3 Key Elements to Effectively Target Gen Z with Social Media Advertising

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Let’s cut straight to it. How the heck do we reach Gen-Z through social media advertising? It’s already halfway through 2022 and approaching this generation seems like the most daunting task. 

Gen-Z knows the ins and outs of the latest trends, are hyper-focused on digital, and undeniably has the shortest attention span of any other generation. With the rise in popularity of short-form video in TikTok and IG Reels – and we hate to say it too but, AUTHENTICITY, it’s not surprising that some brands are becoming obsessed with Gen-Z as they live in this space more than anyone else. 

If this isn’t surprising enough, taking time to understand what makes this generation click is a must if marketers want to take advantage of their massive spending power. Young, tech savvy, and socially-invested, Gen Z is by far the most racially and ethnically diverse generation ever with a spending power of over $140 billion and $360 billion in disposable income.

So although implementing them into your strategy may seem difficult, let’s dive into a few tips to help target Gen Z with social media advertising. 

Make Gen-Z Feel Included

This means ditching traditional advertising. We’re not saying it doesn’t work, but it’s probably not the best approach for Gen-Z. 

Gen-Z’ers do not like to feel marketed to. There’s a difference between us as brands selecting them to market to versus them feeling that way. They want to feel a part of something bigger than what you’re selling. What is it about your brand that can resonate with them? What values does your brand advocate and have passion for that you can use to create a niche? 

This generation is known for their proactiveness within their digital communities. So we strongly suggest that you find a way to hone in on a specific “community” in Gen-Z that resonates with your brand and start there. Whether it’s a passion for mental health, gaming, or avocado toast, there’s an unlimited number of sectors you can choose from. 

If your brand wants to take it a step further, rely on the help of micro-influencers since they specialize in niches. People speak to people better than words on an ad do. If you want to reach Gen-Z, there’s nothing more beneficial than utilizing a human being that they can connect with. 

Gen-Z just wants to be understood, not defined.
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Grab Their Attention, FAST

With an attention span of just 8 seconds, the content you are spewing out in your campaigns needs to work just as quickly as they lose interest. It’s no surprise that short-form video content has become the number one tool that nearly all social media platforms have implemented and prioritized. 

Social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram have revolutionized the world of short-form video content. In fact, by 2023, the amount of Gen-Z users in the U.S. on TikTok is expected to be around 43 million, with Instagram coming in close after at 41 million.

Number of Gen Z users in the United States on selected social media platforms from 2020 to 2025(in millions)

If you are working on utilizing short-form video content, here are three key things to keep in mind:

  • Get to the point

Whatever it is that you’re trying to sell, focus on the benefits and the experience they will get out of it. You do not need to spend half of your video explaining to Gen-Z who your brand is. They will likely do research on your brand on their own if they are interested in your product. Remember, for Gen-Z, its experience > product. 

  • Show personality 

Utilizing humor, trending audios, and influencers are great ways to add more depth and life to your short-form videos. Think of it as a conversation with your teenage kids. If you can’t picture them listening to you without getting bored, then you want to change up your approach. 

  • Focus on one thing

Do not make the mistake of trying to sell everything all at once. This is a huge perk of utilizing short-form videos because you can have each small aspect of what you’re selling shine on its own. Think of it this way: take each benefit that your brand or product has and use every short-form video you make act as a teaser or trailer for it.  

Optimize Mobile Experiences for Gen Z

With 98% of Gen-Z owning a smartphone, it’s imperative that your campaigns are mobile-friendly. Most of them grew up surrounded by the evolution of our mobile devices, making it one of the most effective ways to reach them through online advertising.

Gen Z Smart Phone Ownership

Here are important things to consider: 

  • Emphasize imagery

Gen-Z loves to utilize GIFs and emojis as a way to communicate. It can easily be used as a way to speak to them without using any words at all. 

  • Make your content interactive

It’s important that your campaign is sharable so that they can show their peers. This feeds their desire to interact with brands that they love or have interest in. 

  • Remember online user experience

They love having quick access to almost everything online, which means they have high expectations for anything digital. Your campaign, website, or ad should be clear and responsive to live up to those expectations. 

How to Get it Right When Advertising to Gen-Z

With a massive purchasing power that’s only going to grow as Gen-Z matures in the workplace, don’t neglect them. No matter what industry your brand falls under, whether it be food & beverage, healthcare, or technology, there’s no doubt that a large group of Gen-Z’ers already have an existing passion and interest in it.

Gen-Z just wants to be understood, not defined. Once you recognize that difference, it’ll take your social media advertising initiatives to the next level. 

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