In case you haven’t heard, Gen Z and millennials are taking over the world… literally. In the US alone, millennials and those younger (including Gen Z) account for about 51% of the population. Learning how to speak to these audiences is even more important than ever, especially as their buying power eclipses that of previous generations.
Let’s take a look at some differences between Gen Z and millennials and how to win them over with your social media marketing.
Millennials typically value experiences more than tangible products, so they’re often drawn to companies offering new takes on classics—think going to a speakeasy rather than just a regular bar. As a rule, millennials are actively engaged on social media, and with an age range from 24-40, many have access to disposable income. They’re willing to connect with brands that give them a valuable experience as opposed to those who offer a one-sided brand relationship.
1. Get real.
Authenticity is the name of the game. Millennials grew up with a constant barrage of cheesy slogans and catchy jingles on TV, the radio, and on billboards around their towns. As the true early adopters (and innovators) of social media, they’ve seen plenty of brand messages.
That’s where authenticity comes into play. Don’t fill your social media ads with millennial slang or memes if it’s not true to your brand—keep it simple and cut to the chase. Millennials generally respond well to honest, clear communication on social media. In fact, social media is the channel where millennials want the most transparency from the brands they follow, according to a report by Sprout Social. They’ve seen plenty of BS and it turns them off—try direct communication, it can actually help you stand out to them.
2. Get community-minded.
Millennials prefer brands sharing their values or working towards a bigger purpose than just selling a product. Back to authenticity, millennials want to feel they are making intentional choices with how they spend their money and attention. Use your social media presence to speak directly to your audience, and get users to engage with your brand through questions and celebrating their responses.
Social media is likely the first place potential millennial customers will interact with your brand, so it’s important to make sure you’re regularly posting quality content. You should also consider building a blog to further reinforce your community on-site. Millennials want to feel like they’re part of something bigger; by investing in building community you are more building long-term brand loyalty and inviting people to be invested in your vision.
3. Get UGC.
Work harder, not smarter, right? User-generated content (or UGC) is a great way to save time and money while providing engaging social media content to your customers. Tap into the people who are already excited about your brand and encourage them to post photos or videos of themselves using your products. Everyone likes to be celebrated—especially millennials—for having good taste and style, so validate your fans by reposting and celebrating their content.
Not only does this embody both community and authenticity, it also creates a more engaged following who go on to create more (and even better quality) content. Stackla published a report confirming just that—79% of people say that UGC impacts whether or not they make a purchase from a brand.
In contrast to millennials, Gen Z grew up with the internet—and most modern technologies—already in full swing. They were born from 1997 to 2015 and are typically more socially progressive than previous generations.
Gen Z are considered “digital natives”, often with a quick wit and short attention span. They tend to appreciate companies tied to social causes, but you’ve got to capture their attention and make them laugh, lest they roll their collective eyes at your ads.
1. Get filming.
Gen Z spend a considerable amount of time on video sharing apps like YouTube and TikTok, so your first focus has to be on video content. This doesn’t mean that you need to hire a video production agency to create compelling social content. Short, entertaining videos build strong brand awareness and don’t have to be fully polished and produced. Your iPhone shoots engaging, attractive video! What you do is more important than what it’s shot on. Most importantly, be where your audience is.
2. Get personal.
Like millennials, Gen Z typically appreciates authenticity on social media, and that includes personalization. As you build up a Gen Z following, put forth an effort to gather details about your audience so you can personalize your content based on their needs. Gen Z has grown up on the internet, they’re used to being the hero—ask any Gen Zer just how many selfies they have on their camera roll to prove it—so create an experience that puts them front and center. This doesn’t just stop at social media, avenues like email marketing allow you to personalize the experience and run A/B tests to see what resonates with who.
3. Get content creators.
In case you haven’t heard: influencers are out, and content creators are in. Influencers have come under fire for peddling products they haven’t used themselves, which has led to the rise of content creators.
Content creators take the time to become familiar with your brand and are an extension of your team. They might produce a short video or take great pictures of your products to share with their followers (which you can then share on your socials). They’re a cheaper alternative to hiring a creative agency, and are very likely the future of influencer marketing.
Most importantly, content creators build communities of engaged, like-minded people. This is integral because while Gen Z are all looking at the content on their own personal devices, they also want to feel connected to something larger and outside of themselves. 75% of Gen Zers are sure their generation will change the world and it’s not just youthful optimism, they back it up with action. Gen Z doesn’t passively wait for things, but embrace fully their ability to get things done and do it themselves.
The social media marketing landscape is ever-changing, and it can be intimidating to target the younger generations, especially if you’re not a millennial or Gen Zer yourself. Also, younger demographics are always the most appealing and attractive for brands. Successful brands understand their audience and build more ways to empower them.
Millennials and Gen Z are more active and engaged than their parents’ generations and are more driven to do it themselves and not allow things to be dictated to them. Unlike older generations who had messages passively put in front of them (e.g. TV commercials they couldn’t avoid) today’s young people have grown up in a world of endless choices of where to put their attention. To capture their attention, you need to meet them on their level and with what matters most to them. Follow these quick tips and foster an authentic community of customers ready to stand by your side and help push your brand to the next level today, and for the long-term.
Dan Morrison is a Toronto-based digital marketer and content strategist with seven years’ experience in content writing. His experience has seen him write for software companies, financial institutions, and digital agencies alike. He’s currently a content strategist at Clearco, where he produces thought leadership content for e-commerce and SaaS entrepreneurs. When not writing, you can find Dan spending time with his 12 nieces and nephews.