Tech-savvy . . . Visually-oriented . . . Socially-minded . . . Community-focused These are 4 common traits of the group known as Gen Z. These folks are roughly defined as people born between 1995 and 2012, they represent the most diverse and multicultural generation ever, and they drive some of the largest behavioral and cultural shifts in today’s society. If we as communications professionals want to effectively reach and connect with this group, we need to re-think our approach and keep the following concepts in mind.
Gen Zers are digital natives. They grew up with the internet, smartphones, and social media. They are not only accustomed to the availability of information, but also to the immediacy of information. They know how to fact-check EVERYTHING, and they have an uncanny ability to filter content. As a result, transparency and accountability are critical to this group. Our messaging not only has to resonate with them, it has to be genuine, and it has to reach them on the platforms that they are most drawn to, namely social media. While Facebook remains the largest platform overall, it has essentially plateaued with Gen Zers, so channels such as Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok are often the best venues in which to reach this group.
Gen Zers communicate with images, and they multitask across multiple screens. They take in information instantaneously, and lose interest just as fast, so communications need to be concise and visual. If we don’t effectively capture their attention quickly, they will move on (or scroll on) to the next article, blog, advertisement, etc. Gen Zers communicate in bite sizes, so we need to focus on creating punchy headlines or razor sharp text rather than lengthy chunks of words or long-winded passages in order to resonate with this group.
Gen Zers value inclusivity; they are socially-minded and situationally aware. They resonate with causes or companies that have clear values and a defined mission. Diversity, social responsibility, tolerance, and ethical practices are at top of mind for this group, so the content we create for them should not only align with their needs, but with their values as well. In order to capture and maintain Gen Zers attention, our messaging has to be educational, entertaining, or valuable, but most importantly, it has to be authentic.
Gen Zers actively look for ways to engage and connect. The pandemic resulted in feelings of isolation for all of us, but it hit Gen Zers especially hard. Building a community and connecting with like-minded individuals are crucial to this group, and they actively participate on platforms that are community-focused. Two popular platforms are Reddit, a social network where people can dive into their interests, hobbies, and passions, and Discord, a platform for hosting real-time text, video, and voice chat. Gen Zers yearn for meaningful interactions, so our communications strategies must be personal and relatable, and the stories we craft should be customized to their interests.
As Gen Zers grow and mature, the concepts they hold dear will undoubtedly continue to influence today’s society, and it’s certainly reasonable to assume that their children will follow suit in the values they spread. As communicators, we must be prepared to pivot and effectively embrace these concepts in order to successfully connect with this generation and with generations to come.
Written by Lisa Roberts-Cadorette