Get your own Little Black Book.

Build your own personal news stream. Discover the latest work created that interests you, share your favourite stories and follow your favourite people and companies

Already have an account?

The Influencers

5 Social Media Dating Tips for Brands Seeking Gen Z

INFLUENCER: iris Atlanta recently conducted a survey of purchasing habits of Generation Z. Here's what Social Director James Martin learned

5 Social Media Dating Tips for Brands Seeking Gen Z

I’m too old to fully understand that even if something’s ‘lit,’ it doesn’t mean there can’t be any ‘shade.’ But I do know that if I attempted to use either of these words convincingly in their updated definition with anyone under the age of 21, the embarrassment level and loss of dignity would fall somewhere between man-bun and male romper-suit. 

At iris, we recently conducted a survey of purchasing habits of Generation Z, a group that now represents 2 billion people worldwide, and by 2020, will account for 40% of all US consumers. Here are some things we learned, shamelessly written as dating tips to persuade you to read more. SPOILER: Doesn’t contain any references to sending nudes.


1) Impress their friends

In 1996, the Spice Girls famously sang, “If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends,” which is not only strangely prescient about future marketing efforts targeting people born that year, but also provides an excellent opportunity for me to lose any credibility with younger people reading this article. The truth is that Generation Z (at least according to our study) cares more about approval from their peers than ever before, and this is almost certainly a product of social media. For them, 36% of discovery of new brands happens via people they know, rather than brand efforts, and this is just the beginning of a continuous loop of validation which extends beyond the physical purchase. 


2) Get to know their interests

Influencer marketing is nothing new (I’m sure Queen Cleopatra did wonders for the kohl eyeliner industry), but its social media march towards global domination continues, one product-placement selfie at a time. According to a study by Chute, 60% of brands have implemented influencer marketing in their 2016 marketing strategy, and the number is predicted to jump to 75% by the end of 2017.  If it’s good enough for the people they respect, it’s good enough for Gen Z. In fact, research from MuseFind shows that 92% of consumers trust an influencer more than an advertisement or traditional celebrity endorsement. Researching a potential purchase is no longer just about surveys and product reviews but also increasingly about ‘social word-of-mouth,’ which carries even more weight if it’s from a source of inspiration. 


3) Don’t do all the talking

Research has always been important to the advertising industry, and social media is effectively one giant qualitative research group. Paying attention to what people are saying about your brand, as well as the way they talk about the things that interest them certainly pays dividends. If 95% of the comments on posts are “delete your account,” then it might be time to change something. Similarly, don’t feel you have to fill the silence - if you’re a luxury car brand, you probably don’t need to post about National Onion Rings Day (June 22nd, in case you’re interested). This sounds like an obvious point, but judging by the number of posts that appear on a daily basis, many of which are completely irrelevant to the brand or audience, it seems like it might still be worth mentioning. A recent survey by Sprout Social found that 71% of people find political posts from brands to be annoying, however, there are still, seemingly, 29% of people who don’t mind political guidance from the people who make their toothpaste, so it’s not all bad news for marketers. 


4) Just be yourself

You don’t have to call anyone ‘bae.’ In fact, you probably shouldn’t. There’s a big difference between understanding Generation Z and trying to mimic them and the way they DEFINITELY hand cans of soda to cops during marches. In fact, the aforementioned Sprout study found that one of the biggest turn-offs (despite this being written as dating tips, I don’t mean that in the bedroom sense) for consumers in general was brands using slang, with 74% of total respondents saying it puts them off. Interestingly, the number drops to 59% for a millennial audience, so it seems the trend may be towards accepting it, although there’s a fine line between being cool and sounding like a creepy uncle at a wedding. If you’re not sure your audience has exactly the same #SquadGoals when it comes to use of younger vernacular, it may be best to leave it out. The word ‘relatable’ is one that gets used a lot, but really, it’s just an updated way of saying ‘insightful,’ and 86% of people in the survey simply wanted their brands in social to be ‘honest.’ Just like all good advertising should be, right? 


5) Don’t be too eager

It’s a myth that Generation Z shares everything on social, and their filter (figurative, rather than Instagram) is even more stringent when it comes to sharing brands and purchases, particularly in the more ‘broadcast’ social channels. The astronomic growth of messaging apps (Kik is now the number one app for teens in the US) represents a trend towards sharing select content with specific individuals, rather than shouting everything from the social media rooftops. Much in the same way that you probably wouldn’t update your Facebook profile picture to a smug shot of you and your new beau unless you’re really into them, or at the very least have introduced them to your closest allies (see how I’ve cunningly dragged it back to dating), Generation Z seems less prone to proudly displaying new wares to their wider network without at least a litmus test. So, just because teenagers aren’t responding to your battle cry to “share a pic of you in your new kicks” in a public place, it doesn’t mean they’re not doing it privately among friends, which may be even more powerful.

I’ll leave it there, largely because convention dictates that tips should come in batches of 3, 5, or 10 to avoid confusion with BuzzFeed lists. I hope it’s been of some use to someone. I’m off to delete every Spice Girls track from my playlist, just in case I meet an untimely end, and the coroner deduces that cause of death is ‘shame.’



James Martin is Social Director at iris Atlanta 

Genre: Strategy/Insight