If you missed the webinar from UTA’s Socially Relevant series, here’s your chance to catch it again. Joe Kessler of UTA hosted me and Megan Collins, Cultural Strategist at CULTIQUE in a conversation around how Gen Z views the digital landscape and what Zs expect from public figures and brands they follow online. We touched on Gen Zs as digital natives, how the ways Zs use social media is restructuring the online universe, and why being authentic is key for engaging Zs. We covered lots of ground in the webinar, here’s a brief recap of some of my perspectives from the discussion. Email UTAIQStrategy@unitedtalent.com for a link to view the full webinar.
Why is understanding the generations so important?
Joe kicked off the discussion with a big picture question worth asking, “why is understanding the generations so important anyway?” Good question. Generations are simply groups of people, born around the same time, who’ve been influenced by the same events, so they’re somewhat predictable in how they’ll respond to marketing, content, and new products and services. So understanding what makes a generation tick, in theory, gives creators a better shot at resonating with the generation they’re targeting.
That said, working with generational traits is not easy. Why? As humans, our default is to react to the world through the lens of our own experience. This is in our DNA, our survival as a species depended on it. And this served us well when we were trying to survive in the wild, but seeing the world through the lens of our own experience doesn’t serve us well when we are trying to, say, connect with colleagues from a different generation, produce content for someone from a different generation or write a script for someone from a different generation.
By definition, people from different generations have had different experiences. So if you want to crack the generational code and really connect with and understand someone from a different generation (and create content, products, and services for them!), instead of seeing them through the lens of your own experience, you must learn how to see them from their experience. This includes understanding things like the political and economic climate they grew up in, the parenting styles of their parents, what a day in their life looked like when they were kids, the major events shaped them, and so on.
Do this and you’ll have a powerful tool for creating content for and connecting with someone from a different generation.
Why is TikTok so important to Zs?
It’s more than just a place for dance videos and quick laughs, it’s the center of the Gen Z media universe. It’s the place where Zs get their news and information. It’s the place to express their creativity. It’s the place to have their voices heard and their perspectives validated. And it’s the place to organize and activate social movements.
And why TikTok rather than one of the other social media platforms? A few reasons…
TikTok is the app for their generation. Many Zs started on musical.ly (which later became TikTok) in elementary school, so TikTok always felt like the platform “for them”.
TikTok was designed for digital natives. Tiktok features a robust set of tools that unleashes the creativity of a generation who has spent a lifetime immersed in internet culture. Remixing content is a breeze and the app requires the digital literacy that Zs have in spades i.e. there’s no tutorials, profiles to set up, etc. upon login which makes it feel for them, by them.
TikTok’s short, casual video format is a natural fit for Zs who grew up preferring Facetime and Skype over voice calls. Zs are used to communicating (and performing!) candidly using video and TikTok’s short video format is a fit with the (short) attention spans of Zs.
There’s less pressure to be well-produced and professional (that’s so Millennial!) compared to Instagram and YouTube so Zs can crank out a lot of content quickly and feel good about it.
And finally, the algorithm democratizes content: it’s far easier to go viral on TikTok than the other social platforms.
And why are Reddit and Famous Birthdays so popular with Zs?
Famous Birthdays is essentially Wikipedia for Gen Zs. And it’s yet another example of Zs creating a new system instead of working within an existing system. In this case, it’s Gen Zs defining celebrity and influencers on their terms instead of waiting for the media gatekeepers to do it, which is what previous generations did. Similar to the TikTok algorithm that democratizes content, Zs participate in how fame is determined on Famous Birthdays and they can boost, or vote, for influencers and celebrities on the site themselves.
Meanwhile, Reddit is the place where Zs can find their people without having to “be” anything they’re not. Reddit is about sharing with people they don’t actually know so for many, it’s a way to explore different personas and interests. It’s like an old-school throwback to message boards and it’s refreshing in that way.
Want to learn more?Email UTAIQStrategy@unitedtalent.com for a link to view the full webinar.