This is part 2 of a 3 part series. If you haven't read part 1 yet, check it out here.
Gen Z marketing – why do so many brands struggle with it?
Gen Z skews away from traditional social media. They interact online in different ways than the generations that came before. Brands now have the tasking of finding Gen Z in their spaces and figuring out a way to creatively connect with them on their playing field.
More intimate interactions in ‘digital campfires’ are how Gen Z audiences connect. They are also more adept at using technology and prefer to view short-form content such as TikTok videos. They are a powerful generation who are not only influencing their own age groups but shaping the culture at large.
Marketers can not afford to ignore them. In this part of our Ultimate Guide to Marketing to Gen Z, we will look at how Gen Z engages with brands and what platforms marketers need to be paying attention to.
When it comes to social media platforms with large Gen Z followings, the one you should immediately think of is TikTok.
According to GreenBook, 20% of Gen Z users spend five hours a day or more on TikTok. It is home to numerous niche subcultures so you will be able to find your ideal audience no matter how ‘out-there’ or hyper-specific their interests or activities are.
TikTok's algorithm is what has helped it soar to success with Gen Z users. Once a user shows an interest in a certain type of content the algorithm is great at finding and serving up more of that content.
One great way that brands can use this to interact with Gen Z audiences is through hashtags. Jumping in on trends can help your content get served to uses who have shown interest in that trend and expand your audience.
I know you are probably thinking “what is a digital campfire?”
This is essentially a more private and intimate location online for users to interact. Gen Z uses these spaces to private message one another, find and connect with micro-communities and participate in digital experiences.
You may be familiar with some digital campfire platforms such as Fortnite. Many of these types of platforms are either games or spaces that started as gathering places for gamers.
Gaming has gone from being a specific hardcore audience to spilling over into popular culture over the past few years. Much of this change was fueled by the pandemic. Today, “gaming” is a place for everyone and is used as a way for Gen Z audiences to interact online.
Fortnite is a massive gaming platform with 350 million accounts. The season-end event for December 2020 had a record 15.3 million players with an additional 3.4 million people watching the event on YouTube and Twitch.
Fortnite does not share its demographic data so there are no stats about how many of its users fall into the Gen Z category. However, the Head of Global Partnerships for Epic Games (Fortnite’s parent company) Nate Nanzer says that “age 14 to 24 is our core.”
Fortnite presents an excellent opportunity for brands to engage with Gen Z but they have to get creative as this is a completely different platform from anything many marketers have navigated before.
Brands can engage with users in Creative Mode. This is a gameplay mode where users build their own custom islands and invite friends to visit them and interact.
eSports company 100 Thieves used this mode to recreated its company headquarter. They went into extreme detail and then allowed Fortnite users to come to their headquarters and participate in quests and “Easter egg” hunts in exchange for Fortnite gear.
Discord is less well known than Fortnite but another platform that offers an opportunity for digital campfires. It launched in 2015 as a space for gamers to connect. It now has 140 million monthly active users. A staggering 70% of their users now report that their main use of the platform is for non-gaming purposes.
Discord does not support advertising so brands have to be thoughtful about how they connect with Gen Z audiences here.
A common Discord strategy is to create your brand's own dedicated server. A great example of this comes from the NBA’s Sacramento Kings.
The Kings hose live Q&As with players, broadcast personalities, and executives which attract large audiences.
Sometimes it is easiest to learn by example, especially when experimenting with new types of marketing. Here are some of our favourite ways that brands are using these platforms to interact with Gen Z audience:
Hip-hop musician Travis Scott hosted a series of five concerts within the Fortnite game last April. 27 million players attended and this demonstrated the power that digital events can have especially in times of COVID-19 when in-person concerts and events present risks for brands.
If you think your brand is not for Gen Z or that these platforms don't fit your brand, you might simply need to get a little more creative. Who would think that a toilet paper brand would see souring success on a gaming platform?
Well, the marketers at Charmin toilet paper made it happen. In July 2020, they created a game called Deuce Destroyer for Twitch. Users have to shoot down flying piles of poop. Players who won the most points got virtual prizes that they could use on the Twitch platform.
Another unlikely brand to see success on a Gen Z platform was Simmons, the 150-year-old mattress brand.
They launched a campaign on TikTok with the hashtag #snoozzzapalooza. They encouraged TikTok users to re-imagine their bed as a stage and “stage dive” onto it.
Over a million TikTok users created videos with the hashtag. From this campaign alone Simmons got more than 6 billion views and saw a 104% increase in traffic to its website.
Gen Z is gathering in spaces online that marketers have little experience with because they are new or emerging. But marketers who want to reach Gen Z audiences have to embrace these changes and connect with Gen Z users on their own turf. This means diving into platforms such as TikTok and Fortnite.
See inspirations here:
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