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6 Ways You Can Drive Deeper Engagement With Gen Z 

May 2024

6 Ways You Can Drive Deeper Engagement With Gen Z 
Written by Ebony Newman, Melissa Kovach, Chrissy Johnson, and Aerolyn Shaw

Gen Z, an audience that has spent their entire lives online, is reshaping the media landscape, specifically in the realm of news dissemination and consumption. Unlike their predecessors, this generation isn’t made up of consumers of current events; they don’t actively seek out news. Instead, they integrate news into their digital lives, with news and information reaching them through their social media feeds and online communities. 

A recent study by Morning Consult revealed a notable trend among Gen Z adults: only about one-third actively pursue news, and of those, half rely exclusively on social as their primary source. This departure from traditional news-seeking behavior challenges conventional norms, especially as news consumption among this demographic is rapidly growing on video-first platforms. 

Gen Z’s influence on the media landscape is substantial and will continue to reshape the dynamics of news consumption, sharing and engagement. 

Here are 6 ways you can drive more meaningful campaigns tailored to their preferences and behaviors through paid, earned, social and organic strategies. 

1. Meet Gen Z Where They Are

While the U.S. population in general accesses news from social media, Gen Z is 50% more likely than the national population to list their primary source of news as social media, according to YouGov data. Data from Pew Research Center shows that one third of adults under 30 get their news from TikTok specifically, a figure that continues to grow year over year.  

Gen Z favors video-first apps such as YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram. One in five teens report they are on YouTube and TikTok “constantly” and 71% access YouTube daily. As usage amongst these apps increases, prioritize investing in paid strategies to ensure they are reaching their audience where they spend their time.  

Take advantage of rich targeting capabilities across platforms to provide personalized ad experiences, something Gen Z favors more than older generations. Gen Z is three times more likely than Boomers to allow tracking when presented with the choice, which allows you to reach a more tailored audience. Gen Z spends more time on social media than any other generation, clocking in over 3 hours per day. This data is very exciting for marketers as we have a large cohort entering adulthood who favor targeted ads and spend a significant amount of time interacting with media. To capitalize on this opportunity, ensure your messaging and ad creation is aligned with this audience. 

2. Use Authentic Storytelling in Videos

Video assets are increasingly imperative if you are looking to build engagement with Gen Z. Not only is video in general a must-have, but vertical videos are also the main format to consider as 95% of teens access these apps through a smartphone. While videos are the key medium, what sets an ad apart is the storytelling within the video. Like millennials, Gen Z prefers authentic ads experiences. But with the increased appetite for video, communicating that authenticity in a genuine way is key, which is why we’ve seen an increase in the number of video ads that aren’t excessively polished. Leaning on video ads that amplify relatable content is key for engaging with this audience.  

3. Build New Platform Relationships

Fewer Gen Z adults follow the news closely, specifically via traditional media like cable news or even media outlet websites. As a marketer, you can establish relationships with unconventional journalists and content creators across alternative media channels. As a result, you’ll organically reach this audience with earned coverage.  

In addition to typical tier-one media outlets, consider targeting niche platforms like newsletters or subculture websites to cater to Gen Z’s specific interests, lifestyle and demographics. On the flip side, brands can leverage content creators to share exclusive news or co-create immersive experiences that foster authentic connection and engagement. These alternative channels offer access to a primed and engaged audience, allowing brands to customize their media outreach strategies and craft messaging that resonates with this audience’s consumption preferences. 

4. Engage, Inform, and Entertain on Social Media

To effectively capture the attention of Gen Z, who heavily favors video-centric platforms for both news and entertainment, prioritizing visual content is a major key. This involves embracing their penchant for humor and craving for authenticity, elements that resonate deeply with this demographic. Platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube serve as fertile ground for engagement, aligning with their natural content consumption habits.

Incorporating elements like creativity, animation, and interactivity further enhances the appeal and shareability of content tailored to this audience. Leveraging collaborations with influencers or content creators entrenched in these platforms can significantly amplify the reach and authenticity of the message conveyed. Ensuring authenticity in these partnerships is crucial, fostering credibility and trust within the discerning Gen Z audience. 

5. Foster a Community-First Approach on Social

Recognizing the integral role of news within Gen Z’s online communities, a community-centric approach is integral. This entails fostering discussions and interactions surrounding news topics within relevant online communities and groups. To encourage participation and engagement, create content such as polls, AMA sessions, and discussion-based content related to current events. Given Gen Z’s emphasis on authenticity and inclusivity, it’s essential to ensure that these interactions feel genuine and inclusive of diverse perspectives.  

Additionally, empowering Gen Z to be co-creators of news content by soliciting user-generated content, such as eyewitness videos or personal narratives, not only boosts engagement but also enhances the authenticity and relatability of the content. Leveraging social listening tools to monitor conversations and sentiment around news topics within Gen Z communities enables practitioners to adapt their content strategy based on emerging trends and audience feedback, ensuring relevance and resonance. 

6. Enhance Visual Storytelling with Owned Content

Gen Z’s demand for authenticity and relatability in the content they consume is huge. This makes it crucial for brands to create narratives that resonate with their everyday experiences and interests. To effectively capture and maintain the attention of this demographic, leverage the power of visual storytelling. This involves integrating not just static images but also videos, infographics, and interactive media into blog posts, newsletters, and podcasts.  

For example, use infographics to summarize the key points of a detailed analysis or c­reate short, engaging video clips that highlight main ideas in a relatable way.  ­­­These additions ensure that your content is not only digestible and appealing but also highly shareable on the platforms where Gen Z is most active. By combining genuine narratives with compelling visual content, your brand can build trust, enhance engagement, and encourage deeper interactions with Gen Z audiences.

Building Lasting Connections with Gen Z

To drive deeper engagement among Gen Z, brands must adapt to their unique media consumption habits and preferences. By leveraging paid, earned, social, and owned strategies, as a marketer, you can create authentic, relatable content that resonates with this digital-native generation. Embracing these tactics will not only enhance engagement but also build lasting connections with Gen Z. 

Looking for the best ways to strategically reach Gen Z across all forms of media? Connect with us to learn more about how our marketing experts can help. 


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