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Three Keys to Engaging Generation Z

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Three Keys to Engaging Generation Z

Written by: Mia Stein

Millennials have been the center of everyone’s attention for the past decade, but there is a new demographic upon us: Generation Z, oftentimes referred to as Centennials or the iGeneration, are currently making up a quarter of the U.S. population and holding nearly $44 billion in annual purchasing power in the U.S. alone.

My name is Mia Stein and I am a coming-of-age member of the iGen. As my generation continues to expand (with its oldest members aged between 20-23), the millennial market is growing increasingly more obsolete.

And so, the time has come to begin shifting marketing focus toward this new generation.

Because whether or not we are included in your current target audience, we will be before you know it; and, with the surge of companies and corporations begging for a second of our attention, you must understand this demographic now if you want to capture our purchases in the future.

Cross Platform Campaigns

My generation is a demographic composed of individuals who have never existed in a time without internet, and while millennials are often times referred to as the tech savvy generation, their exposure to digital technology and social media did not occur in their formative years as it did for me and my generation.

Social media has been embedded into the lives of iGen as a major tool for communication. While going a day without a cellphone may be an annoyance for millennials, it is nearly impossible for centennials.

In the past, advertising campaigns were solely designed for TV and radio. After the creation of Facebook and Twitter, it was clear that people’s attention was shifting in a new direction. Now, iGen is glued to their screens, constantly flipping between numerous social media platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter, and this is where cross platform campaigns come into play.

Cross platform campaigns are marketing campaigns that utilize multiple social media outlets to spread information and reach a larger audience.  If your company does not campaign through social, it is likely a majority of my generation will never hear about you.

So, this means that you should:

  • Set up social media accounts for your business on platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat
  • Make sure content is easy to access so that the audience doesn’t have to spend time searching for it
    • Create ad campaigns across every active social platform
    • Ensure we see your products across every medium
    • Give us easy pathways to your products/services and website
       

Simplicity

Generation Z is a demographic of multitaskers. It is profoundly challenging for us to engage in something as simple as watching TV without simultaneously texting, snapchatting, or browsing our feeds.

Because we grew up in a world full of technology where we are constantly being served enormous amounts information, unfortunately our attention spans last about 8 seconds; but, this exposure has also crafted us into experts in quickly filtering through whatever we come into contact with through various media outputs.

The most successful way of getting through to my generation is by communicating the way we communicate, with short messages that are easy to digest and communication through images.

There is a reason we use Snapchat, an app that allows messages to be sent for only a matter of seconds before disappearing, Twitter only allows a determined letter count, Vine, an app that displayed 7 second videos (RIP #sniff), and text phrases such as “lol”. We simply can’t bring ourselves to interact with anything outside of our attention span.

Important guidelines to remember: Keep messages simple and to the point

  • Know that we prize our secrecy and will utilize the apps that provide the most of it
  • Storytelling is still very relevant, but in small tidbits (give us the highlights)
     

Relevancy

Relevance to your target audience is always a major key in marketing, however this is a tricky crowd to market to because the relevancy of certain material is constantly changing.

Facebook worked for millennials, but a majority of centennials are deleting their Facebook apps or seldom open it. The only reason I keep my Facebook app is to keep in contact with family members and older friends.  Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter are the main focus of my generation.

Another thing to note when communicating with this audience is the vernacular in which you speak. For example, people often assume that younger generations are drawn to words such as “swag” or text phrases, when in reality, this jargon tends to have an opposite effect. We have somewhat of an internal monitor that can detect the whether or not one’s speech is genuine or attempting to fit in.

My generation appreciates realness, authenticity, and individuality. If you aren’t particularly knowledgeable in the latest slang and colloquial terms, it’s best to refrain and communicate in a standard form.

How to maintain authenticity in your copy:

  • Have confidence in your brand – do not force it to be something it’s not
  • We know when you’re trying too hard
  • Don’t try to be “cool” with word choice, hashtags or visual content
     

There are aspects to my generation that may seem somewhat complex or confusing but underneath all our strange idiosyncrasies, we are quite simple.

We welcome brands that captivate our attention or draw us in, and while it only takes us about 2 seconds to decide if we like you or not – don’t let that discourage you.

Most importantly, don’t let your marketing style drive us away. It’s one thing if we don’t like the product/service, but it’s a shame if we are interested but the irrelevant marketing strategies drive us away.

Keep it short, stay confident in your brand, and be everywhere.

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