Influencer Marketing The Gen Z Way

Just as brands finally started to figure out what Millennials want, a new demographic has taken center stage. Enter Generation Z, a formidable group that will make up a quarter of the U.S. population by 2020 and account for 40% of all consumers. 

As influencer marketing surges in popularity, many brands are turning to social media to reach Gen Z. But to effectively connect with them, it’s important to understand what makes this group tick—and how it differs from previous generations. 

Before solidifying your digital marketing plans, it’s important to understand three core truths. For Gen Z …

Social Is More Than Skin Deep

For Gen Z consumers, social media represents much more than selfies and filters. It’s a valuable platform for self-expression, and a place to find and connect with like-minded individuals. Gen Z wants to embody and reflect the positive traits and characteristics they see in the people they follow—and respect—on social media. Take fashion, for example. For Gen Z, clothes are an opportunity to make a bold statement about who they are as individuals, their political beliefs, etc. Because of this, social influencers like feminist and activist Lena Dunham have become fashion icons in their own right. 

It’s Personal

For Gen Z, whom you follow on social media and what you choose to share says a lot about you as a person. Your social media channels are a representation of who you are, what you believe in, what you take seriously and who you aspire to be. Gen Z follows digital influencers who post thematic content that they care about, so they feel a personal connection—a digital friendship. So when brands engage these thematic, digital influencers for campaigns to promote relevant products, the result is more meaningful and genuine to those consumers who are already following and engaging. 

Not all Social Channels are Created Equal

A recent study revealed Gen Z’s social consumption patterns: 88% use Instagram and Snapchat often versus 81% for Facebook and 66.6% for Twitter. Each of these social media channels has a different function for Gen Z, and provides an opportunity to showcase a different angle of their personalities. Typically, Gen Z consumers share different stories on Snapchat than they do on Instagram. Facebook is used more sparingly (after all, Mom, Dad and Grandma are on it!). And Twitter is often reserved for less visual conversations and complaints when something goes wrong. For brands seeking to engage Gen Z on social, it’s important to understand these channel-specific nuances, as a one-size-fits-all approach will not work.

When it comes to influencer marketing to Gen Z, too many brands have taken the “celebrity route,” flocking to A-list celebrities who will charge thousands of dollars for a handful (or even just one!) tweet promoting their product. What’s worse, these brands are not even considering the lesser-known influencers that Gen Z consumers are already following, already consider genuine and trustworthy and are already actively interacting with.

But as more brands learn more about the Gen Z persona, some are beginning to look beyond traditional social influencer marketing methods. They’re turning to new, non-celebrity influencers who are focused on a particular theme and topic—such as fitness, nutrition, beauty, cooking, etc.—and have large, fiercely loyal follower bases. These brands are discovering that engaging these influencers for longer, sustained campaigns at a fraction of the cost can help forge strong connections with Gen Z consumers, driving deeper engagements and, ultimately, more sales and revenue.  

1 comment about "Influencer Marketing The Gen Z Way ".
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  1. Thom Kennon from Free Radicals, July 13, 2017 at 1:50 p.m.

    Hi author & colleagues,

    Please stop making suggestions for businesses and brands to take seriously that start with "Generation ______ is..." 

    If you've ever spent more than a quarter marketing to *any* segment of users in the past ten years, you will have learned the year they were born is almost always a singularly uninsightful piece of data to be applied to strategies or briefs for: a. brand positioning; b. audience targeting; c. content strategy / messaging; d. media / channel / touchpoint strategy; e. offer / CTA strategies.

    It's not simply an academic or philosophic question of term usage, btw. It's a collosal strategic error that, every day, causes hundreds of millions of dollars of wasted media, content and activation costs for brands that can't afford to keep missing who it is they actually should be reaching with their value.

    Thanks for considering. Also - if you agree, share this widely, willya?


    Thom Kennon

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