Where Are All the Gen Z/Y Hiding?

The Kardashians: you may love them, you may hate them, but like it or not they represent the newest phase of PR and marketing. Everything they touch turns to gold. From Kylie Jenner’s Lip Kits to Khloe Kardashian’s Good American Denim, there is an undeniable frenzy that surrounds these products. People have to have them. The Kardashians use their social media platforms to make fans feel like they are their friends and family. They let them into their lives and because of this, younger generations trust them. Why is this so important? Because Millennials and Generation Zers are some of the most important customers to reach on social media;, they represent a substantial buying power and need to be recognized by businesses.

“Millennials won’t follow Under Armor but they will follow Steph Curry wearing his Under Armor shoes.” — Kendra Ramirez

I’m sure you’re sitting there silently wondering what the heck Generation Y and Generation Z actually mean. Ok, let’s break it down. Gen Y (aka Millennials) generally start around the early to mid 1990s in birth years and Gen Z begins between the mid to late 1990s. Both of these generations are known primarily for their love of technology and, having grown up surrounded by it, technology sits at the center of their lives. In our ever changing age of technology, Gen Y and Z seem to be setting the trends on all fronts regarding social media.

As a Millennial, I’ve thought to myself, “How much do I truly interact with brands or companies online?” The reality – not much. I may Google a business if I’m curious, but the chances of me engaging with a business through social media is slim to none. What’s even more interesting is that younger Millennials (20-25) aren’t using the types of social media that companies traditionally employ to capture our generation, like Twitter and Facebook. If I am on Facebook, it’s usually to look at funny memes and tag my friends…maybe find a cool event around town. That’s it. If a younger Millennial is even on Twitter, they won’t be following businesses unless there is something in it for them, i.e. some kind of competition where they might win a prize.

“Slowly, quietly, and without anyone really noticing, Millennials have stopped using social media the way they’re supposed to.” – Matthew Dooley, co-founder/COO of Kapture Media

What platforms are millennials spending their time on? Snapchat and Instagram. There are a couple reasons for this. First, mom and dad most likely aren’t on either… but more importantly, grandma and grandpa aren’t spending their time there. Second, we don’t feel like we are being marketed to. There is nothing more annoying than Facebook ads, and it is just plain creepy how tailored the ads that show up on your News Feed are. On Twitter, all there seems to be is Donald Trump and a sea of advertisements trying to parade themselves as ‘subtle’. No, thank you.

“Teens are leaving Facebook in droves for new friends like Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter — at an estimated rate of up to a million a year.” – The Washington Post

So, how do you reach Gen Z/Y? Here are some ways to develop engagement in your brand through social media that will capture the attention of younger generations.

  • Event- based promotions utilizing public Facebook events. People in the area who have friends say they are ‘interested’ or ‘going’ will receive a notification, or the event will show up on their News Feed.
    • Giveaway prizes for people sharing events on their personal or business pages.
    • Use an eye-catching event cover photo graphic with minimal words.
    • Especially great for free events. Link the Facebook event on press releases and event calendars so people can see friends who are also attending.
    • People are more likely to attend an event if someone else they know is either ‘interested’ or ‘going’.
  • Snapchat filters. These are ‘lenses’ for a photos or videos on the app that can be saved.
    • Especially great for product or event promotion
    • Younger generations will always swipe to see what filters are in their area or use facial recognition filters.
      • Example: Turning yourself into an Annabelle doll for the release of Annabelle Movie
    • When a user saves a filter from Snapchat, Instagram then allows that user to upload photos or videos taken/saved in the past 24 hours – so the Snapchat filter is also versatile and can be used on multiple platforms.
    • Every time someone a user posts to their ‘Story’ (to either their Instagram or Snapchat), all of their followers who watch the Story will also be able to see, generating higher viewership and engagement.
  • Instagram promotions and contests:
    • Utilize ‘influencers’ on Instagram by contacting them for product features or free tickets to an event if they share your product/event on their account.
      • Pro-Tip: Have some kind of ‘call to action’ to track revenue from the influencer promotion, e.g. a discount code they type in at checkout.
    • Post a competition where you have to like the company’s photo and comment one friend’s name to be in the running to win a prize.
      • The friend they tag will receive a notification and see the post as well, having a domino effect of engagement.
      • Include relevant hashtags to help boost visibility to users looking to win a prize, like #giveaway, #contest, etc.
    • ‘Like’ contests
      • These can be used as a follow-up to a previous competition where the top five contestants are featured on the company’s Instagram account, and the photo with the most likes wins a large prize.
        • This is an effective tactic great because it will encourage contestants to share the page with their friends and get them to like ‘their’ photo.
        • Example: PINK Victoria’s Secret gives away “VS Fashion Show Watching Parties” every year on college campuses to the sorority that gets the most likes on their account photo.

Social media is constantly changing and naturally, the way we use the platforms will have to change alongside it. If you can create ways for younger generations to be engaged in your brand in an active way, then they will remember the brand. Whether that engagement is clicking ‘Going’ to an event on Facebook, using a Snapchat filter, or commenting with a friend’s handle on Instagram, it will all result in more views for your brand. More importantly, it will be far more successful than a simple post on your company Facebook or Twitter page.