Marketers are feverishly trying to figure out how to advertise to Generation Z or Homelanders these days. One strategy is trying to make ads that Generation Z will share. But is this really a good idea? And if so, will Generation Z share your ads in their social media channels anyway?
- Most probably, they won’t. They will share content, memes, self-produced video loops etc., but they block ads – either physically or mentally. This generation is far more discriminating than older generations. If you don’t want to get blocked, make sure your ad is short and skippable. If you’re a marketer and are looking to advertise to them, you will better spend your money shaping a culture around your brand that they can identify with. Then when you’re on their “inside”, you can “piggy back” on the customized creations (e.g. NikeID) or content they will curate around your brand. If they like you, consider yourself blessed because they will take an active part in building your brand for you. Gen Zs social values are typically progressive, which is a combined effect of age and cohort.
- The role of Influencers. Influencers are active users of social media who hit the narrow bullseye in the fierce competition it is to attract a solid fan base. They are popular targets of stealth marketers who want to ride on the coattails of those who already enjoy a bright spot in Gen Zers’ esteem. But influencer marketing is almost a contradiction in itself because most of the time their popularity stems from a perception of authenticity and honesty, which is hard to maintain when you put monetary incentives into the mix. You could “product place” in their streams of content or try to pay them to talk warmly about you, but find influencers who actually like your brand or product before they talk about it commercially.
- Different social media have different purposes. The choice of channel depends on psychographic variables as well as the scale, intent and purpose of the content the users want to share. While communications technology change over time, the classic personas and archetypes remain the same. In fact, in the social media world you will recognize a cast you remember from high school and every teen flick ever created. If you understand this cast you will gain an intuitive understanding of the segments.
- Snapchat = The BFF. It’s “dark social”, meaning if they share your ad, it only reaches whoever is included in their “story”. Snaps are personal, authentic and communication will self-destruct. Building a portfolio of posts and reach is not the purpose.
- Instagram = The Queen Bee. It’s the public display that matters. The number of likes, their popularity, the halcyon representations of the perfect life. You better be on the inside with the Queen Bee and her aspiring wanna-bees or she’ll block you – the ultimate snub in the digital sorority house.
- Tumblr = The Emos. If you’re on the outside with the Instagram queen or just don’t care for their mind games, you might find your alternative crowd on Tumblr. This is the site for the creative and deviant, the alternative crowd. You also find the self-destructive types here who idolize suicide, anorexia and other questionable behaviours, but this is far from all. If your kid is on Tumblr, just keep an eye out. Which you should do anyway.
- YouTube = The Class President. You Tube is the vehicle for the driven entrepreneur. Yes, only 0.00000001% or so actually makes serious money or achieves career opportunities from You Tube, but often this dream is what attracts. If they feature your ads, it’s because you are paying them and not because they endorse your message.
- Vines = The Class Clown. While Vine has lost its place in the spotlight and other networks have taken over the short video loop format, the app type embodies the character of the pubertal jester who has always been around. These are the practical jokes filled and ADHD-induced loops of prankster fun synced to match our ever diminishing attention span.
- Facebook = The Old Folks. When people under 20 befriend people over 40 on FB it’s the virtual equivalent of showing up to the family reunion. By its market share and size FB is the largest social network, so there’s a lot of young people there. But for young people, this is like sitting cramped in the sofa between distant relatives who still chuckles about the time you were 8 and peed on yourself in church all while your mom walks around snapping photos like a paparazzi. Only, it’s Facebook so everybody you know, including your new date, are in on the fun too.
The best strategy is to build a brand they like, facilitate engaging conversations and events, and when advertising, display honest messages that they can rally around. Just do it for building general brand awareness with no expectations of any actions on their part.