Remember when marketers, publicity firms, and advertising agencies struggled to adapt to the social media driven generation fondly known as Millennials? It was a challenge. No longer could marketers call it a day after putting together catchy copy in a magazine or newspaper. They had to move their ads to Twitter or Facebook. They had to understand targeting, powerful content, and engage in a new form of interactivity. “Likes” drove sales before sales drove “likes.” The result of this phenomenon for advertising? Social media marketing.
Since the advent of social media marketing, new social channels have been born while others have died. Facebook remains a dominate force online, however channels like Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat cemented a greater need for immediacy in marketing. They’ve also highlighted a whole new demographic that in 2020, will make up 40% of all consumers.
Yup, we’re talking about Generation Z.
Thanks to Gen Z, things just got a bit more complicated. At least, that’s the overarching belief. The name itself, “Gen Z,” sounds apocalyptic and intimidating. Just what do these screen addicted tweens and teens want to see? Considering that this group grew up with smartphones in their hands, they are less enthused by online content than their older Millennial counterparts. For Millennials, the Internet represented a chance to go from obscurity to hyper connectivity. They embraced transitioning from sidekicks to smartphones or from cable TV to Netflix and Amazon. Marketers didn’t have to work hard to please Millennials because they embraced the web wholeheartedly. For Gen Z, apps and Facebook Live are as basic as dish soap and hand towels.
Since they’re so hyper connected, Generation Z can sniff out marketers within just a few seconds. This isn’t because they’re anti-corporate or oppose advertising. Simply, their knack for sniffing out hungry marketers surpasses older generations by tenfold.
To put it bluntly, Gen Z kids are akin to social media managers themselves. They curate their identities for each social handle they’re on, carefully thinking about the content they put out. This isn’t a reflection of an addiction, but more out of necessity. Personalization and customization are what sets them apart from their peers while also giving their peers a reason to connect with them. For digital marketers, something can be said about tailoring content in a way that reads authentic for each target demographic.
Authenticity matters for Gen Z—they just don’t have time to spare for fake uninspired posts. To remain relevant to Gen Z, marketers are partnering with social media influencers who have an “in” with these “digital natives.”
Is partnering with an influencer the only way to reach Gen Z? Not necessarily. Advertisers and marketers could benefit from poking around the web like a curious Gen Z’er. Learning how to think outside the box to provide immediate purposeful content will be what opens Gen Z’s eyes and ears.
Don’t think customization of content isn’t only relative to the younger crowd. Providing , relevant ads to each consumer will always yield better results, regardless of age. The Internet is oversaturated with ads, and people are becoming better equipped at ignoring them. When an ad plays into individual interests, location, and even the psychology of a consumer however, interest may be piqued enough to generate not just a random sale, but a regular customer. Every digital marketing and advertising exec can learn a thing or two from Gen Z’s digital prowess.
“We are all creative, but by the time we are three of four years old, someone has knocked the creativity out of us. Some people shut up the kids who start to tell stories. Kids dance in their cribs, but someone will insist they sit still. By the time the creative people are ten or twelve, they want to be like everyone else.” — Maya Angelou
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