Generation Z, the generation to come after Millennials, is made up of people who were born between 1995 and 2014.  They've been called the iGeneration, Net Gen, and Digital Natives, and they're changing the way companies do marketing.  Generation Z will account for 40% of all consumers by the year 2020.  This generation is completely digital; they don't know of an era without smartphones, or with dial-up internet.  Since they were born they've had information literally at their fingertips, and they're more adept at technology than any other generation.  They live on social media, so it makes sense that this is where businesses have been focusing their marketing efforts.  But the strategies that worked in the past may not be as successful with Gen Z, and here's why:

Everyone is on social media, both buyers and consumers, so it's incredibly difficult to stand out from the crowd.  It's extremely hard to capture the attention of Gen Z, and once you get it it's even harder to keep it!  According to Forbes, Gen Z uses an average of 5 different screens (smartphone, TV, laptop, desktop, and tablet) to peruse information media, compared to millennials who typically switch back and forth between 3 screens.  If your content is too slow, contains too many steps, or is in any way difficult to engage with, then Gen Z is going to pass you right by.  And they can, because they know they have a thousand other options that can be accessed in seconds.

So how do you need to change your marketing strategy to make sure Gen Z doesn't just keep on scrolling?  Here are some tips to make sure your content is engaging and effective:

1. Add sharing buttons to everything

Gen Z WANTS to share your content, so make sure it's easy for them to do so.  Add social media sharing buttons for ALL the platforms, anywhere you can.  Think Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, WhatsApp and more.  It's definitely helpful to know what social platform your audience hangs out on, but make your content available to share everywhere.  Share buttons are super easy to use (they only require 2 steps) so Gen Zers are much more likely to share your stuff than if they had to go through a complicated, multi-step process.  Inc.com can tell you more on how to best leverage social media in 2018.

2. Make headlines big, bold, and to-the-point

Generation Z is all about grabbing their attention.  Remember you're competing with thousands of other brands and companies online, so Gen Z has many choices about who they're going to buy from.  You have about 3 seconds to capture their attention at the beginning of a video or article, so make sure your headline is clear and recognizable.  We're not suggesting you resort to clickbait, because that's a good way to LOSE an audience, but definitely come up with a headline that's intriguing enough that Gen Zers will want to click on it.  Just make sure it's honest and relevant to the content of the article; no one likes to be tricked.

3. Only include one strong call to action

In case you haven't sensed a theme with Generation Z, it's "make everything as easy and as clear as possible."  Same goes with your call to action.  Gen Z wants to be told what to do, so give them a clear call to action.  Only ask them to do one thing, and keep it simple.  A good way to turn them off is to ask them to "reply, comment, purchase, review" etc. all at one time.

4. Give your brand a human element

Gen Z doesn't want to do business with a robot (again going back to the fact that they have so many companies to choose from) so make sure your brand is humanized.  It's ok (and even encouraged) to use some AI technology and machine learning in some aspects, but definitely make sure your company has a human face behind it.  Put yourself out there on social media, open yourself up to questions during a Live video, create a Vine or post videos of yourself discussing your brand on YouTube- the possibilities are endless, and the moral of the story is that you need to come out from behind the screen to reach this Generation.

5. Capitalize on user-generated content (UGC)

Consumers of Generation Z want hundreds of authentic, user-created reviews and testimonials (think what you get when you browse Amazon).  Encourage your customers to leave photos and reviews, and give them incentives to do so.  In this day and age, no one is going to buy a product with only a handful of reviews when another company is offering something similar and is backed by a ton of user-generated content.

6. Utilize video as much as possible

If you're trying to figure out how to engage Gen Z (which you should be) then look no further than video marketing.  Generation Z is in a hurry; they're flipping back and forth between multiple devices depending on what they're trying to accomplish, and they certainly don't have the time or interest in reading long pieces of content with few pictures and no animation.  Video marketing is definitely the way to go if you want to catch their attention and keep it.  Keep your videos short (ideal length is 1-3 minutes) and definitely include text or captions because most people watch videos with the sound off.  Make sure the beginning is interesting enough to grab their interest, but keep the overall video concise and to the point.  Here are some more tips from Inc.com on some innovative video marketing strategies you can use.

MNI states that Generation Z is made up of diverse, open-minded, independent dreamers, so keep that in mind when you're developing your new marketing strategy.  As Gen Z gets older, marketing will have to change and change again.  Keep an eye on this group for sure because they're changing the ways that companies do business, and you don't want to be left behind.

Published on: Oct 25, 2018