When Millennials started flooding the workforce a few years ago, there was a plethora of guides offering advice on how to market to them as consumers. From selling without being salesy to keeping things short and to the point, marketers were finally making progress catering to the content needs of this new generation — then the next wave arrived suddenly and without much warning.
Generation Z (born approximately between 1995 and 2012) are now starting to reach adulthood and projected to make up 40% of consumers by 2020. With so many horror stories already coming out about how difficult it will be to market to this specific generation, many marketers are understandably a little on edge about how they can create content for them.
Part of that comes from the fact that they’re the first generation to really grow up with technology that is commonplace today, specifically devices like smartphones and tablets. Unlike past generations, they can also easily access information that simply wasn’t available for someone in the 1970s. While brand skepticism wasn’t born in the 2010s, taking information at face value has become obsolete on many levels during this period.
While “picky” might be one way to look at Generation Z’s content needs, it’s more so a return to reality and refusal to accept sensationalism. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a few tips on how you can create compelling content that is able to engage Generation Z members on a deeper level and get them to really buy into your brand.
Tread on the Side of Transparency
Like we touched on in the introduction, Generation Z values businesses that keep it real. Since they interact with so many fakes and phonies on Instagram already, businesses really have to capture Generation Z’s imagination by staying to true who they are as brands.
In other words, don’t try to be the “cool company” trying to connect with 18-year-old boys: be yourself. Generation Z will be able to see right through your facade and that inability to be authentic as a brand will end up being biting you in the behind. Instead, create content that doesn’t try to be anything other than what it is. Forcing a bunch of colloquial phrases to appear relevant will only show just how out-of-touch with the youth you really are as a brand.
If you’re a business that sells pillows, for example, don’t try to be sexy and edgy to cater to a younger audience — unless that’s actually what you stand for as a brand.
That sense of transparency also has to extend to private data. Generation Z wants to know exactly what they’re signing up for and why. You can’t direct them to a random landing page with a quick sales message and expect them to sign in by the dozens. Let them know how their information is going to be used and what they will be getting exchange for it right up front so there’s no confusion.
Humanizing Your Brand
If we’ve learned anything from recent superhero movies, it’s that we want to know there’s a real person behind the mask. As much of a reach as that example may sound like on paper, that’s exactly what Generation Z expects from brands in this day and age.
They want to know there are real people behind your business. They want to interact with your brand on a conversational level and know that it’s not just a group of corporate minds running the show from the very top. Give them those opportunities to engage with your brand on a human level and they will be much more open to getting to know it because the information is coming from a real person.
Take something as simple as the comment section of a blog. Say there’s a few dozen comments on a particularly polarizing post, you as a brand should take the time to respond to as many of those comments as you can, especially if they leave room for conversation. Even if it’s a negative comment about the post, try to find out why that commenter feels that way by starting a dialogue. There’s obviously a fine line between healthy discourse and feeding Internet trolls — but it’s pretty easy to spot the difference in most cases.
The idea here is that you’re proving to users that there are real people behind the brand. Showing your Generation Z users some love on Twitter by retweeting or liking a great comment about your product or service will also make them feel like part of your brand community and give you great content from real customers to share. It’s a two-way street. Generation Z consumers want something in return for talking about your product or service on a social media platform in a positive light and you can easily reward them for it as a brand by including them.
Listen to What They Have to Say
Speaking of inclusion, one of the most effective ways to really connect with Generation Z is making sure their voices are heard at all times. Whether that comes in the form a poll or Twitter reply, they need to know that you’ve heard their opinion and you’re willing to do something about it to create better content for them.
You can even take it a step further and really nail down your Generation Z audience as individuals. Creating audience personas will give you a better idea of who they are as people and you may even be surprised by some of the results. Sometimes you think you’re doing the right things to cater to them and it turns out you were actually wrong all along. This is why is crucial to build those audience personas so that you can better understand who they are and what they want on more personal level.
A great way to leverage these personas is through website content and email campaigns. Emails especially are still a highly coveted tactic that can have success with Generation Z. Don’t just write generic salesy emails though. They should provide relevant information based on the feedback you’ve been gathering that gets right to the point without filler. Short and snappy.
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