3 Tips for Re-Thinking Your Culture of Content and Engagement to Reach Gen Z

Posted by: Jeff Fromm

For the past 40-plus years, the great brands of yesterday were focused on creative excellence. They sought to craft the perfect message and then pushed it out via various shotgun methodologies, hoping to build brand awareness and regard for their products. That, by itself, no longer works. While it’s still mandatory to build awareness and regard, these two tenets alone will not translate into extraordinary or sustainable financial performance for brands. Content is now about engagement and discovery, not interruption advertising.

This is particularly true as we consider the newest generation on the scene, the pivotal Gen Z. While all generations are active on at least one of today’s many social platforms, teens are by far the most voracious and complex in their use of social media. Our research found that Gen Z leads when it comes to usage of YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Tumblr, Kik, Periscope and even Tinder. And, according to the #Being13 study conducted by CNN, there are a large percentage of 13-year-olds who check their social accounts upwards of 100 times per day. As a result, they are viewing and consuming content at an astronomical rate, which in turn has led them to want to cut out the “noise” that they often identify as coming from brands.

How do brands combat this and ensure that they are still heard?

Jake Katz, vice president of audience insights and strategy for youth content platform REVOLT TV, believes it boils down to three key insights.

  1. Speed is currency

“Over-thought creative processes, rounds of copy approval and an obsession with “but, are we on brand?” is what has stunted the marketing community from really being able to do digital the right way,” he says. “If you’re not real-time, you’re not relevant.”

  1. New media is not so new anymore

“We are, as humans, beyond the period of enlightenment and in a post-modern state of content consumption,” Katz explains. “The average consumer has many social media platforms that they check constantly, and each of them serves a different purpose – from self-expression to aspiration to connection. A brand’s content distribution strategy is as king as the content itself. The medium is still the message, and, now more than ever, defining what media outlets make sense for your category is incredibly important in content marketing.”

  1. Relevance can no longer be bought

“While brands used to be able to throw big budgets at massive reach opportunities, there’s been a decline in appointment-consumption coupled with a thinning attention span among the average consumer,” shares Katz. “Gen Z and Millennials, as well as increasingly older demographics, are too distracted to simply recall ‘loud’ marketing. While in purchase mode with a smartphone in hand, being top-of-mind in someone’s consideration set demands more sophisticated targeting than what the traditionally coveted 30-second Super Bowl spot can accomplish.”

For a brand’s content strategy to be successful in today’s modern consumer-driven market, it must activate and engage its digital community in ways that the advertising of yesterday never could by following new rules.

Want more on Gen Z? Get your copy of Jeff Fromm & Angie Read’s new book, Marketing to Gen Z, here!

This post was updated on March 30th, 2022. 

About Jeff Fromm

Although not a Millennial as defined by his age, Jeff Fromm is the Millennial Marketing Guy. Jeff is President of FutureCast, a marketing consultancy that specializes in Millennial trends, and is a contributing writer at...See Jeff's full bio.