How Marketers Can Prepare for Generation Z’s Social Media Habits

By Rhonda Bradley / 25 September 2018

Find out how to prepare for Gen Z consumers by understanding their unique social media habits, emotional perspective, and the types of content they prefer. Plus, we share tips for marketing to Generation Z.

As Millenials grow further into adulthood and parenting, a new generation is emerging. “Generation Z,” the first generation to be fully raised on Facebook and mobile phones, shows remarkably different social media habits than the Millenials that came before them.

In this article, we’ll explore the personality traits that make up Generation Z and take a look at the data that shows how marketers can best connect to this new generation of consumers.

In this article, we’ll explain:

  • Who is Generation Z?
  • How are the social media habits of Gen Z different?
  • How does the emotional state of Gen Z affect brand marketing?
  • What are some tips for social marketing to Gen Z?
  • Who Is Generation Z?

According to Pew Research Center, the generation after Millennials is comprised of people born in 1997 and later. Its oldest members are currently about 21-years old in 2018. This is the generation now being referred to as “Generation Z” or “Gen Z.”

Gen Z makes up almost 25% of the U.S. population, and by 2020 will account for 40% of all consumers.

While previous generations struggled to distinguish a separation between “real life” and social media, Gen Z doesn’t have that issue. To them, social media is real life.

Gen Z is made up of savvy internet users who can size up the value of a piece of content in seconds and make a quick decision about whether it’s worth their time.

They take in information rapidly and make quick decisions, with a deep understanding that time is one of their most significant assets.

If you want to get to know more about Generation Z, try following their most popular icons. 

For example, Philip DeFranco is a well-loved Gen Z video blogger who hosts an opinion show that touches on current events, politics, and pop culture.

Phillip DeFranco screenshot

Another Gen Z favorite personality is Bethany Mota, a popular California-based video blogger whose topics include fashion, beauty, and lifestyle.

Bethany Mota screenshot

Unlike their Millennial predecessors, Gen Z’ers are digital natives instead of digital pioneers. Perhaps this is why 40% of them say that “working Wi-Fi is more important to them than working bathrooms.”

How Are the Social Media Habits of Gen Z Different?

According to a report by marketing agency Hill Holliday, Gen Z uses social media primarily for content consumption instead of connecting with friends. They spend more time on social media than Millennials and, in fact, 51% of them report using social media almost constantly.

A couple of interesting facts about Gen Z’s social media habits are:

  • Over 90% of them are consuming brand content on social media.
  • 57% have purchased a product they saw because of a social media influencer or celebrity.
  • Over 50% have purchased items they first saw in a paid social ad.

Paid advertising has a strong influence on this generation, more so than organic advertising. In fact, according to a study by Google, Gen Z openly admits that paid ads influence their perception of “cool” products.

The top social channels for Gen Z are:

  • YouTube
  • Snapchat
  • Instagram

Their favorite brands are:

  • Apple
  • Adidas
  • Fashion Nova
  • Forever 21
  • Gucci
  • Nike

The brands they consider most “cool” are:

  • YouTube
  • Google
  • Netflix
  • Xbox
  • Oreo

Although Facebook is a daily habit for many of them, they rarely post on the channel because it’s not considered “cool.”

Generation Z is discriminating when it comes to brands and content, and they value their time as an important life priority.

How Does the Emotional State of Gen Z Affect Brand Marketing?

Gen Z is aware of their emotional well-being, and they’re willing to set aside social media to balance it.

Even though Gen Z loves to follow brands and make purchases through social media, their presence is tentative. They’re willing to leave social media when it causes them too much stress.

They’re aware that social media is capable of having a negative impact on their lives and say that it sometimes causes: 

  • Fear of missing out (FOMO)
  • Insecurity and low self-esteem

On the other hand, they like social media because it makes it easier to connect with people and it can have a positive impact on their friendships and self-esteem.

This struggle is important for marketers to understand because it has a major impact on what types of content engages the people of Generation Z.

3 Tips for Marketing to Generation Z on Social Media

Gen Z is young, and their habits will change as they grow and mature. However, it’s worth taking the time to get to know them right now, because they’re 4x more likely to convert on social media than Millennials.

This latest generation of consumers doesn’t respond to the same tactics and styles of communication as Millenials. 

Since their personalities, habits, and emotional responses are different from the generations before them, you’ll want to market to them differently as well.

1. Deliver inspiring or uplifting content in bite-sized portions.

Be sensitive to the unique emotional state of Generation Z. They spend more time on social media than any generation before them, and for many this leads to sadness, anxiety, or depression.

Because of the emotional struggle tied to their online habits, 64% say they are currently taking a break from it, and another and 34% claim they are quitting social media altogether.

Brands who understand these difficulties have an opportunity to cater to this audience by creating uplifting, inspiring content that builds on their self-esteem.

Another step you can take to cater to Gen Z is to publish small, bite-sized content that helps them avoid information overload while also showing that you respect their time.

For example, Adidas Footwear’s video series titled “Here to Create” speaks perfectly to Generation Z.  In less than 25 seconds, the brand praises athletes for their creativity and encourages them to step away from social media and get creative.

Adidas ad

The video is inspiring, encourages a healthy emotional balance, and takes less than a minute to view. It’s a great example of why Adidas is one of Gen Z’s favorite brands.

2. Include images of them in your advertising.

Does your content and advertising contain images of people from Generation Z? 

It should. 

Most people, especially teenagers, like to see themselves represented onscreen and in content. Businesses should make a conscious effort to include images of Gen Z’ers across all their marketing. 

For example, Gucci fashion brand incorporates the faces and fashion of Generation Z in much of their social media marketing.

Gucci ad

The brand keeps a close eye on what resonates with this youngest generation of consumers. Whether it’s Gen Z faces, fashion, or far-out styles, Gucci draws younger consumers by proving that they understand them.

Gucci sneakers

3. Follow their pop culture.

Like every generation before them, this one strives to carve out their own unique personality. 

If you’re a marketer who’s accustomed to having your “finger on the pulse” of pop culture, it may take a bit of extra work to keep up with the new wave of trends.

According to Forbes Magazine, here are some of the ways in which Gen Z’ers are different:

  • They’re more competitive, entrepreneurial, and stability-minded.
  • They want to communicate face-to-face.
  • They expect to be catered to in the workplace.

Some of their traits will change rapidly, since the generation is still young and maturing.

In order to relate and empathize with this audience, marketers will need to continually research their habits and preferences. 

A good way to keep up is by following Gen Z influencers and icons. But, it takes more than a few minutes here and there to understand an audience as sophisticated, and different, as Generation Z.

Conducting research and seeking out recent studies and surveys can help marketers to understand this audience and create appropriate content.

For example, grooming products company Axe Canada wisely played on their own research that found that men ages 15 - 20 years old are more inclusive and accepting, and are also more inclined to express their feelings than previous generations.

In order to celebrate and reaffirm men’s freedom to express, Axe Canada launched a #PraiseUp campaign. 

#PraiseUp challenged its viewers to film a video of themselves giving praise to friends. Toronto sports stars Marcus Stroman and Kyle Lowry narrate the video, showing how its done.

#PraiseUp ad

By understanding and catering to Gen Z’s pop culture, Axe Canada creates a bond with its audience and increases engagement with followers.

Learn lessons from 3 famous social media marketing viral campaigns.

Cater to Generation Z's Unique Perspective

The world’s first-ever generation of digital natives have a different outlook on the world and online activity than the rest of us.  

Generation Z values their time and emotional well-being more than any generation that’s come before them. 

For many marketers, this is a profound shift from the personalities they’re used to catering to. 

Fortunately, we’ve been building up to this for many years and you’re probably already initiating many of the important factors for targeting Gen Z’ers.

Create bite-sized content, focus on unique and inspiring campaigns, and challenge yourself to constantly learn about the new and upcoming generation. Luckily, these are also things that audiences of all ages will embrace.

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