Have you finally wrapped your head around savvy marketing practices for targeting millennials? Too bad! The next generation is just now achieving financial independence, and that means writing a whole new rulebook for how to engage with customers.
It seems a lot of businesses aren’t quite sure how to market to Generation Z, made up of young adults between the ages of 13 and 19. Many marketers in the world today assume millennials and Generation Z can be catered to in similar ways, but the two segments are actually very different.
Knowing how to speak to each demographic can help marketers better understand their future customers, and create a platform that can endure even as the general population continues to change with the times.
Despite growing up in a world marked by uncertainty and economic chaos, Generation Z has a combined spending power of around $44 billion. So how are they going to use it—and what can marketers do to steer the conversation?
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3 tips for marketing to Gen Z on social media
1. Shift marketing toward Instagram and Twitter
The younger members of the population are driving big growth for platforms that focus on mobile-first experiences—like Instagram and Twitter—causing yet another seismic shift away from traditional media and toward snackable media.
This content, whether news or entertainment, can be experienced in just a few seconds or minutes, including “One Minute News,” a quick scroll through Instagram, or the exchange of 140-character missives on Twitter.
This has completely changed the game when it comes to building marketing campaigns for these channels. Your content needs to get to the point faster, not talk down to the audience, and recognize the fast pace of life better than previous marketing generations managed to do.
It also has to target the physical devices that are most likely to be in the hands of younger consumers. In short, marketing needs to be a five-screen endeavor, including smartphones, televisions, tablets, computers, and now, even wearables.
Moreover, it needs to place a renewed emphasis on brevity. That means more images, more short videos, and more multimedia experiences that leverage multiple technologies all at once.
2. Adapt social campaigns for incognito media
It was bound to happen. Generation X built it, Generation Y figured out how to circumvent it and now Generation Z wants out.
The entire digital world now revolves around collecting massive amounts of information about individual browsing and shopping histories, patterns of correspondence, and various other key identifying factors, and using it to sell products. Gen Z wants to find another way.
Perhaps more than any previous generation, Gen Z is deeply concerned about technologies that threaten privacy, such as geolocation settings, trackers, analytics and a host of other tools that marketers got comfortable with. With each generation, internet users are more likely to use ad blockers, virtual private networks, proxies, incognito modes, and apps that focus on security and secrecy, like Secret, Signal, Snapchat, and Whisper.
The generally touted purpose of an app like Whisper is to inspire people to speak freely and candidly about topics they’d never talk about in person, with people they may never have interacted with otherwise. Admittedly, the result is not necessarily a more truthful experience, but it’s certainly a more exciting one. From juicy personal confessions to airing dirty laundry these anonymity-focused apps are literally changing how the world talks to itself—for better and for worse.
The takeaway for marketers is that consumers want to feel like people, rather than commodities. This is why private, encrypted messaging apps are pulling in more mobile users. Whisper currently has more than 30 million monthly users, and brands like Coca-Cola, MTV, Disney, Pandora, and Hulu have already run advertising campaigns on the app. However, advertising on incognito apps is going to be quite the learning experience for most marketers.
To market to incognito audiences, brands need to find a way to connect with users beyond a service or product. Gen Z doesn’t want to see ads catering to who they should be, but to who they actually are, which is why incognito apps appeal to users so much in the first place. This will mean re-learning how we approach advertising as marketers, and is likely to result in some truly innovative ad concepts.
3. Design social campaigns that can be understood instantly
Language is changing right before our eyes. More than any previous generation—even millennials—Generation Z is more likely to communicate primarily with still images, videos, and emoji.
In other words, Generation Z is more likely to expect and take advantage of instantaneous conversation than any previous generation. Texting—whatever form it might take—is now much more popular than snail mail, email, or just about any other medium.
Alongside this seismic shift, and likely because of it, our collective attention span has dropped. According to a Microsoft survey of media consumption, the average attention span has fallen to just eight seconds. That’s not a lot of time to get your message across. It means marketers needs to use images, words and symbols more efficiently than ever before—no easy task.
Consider the appeal of something like Snapchat, which causes messages to self-destruct after a short time. This kind of ephemeral marketing is vastly different from everything that came before—the sorts of social posts or blog-based rants that are, despite their authenticity, deliberately and exhaustively designed and tested for longevity on the Web.
This content is built to manipulate algorithms, funnel traffic, and generally stick around for a while. There’s something inherently more authentic and human about a dispatch that self-destructs, something bleeding-edge that previous channels could only pretend to do.
On a practical level, this also goes beyond mere branding and messaging, as more and more companies embrace social media and other tools to offer faster and more responsive customer service.
Short version? Keep finding all the tools technology has given us for creating a more immediate, authentic and impactful brand message. Not everything has to be focus-grouped, and sometimes a well-placed emoji can have a far greater impact than an artfully written email.
The final generation
Millennials have officially overtaken baby boomers as the largest generation ever. As a result, they’re also the most thoroughly researched generation we’ve ever seen. As society and technology march on, Generation Z will almost certainly take both of these top honors in time.
Maybe the ultimate takeaway here is to stay aware of how one generation’s values differ from the next. Generation Z—the so-called final generation—is coming of age in a vastly different world than their parents or grandparents, and are radically different people because of it. Talking to them candidly, rather than talking down to them, is the order of the day.
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