From One Z to Another: Tips For Marketing to Gen Z On Social Media

As more businesses embrace social media to market their brand, they also struggle to market to Gen Z – which is tied with Millennials as the top users of social media. 

A recent Pew Research Survey found that TikTok and Instagram are among the most popular with younger audiences, so it is crucial that businesses correctly approach this market segment in order to best engage them… and sell them their products. 

Being a member of Gen Z myself, I’ve witnessed which brands are skilled at marketing to Gen Z and which ones fall a little short of getting the eye of my peers as they fail to showcase their brand in the most effective ways. I’m sharing what I have found to be the most beneficial practices companies have used to market to my generation, and the things they’re doing wrong. 

       1. Don’t over-post 

When scrolling through social media feeds, the last thing someone wants is to see is four posts from the same account in one day. While you may think this helps your business get seen, it tends to result in a loss of followers as younger audiences easily get annoyed, especially by boring posts. Findings from Audiosocket suggest that the amount you post per week varies based on the platform. For example, Instagram generally requires 2-3 posts a week whereas TikTok is 1-3 times a day. But it is pivotal the posts are engaging and lively to keep your audience’s attention. 

      2. Do post exciting and colorful work 

The more aesthetically pleasing your Instagram page is, the better. Take the account @wrightkitchen on Instagram. This account is solely dedicated to posting pictures of food – nothing exciting. The account, however, has managed to rack up 209k followers simply because they make their page colorful and bright. Photoshop and Lightroom can be your best friends if you want to grab the attention of younger users on the Instagram platform. On TikTok, studies from Mediakix show that the top three categories based on hashtag views are entertainment, dance and pranks. If you choose to use the TikTok platform, it is in your best interest to  incorporate these categories into your post to make it interesting and exciting for your audience. 

      3. Don’t post quotes from irrelevant sources 

More likely than not, younger audiences have no idea about sources who were relevant before they were born. While it is fair game to provide quotes from virtually any source, if the goal is to attract and connect with a younger audience it is best to rely on more contemporary sources. That said, people of questionable character, such as Kanye West, may reflect poorly on you, while relying on deceased or older sources may have reduced value due to the readers lack of familiarity. If you choose to include an older source, it might make sense to include a wiki reference to clear up confusion. 

       4. Do engage with your followers 

Things such as giveaways and contests are great when targeting younger audiences. A recent Instagram trend that has taken root is the “one repost = one” trend. For example, one repost will result in one dollar being donated to some charity. For example, @plantatreeco on Instagram asked their audience to post a pet picture and every time they did they would plant one tree. This makes the younger audiences feel as if they’re helping in some way and has seen great success for many businesses. It effectively brings traffic to your page and, if executed correctly, a greater following too. 

      5. Don’t let your following be higher than your followers 

As silly as it sounds, this is a major “turn-off” for people looking to follow you. It’s like dating – the more people you follow or “date” the more desperate you look. Try to keep a good ratio of followers to following or only follow businesses and people that are crucial for your business such as your employees and sister companies. Take McDonalds’ Instagram “following”- they only follow people that are famous or have somehow endorsed their company. 

To truly gain credibility with Gen Z, it is more than just posting a photo and hoping for the best. Gen Z are opinionated, strong, and desiring of change so your company needs to be willing to make the changes to fit their goals. Just remember, Gen Z ranges from 1997-2012 so show the entire generation how great your company is by using the influence of Instagram and TikTok and they might just agree.

Courtland Bartosik

Marketing Intern

Courtland is a freshman at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill pursing a degree in Media and Journalism with a minor in Data Science.