It’s impossible to ignore Generation Z.
This group of tech-savvy consumers make up 25.9% of the US population and have a reported buying power of around $44 billion (and that doesn’t even account for the influence they have over their parent’s spending, which puts it closer to $200 billion).
What makes this generation different to the others that came before them is that they have never known a world without smart devices.
Phones, the internet, apps and social media networks have always been a major part of their lives.
In fact, the average Gen Z-er spends around 3 hours 38 minutes on their smartphone every single day. That’s about 50 minutes longer than the average internet user.
Much of their time online is physically spent in unconventional places, too–like in bed, where 91% of the generation use their digital devices.
The internet is such a huge part of their lives that 40% of Gen Z say working WiFi is more important than a working bathroom, while 32% would rather go without a shower for three days than spend a week away from their beloved phone.
Who makes up Gen Z?
Gen Z includes those born during the mid-1990s to the early 2000s.
They are today’s teenagers and the fastest-growing group of tomorrow’s trendsetters.
These are the people deciding if you’re “cool” or not, and they’re the people who have the potential to become loyal fans for years to come if you connect with them in the right way.
Social media is a pivotal part of their lives.
They prefer cool products to cool experiences, they are entrepreneurial by nature, and they respond to edgy campaigns more than any other generation.
But more than that, they are creators and trendsetters rather than followers.
A Wildness study of 12- to 24-year-olds found that the post-internet generation doesn’t just consume entertainment and media, they help create and shape it.
How to Tailor Your Social Media Strategy for Gen Z
Now you know who they are, let’s take a look at how you can best reach Gen Z and resonate with them where they hang out the most–on social media.
1) Choose the Right Social Media Channels
In any given half an hour, they can send a 20 Snapchats to their best friend, ‘like’ a post by their favorite Instagram brand, leave a comment on their latest YouTube crush’s new video, share a meme on Facebook and respond to a celebrities’ controversial Tweet.
It sounds exhausting, right?
But this is the pace at which Gen Zers live online. Everything happens fast and it happens now.
According to Generation Z social media statistics, 71% of Gen Z use Snapchat more than six times per day, with 51% logging on and exchanging snaps up to 11 times per day.
This ‘throwaway’ social channel is by far the most popular with this generation, who claim it is “essential for their relationships.”
Mega biscuit brand Oreo tapped into a Gen Z audience by partnering up with Snapchat for a fun campaign that was tied to the “you are what you eat” adage. Snapcodes were placed on 134 million packets of Oreos in a (successful) attempt at engaging the younger generation.
2) Get Personal
Gen Zers don’t remember the days of cumbersome flip phones or websites that were splattered with generic flashing ads.
Instead, they’ve only ever known smartphones and targeted advertising, which means that they expect personalization at all times.
This generation is savvy.
They know that brands have access to reams of customer data and, in exchange for handing over their details, they expect highly personalized interactions geared around their wants, needs, likes and behavior.
A Google report found that 26% of teenage consumers expected retailers to offer personalized experiences, compared to just 11% of Baby Boomers.
However, this is counteracted by the fact that Gen Z prefers apps like Snapchat and Yik Yak, which value ephemerality and privacy.
We can see this by the huge amount of teens using aliases and separate accounts in order to present different personas on different platforms.
This makes it slightly more difficult to track who’s interacting with what.
Even on particularly public social channels like Instagram, Gen Zers are more likely to use the DM function to send their friends cool things rather than tagging them in a post.
3) Keep It Private
This is where protecting privacy and valuing Gen Z’s need to stay hidden can help you get into their good books.
While this generation craves incredibly personalized experiences made just for them, they also want to maintain their privacy.
Remember, this is the generation who is far more likely to stick a plaster over their laptop webcams (we can probably thank Black Mirror for that).
As a result, it’s important that you connect with Gen Zers on their own terms so you don’t come across as “creepy” (their lingo, not ours). The key here is to be overt with what you’re doing with their data.
In a survey by IBM, 61% of Gen Zers said they’d be happy to share their personal details with brands if those brands were trustworthy in storing and protecting their data.
4) Don’t Avoid Ads
It might be tempting to skip social media ads because it’s a known fact that Gen Z are more skeptical of paid campaigns than any other generation, but don’t let this put you off.
In fact, it might be in your interest to serve ads on specific platforms.
Only 11% of teens think there are too many ads on Instagram and Snapchat, meaning that 89% are happy with the amount they see, or actively want to see more.
The key is to keep your ads short and snappy.
Gen Zers have a far shorter attention span that the generations that came before them. We’re talking around eight seconds here to capture the attention of a teen before they continue on their scrolling adventures.
If you do dabble in ads on Instagram or Snapchat, keep them short and bite-sized to deliver the most impact.
5) Tap Into Technology
Having not known a world without a certain amount of technology, Gen Z are always eager to try new tech.
A study by Accenture showed that a whopping 73% of Gen Z consumers are currently using or can’t wait to try voice-activated ordering, and they’re incredibly enthusiastic about the prospect of virtual reality.
Their keenness to experiment with new technologies means you have plenty of leeway to test out creative concepts that use all sorts of fun and fancy tech. In fact, this could heavily work in your favor.
Concepts like 360 video and Live video have been huge hits with the younger generation, and they are into any kind of tech that makes for a faster shopping process.
6) Get Celebs Involved
Branded content isn’t the MVP for Gen Z.
In fact, there’s only really one type of branded content that this generation will buy into, and that’s content that features a celebrity talking about why they like a brand.
And when we say celebs here, we don’t just mean your household name athletes, actors, and musicians.
We’re talking about the latest evolution of celebrities–social media influencers.
These are social media users with large followings. They tend to have more sway with Gen Zers than world-famous, traditional celebrities.
This is because these social media influencers are usually more relatable. They are often Gen Zers themselves who rose to fame through sharing captivating pictures and snippets of their lives.
Tap into this trend by working alongside social media influencers to promote your products and drive awareness for your brand. It’s far more effective than paying millions of dollars (which you probably don’t have) to get your product placed in one of Kylie Jenner’s Instagram Stories.
Telecom provider Sprint did this recently with their #LiveUnlimited campaign. Not only did they hire a team of young, influential marketers to run the campaign, but they also brought key social media influencers on board in lieu of cookie-cutter actors.
Gen Z Marketing is Kind of an Art Form
Targeting tech-savvy consumers who have eight-second attention spans, want personalized content without sharing too much of their data, and value the word of influencers over celebrities is no easy business.
The key is to think less about how you’re going to “target” them and more about how you can create a dialogue, resonate with them and build trust.
You can start doing this by being open and honest about data privacy, experimenting with new technologies and bringing social media influencers on board to spread your message. Be open to learning from your outcomes and it’ll take you a long way!