What you need to know to successfully market to Gen Z on social media

Generation Z is a powerhouse of a demographic that all marketers should be paying attention to. Gen Z, for reference, are currently between the ages of 12 and 27 years old. They’re bridging from education into their early workforce years, but what makes them unique in relation to other generations is that they’re true digital natives.

They’ve only known high-speed internet and social media platforms (the elder Gen Z population was born in 1997, making them the ripe old age of 10 when platforms like Facebook and Twitter were really taking off). They’re accustomed to an online experience, from learning about trends to making purchases. If you’re a digital marketer, here’s what you need to know about Gen Z to make smarter social media strategy and tactical choices.

Lean into Video

Pew Research shows that Gen Z is highly present on video-centric social media platforms like YouTube (93%), Instagram (78%), Facebook (67%) and TikTok (62%). Not only are they active users, they’re invested users:

  • 70% of Gen Z watches YouTube daily
  • Gen Z spends an average of 24-48 hours per month on TikTok
  • 55% of Gen Z prefer short-form video content

With 75% of them choosing mobile as their go to technology, make sure you’re capturing content and producing it within the app from your mobile device. This will create a mobile-first experience. But most importantly, make sure to capture their attention within five seconds or you’re bound to get the dreaded swipe up.

Entertain, with a Purpose

Gen Z may be the youngest active generation in the social media and e-commerce space, but they have clear thoughts and expectations from brands online. Yes, the bulk of Gen Z (a whooping 97%) uses social media as their source of entertainment, but they also use social for news and information, shopping, trendspotting and advocacy. If your social media strategy has one of these goals, make sure your presentation is also authentically entertaining. Your bottom line depends on it.

  • 97.5% of Gen Z uses social media as their top source for shopping ideas
  • 50% get fashion and beauty inspo from digital content
  • 46% of Gen Z trusts brands that create authentic content on social media

On top of that, Gen Z thinks businesses should serve communities and society rather than simply making good products and services: 57% trust companies that take social causes seriously on social media. A good case study here can be seen with LL Bean, which values mental health and took a month “Off the Grid” in recognition of mental health awareness month.

Understand how Gen Z uses Each Platform

Last, but certain not least, when marketing to Gen Z on social media, you really need to understand how they use the platform. Gen Z is influencing the direction in which social media platforms are evolving because of how they spend their time on social media, which impacts media trends, consumer behaviors and economic trends.

For example, Google search? Who is she? Forty percent of Gen Z users say they use TikTok and Instagram over Google when it comes to search for answers and exploring content. That means, you need to be creating content that informs, you need to post at a frequency that establishes your authority on a subject, and you better have a smart hashtagging and keyword strategy within your post.

Did we mention Gen Z are digital natives? They’re used to procuring a variety of things at their fingertips, which makes them a prime target for e-commerce professionals. Many social platforms like TikTok, Pinterest and Instagram have shopping and in-app purchasing functions, and we can probably thank the 83% of Gen Zers that say they shop on social media for that.


Amanda Colocho

Amanda joined Hodges in 2015 after earning her undergraduate degree in mass communications and public relations from VCU. Since then, she’s been flexing her media relations, content strategy and social media muscles on accounts like Virginia Distillery Company, Motorcycle Law Group, Hilldrup, Kroger, Virginia Outdoors Foundation and Swedish Match’s Umgås Magazine.

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