the platform. So, content posted on Twitter can reach Gen Z audiences if done right. One unique way to attract Gen Z on Twitter is through the Personality Cult Route. Brands like Wendy’s, Denny’s, and Ruffles attract great engagement from young people by building a personality cult around posts on their social media.
Advertising on LinkedIn can reach a Generation Z audience, but this cohort is unlikely to interact with branded content on this platform. LinkedIn is possibly one of the best platforms to connect with an older Generation X by mid-millennia who make up the majority of social media users in the business space. For this generation, LinkedIn is mainly used as a marketing tool for self-branding. This is the place where you post all of your accomplishments so that you look attractive to future employers and interact with others to expand your network. Some Generation Z users may even associate branded content on LinkedIn as fake or insincere due to the connection between LinkedIn and the corporate world. It’s also important to note that not many Generation Z people actively scroll or search through content on LinkedIn, making content easily overlooked, ignored, or deemed irrelevant.
If a company’s goal is to appeal to a younger audience, Facebook isn’t the platform. It is barely used by Generation Z and when used to share content with the older generation or to join a Facebook group. For example, when you post a picture on Facebook, you want your parents and older relatives to see it. Someone in this age group rarely, if ever, scrolls their Facebook feed because the content appeals to an older generation. Another problem with Facebook marketing is that it is too upfront. The ads in the app only show one product that you can click to purchase. This is not a good incentive to buy for a generation that is buying things based on trends or recommendations from people they trust, such as influencers.
This story first appeared on PRWeek US.