Marketing for Gen Z

Generation Z and Social Media Platforms: The ABCs

Social media platforms are constantly vying to be the channel of choice for users. Last year, Snapchat won the coveted number one spot by a landslide, adding 50 million daily active users in 2016 alone. Snapchat has also managed to capture a younger demographic than its counterparts and Instagram isn’t far behind. In fact, consulting firm Piper Jaffray’s semi-annual survey “Taking Stock with Teens” showed that Snapchat was the preferred social media platform for 35 percent of respondents, with 24 percent preferring Instagram. Facebook and Twitter were the platform of choice for 13 percent of respondents.

Daily usage data paints an even more accurate picture. I recently attended a presentation at Social Media Week in New York City that revealed 87% of teens surveyed use Snapchat at least once a day. Not far behind is Instagram, with 82% of teens logging in on a daily basis. Now, Facebook is trying to get in on the action with the introduction of their own “Stories” function – and it’s not the first time Facebook has been caught copying Snapchat. All of this leads to the bigger question: why has Generation Z ditched the likes and pokes for snaps, streaks, and filters?

Snapchat and Instagram’s Winning Factors

  • Keeping things private: Teens value the one-on-one connection featured on Snapchat, and would much rather send snaps to their friends than broadcast to everyone on a platform like Facebook or Twitter.
  • Put a filter on it: Generation Z prefers the Snapchat and Instagram cameras over their smartphone cameras, as they provide added perks such as filters and intricate editing tools.
  • Virtual celebrity BFFs: Their favorite movie stars, musicians or YouTube sensations are only a click away, with the (very) small possibility that they may even interact with them.
  • The FOMO is real: Nothing incites panic in a teenager more than the “fear of missing out.” These platforms allow them to keep track of exactly what their peers and favorite influencers are up to in real time, making sure they never miss a thing.


Engaging Generation Z on Snapchat and Instagram

Teens flock to these platforms and the advertising world is scrambling to reach them. But, to be successful in engaging these users – brands need to rethink their traditional advertising strategies. Snapchat, and Instagram (for the most part) are user-dominated and controlled networks.  To truly engage users, brands need to stop thinking like marketers and start thinking like Generation Z users.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Connection, Not Communication: They prefer these platforms because they value the opportunity to be selective about who they connect and engage with. Utilize these platforms as a means to connect with users, not sell them. Cultivating a connection can have more long-term value.
  • Be Authentic: To the user, the platform and your brand. Provide teens with the relevant, relatable and tailored content they expect to see on these platforms. Tailor and target your content to ensure it is going to be meaningful to viewers.
  • Ignoring is Easy: Teens’ attention spans are short and the nature of these platforms makes it extremely easy to ignore any unwanted content or advertising. Brands have just seconds to grab users’ attention and make an impression. Make your content unique, quick and purposeful.


To be successful, it is essential to build Instagram and Snapchat strategies focused on teen audiences that connect with Generation Z in an authentic, timely manner. Whether it is featuring familiar influencers that align with the age and gender of the audience, or geographically targeting high schools and colleges, there are numerous ways in which our brands reach out a virtual hand to Gen Z’ers.

Nowadays, teens have the ability to curate a relationship with a brand early on in the game, and decide whether or not a brand is worth interacting with at any given moment. So, ask yourself, is your brand up to the challenge?

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