Photo Credit: pexels
Gen Z is quickly growing as a consumer base, and they are bar-none the most tech-savvy consumers yet.
They practically came out of the womb with an iPhone in hand, and were fluent in social media long before they ever took a biology class. In fact, according to AdWeek, “50% of Gen Zers ‘can’t live without YouTube,’ if that’s any indication to the level which they prioritize social generated content. This generation will be even more likely to have a Netflix or Hulu account than paying for a standard cable provider.”
With the digital landscape constantly evolving, and brands looking to stay at the forefront of what’s relevant for the next generation of consumers, it’s safe to say Gen Zers require a language of their own.
I recently sat down with Graham Kramer, the founder and CEO of Artemis Venture Capital — who works with companies looking to scale their businesses and unlock new streams of revenue through many different social platforms — and his business partner, David Mendelsohn, to talk about the most effective ways brands can engage with Gen Z’ers.
Here are their five tips on how brands can effectively interact and engage with Gen Z on social media:
1. Gen Z cares about social responsibility.
The best way to engage any consumer base is to speak directly to their interests.
For Gen Z’ers, social content has to resonate on a level deeper than “what’s trending.” This is a generation we’ve seen protest gun control in front of the White House, and say things much older generations have been hesitant to say. They are empowered by their beliefs and aren’t afraid to fight for them—and this includes the way they interact with brands, since they are such conscious consumers.
According to a study done by 3BL Media, 90% of Gen Z’ers would buy products from a company who is addressing social and/or environmental issues. And, 94% of them believe that companies have a responsibility to address critical issues.
But Kramer explained that to truly engage with this generation, you’ll need to do more than just act like you care. “When it comes to Gen Z, the brands who have missions that align with their values will lead the race to captivate their attention. But you have to remember that we live in a time where the masks are coming off. We are becoming more and more hesitant to trust big companies and corporations.
Gen Z is no exception. If anything, they are the most skeptical demographic. So, if you want to appeal to them, you really have to put your money where your mouth is and be authentic with your social responsibility. It has to be a primary pillar in your branding efforts.”
2. Give them something, or someone, to engage with.
The Gen Z population doesn’t know a world without companies that prioritize consistent care and convenience for their customers — like Amazon. This is a generation that expects to be valued, and that means always finding new ways to surprise and delight them. So, if you are a brand that is trying to engage this demographic, you’ll need to form a real connection with them.
What Gen Zer’s don’t want is to form a relationship with an ambiguous brand. This demo wants to care about the brands they follow on social media, and feel as though they’re making a lasting impact. The same goes for the products that they purchase.
An effective way to do this is to put a face to your company, or product. Most companies have found the most effective way of doing this is by engaging captivating influencers—names that Gen Z consumers recognize.
“We currently have a network of over 250 million followers, so influencer marketing is a space we know extraordinarily well,” said Kramer. He and his business partner, David Mendelsohn, added, “But the key to a great influencer marketing campaign isn’t pure reach. It’s all about finding the right people to forge partnerships with—and making sure those names resonate with your target demographic.”
3. Build social media profiles that they’ll actually want to follow.
This tip may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many companies are failing (and flailing) at running their own social media pages.
“Creating social media campaigns is a powerful way to build a loyal audience. If you want to target Gen Z consumers, this might come in the form of a conscious campaign that exposes a social issue—and empowers Gen Z’ers to help through your brand,” said Kramer. “Another great way to create engagement on social media is through promotions. You can do this with a hashtag or selfie contest, or even simple yet exciting giveaway. But whatever you do, just make sure it speaks to who they are as people, and what they’re genuinely interested in.”
When it comes to targeting Gen Z’ers, especially, it’s crucial for your brand to speak to relevant trends. If you see your target demographic using a specific type of filter on Snapchat, consider leveraging that filter in your own content. Also, make sure your Instagram page capitalizes on the Stories feature. Instagram has said that since launching this feature, they’ve acquired 250 million daily users. If you’re not using these basic tools, you are missing out on a huge opportunity to engage with Gen Z.
4. Know what screen you are marketing to (it should be a smartphone).
As a whole, Gen Z is shamelessly glued to their phones.
Like most people today, it has become a cultural norm to not go anywhere without your phone. And since this demographic is constantly scrolling through their phone, you should provide content made for the mobile experience.
“Brands have to have a mobile-first mentality,” said Kramer. “If it takes Gen Zers more than a single click to get to the branded destination, chances are, they won’t make it. You have to constantly be optimizing for time.”
What Kramer is referring to is Gen Z’s dwindling attention span, which is roughly 8 seconds — an astonishing drop from their older counterparts, Millennials, whose attention spans are a whopping 12 seconds.
5. If you want to engage them, celebrate them.
Generation Z is comprised of innovative, diverse, and self-aware and highly creative individuals.
If you want to build a brand on social media that engages them, you have to give them what they’re looking for. According to Social Media Week, this means providing the four content types Gen Z is most likely to engage with: real stories and day-in-the-life videos, “behind-the-scenes” videos, and How To content.
“Generation Z likes to be entertained, but they also really want to learn,” said Kramer. “A huge driver for them in using social media is to better understand the world or feed their personal interests. So, if you’re a brand and you can speak to those things, you’re going to resonate in a way that most other brands miss — because they’re too busy trying to advertise to them.”
This is arguably the hardest part about marketing today, which is the thought process that “less is more.” By not trying to sell your brand to Gen Z’ers and asking how you can provide real value to them instead, you end up earning their loyalty and trust.
This article originally appeared on Forbes.