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Content Marketing for Generation Z (From a Gen Z-er)

August 6, 2019

Members of Gen Z, also known as “Post Millennials,” are starting to turn 22, myself included. We are entering the workforce and in turn are wielding an increasing amount of buyer power. By next year, it is predicted that we’ll account for somewhere between $29 billion to $123 billion in direct spending. This means that millennials, the least understood but ironically most-studied generation, are becoming a thing of the past in the eyes of marketers. (I’m personally not too beat up about it.) Gen Z isn’t only the new thing, but it’s a force to be reckoned with due to the number of people it encompasses. According to the New York Times, American members of Gen Z outnumber their millennial older siblings by nearly one million.

While there’s not much consensus about when millennials passed the torch to Gen Z, most agree that they were born following the 1996-1997 mark. It can feel trite to generalize an entire demographic, but at least this wasn’t done by a rock-and-rolling Baby Boomer. Here are a few values, traits and trends of ours and how you can leverage them into an effective content marketing strategy.

 

Internet/Social Media Natives

Gen Z-ers grew up with access to limitless information at the touch of a few buttons; they use social media and the internet as a tool for everything. I know, obvious. This won’t be the most revelatory item in the blog, but it’s essential to consider when formulating your marketing strategies. Especially when 80% of prospective buyers consume at least three pieces of content before interacting with a salesperson. It’s undoubtedly more than that when it comes to Gen Z.

Takeaways for you:

  • Get ahead of the noise and create content (a lot of it) that frames your brand the way you want it to be framed.
  • Do your best to keep the conversation positive on social channels. Interact with users when they post about your brand.
  • Invest in SEO. C’mon. No one is looking past the first five options on the SERPs.

 

Authenticity and Transparency Go a Long Way

Gen Z is wary of untruthful brands and advertisements and we’re more likely to come back to a brand following a crisis if they’re candid about what took place. This can be seen in our appreciation for food brands that are upfront with us about ingredients as well as with our politics. Political candidates who are forthright about their fundraising efforts are appreciated. Even so, Gen Z-ers actually hold businesses to a higher standard than politicians. It’s all too evident when companies aren’t telling the full story, so don’t make that mistake.

Takeaways for you:

  • Create genuine content that talks to your audience on their level. And place it on channels they trust.
  • Show who your employees are and what they’re doing. We like seeing the people behind the products and services you provide. If not for revenue, do it for your recruitment efforts.
  • Be transparent about your operations, including your laborers, ingredients and sources.
  • Pursue micro-influencers. Partnerships with influencers are effective for connecting with Gen Z; they’re real people who users trust and keep up with. Consider pursuing users who have less than 20K followers. They’re more trustworthy, have more engaged followings and are undoubtedly cheaper.
  • Be sure to have a detailed product review page. Research shows two in five people think that brands who don’t share customer reviews have something to hide. Weird that the percentage isn’t even higher than that.

Value of Immediacy

I’m not going to say that all Gen Z-ers are impatient, but they definitely don’t love to wait around. We’re accustomed to getting the results we want in split seconds.

Some takeaways for you:

  • Implement short and frequent messaging into your communication strategy. This doesn’t mean it all has to fit into 240 characters, but don’t yank us around. Keep it concise and create ‘snackable’ content.
  • Put efforts into quick response times for your customer service, or consider chatbots. The faster the better. And, while I’m on the subject, we dislike talking on the phone.
  • Create a robust FAQ section and other content that helps mitigate dreaded interactions.

 

We’re Lonelier… And Cherish Community

Despite the increasing connectedness thanks to social media, Gen Z is lonely. We value any chance to be a part of something. According to a study conducted by Sparks and Honey, being culturally connected is critical to all things we do.

Takeaways for you:

  • Go to events and create content about them. Even better if it’s live; FOMO (fear of missing out) is there!
  • Provide platforms for people to interact. Have CTAs on your social content that spurs further conversation.
  • While we spend less time scrolling through our Facebook feeds than ever, we use the Group function more and more. Facebook has even already started to restructure itself to adjust for this. Get access to groups that apply to your business.

 

We Want to Make a Difference

Companies like TOMS, Patagonia and Nike have something in common that shines a positive light on their brand in the eyes of younger folk: they’re invoking positive change. Whether it’s giving shoes to those in need, pioneering conservation efforts or publicly endorsing civil rights movements, help Gen Z build a better tomorrow. You can’t go wrong here.

Takeaways for you:

  • We want to make a difference. Help us! And help us feel good about using your product by giving back in some way.
  • Have a mission statement and values section on your website. Abide by them! It’s good for us to know you have priorities outside of profit.
  • Be good and do good. And then let us know you did, by means of a blog post, video, or some other form of engaging content.

 

Conscious Creators

Gen Z is aware of what’s out there about them, especially with regard to what they post on their social channels. Personal branding is a very real thing whether it’s intentional or not.

Takeaways for you:

  • If you find someone posting about your product or brand, interact with them. Their posts are not far off from endorsements (see micro-influencers) and should be something your marketing team or social media specialist vehemently encourages.
  • Consider promoting UGC (user-generated content). Feature content of (or surrounding) your product on your website and other channels. Not much gets us more excited than seeing something we did promoted elsewhere; we often re-share it again.
  • More impressions! Additionally, for clothing brands, according to Econsultancy.com, two in five Gen Z shoppers find product photos taken by other customers useful when making a purchase. Product selfies are good.

 

Rise of Other Online Pastimes

There are more people than you’d think who play video and computer games religiously. Sixty-five percent of adults say they regularly play video games, and people are spending more and more time on smaller, more niche websites and social channels.

Takeaways for you:

  • Create content that caters to these pastimes. You don’t have to be Xbox or PlayStation to do this. Keep this in mind when creating your target audience personas.
  • Place your content onto publications and mediums that discuss the activities. A particularly helpful platform is Reddit. It’s chock-full of discussion threads for just about any activity. It’s perfect for well-placed comments or conversation-spurring posts. An example of this is this thread for the viral game Fortnite with over 300,000 members. People care about this stuff; populate it!
  • Populate the niche social networks. Sites like Quora (190M active users), Pinterest (250M), Reddit (300M) and TikTok (500M) are often overlooked but are fantastic opportunities. According to Arik Hanson, the average session time for TikTok is 52 minutes, and 66% of users are under 30. That’s a lot of time to be actively engaged on a mobile application. Get in there!

 

Experiences

In the same vein as immediacy, Gen Z has an affinity for making the most of their time. They like being constantly engaged and lose interest pretty quickly if that box isn’t checked.

Takeaways for you:

  • Don’t get stuck using a single kind of content. Try branching out from simple text to infographics, video and other interactive media.
  • UX (user experience). It’s easier said than done, but we won’t waste time on a platform that didn’t keep its user in mind during development. Make sure your website and other content is ultra user-friendly.
  • Offer puzzles, simple games or other activities that garner excitement.
  • Give us opportunities to have control over preferences, when you can.

 

We’re Diverse

The country’s increasingly diverse ethnicities, viewpoints and backgrounds are celebrated among members of Gen Z.

Takeaways for you:

  • Be sure to depict your brand as diverse in your advertisements and images. It plays into Gen Z’s emphasis on community and shows you value inclusion.
  • Be inclusive in your communications. This is especially true of pronouns and other gendered words.
  • Celebrate individuality in your content!

 


 

A Goldman Sachs Analyst finds that Gen Z’s diversity, fluency with technology and conservative attitudes toward money will have profound social and economic implications. Brandpoint finds this to be the case as well. Connecting with younger audiences is easier said than done; check out our proven process of achieving business goals by means of leveraging engaging content.

August 6, 2019

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