With tools like FaceTime, Snapchat, Skype and Google Hangouts, members of Generation Z might be the most connected consumer group in history. They don’t need to be in the same location physically to communicate in full sight, sound and motion. Imagine if members of Gen X or the Baby Boomer generation had the same tools at their disposal in their youth – their social lives would have been off the hook! Or as Gen Z would say, “lit.”
While Gen Zers use their mobile devices for many tasks, 73 percent cited texting or chatting as their primary mobile-phone activity. This points to not only their desire but their basic human need to connect with one another. This is particularly true when it comes to their closest inner circles, as their overall use of social media centers around those who they trust most. Within these circles, they express themselves by posting comments, sharing photos and videos, noting their opinions, and linking to the top trends of the moment, from songs to influencer videos.
All in all, hyperconnectivity is not a distraction for Gen Z: it’s the first way to engage and build relationships. And as Barkley Engagement Director Joe Cox explains, “Social media is only fueled by how good your actual social life is, and Pivotals have a very profound knowledge of this – They’re collectors of experiences and use it to further their social currency with friends and people in social circles.”
But as a result, Gen Z has developed what we call the “Instagram effect.” Social media creates pressure on them to present the coolest version of themselves – to be Instagram-worthy. This effect is by no means a mysterious phenomenon. Teens will openly admit to taking countless photos in attempt to get the best shot.
Chompoo Baritone, a Bangkok-based photographer fascinated by the Instagram effect, created a photo series to illustrate it. Her photos show the reality of what’s just outside the perfectly cropped frame. Pivotals related to the collection of photos and unabashedly shared it amongst their networks. While even seemingly ridiculous at times, the shots by Baritone provide a realistic reflection of the value that is placed on having the “right” social life by Gen Z. Her work, and the acceptance of it by the very group it pokes fun at, is just another indicator of how much importance this generation places on connectivity.
So, what do brands need to know to support Gen Zers on their connected journeys?
Pivotals are mobile-first. They prefer the connectivity in the palm of their hands, accessible at all times. Brands must adapt to this when it comes to website presence and digital development.
Pivotals use social media to amplify every aspect of their lives. From their social interactions, to their education, to their philanthropic extracurricular activities and more, Gen Z wants and expects complete digital integration. Brands will not win with this group unless they offer this first and foremost.
Pivotals crave connection – but the right kind of connection. This means they don’t want to be bombarded by irrelevant content, a.k.a advertisements and gimmicks. Gen Z will see right through and subsequently remove brands from their sphere. Brands need to determine what matters to this generation and share it the right way.
Want more on Gen Z? Stay tuned for Jeff Fromm & Angie Read’s new book, Marketing to Gen Z, coming Spring 2018. Pre-order here!