Here’s How Gen Z Uses Social Media, in Their Own Words

Brands can grab their attention with the right ads

gen z panel social media day one agency
Day One Agency asked aspiring marketers to share how they spend their time on the internet.
Fritz Gilbert

Forget keeping up with the Joneses—brands are constantly playing catch-up with the changing trends of Gen Z. With social media being as much a part of their lives as, well, real life, Adweek dove into how Gen Z is using these platforms so brands can see what they’re doing in real time.

Marketing firm Day One Agency brought together six of its Gen Z interns from New York and Los Angeles to share which platforms they use to consume media, how they share content and what’s important to them when choosing brands. Questions were submitted through the agency’s Instagram Stories, on AskGenZ.com and by Day One clients wanting a clearer picture of what Gen Z expects from brand marketing.

One of the hottest topics was which social media platforms Gen Zers use most. For constant communication, panelists agreed Snapchat is the easiest method. “It’s my go-to when it comes to staying in touch with my community,” Sofia Tasolides said.

When it comes to news, Tyler Yee “[goes] on Reddit for curated news and topics that I am personally interested in or studying.” Cheyenne Desorosiers uses Twitter for its “quick content” and following conversation threads she’s interested in. Podcasts are also increasingly popular among Gen Zers.

Another rising trend is the Instagram-like network VSCO, which Marissa Levine uses to take, edit and share her photos.

Just as individuals can promote their presence on social media, brands can leverage not just their aesthetics but also values to attract the Gen Z audience. Establish an identity, and “your brand can come out naturally,” Desorosiers said.

The panel agreed that to appeal to Gen Z, brands need to focus on aligning with their interests and values, which include sustainability and representation in their marketing. Claman said she supports and follows Aerie because the lingerie company is inclusive of all body types and gender identifications.

But Gen Zers don’t necessarily live their lives out loud. Finstas, or fake Instagram accounts, have become a popular way to voice thoughts and opinions to a smaller, more private audience. Snapchat private stories are also a way post content that “you wouldn’t necessarily want everyone to see,” Tasolides said.

Participants also admitted their attention span is much shorter than previous generations because of the constant short-form flow of information, so brands must get their message across quickly.

Even though studies show Gen Zers are watching less cable TV, they’re avid streamers, and binge watching is a popular way to consume media. Having well-crafted ads targeted to this demographic on streaming platforms has the potential for high returns because Gen Zers admit they prefer the free, ad-supported versions of these services rather than subscribing.

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