Gen Zers are the first “digital native” generation, having grown up with the internet, cell phones and personal computers. Today, they have roughly $44 billion in buying power, and that figure will continue to rise as they enter the workforce in greater numbers. Brands that are able to connect with Generation Zers are seeing tremendous success, while those that were slow to adapt are already struggling.
By following these 12 little-known strategies, social media marketers can craft an Instagram marketing plan that will engage Generation Z users.
1. INSTAGRAM MAY BE THE WAY TO ENGAGE WITH GEN ZERS.
A study published in The Drum found that Instagram was the preferred platform among members of Generation Z. On average, survey respondents checked Instagram roughly 11 times each day. Other platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn were considered to be far less popular among this demographic.
This means that Instagram may be the only way brands can effectively engage with members of Generation Z via social media. Brands interested in building a customer base among this demographic may need to change their marketing mix in order to engage Gen Zers effectively.
2. CREATE MORE THAN ONE PIECE OF CONTENT PER DAY.
Since members of Generation Z check Instagram so frequently, brands should consider moving away from the “one post per day” approach to Instagram marketing and start posting multiple pieces of content each day.
Clearly, there is an appetite among the Generation Z demographic to consume content constantly. Brands that cater to this appetite will be more likely to win on Instagram.
3. FOCUS ON DEVELOPING CONTENT THAT FEELS REALISTIC OR LIFELIKE.
Gen Zers prefer content that feels realistic to stylized content that presents a vision of life that is unattainable. Brands like the Gap and Abercrombie have discovered this the hard way, after seeing decreased engagement from Gen Zers as a result of ineffective content.
On the other hand, brands like Forever 21 and Brandy Melville have been able to capture the attention of Gen Zers on Instagram by sharing content that is energetic, lifelike and aimed at the young.
4. USE INFLUENCERS WHO CATER TO GEN Z.
There is an entire subset of Instagram influencers who appeal specifically to members of Generation Z. Consider enlisting a Gen Z influencer to quickly build cachet among this demographic. Some influencers to consider working with include Logan Paul, the “Beauty Boys” and Connor Franta.
5. RECOGNIZE THAT GEN ZERS THINK DIFFERENTLY THAN MILLENNIALS.
Contrary to popular belief, millennials and Gen Zers are different. While millennials are collaborative, optimistic and highly transparent, Gen Zers are independent, realistic and private. Brands that appeal to millennials, like Amazon, Tesla and Nike, are less appealing to Gen Zers, who prefer PlayStation, YouTube and GoPro.
It is important that social media marketers develop an Instagram strategy specifically for Generation Zers, otherwise it is likely the strategy will fail.
6. INVEST IN BUILDING AN INSTAGRAM STORIES STRATEGY.
Generation Zers used Snapchat until switching to Instagram Stories over the last year. Gen Zers are on Stories, and brands should be as well. Remember, Gen Zers enjoy consuming content that feels realistic, and they prefer to protect their privacy through platforms with ethereal content formats.
Instagram Stories offers brands the best of both worlds, which is why organizations as varied as TD Bank, Reebok and National Geographic are making big bets on the platform.
7. REMEMBER THAT MEMBERS OF GEN Z STILL CARE ABOUT COOL.
Members of Generation Z are mostly teenagers, and as such they care about being cool. The only difference between teens today and teens of years past is what is considered to be cool.
As mentioned above, brands like GoPro, PlayStation and YouTube are popular, and are considered cool among Gen Zers. It is a wise idea for Instagram marketers to analyze these and other Instagram accounts that resonate with this demographic to determine what strategies can be adopted to appeal to Gen Zers.
8. DEVELOP A TECH- OR HUMANITARIAN-BASED BRAND NARRATIVE.
You may have already realized that many of the brands that appeal most to members of Generation Z have a tech-forward narrative. This makes sense, considering that Gen Zers have been fully immersed in technology since their childhood. Developing a brand narrative that involves technology is a good way to position your organization to appeal to Gen Zers.
Less tech-focused organizations should note that Gen Zers are also interested in humanitarian causes. Brands like Toms and Charity Water have been able to appeal to younger demographics with a narrative along these lines.
9. EMBRACE USER-GENERATED CONTENT TO GAIN TRUST.
User-generated content, also known as UGC, can be an effective way to build trust among Gen Zers on Instagram. Brands that re-share UGC are using content that depicts real life, which appeals to Gen Zers, while also providing Instagram followers with a customer testimonial of sorts.
10. PRODUCE VARIED VIDEO CONTENT.
As mentioned above, YouTube is one of the most popular platforms among Gen Zers. One study found that about 50% of Gen Zers said they “can’t live without YouTube.” Gen Zers enjoy consuming video content online. Social media marketers should be sure to create Instagram video content to satisfy this preference.
11. ENSURE YOU ARE PROVIDING A MOBILE-FIRST EXPERIENCE.
A study conducted by Google found that nearly 80% of Gen Zers prefer using a smartphone over any other device. Marketers should ensure that they are providing prospective Gen Z customers with a mobile-first experience in order to effectively engage this demographic.
12. MEASURE INSTAGRAM PERFORMANCE ON CONSTANT BASIS.
It is far easier to assess performance and make strategic adjustments if you have data that highlight performance trends. Instagram marketers should be sure to invest in an Instagram-analytics platform like SocialFox that can provide insight into follower growth, content engagement, Instagram Stories performance and more.
Generation Z is slated to become a key demographic for brands in the coming years. Generation Z already has nearly $50 billion in buying power, and most Gen Zers aren’t even employed yet.
For brands to effectively market to Gen Z on Instagram, it is important to think mobile and video first. Remember that “cool” still matters, and that producing “realistic” or lifelike content will generally resonate better with this demographic than content that is heavily stylized.