Reaching Gen Z on social media – where you’re going wrong

Rebecca Caruso Written by
Rebecca Caruso

On all of our phones, and on all of our laptops (tucked away between other tabs and windows) we have social media channels open and running.

There’s that app with the ghost on a yellow background, the app with a colourful camera, the famous blue F, and the other famous blue flying bird: what does it all mean? Why do we use it? Why do we enjoy them? And for what purpose?

Downloading these platforms, creating an account and using it is something this generation has grown up with. Thumbs, pinkies and necks have skeletally changed their shape as we have grown up to accommodate for small screen usage.

Connecting with others is as easy as a tweet (or retweet), double tap, or picture upload. However, most of the communication that goes on is not what engages Gen-Z in subscribing and using these channels as if it’s breakfast, lunch and dinner. In fact, most of the communication happens on WhatsApp, iPhone messaging, or other messenger services.

What helps us stay in the loop, and what may prompt direct communication, is the visual aspect of these apps.

What we enjoy creating, consuming, and engaging with is largely visual. It goes way back to the article I wrote on the values this generation would like to see embodied by companies: we want to see changes in the world, we want to see what people are saying, and what kind of people are saying it.

According to Criteo research, Gen-Zers used to be “evenly split across Facebook (55%), Snapchat (52%), and Instagram (52%).” But now, only about half use Facebook, and Instagram has risen up to 72%, Snapchat to 69%, and YouTube has entered the contest at a whopping 85% usage by Gen-Z.

In other words, we engage far more with platforms that are content driven, or, if anything, have one or two-word updates. To appeal to us, all of these platforms must have a picture/video, with a short (if at all) description of link to a formidable source.

To say we are susceptible to visual hooks would be an understatement: celebrity tabloids have gotten good at putting a scandalous picture with a short sentence about the potential scandal and a link to their article. Because of its accessibility, it’s easier to then lead us towards the article, and the more substantive part of the tabloid instead of merely interacting with an image.

The one thing that may differ is Twitter. While it is often a good chance to appeal to current events or to appear socially aware by posting memes, or images relating to these events, it’s difficult to do so on Facebook and Instagram. Twitter is the one place where retweeting, or posting funny captions, and interacting with other companies directly is acceptable and adds personability to the organisation. And, unless you’re Buzzfeed, or one of those Murder Mystery shows made especially as a short series, Snapchat should not be part of a company’s repertoire.

All in all, leave the quippy captions, the aesthetic pics and the link (either in the caption or in your bio) to Facebook and Instagram. The bulk of the content should be on Instagram, Facebook can be a great tool in engaging potential employees or updating the current ones and encouraging them to be more active community members in the company. Leave the funny side, the interaction and the wider consideration of the field to Twitter.