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Decoding Generation Z: Key Social Media Insights


Are you ready for your next wave of consumers – Generation Z? Previously, in our insight on top influencer marketing trends, we mentioned about one data-backed trending phenomenon – Generation Z influencers’ popularity soared in 2020. This article will deep dive into this rising demographic and analyze the unique Generation Z social media behavior.

If you are learning to reach and cater to this mythical segment, this is the right place for you with some actionable insights, to leverage the most out of social media advertising to your advantages and marketing objectives.

Quick Facts about Generation Z

  • Born in the mid-1990s and early 2000s (aged between 18-24)
  • This new, younger generation identifies as a distinctly different group in both behavior and mindset.
  • The first generation to grow up immersed in technology, the internet, and social media, so they are remarkably digital natives, hyperconnected, and informed.
  • Across APAC, nearly a third of Gen Zers spend 6 hours or more a day on their phones, a higher share than millennials (22%) and Gen Xers (10%).
  • Gen Z members are innately talented and skilled in using social media platforms; technically, they are the only demographic exposed to social media since birth, it is an integral part of their lives.
  • Social media has a significant impact on Gen Z users due to this exposure. It influences Generation Z members as individuals, organizations, and what they contribute to society.

 Why should brands take them into account for social media strategy?

The youngest generation of Asian consumers is becoming a force. By 2025, Generation Z will make up a quarter of the Asia–Pacific (APAC) region’s population, constituting the same share of millennials population. The rise of Gen Z is predictably to have a dramatic impact in Asia as one of the most key consumer segments of our near future, reshaping the future retail landscape with their growing spending power and voices.
Social media channels are the best avenues to reach them. When it comes to reaching them, brands must choose the right platforms and deliver the right content.

  • According to a global survey, 73% of Generation Z expect brands and retailers to communicate with them through social media about new products and promotions.
  • According to Facebook, there are over 2.4 billion Gen Z members, while most of these Gen Zers are active social media users.

The Right Platform for Generation Z

Social media is their avenue for expression. Meet them where they are to connect with them. Generation Z social media users are undeniably more active and more vocal than other age groups. They would love to express their comments and feedback about a brand, service, or product that they have used. Their strong will for online communication transcends beyond personal conversations.

  1. Douyin (China) /TikTok (International):
  • Approximately 80% of its users being Gen Zs
  • The platform’s endless feed fits perfectly for Gen Zs who live in a “scroll culture.”
  • This means that brands just have a few seconds to get people’s attention.
  • Penetration among Gen Z varies per continent and market:
    European and North American countries – Strong penetration
    APAC (excluding China) – Gen Z audience is still very active on other Social Media Channels such as Facebook or Instagram
    China – Douyin has gained massive popularity (DAU: 600 million Douyin users in China)

    💡 Brand’s implication:

    ✅   Awareness campaigns: fare better since time to develop interest is limited
    ✅   Conversion campaigns: drive impulsive purchase behavior
  1. Facebook:
  • Passive consumption of content
  • Not for socializing as most Facebook friends are mere acquaintances
  • Prefer to be less visible on Facebook, commenting and sharing mechanisms would be less optimized
  • Simply liking or viewing the content
    💡Brand’s implication:

    ✅  Suitable for passively consuming inspiration and informational content
    ✅  Blog news and articles: develop confidence and creditability
  1. Instagram:
  • Very active consumption of content
  • Save inspirations for future retrieval
  • Actively use the platform to socialize and express themselves
  • The channel to interact with celebrities, influencers, brands, friends, and family
  • In Southeast Asia, Instagram is the most prominent social media platform, followed by Twitter and YouTube, across Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines, according to Meltwater’s 2019 report.

    💡Brand’s implication:

    ✅ Engagement campaign: generate user-generated content, encourage share, like, and comment
    ✅ Deliver a worthwhile brand value or inspiration to the Gen Zs
  1. YouTube:
  • A channel to escape the stresses of everyday life
  • Gen Z turns to YouTube to learn & become more knowledgeable about something
  • Unlike other platforms that are more touch-and-go
  • Longer form content with more time investment and deeper involvement
    💡Brand’s implication:
    ✅ Meaningful engagement, brand collaborations

The Right Content for Generation Z: Be Personable

Key Traits of Generation Z

More Global
“With how social media spreads news around, we are very educated and informed on how the world is.”

Eager to Stand Out
“We are more focused on innovation and uniqueness.”

Under the Influence

“I keep up with celebrities, influencers, and brands through Instagram.”

More Demanding
“Brands need to work more to retain their customers (since our choices have really gotten pretty limitless) – I would like it if they are more personal, increase their offerings and make it easier to find things that you’re looking for.”

After Experience
“The experiences I have had, they do define me in a way – not so that I can show off about them, but what they have taught me is really valuable.”

“Ethics and message are most important to me…you cannot expect people to buy your products if your ethics are trash.”

Brands who breakthrough with this important generation will be the ones that form smart partnerships. What are the contents that best resonate and penetrate with the Generation Z audience?

  1. Ethics-conscious with their shopping:
    Bear in mind that Generation Z is the most socially progressive of all generations. This population cares deeply about topics like racial and gender equality, fair business practices, environmental conservation, animal welfare, and so on. They want to appear socially-responsible and prefer environmentally responsible and socially ethical brands. They tend to choose natural and organic products.
  2. Brand values:
    They tend to look for brands that speak to their values and show that they can evolve, brands that show their personality and uniqueness but are also well known enough to be recognized.
  3. Authentic story seekers:
    They prefer to follow digital influencers that are ordinary teens that they can relate to rather than celebrities.
  4. FOMO Fear of missing out:
    In the context of social media, young people seeing the highlights of their friends’ lives and wishing they were there, too.
  5. Deeper and more intimate degree of engagement:
    When it comes to marketing, Gen Z audience are much savvier than passive audiences. They want one that makes them feel like they’re communicating with a real person. They are willing to initiate and develop experience & relationships with brands that follow this model.

💡 Brand’s implication:
✅ Behind-the-scenes content.
✅ To earn Gen Zers’ trust, communicate social media messages that align with their values and attitudes genuinely and convincingly.
✅  Relevance is more important than ever. Deliver worthwhile values through purposeful influencer collaborations.
✅  Engage Gen Zers through words and images that celebrate diversity, inclusion, and fluid lifestyles.
✅  Develop a company persona that is approachable and accommodating, and you will have a far easier time converting Gen Zers.

The Right Format for Generation Z: Use Multimedia

As the most video-centric demographic, they are greatly influenced in their brand selection by video contents, and highly embrace various interactive experiences. Long-form content is nearly useless to Generation Z, who prefers quick, easily digestible snippets of information. Gen Zers cannot bear long, wordy material because there are so much media competing for their attention.

Gen Z’ers have the shortest attention spans with an average of just over eight seconds (In contrary to millennials with a full 12 seconds). Here are some social media content formats brands should consider leveraging to engage Generation Z:

  • Live-stream event
  • Microcontent
  • In-feed videos
  • Hashtag challenge
  • AR content
  • Influencer marketing
  • Brand takeover

💡 Brand’s implication:
✅ Utilize the full power of visual content.
✅ Keep your brand message concise, short, and to the point.

The Right Mobile Experiences for Generation Z

Generation Z social media users prefer mobile browsing to desktop or laptop browsing. This should give advertisers an idea of how to leverage their online ads to cater to on-the-go Gen Z prospects. When Gen Z consumers shop online, the website experience is a key determining factor of whether they check out or not. The study has found ¾ of Gen Zs in Asia use their phones while checking out online, and 43% will abandon the cart if their preferred payment options are not available!

💡 Brand’s implication:
✅ Mobile optimization – As mobile-friendly as possible!
✅ Exclusive experiences, offer personalized connections through messaging platforms like Messenger or WhatsApp.
✅ Enhancing checkout experience both online and offline.
✅ Having a seamless mobile and check-out eCommerce experience is a must to appeal to Generation Z.

The Right Influencers for Generation Z

In the upcoming series, we will share with you the top generation Z influencers in Asia based on in-house research.
Stay tuned!

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