Social Media Through the Eyes of Generation Z

Guest Blog from an Actual Gen Z’er, Jessi Adler

Born sometime between the mid-1990s and early 2000s, Generation Z is a demographic that’s understood by almost no one, including ourselves. Although some of us were born into a world where the Internet was in its infancy, our generation is sandwiched between the generation that had to learn to use the Internet and one that has never known life without it. The Internet was introduced to the world about the same time we were, so that means that as we took our first steps, so was the Internet; email, for example, was JUST taking the world by storm.

When we started school, the Internet gave us educational games. Now we are starting our adult lives as the smartest we’ve ever been, and our friend the Internet is right by our side, getting smarter and smarter every day.

Because we’re not afraid of the World Wide Web, Generation Z tends to see it and its capabilities differently. For example, there is a large, and noticeable gap between older and new generations when it comes to social media. Only a portion of Baby Boomers use social media, and those that do, mainly stay on Facebook.

Generation X’ers are trying to adapt, many have Facebook, a few have Instagram and/or Twitter, but sometimes its a guessing game as to what they are doing, their IT Help Desk is their kids. This is completely not the case when it comes to Generation Z. Our world practically revolves around Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, YouTube, Tumblr, and so many other social media platforms. However, it’s not just the time we spend using them that sets us apart, it’s also HOW we use them.

Not only are new generations more savvy when it comes to social media, but we tend to express ourselves differently depending on which account we are using, tailoring content to fit the image we want to portray on that account. For example:

Facebook

When Generation Z uses Facebook, many of us display ourselves as our parent’s dream child, getting good grades, going to great schools, hanging out with the family, volunteering, being star athlete, and exploring the world without getting too crazy. We are friends with our family, old teammates, and neighbors, some co-workers from that Summer internship, and maybe a few former teachers, a random mix of people that we may or may not really care about. We don’t spend too much time on Facebook, usually just enough to show the world we have life under control, to see Grandma’s recent golf trip, be poked by someone you didn’t even know we were friends with, and watch a few dozen cute animal videos.

Instagram

This photo-driven app is a little more relaxed that Facebook. Typical Generation Z Instagram users follow tech savvy family members that have accounts, almost all of our friends, a few semi-famous people that are only famous because they are pretty, and maybe the more interesting contingency of our Mom’s friends. Instagram for Generation Z is all about doing cool, exciting things and getting “spontaneous” pictures (even though our friend probably risked life and limb to get that “natural” angle and light). The goal is to show people that you have life under control, and making the times you lose control, photogenic.

Twitter

The fast pace and restricted word count aren’t the only things that makes Twitter the Cliff Notes of social media. This is where the sarcastic wide-range of personalities that flood our screens comes to life. In a Universe filled with humor, the Twittersphere is where the true nature of Generation Z comes out. It is all about being funny and relatable to the average young millennial or Gen Z. With primarily close friends as our audience, we feel more comfortable saying what we really mean; and just might have to run away from home if our parents took a peek at our Twitter. Unlike the other two social media platforms, for Generation Z, Twitter is all about embracing the truth; the actual fact that we have no idea what is going on or exactly what we are doing.

So there you have it, Generation Z has many faces; we’ll happily show them to you, but make sure you’re following us on any and all apps so you don’t miss our new favorite cat video.

Who’s Your Target Market, Part 4 of 4: Marketing to Gen Z

Marketing to Gen Z

In our last post, we covered the Millennial generation and its love for all things digital. If you missed it, go back and have a read. It begins by talking about why defining and analyzing your target market is so important when it comes to developing a messaging platform and strategy. The more you know about your audience, in this case marketing to Gen Z, the easier it will be to reach them and speak to them – in a language that they understand and respond to.

In today’s article, we’ll be wrapping it all up by talking about the generation that influences $600 billion in family spending: Generation Z.

The Facts: Generation Z

Often called the iGeneration or Post-Millennials, Generation Z was born sometime between the mid-1990s and early 2000s. They are a concerned about others and the planet, and they don’t remember a world without the internet.

Gen Z:

  • Has buying power. While $43 billion in spending power is substantial, Gen Z’s real power comes from its influence on its parents – typically Gen Xers and Millennials. Over 60 percent say that their parents pay for their purchases. They also receive about $44 billion annually in allowance.
  • Hunts for bargains. Half of the generation reports searching for a better price on their phone while in a brick-and-mortar store. They are more likely to spend their money for food and drinks than clothing, but they’d rather get a cool gadget than have a cool experience.
  • Is compassionate. Over one-fourth of the generation actively volunteers its time, and over three-fourths are worried about the impact on humans on the earth.
  • Multitasks. Gen Zers typically have at least ten apps on their phones, and ten percent of them have more than 40! More than 80 percent of them also watch TV while working on their mobile devices.
  • Is emotionally attached to connectivity. When asked, nine out of 10 said that they would be upset if they had to give up their internet connection.
  • Wants brand interaction. Over a third of Gen Z wants brands to reach out to them via social media. And over 25 percent of them want brands to utilize celebrities or famous athletes in their advertising efforts.
  • Thinks big. Nearly three-quarters of Gen Z wants to start a business one day, and two-thirds want to own a house and a car in their lifetime.

The Approach: Generation Z

While it may seem like you don’t need to worry about Gen Z yet, you’re wrong. Some of these “kids” are already adults, and the oldest in the generation are about to graduate from college. They are poised to enter the workforce and multiply their buying power exponentially, and you need to be prepared for it.

When creating your messaging, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Some will be spenders, and some will be savers. As of right now, Gen Z is practically split when it comes to spending money versus saving it. You’ll need to develop a strong message in order to persuade the “savers” to make a purchase.
  • They’ll search for a good deal. With the internet constantly at their fingertips, the generation will always be looking for a way to save a few dollars. And since they aren’t adverse to purchasing online, physical retail stores have to find a way to compete with online-only ones who benefit from lower overhead.
  • They value friends more than “stuff.” They’d rather hang out with friends and have a good time than buy a new pair of shoes.
  • The planet is important. This generation is concerned with the welfare of the planet – and its people. They appreciate brands who go out of their way to help one or the other.
  • Respect where they want to meet you. Emails and print advertising won’t do the job with Gen Z. You have to reach out to them on social media and ensure that your mobile experience is flawless. While they have the skill to navigate anything online, it doesn’t mean that they have the patience to do it.
  • Show them you appreciate them. Rewards programs aren’t enough. You need to create customized advertising and coupons that show them that you understand their buying behavior and personal tastes.
  • Go big. This generation has seen it all when it comes to the internet. In order to impress them, you really have to figure out what you’re going to do to disrupt the marketplace as they know it.

Who’s Your Target Market?

It seems like certain characteristics have a way of cycling back around every other generation. Gen Z grew up immersed in the internet – something that older Millennials remember getting in elementary school. What will the next generation’s “norm” look like?

Establishing your target market is arguably the most important step in laying out your marketing strategy.