Bye, Millennials! Marketing to Gen Z: The Social Media Content Playbook
It’s time for millennials to move over and let Gen Z take center stage. As they’ve come to age, Gen Z has redefined what’s hip and what’s cringe (RIP, skinny jeans), advocated for a more equitable world, and ushered in a new era of social media content marketing.
One thing’s clear: With Gen Z already asserting their whopping $360 billion in buying power, social media content marketers simply have no time to waste when it comes to tailoring strategies to this next generation’s unique quirks, preferences, and needs.
From Swipe Right to Swipe Up: The “Digital Native” Generation
Gen Zs, aka those born between the mid-1990s and early 2000s, are labeled “digital natives” for good reason: Growing up with tablets, smartphones, and social media means they’ve only known a plugged-in world. No wonder one study found that 58% of Gen Zs say they can’t be without internet access for more than four hours without feeling uncomfortable.
That said, you can throw away your traditional Facebook- and Twitter-centric social media playbooks. Whether they’re looking to socialize, learn, or be entertained, this crowd prefers TikTok — where 20% spend five-plus hours a day — alongside Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube.
Social media is clearly non-negotiable when marketing to Gen Z, but success involves more than filming your brand ambassadors partaking in the latest dance challenge.
Instead, companies looking to reach this always-on generation must bring their A-game with a steady stream of authentic, relatable, original, and entertaining content that speaks to their shared values. Here’s how.
1. Start With Video
It’s no secret that video is king to this generation — one study found that, on average, Gen Z spends an eye-watering 7.2 hours watching videos a day.
While short-form social media video content might appear easy to produce — after all, anyone can pick up a smartphone and hit “record” — creating something that genuinely wins over Gen Z audiences requires a mix of strategy and creativity.
Keep these tips in mind:
- Go for short and snappy. In one report, TikTok revealed that nearly 50% of users find videos over one minute stressful. So, keep your content fast-paced and engaging, and make sure you hook ’em in within the first three seconds.
- Avoid slick production. You won’t find polished TV-ready ads on TikTok or Instagram Reels; instead, this generation embraces imperfection and authenticity.
- No need to reinvent the wheel. If your marketing to Gen Z relies heavily on written content, consider repurposing what you already have for video.
2. Replace Soundbites With Concrete Action
With 48% identifying as non-white and 20.8% as LGBT, Gen Z is the most diverse generation in U.S. history. However, they’ve also grown up against a backdrop of social injustice and polarizing conversations around socioeconomic inequality, climate change, body positivity, and gun violence.
Given these circumstances, it’s unsurprising that Gen Z champions meaningful causes and are more likely to support brands with aligned values. In response, brands targeting this generation often include corporate social responsibility as a core social media content marketing theme.
But this doesn’t mean you can just post an Instagram Story with vague messaging and a supportive hashtag — hollow soundbites will immediately set off Gen Z’s BS meter.
Instead, support your words with action, whether this means donating to a cause, only working with like-minded partners, or investing in sustainable practices. Then, consider creating an in-depth series of content highlighting your efforts, whether through videos, infographics, or blogs, that’s easily shareable on social media.
3. Encourage Participation
Gone are the days when marketing was just a one-way broadcast from a newspaper, TV, or radio. Thanks to social media platforms’ easy-to-use editing, posting, and sharing tools, Gen Z has built an appetite for user-generated content.
Naturally, developing social media content marketing that encourages participation has massive upsides. Boosting brand awareness? Yes, please. Building brand loyalty? Even better.
So, if you’re still creating social media content marketing to Gen Z that’s a thinly-veiled sales pitch, it’s time to revisit the drawing board. For example, you might develop a branded challenge that invites your audience to respond with their own content or perhaps share short but provoking questions or polls designed to spark conversation.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Get a Little Weird
When it comes to social media content marketing to Gen Z, personality is everything. This means brands that take their creativity to new heights are rewarded handsomely — after all, with an infinite stream of content available to Gen Z, it’s those unexpected memes, videos, stories, and experiences that truly capture attention.
Just look at a company like Duolingo: the language learning app is famed for its unhinged, hilarious, and timely social media content marketing that constantly surprises and delights.
On TikTok alone, the brand boasts over 6 million followers and 138.8 million likes across its videos — one of its most viral posts involves Duo, its mascot, birthing sponge brand Scrub Daddy’s babies.
Get More Tea on Content Marketing to Gen Z
Gen Zs are about challenging the status quo and won’t settle for anything less than authenticity, creativity, and social responsibility from their favorite brands, especially in the noisy realm of social media content marketing where everyone’s competing for attention.
To truly capture the hearts and minds of this generation, use these tips to think outside the box and break away from traditional tactics — you’ll be slaying the social media content marketing game in no time.
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