They’re immune to ads, more entrepreneurial than any other generation, chronically distracted — or just very good at multi-tasking — and are self-identified digital device addicts.
Depending on how you look at it, such a user may be seen as a nearly impossible challenge or a huge opportunity for brands. And at 26 percent of the US population, you no doubt want it to be the latter. The trouble is, in order to reach Gen Z, it takes no less than throwing many traditional methods out the window and evolving into the new era of fast-paced, bitesize marketing.
Embrace the following trends and ensure your business reaps the benefits that come from reaching a young, digital, and social audience.
Make a meme, get shares
Memes may appear as nothing more than meaningless GIFs that briefly circulate the web and just as quickly disappear. However, a meme, which gets its name from a word coined by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins to describe a cultural idea or trend that circulates and grows in popularity, is a powerful and incredibly sticky tool for the rapid spreading of ideas.
Take, for instance, the group of macro memes that appear again and again in online conversation or social commentary. A lot of the time they contain popular characters from the media such as Kermit the frog, Leonardo Decaprio, and random YouTube stars. Although its difficult to achieve intentionally, nothing makes a brand a part of the social fabric more than a good macro meme or two.
Or how about reactive memes, born out of poignant moments that soon become infamous thanks to hundreds if not thousands of spin-offs. The examples are endless but a particularly good one from last year has to do with a girl stopping to clean the stickers and graffiti from President Trump’s Hollywood star. After the gracious act, she tweeted “Nothing but respect for my President.” Almost immediately, a slew of responses rolled in from other Twitter users polishing stars of the likes of Shrek and Danny DeVito, claiming nothing but respect for their presidents.
Typically, the best way for brands to utilise memes is by picking up on what’s hot and running with it, throwing in a dose of self-deprecation or mockery for good measure. There’s nothing worse than appearing unoriginal, commercial, or out of touch by catching onto a trend when it’s already dead.
Tell your audience a story
As a kind of condensed, personal feed that combines photos and videos with text and drawings, stories are taking social media by storm. Starting with Snapchat, they’ve swept to Instagram and will even soon appear on Google.
Over 250 million people use Stories every day on Instagram alone, so what is it that makes them so popular? One draw is that they’re deleted after 24 hours. Unlike most media on the web that is permanently available, this sparks a sense of exclusivity and urgency; if you don’t see it now, you never will.
Another strength of the story is, of course, its format. News feeds tend to have no inherent order, but stories are bitesize narratives that take you from dawn to dusk, or one event to the next, enlightening users to the person and process behind the posts. Through this mode, they bring together two other huge trends, video and personalisation, in an easily digestible and highly-interactive manner.
A great way to get started with stories is by checking out the masters at work. E! News combines bold visuals with bold headlines to deliver to its users the hottest entertainment news. Travel + Leisure demonstrated how Stories can be interactive with their “guess where we are in the world game”. Say the name of any big brand and chances are they make stories.
It’s all about experiences
Gen Z would choose an experience over a product any day. But to them, experiences aren’t just about what you do, they’re also about how you document, share, and relive it.
As they consume up to 10.6 hours of online content every day, a huge chunk of Gen Z’s reality is located in the virtual world. Everything they do needs to be digitised in some form or other to be real and worthwhile. But even if it’s not, younger generations typically spend about a week around an event discussing it online, and so even if it isn’t digital, they sure as hell make it so.
For instance, going to a theme park today isn’t fun unless you come away with photos and videos of yourself on the rides. Shopping in physical stores isn’t an experience unless it integrates with augmented reality and digital displays. Even doing a digital detox retreat is meaningless unless you can post about it before and afterwards.
To take advantage of this, brands need to look at what makes their experiences social and shareable. From the initial moment of inspiration — think Facebook recommendations — to the times spent reminiscing — think Facebook memories — there’s a wealth of opportunities for brands to extend their customers experiences beyond their actual occurrence.