Tag: gen z

How ViacomCBS is Creating Cultural Connections with Gen Z

Ghosts, zombies, and zumpers—oh my! The study of symbols and language is called semiotics, and for ViacomCBSAngel Barron and Hawa Arsala, it’s a part of their 9 to 5. Working together as Directors of Creative Strategy and Cultural Intelligence for Viacom Velocity means keeping culture at the core of everything they do. Culture is ever-evolving so monitoring tiny imperceivable shifts that ladder up to overall changes in the zeitgeist is part of that work.

More immediately, the rise of social distancing, reprogramming of the traditional family unit, expansion of desire, and friendship beyond the human are affecting the expectations and values system of Gen Z. The way young people relate to each other is in massive flux, and thus the way they connect to brands. During #SMWONE they explored the current culture of relationships to help brands understand how to reach Gen Z during this time of crisis.

Here are the primary insights and takeaways:

  • Express the importance of a good, healthy relationship with oneself
  • Let the talent drive the conversations
  • Don’t discredit the value and gravity of digital experiences driven by physical isolation

Physical boundaries drive virtual experience

“Connection is essential,” Angel says, to us as humans and it’s instinctual that we name and brand each new experience as it happens, hence the birth of ‘zumped’ (which means being dumped via Zoom, btw). As we come together and create new experiences brands that are able to respond to and reflect on those experiences will take the lead.

For example, Net-a-Porter has partnered with Animal Crossing to allow you to dress up your avatar if you meet up for virtual drinks. Sound weird? Consider that 70 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds are down to meet online for a pre-date gettogether. If all goes well on the island, you can take your date IRL and have the actual outfit delivered to your door.

Love thyself

Another trend spotted by Angel and Sawa is “the evolution of self.” In an age of social distancing, self-care is turning into self-love. Specifically, there is a growing focus on soul searching over face masks. Examples supporting this trend include Spotify unveiling a ‘Self-love’ playlist for its Valentine’s Day listeners this past February. More recently, the platform has announced the launch of a curated “Daily Wellness” playlist that will include a range of specially selected podcasts and tracks to help one practice mindfulness.

In addition, Calm, the popular meditation app, announced a partnership with LeBron James to give away free subscriptions in an effort to help consumers keep their mental health in check during these difficult times. These are but a few examples of efforts by platforms to step up and offer resources for brands to deliver on consumers’ breathing a little easier and keeping our minds at ease amidst the uncertainty.

Beyond humans

As we move further into “always online” territory, people have found innovative ways to connect in search of their bases instincts: love, partnership, and affection included. By chance or by choice, the vast majority of our connections are online now, and one-third of people have established the habits of making and maintaining friendships through gaming, streaming, social media, and by sharing tête-à-tête any way they can.

For example, in February 2019, 10.7 million people attended a DJ Marshmello concert inside a Fortnite game. And that huge number doesn’t include attendees who experienced the concert in-game. If you factor in those who watched it live-streamed on Twitch and other platforms that number jumps to an estimated 27 million people. All together, but apart.

How might a brand position itself in alignment with those innovations without appearing inauthentic? Sawa notes that “letting the talent drive the conversation” is always best as they’ve already gotten the ear of the audience and know what’s likely to connect best.

Relationships thrive by tending to what creates them: connection. Once the spark is ignited, it’s just a matter of maintaining the heat.

There’s still time to register for #SMWONE at smwone.com. Save 20% throughout the rest of the month!

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Why Earning Consumer Trust is Essential for Brands

For years, we’ve hoisted large tech companies to hero status, pledging our loyalty and brand affinity all the while these companies amassed more and more influence in politics, culture, and even our mental health. But this dynamic has shifted. Fast. As a result, we face the ever-present and complicated question: how are today’s societal forces shaping a new era of trust?

Based on interviews with over 2,200 U.S. adults, a recent report published by Morning Consult provides actionable intelligence into this exact issue and opportunities brands can leverage to earn and deepen trust with today’s consumers.

The majority distrust “Corporate America” but give individual brands the BOTD

One of the report’s biggest findings: consumer trust in the U.S. is declining. More than two-thirds of respondents reported that in general, Americans have become less trusting and it’s influencing decisions big and small. This spans which news outlets and anchors they prefer to how they choose their food at the grocery store based on packaging labels.

Increasingly it has become difficult to determine what is fact from fiction; only eight percent claim they trust the media and a mere 15 percent agree it is easy to differentiate when the news headlines they tune into are factual.

While individual brands are reaping the gift of the benefit of the doubt, larger corporations and institutions with a concentration of power are facing the repercussions of a lack of trust from the public. These trends are supported by several key stats including:

  • Less than 1 in 10 Americans claim to have a lot of trust in the government while only four percent place trust in either Wall Street or Hollywood. Elsewhere, the public education system, religious leaders, and major industries such as finance and insurance are also facing skepticism.
  • 74 percent trust that the average major company will deliver consistently on its mission
  • Looking at 100 major brands, the average is trusted by 59 percent and distrusted by just 13 percent.

Factors relating to reliability are for more important in earning trust than ethics

When gathering responses as to why people trust brands like USPS and PayPal overwhelmingly issues related to reliability came out on top over those concerning ethics or politics. This was supported in a ranking of “what is most important” when considering trusting a company. Among the top three answers were that the company protects my personal data (73%), the products work as advertised (71%), and that the products are safe to use (70%). For comparison, only 34 percent said it was important that a company has strong ethical or political views and 37 percent said it mattered whether a company gives back to society.

It’s worth noting however, most U.S. consumers expect brands to deliver on the basics but few anticipate them going above and beyond.

Beyond reliability — what are the other primary areas of distrust that brands should look to when approaching their strategies this year? Data privacy, fine print, and employee treatment.

Navigating Gen-Z and Millennials: reliability is king but ethics is queen

Compared to their Gen X and Boomer counterparts, Gen Z and Millennials are notably less likely to trust the average brand and are more likely to say that companies should make active efforts to gain their trust. Specifically, 42 percent of Gen Z-ers and 30 percent of Millenials agreed with the statement, “I tend to not trust the average American company. They have to earn my trust.”

While reliability is still important, issues such as how a company treats its employees and how products are produced matter much more to these younger demographics and are influential in whether they wind up following through on a purchase. For example, 18-29 year-olds are 5 points more likely than all adults to say it is “very important” a company has strong ethical or political values.

The broader takeaway here to pocket: as you consider your messaging bear in mind that younger generations will hold you to a much higher standard and bring greater skepticism to the table.

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Here’s How Your Brand Should Innovate for Gen Z

By now most marketers can recognize that Gen Z wields tremendous power. As of this year, these individuals account for 40 percent of global consumers and hold more than 44 billion in spending power. Looking ahead to 2030, it’s estimated they’ll comprise 30 percent of the labor force.

They’re young, digitally savvy, and entrepreneurial reflected in an early but profound understanding of how technology can transform the way we work and live. All of this translates into unique online behavior that brands must continue to try to wrap their strategies around.

Navigating Gen-Z: New Research from Snap Inc. and CASSANDRA

A growing number of businesses are weaving in influencer partnerships, adapting to the rise of ‘dark social’ or a more private, permission-based online environment, tapping into new markets for streaming and social media entertainment, and incorporating videos into their tactics as a means of securing attention in a crowded space.

In the midst of all of these changes, consumer experience has emerged as a leading differentiator indicated by recent findings that show that more than half (64%) of Gen Z shoppers feel brands should provide a personalized experience when interacting with them. As ad budgets become increasingly devoted to social channels (total ad spend across social platforms is projected to reach $517 billion globally by 2023), how can brands prepare today and ensure they innovate in a way that drives brand awareness today and keeps them relevant in the years ahead?

According to a new study commissioned by Snap Inc and CASSANDRA , the answer isn’t as complicated as one may think. Here are a few highlights distilling the key insights and themes from the results.

Don’t negate the influence of emotional and practical utility

Though trends point to Gen Zers being responsive to edgy and visual marketing campaigns, this doesn’t mean you need to spend months or years and a hefty budget on your products. Amongst the four criteria for brand innovation identified by the survey group included an emphasis on customer happiness, expanding access to goods and services, and brands that deliver on opportunities that make us happier.

As a best practice, when making choices on adopting the latest emerging technologies, simplicity should be a priority in terms of how plan to improve your offering. Accessibility and affordability are critical to this demographic both in the brands they use and when they are those they haven’t yet.

Take social listening seriously

Gen Zers have a go-getter mentality and feel genuine joy when they’re able to contribute to positive social change. They want to support brands who are active in delivering on its goals and mission and feel as though they play an instrumental role in ensuring the journey is successful.

In this vein, proactively seeking and reacting to consumer feedback is another important mark of innovation not only to the benefit of consumers but in enabling the business to identify unique ways to stay ahead of the curve of its competitors. Eighty-percent of respondents shared that they are more likely to support a company if they feel their feedback makes a difference. A slightly larger percentage, (82%) report they are more inclined to advocate for a brand if the company actually enacts changes based on shared feedback.

Risk-taking doesn’t mean changing your brand’s identity

It’s hard to not put the words innovation and risky into the same sentence. More often than not, it involves getting creative and stepping out of your comfort zone which can present both challenges and rewards.

Gen Z shares the common belief that today’s brands have an obligation to innovate (64%) and that this is table-stakes for staying relevant in an ever-evolving landscape (62%). At the same time, they’re pretty specific about what this looks like in action. For example, they don’t want companies overhauling their identities for the sake of innovating. Instead, they’d much rather prefer them expand their offerings, redesign their products, and act on opportunities to grow beyond their standard, run-of-the-mill products and services (78%).

Indeed, we live in a fast-paced world that only continues to increase in speed and present us with greater opportunities to connect with our audiences through new platforms and technologies. The best mentality we can have as a response? Don’t try to be something you’re not and don’t overthink.

As this survey has shown, the path to success is truly much simpler than we think and boils down to making genuine efforts to connect with our audiences on a deeper, emotional level by listening to them and helping make their lives easier.

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How Snapchat Can Elevate Your Gen Z Holiday Marketing Strategy

Snapchat is looking to give brands more room to share their stories ahead of the holiday season with a new advertising option for extended play commercials featuring video ads that last up to three minutes.

Establishing a deeper respect for consumer’s time and attention is a win-win strategy

Per AdWeek, this idea strives for a win-win scenario where users have the choice of opting out and skipping the mid-roll video ads after six seconds and brands the potential for longer video messaging to keep those genuinely interested engaged.

In a statement from the company’s Vice President of Global Agency partnerships, David Roter, he alluded to the benefits the flexibility of extended play commercials as the platforms looks to earn more of the video advertising market. Primarily, the offering opens the window for advertisers to tap into their existing video assets as opposed to manually cutting their length down to six seconds allowing for more seamless cross-promotion and engagement.

“We’re committed to building high-impact, long-form video ad formats, and extended play commercials are a great option for online video and TV buyers. Heading into the holidays, this format is a powerful new way to reach our Generation Z and millennial audience in Snapchat’s premium, brand-safe Discover content,” Roter said.

This notion was reinforced in a recent Snap Inc. report that explored buyer behavior trends amongst these exact demographics – namely, how they research and purchase, and how brands can connect with them via the app.

Connecting with Millenials and Gen Z Through Authentic Omnichannel Experiences

Together, Millennials and Gen Z have over $1 trillion in direct spending power and mobile commerce is projected to drive nearly half of all U.S. e-commerce sales during the 2019 season.

Sixty-four percent of Snapchat users are likely to start their shopping on Black Friday and 20 percent are choosing to make these purchases with their mobile devices. Looking at Gen Z specifically, over half plan to spend at least $250 during Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

With these figures aside, what’s critical to note as marketers is that this shift in shopping behavior is paramount and will continue to define buying behavior. These younger audiences are unarguably valuable, but earning their attention and maintaining it is a separate story.

Here are a few highlights from the findings and research conducted last year to help you shape your strategy:

  • Snapchat users crave omnichannel experiences that they can navigate seamlessly. Compared to those who don’t use Snapchat, 1.5x research online before committing to an in-store person, 2.5x will research in-store and buy online, and 1.5x shop online and prefer to pick-up in the store
  • Snapchatters use the platform to consult friends and family throughout the buying journey. Thirty-nine percent send Snaps to their friends to gauge their opinions, and 35% Snap while they browse. A separate 35% send Snaps about the products they’re considering purchasing.
  • Snapchat is the leading platform for conversations during and after the shopping experience. While they shop, Snapchat users engage in the app 35% more compared to Twitter, 46% more than Instagram, 58% more than Facebook and 137% more than YouTube. After making their purchase, 65% of users share a post, 46% send a Snap to the brands they’ve purchased from, and 45% tag or mention a brand post-purchase.

Smartphones continue to be an integral source for gathering and sharing information as consumers shop. This isn’t to negate however the opportunity we have to impact the role these technologies ultimately play. Attention is every individual’s most valuable resource and our obligation as an industry is to respect this scarce investment by sharing the stories that meet people where they are and that deliver incredible experiences they willingly want to engage with.

Check out the full infographic below via Snapchat


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How Snapchat’s New Dynamic Ads Can Boost Your DTC Brand’s Relevance

As we look ahead to the holidays, retail, e-commerce, and other direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands are fine-tuning their plans and pursuing every possible opportunity to reach consumers. While the vast majority of social media ad budgets are allocated towards Facebook and Instagram, Snapchat is looking to carve out elbow room for itself with a new update: Dynamic Ads, a feature that automatically creates and updates product ads to run for you within the app.

Here’s a breakdown of its key benefits and how you can begin to implement them into your strategy:

Enhanced creative quality

Utilizing the product images and information you upload, Snap’s Dynamic Ads will create customized, built-in templates for you. As a result, you can easily create variations of different Snap ads in vertical view format.

“Snapchat Dynamic Ads now allow brands to create real-time optimized mobile ads quickly and at scale, with products showcased in visually-appealing templates that feel native to the app,” said Snap Group Product Marketing Manager of Direct Response Kathleen Gambarelli.

Increased return on effort

To avoid having your ads feel generic, you can use the same product image across five different template styles as depicted below.

In this way, you can spice up your offering and showcase the product in a different way with minimal added effort and no manual work needed. What this ultimately boils down to is more time and resources freed up to put behind the growth of your business and less on designing.

Greater ad relevance

An important and ever-present question plaguing marketers today is how can I remain relevant in an age of information abundance and younger audiences?

With Snap’s newest update, you can sync a product catalog, identify which audience you want to prospect or re-engage, and then pass the baton off to the platform to deliver the ad in real-time. In addition, as changes to the product occur such as pricing or stock availability, ads will automatically adjust accordingly. The big draw here is that you can run ‘always-on’ campaigns giving you the ability to continuously tailor the user shopping experience based on their interests.

If your ads are continuing to drive great results, you have the option to maintain your data flow and Snap will run the ad with the latest information so you don’t have to continue to update your listings. As the saying goes, sometimes the approach of not fixing what isn’t broken is the simplest and most effective. Bare in mind however, as a best practice you should aim to always have your finger on the pulse of the conversation versus setting and forgetting.

Success stories

Brands that have already tested the product include online fashion retailer Princess Polly Clothing and accessories brand, Vitality. The former reported that dynamic ads drove a 66 percent increase in CPP and a 171 percent boost to ROI.

Vitality described its ability to reuse existing product feeds to create high-quality full-screen ads with the new update. Through these efforts, the company saw a 21 percent increase in cost per purchase and a 29 percent increase in return on ad spend.

“Although it’s early, we’re seeing very promising results — our Dynamic Ads campaigns are driving a 66 percent decrease in Cost Per Purchase and a 286 percent increase in ROAS compared to our 2019 re-engagement Initiative running simultaneously,” reported Chris Ratterman, Founder & CEO at Shady Rays and another beta test partner.

Finally, The Ridge Wallet, the minimalist wallet company, saw that dynamic ads drove a 66 percent increase in CPP and a 171 percent boost to ROI.

A move to add depth to its offering to better serve advertisers in the retailer and DTC space is invaluable and comes during a time where other channels are quickly becoming saturated. Not to mention, many brands are growing reliant on platforms like Snapchat in order to improve how they cater to a younger audience base of Millenials and Gen Z and harness their buying power through creativity, convenience and authenticity.

More than 75 percent of the 13-34-year-old U.S. population is active on Snapchat, and daily Snapchat users open the app over 20 times each day, offering brands major opportunities to reach the right person with the right message at the right time,” said Gambarelli.

For additional insights to help prepare your brand, download the replay of our holiday e-commerce webinar hosted in partnership with MikMak earlier this fall.

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Advertising to the Next Generation: A Marketer’s Strategy Guide to TikTok

It’s been three years since TikTok, originally known as Musical.ly, ushered onto the scene, gaining traction of tweens and teens around the globe. The platform has since grown in size and scale, reaching over 1 billion downloads including 96 million in the United States alone. In terms of user base, there are 500 million across 150 countries.

Beyond lip-syncing Gen Z-ers, major brands and A-list celebs including Coca-Cola, Nike, Google and Khloé Kardashian are turning to TikTok to push sponsored posts or run ad campaigns. From a general community standpoint, the app also serves as a popular hub for extracting meme-able content.

For those unfamiliar, TikTok revolves around sharing 15-second video clips often set to music that is licensed from artists and record labels. If you’re a brand looking for new and creative ways to reach younger audience members, let’s take a look at what the app is all about and the basics for navigating its interface.

Setting up an account

By downloading the TikTok app, you can instantly browse any videos uploaded to the platform. However, to upload any yourself, you need to set up your own profile. Here are the basics for carrying out the process:

  • Set up an account by providing your email, phone number, or a third-party platform like Facebook
  • You will automatically be assigned an initial username by TikTok. If you provide a phone number this will take a very generic form such as user1234567 whereas providing your email will result in a more personalized result.
  • When you’re ready to change your username, tap the icon in the right bottom corner resembling a human’s upper body. Then hit ‘Edit Profile.’ In addition to swapping your picture, you can proceed to fill out a bio and set a Profile Video.

Browsing, sharing and reacting to TikToks

TikTok is divided into two basic feeds. Primarily, you’ll be shown the default titled, ‘For You,’ which contains algorithmically generated content comparable to Instagram’s Explore page. By swiping left, you’ll navigate over to the second of the feeds, ‘Following,’ which collects uploads from people you personally choose to follow. These can be influencers, comedy-focused accounts, whatever suits your daily entertainment needs.

To help curate your feed, hard press on a video to trigger a ‘Not Interested’ button that you can then select if you’d like to opt-out of that type of content going forward.

Each video you browse, you’ll see there are options to give the user a heart, like on Instagram and Facebook, and the ability to leave them a comment. To share your favorite TikToks to other platforms or via a text message, look for the symbol depicting a right-pointing arrow. By clicking on this, you’ll be provided with the specific link to use directly to that video,

Finally, to track a specific song that is being played in a TikTok, look for the symbol of a spinning record with music notes emanating from it. Tapping this will show you the track name, artist, as well as other TikToks that feature the song.

Recording and sharing your own TikTok

Now that you have that lay of the land, let’s walk through the steps for recording and sharing your own TikTok videos.

To record, select the plus sign symbol at the bottom of your screen. This will open your camera and reveal a red record button, much like you’d see if you were recording a video on Snapchat.

Here’s where you have a few options. You can either stick to the standard 15-second limit or record multiple clips and string them together for up to 60 seconds of total recording. Alternatively, you can upload even longer videos outside of TikTok and bring them into the platform later. Whichever you choose, you have the ability to use the timer feature so you don’t have to hold the record button the entire time.

To drop a song in your video, click ‘Add a Sound’ to the right of the recording screen. A menu of artists akin to what you’d see in your Spotify account will appear where you can either pick from the most popular tracks at the moment or look up a specific song in Apple Music. A caveat to note with this, however, is that TikTok’s short videos can’t be edited, meaning you can’t handpick a certain segment of the song to use. Some users have tried to get around this by using a third-party source to stream the full song, but at the risk of getting copyrighted.

Aside from music, TikTok offers an abundance of AR effects that can be accessed by selecting ‘Effects’ on the left-hand side. These range from filters intended for animals including dogs and cats to ones designed for humans. More specifically, the Beauty button will give you an assortment of options for enhancing your appearance such as removing dark circles under your eyes.

To help you keep track of who has liked or comment on one of your videos, viewed your profile, or started following you, select the notifications icon at the top of the home screen.

TikTok Challenges

‘Challenges’ are designed to bring TikTok users together through a lighthearted competition and brands are taking note for how they can get in on the action.

ABC, for instance, ran the #LikeAnAmericanIdol earlier this year encouraging users to share their singing skills. As of this year March, over 25 million users posted videos with the hashtag showing their participation. Separately, Chipotle partnered with an influencer for the #ChipotleLidFlip challenge seeing if users could replicate a trick involving the flipping of a Chipotle bowl’s lid. The campaign attracted 110,000 video submissions from fans.

What this translates into for brands are experimental ways to learn from a community, what they’re already engaging with and sharing, and then identify ways for their audiences to get involved in a way that is authentic to them.

Commenting on the creative opportunity for brands and marketers and why they’re flocking to use TikTok, Vice President, Blake Chandlee, recently shared at Advertising Week, “There’s been a real inflection point.” He underscored how the platform is unique in that it challenges marketers to produce something they can’t just replicate on other platforms. It’s a platform to be risky, be raw, and be a relevant storyteller in a way that aligns with today’s landscape that continues to be dynamic and unpredictable.

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5 Strategies for Your 2020 Gen Z Marketing Plan

Throughout the past decade, we’ve marketed to millennials and simultaneously made predictions and projections about the next generation: Gen Z.

With $44 billion in purchasing power and devoting nearly 75 percentof their free time online, it is critical to have a social media strategy to target them. Not to mention, come next year they’ll make account for 40 percent of all consumers in the U.S.

To help prepare you, here are 5 key strategies you’ll want to keep in mind:

Capitalize on blasts from the past

Brands steeped in the past are increasingly becoming awakened to the numerous opportunities of nostalgia marketing. Movies, including Disney remakes of Aladdin and the Lion King, TV shows such as Stranger Things, are proven successes for one reason: in an era of impersonal digital media, nostalgia is the tried-and-true avenue for forging sustainable consumer ties.

Digital natives are constantly measuring themselves up to the perfectly contoured, curated Instagram photos. When a brand can forge meaningful connections between past and present, they not only deliver the euphoria of taking that trip down memory lane, but they satisfy a hunger for relatability, authenticity, and trust.

A recent example of a brand that did just this is Nokia. In a major throwback to the early 2000s, the company recently released a 2019 version of the classic flip phone updated with the social media needs of users today like WhatsApp, Facebook, and Google Assistant. “[This] phone is ideal for you if you are looking for a digital detox,” said Juho Sarvikas, Chief Product Officer at HMD Global (Nokia’s parent company), at the launch event.

Champion is yet another example. Through collaborations with trendy products like Supreme and Undefeated that received widespread media attention, paired with celebrities like Kylie Jenner and Chance the Rapper rocking the clothes, it wasn’t long before the brand hit full-blown come back mode.

Don’t try too hard

Being authentic to your communities and audience members means above all, being true to yourself. It truly is that simple, yet something that carries a profound impact with respect to being able to establish and maintain meaningful engagement.

When National Geographic made its first attempt at Snapchat it went in with tremendous efforts to be “young,” “cool,” and “hip.” After finding this felt too forced and was unsuccessful, the brand reassessed and made the more effective move to lean back into who the brand truly was at its core and shift its priority towards emphasizing first-party storytelling.

White Claw, also known as the alcoholic beverage of summer 2019, employed the approach of letting its consumers do the marketing. Aside from a few appearances, including being a sponsor at this year’s Kentucky Derby, the company doesn’t push itself onto the public.

“We want to let consumers have the conversation they want to have,” said Sanjiv Gajiwala, 39, the senior vice president of marketing at White Claw. “I’m not interested in forcing myself into a conversation they’re already having about me. I’m grateful they’re having that conversation.”

Doritos, too, is taking note of such trends and is running a new ad campaign sans its own logo. The “Anti-Ad” called “Another Level” relies on its familiar, triangular shape and red and blue bags for familiarity but the marketing stops there. “The following is a paid message for a chip so iconic we don’t need to name it, cause this is an ad with no logos, no jingles, no gimmicks, just those red and blue bags with the stuff you love in it,” the video opens. Added to this, the company created a Snapchat lens encouraging users to turn their face into a triangle.

Adopt a mobile-first strategy

With smartphones being Gen Z’s device of choice it’s not shocking that 53 percent of the demographic are using these devices to make purchases. Platforms are recognizing this and making moves to incorporate ways to make in-app purchases and enhancing the quality of their content boosting its appearances on mobile screens.

Instagram, for instance, recently unveiled “shopping tags,” giving users the ability to tag brands in their photos to promote their apparel and their followers the opportunity to check out the brand themselves. Additionally, a “Swipe up” feature takes individuals directly to that specific product page if they decide to make a purchase.

Forty-percent of consumers report they won’t recommend a business to a friend or relative that they had a bad experience with, so the moral here is making the social shopping process as positive and painless as possible. A few easy ways to do this are:

  • Make sure your site operates as fast as possible
  • Break up large chunks of text with subheads so they’re digestible on mobile screens
  • Design mobile-friendly forms, pop-ups, and opt-ins

Notions of speed aside, videos have become a viral way to communicate on mobile. In 2019, 70 percent of consumers have shared a brand’s video on social media and more than 70 percent of businesses credit video with boosting their conversion rate. Fifty-two percent of consumers say watching product promos instills them with confidence when making online purchase decisions.

Be socially responsible

Per a recent Marketing Dive report, Gen Z is three times more likely to say that the purpose of business is to “serve communities and society.” Whatever environmental or social cause resonates with your brand, identify authentic ways to share this story in your messaging that will encourage your followers to get involved. These positive values are reliable indicators that your brand will stand out in a sea of competition and set the stage for long-term relationships with your audience.

S’well’s Million Bottle Project is a great example. The initiative aims to displace 100 million single-use plastic bottles by 2020. The company recently launched a Million Bottle Corporate Challenge to work with other brands to create positive change and uses the hashtag #reducetheuse to promote positive practices and spread the word.

Similarly, TOMS’ campaign “Stand for Tomorrow” allows its customers to pick an issue area that they stand for and have the money from their purchase of a TOMS product go directly to supporting that cause. Mental health, equality, safe water, and homelessness are a few examples.

Use influencer marketing

Gen Z is notorious for exerting caution when choosing what they buy and who they buy it from. They tend to do a lot of research and are less likely to trust a brand from the get-go. They prefer endorsements from celebrities compared to traditional ads, but only if they come across as genuine.

That said, as marketers, we have a due diligence to ensure our influencer partnerships are the result of a process in which we ascertain the message comes from the right person. In other words, the influencer’s views and values should map onto what you stand for. You may come to find a traditional A-lister won’t fit these criteria and that is totally fine. That’s where micro-influencers are coming into play.

These social-media users typically boast a smaller, yet more impactful following of roughly several thousand to 100,000 followers. Unlike the larger names, micro-influencers could be someone we know and are more likely to facilitate sentiments of likability. Per recent Nielsen research, 92 percent of consumers trust recommendations from people they know.

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5 Ways Gen Z Has Changed Social Media (and How Brands Have Taken Notice)

With over 61 million people in the United States alone, Generation Z is poised to bring about some significant changes. Indeed, CNBC’s Chris Morris covered how those born after 1996 are already changing the workplace and other aspects of day-to-day life.

Because members of Gen Z have grown up in the digital age, they are more comfortable with it than older generations — and as a result, they are also more inclined to influence and reshape it.

Anyone hoping to succeed in social media should be especially mindful of how Gen Z has already had an impact. Here’s a closer look at some of the ways Gen Z is changing the social media landscape, as well as how some brands have taken notice:

1. Channel Hopping

Unlike other groups, Gen Z isn’t always going to stay on the same social media platform for hours on end. As AdWeek’s Brittany Hodak explains, “Gen Z tends to find new products on Instagram, with 45 percent using it for brand discovery. They then turn to YouTube for product research at twice the rate that their millennial brothers and sisters do. Once Gen Z decides to make a purchase, many head into brick-and-mortar stores, where they’re more likely than any other generation to share their shopping experiences on Snapchat.”

This doesn’t just require that brands have a strong presence across several different social media channels — it also means that companies need to find ways to deliver smaller, bite-size pieces of content, such as by using shorter video pre-roll ads.

“If there is one thing Gen Z values most, it’s time,” writes Gen Z influencer and marketing expert Connor Blakley. “The best brands leverage new technology to provide customers with an added layer of functionality and convenience.”

2. The Rise of Digital ‘Third Places’

Third places” have long been viewed as important elements of building community—the places where we spend our time when we aren’t at home or at work. While third places have traditionally been physical locations like malls or coffee shops, Gen Z is leading a trend that sees digital software becoming its own third place.

One need only look at the wild success of Fortnite to see that digital spaces can become a legitimate third place. Other brands are also seeking to establish themselves in this same way.

For example, the app Squad lets users screen share from their smartphones — perfect for browsing apps together, watching videos or even collaborating on school projects when users aren’t in the same physical location. The app has already seen notable success among teen girls, thanks to its ability to create a digital hangout space.

3. The Power of Internet Influencers

Though athletes and pop stars still gain lots of headlines, Gen Z is far more likely to be influenced by social media celebrities. This could include anyone from fashion bloggers to Instagram travel photographers.

These mini-celebrities often have followers numbering in the thousands, rather than millions. But because they form closer connections with their niche audience, they are often viewed as more trustworthy and engaging when involved in marketing partnerships.

For example, Fiji Water partnered with fashion blogger Danielle Bernstein to create a series of workout videos, linking the influencer’s fitness and style credentials with the brand. Such partnerships will prove even more essential in communicating brand values to Gen Z — 57 percent have made purchases based on online influencer promotions.

4. Seeking Content First

Though connecting with friends through social media is still important for Gen Z, surveys have found that they are far more likely than other groups to use social media “to fill up spare time” or “to find funny or entertaining content.”

The phrase “content is king” may feel like it has been overused in recent years, but Gen Z’s social media habits prove that providing great content is crucial to connecting with this audience. Gen Z isn’t going to appreciate intrusive ads that disrupt their entertainment experience. However, brands that provide quality entertainment in their own right can quickly build a huge following of their own.

Red Bull’s YouTube channel doesn’t simply pump out ads for its drinks …

Instead, it focuses on lifestyle videos built around the extreme sports community. With over 8 million subscribers, it is clear that a content-first, rather than marketing-first approach will yield superior engagement.

5. Visual Content Dominates

Gen Z seeks visual content more than anything else when online, and their preferred social media networks are a clear reflection of this. A 2018 Pew Research Center study found that YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat are by far the most popular platforms for teens. In comparison, only about half of teens use Facebook, while less than one-third use Twitter.

The key commonality between the most popular social media platforms is their visual-first function. Videos and photos are more engaging and easier to consume, especially when viewed on a smartphone.

As Gen Z entrepreneur Deep Patel writes, “This opens the door for brands to share more human stories of their own, which will inspire audiences to try out their product. Storytelling feels real, immediate and personal, but it also demands a mix of more time-intensive video, images and graphics, and requires brands to be more creative and thoughtful in the intent.”

Incorporating your brand’s core messaging into visual content will make it much more likely to stand out and appeal to the younger generation.

By 2020, it is expected that Gen Z “will account for 40 percent of all consumers and influence nearly $4 billion in discretionary spending.” Savvy brands understand the importance of adapting to the changes Gen Z is bringing now so they will be better poised for success in the years ahead.

As you learn to leverage social media in a way that appeals to Gen Z, your brand will be far better positioned in our increasingly digital world.

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How to Make Videos Young Audience Want to Watch

Of an hour spent on social apps, millennials will spend 20 minutes of it looking at video content; Gen Z will spend 25 minutes doing the same. Can your brand match that sort of demand for video? At Social Media Week London 2018, VidMob’s Joline McGoldrick wants you to think about that question—not just in terms of quantity, but also in quality.

In this clip, Joline talks about how why brands need to re-think personalisation.

Read the full recap and watch their session on SMW Insider.

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The Creators of Tomorrow: How Gen Z Woke Up Woke

Facebook is dying.

In fact, it’s already dead for Gen Z. The forward-thinking generation that grew up entirely online has already shut the lid on Likes.

Millennials are becoming less and less relevant when it comes social media and marketing. Brands are looking to target and engage the digitally native under 24-year-olds and are battling for their heads as well as their hearts.

At Social Media Week London 2018, MOFILM went beyond data and curated their own case study that shone a light on Gen Z’s attitude towards all things tech and split their answers up into three sections:

The Pros and Cons

MOFILM’s study found that the benefits of social media for Gen Z were mainly linked to building portfolios and careers. They loved how platforms provided them with the opportunity to express themselves both personally and professionally and showcase their work. It found that they were more likely to want to build a business than their millennial counterparts. The negatives included how isolating social media can be. Arnott mentioned how, even though Gen Z thought that selfies were more so in caption as opposed to the image nowadays, there’s still an element of isolation to them and pressure to maintain expectations set by pre-constructed narratives.

Overall though, the benefits outweigh the negatives. Gen Z are extremely politically active and social media has leveled the playing field.

The Preferred Platform

Instagram was overwhelmingly the preferred platform, closely followed by YouTube. Instagram acts as a trampoline and offers exposure, whereas YouTube is a tailor-made TV substitute, featuring short videos for short attention spans. Facebook was seen for the older generation – an external study conducted by The American Trends Panel Survey Methodology, Pew Research Centre (2018) found that 44% of Gen Z deleted the app off phone entirely versus only 20% of those aged 50 plus. Snapchat is also slowly becoming outdated. One interviewee in the case study noted how Instagram had taken all the good features of Snapchat and incorporated them into Instagram as a “crazy power move.”

How Can Brands Connect in the Future?

In a nutshell, the answer was to refrain from spamming and to hire more Gen Z in the workplace.

Sincerity in campaigns is important when it’s natural for this generation to be watching and learning around the clock. Arnott suggested that brands should work smartly, collaboratively and value exchange. It was concluded that money would be wasted on frequency targeting and better spent on understanding how audiences worked. Mass exposure’s irrelevant when Gen Z will help expose a product if they believe in it as they have the tools to do so on demand.

It’s incredible how much impact one generation will have on the world; how much-unwarranted power is in young hands. As Arnott and Dixon’s presentation came to an end, an abundance of questions were asked, highlighting the degree of value Gen Z hold. Turns out it’s more than just the brands that want to know what they’re thinking.

Learn the latest trends, insights and best practices from the brightest minds in media and technology. Sign up for SMW Insider to watch full-length sessions from official Social Media Week conferences live and on-demand.

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