How to develop content for Gen Z (get creative and have fun!)
Developing marketing content to reach Generation Z is an opportunity to change your mindset, get creative and have fun doing it!
Born between 1997 and 2012, this demographic represents the youngest members of our workforce and is expected to flood the market over the next decade. The 26-and-under crowd already accounts for 40 percent of global consumers.
Gen Z is authentic and pragmatic. They value visual-first storytelling, and they prefer a “no filter” approach over perfectly posed images.
Millennial vs. Gen Z Characteristics
Adapted to it
Born into it
The world’s first “digital-first” generation
Unlike Gen Xers, who adapted to digital technology, and millennials, who were young enough during their adaptation to be considered “digital natives,” Gen Z was born into the digital world. They grew up with smartphones, and the vast majority of this group does not know a world without mobile video. They use text and apps to communicate, and they gravitate toward video-based platforms and immersive digital environments.
As with any audience, to reach Gen Z you have to meet them where they are. Here are a few suggestions:
Video-based social platforms: YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, Twitch. According to social media management platform Hootsuite, Roughly 95 percent of Gen Z uses YouTube, 67 percent use TikTok and 62 percent use Instagram. Zoomers’ preferences for short-form video and authenticity are driving these platforms’ popularity, and news outlets have confirmed this group uses TikTok and Instagram as search engines.
In late 2022, Lenox Powel, content director at Semrush, led an information-packed presentation at the Content Marketing World conference on creating content for Gen Z. Below are results she shared from a Semrush study of viral videos on TikTok:
One in three viral videos focused on a person speaking within the first three seconds.
Sixty percent of viral videos featured a person on the screen.
More than half of viral videos used music as their primary background sound in the first three seconds.
Emotions triggered by the viral videos: happiness, humor and/or surprise.
The metaverse: virtual worlds. These online spaces create virtual environments for various activities. They often incorporate virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and other technologies to create a digital world that users navigate through using avatars. Organizations can enter established worlds to host virtual events—like concerts in the Fortnite gaming platform—or secure spaces to increase brand awareness. For example, Nike and Gucci each have space in the Roblox game and game-creation platform. Nikeland features parks, courts, an obstacle course and a running track, and Gucci Town has a café and a Gucci Store. Visitors in these spaces can buy branded gear for their avatars.
Organizations like the NBA and Coca-Cola have created their own mini virtual environments to sell digital and physical items and offer exclusive “loot” and discounts. (For more examples, perform an internet search for brand NFTs. This Gen X author used Google to search.) Lowe’s Open Builder provides a free 3D product library to builders working in the metaverse, whether they are creating an AR experience, developing a game or working within a creative design application.
In this author’s opinion, the construction industry can effectively tackle the industry’s labor shortage and build interest in construction careers by leveraging immersive virtual worlds to gamify construction equipment and activities. (Watch this video about the video game Construction Simulator!)
Virtual and augmented reality. Leverage technology to engage younger audiences! As an example, since 2018, the American Concrete Pumping Association has been bringing VR concrete pump simulators to schools, job fairs and other venues as part of their workforce development and safety training programs.
Web 3.0. While Web3 communities are in their infancy, here are a few sites to watch: Decentraland, Diaspora, Steemit and Sapien. Think of Web1 as the read-only websites of the 1990s and Web2 as today’s interactive sites where visitors can like, comment, upload images/videos and make purchases. The Web 3 focus is increased privacy via decentralized apps (dapps), browsers, social networks and financial components that are not controlled by a single corporate entity—made possible with blockchain technology.
The emergence of Web3 is fueled by backlash against the cookies and trackers and centralized control of data and identity by FAANG—Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google. Bottom line: Gen Z and millennials want more control over their identity and data.
Below are some key messages from Powel’s Content Marketing World presentation.
How Gen Z searches the Internet*
Younger users employ long-tail keywords for searches.
Commonly used search terms: Best, Cheap, How To.
Reasons for not using Google: SEO blogs and buried answers.
*Sources: TechCrunch and FRACTL
Content that resonates (and doesn’t)
Preferred tone of voice: informal, friendly, and engaging.
Preferred images/graphics: creative and lighthearted.
52% want to be informed.
35% say media talks down to them.
37% hate click-bait.
Be creative and have fun!
Start small, test out options.
Create short-form videos, and use real people with real lives:
o Interviews—employees about their work and clients about their experiences with your brand.
o How-tos and FAQs.
o Case studies and best practices.
Gen Z does not want to be sold to—they want to know who you are as a company and be part of your community. They want to get behind the scenes about your product and brand (what worked and what didn’t work), and they want to have input.
Shift your tone of voice from official and formal to casual and informal.
o Be authentic. Be human. Be candid.
If you get it right, they will become your brand advocates through their social platforms.
At AOE, we are continually learning how to reach diverse audiences to engage, create awareness and recruit new hires. For help developing content that resonates with younger audiences and getting it in front of them, contact us!