By Caroline Lee, guest blog contributor
PRSA Boston’s Faculty Forum, a group of passionate educators creating the next generation of leaders in PR, is offering a series of guest posts written by talented students majoring in the communications field. For this guest post, we welcome insights from Caroline Lee. An aspiring journalist, Caroline is a senior at Boston College with a double major in Communication, and Applied Psychology & Human Development.
For the past years, Millennials and their unrelenting obsession over their cellphones and social media have been hot topics in the media, and an opportunity for brands to drive sales. Numerous prominent brands invest in social media to connect with this growing population. Yet, in the fast-paced world of social media and branding, Generation Z members – born between 1995 and 2012 – are quickly surpassing Millennials as a key target audience for brands.
Generation Zers are just like Millennials in many ways, just more wired to their devices. Members of Gen Z, the cohort immediately following Millennials, are the first to be born completely immersed in the digital age. They hold an estimated buying power of more than $44 billion, making Gen Zers an appealing and lucrative target audience for businesses.
If businesses want to connect emotionally with Gen Z, and drive brand loyalty and gain market share among these young digital natives, investing in social media is the best bet. According to a study, 80 percent of the shopping decisions made by Gen Zers are influenced by social media.
Which Channels Should You Choose to Use?
PR experts can connect with Gen Zers through their channels of choice, namely Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat. Today, Instagram may be the most important social media platform for public relations and integrated marketing campaigns. According to recent data, 44 percent of purchases made by Gen Zers were impacted by Instagram, making this social media channel the most influential when it comes to making purchasing decisions. YouTube was second, followed by Snapchat, according to the study.
Snapchat—with its Story feature that allows users to post pictures and short video clips that can be viewed an unlimited number of times for 24 hours before they disappear—used to dominate the Gen Z market. However, Instagram Stories are quickly becoming more popular than Snapchat Stories. Instagram reported that, as of April 2017, more than 200 million users engaged with Instagram Stories, which is 40 million more than those who use Snapchat Stories. This user-base, which only took months for Instagram to accumulate while it took Snapchat years, continues to grow rapidly.
Stories allow a business to post a series of photos or short video clips— instead of just choosing one or two—in a more casual way because they know their stories are only temporary. This creates a more authentic feel, which Generation Z members enjoy, according to research. Plus, users get fresh content daily and companies can market their products and services on a daily basis. Ephemeral media content is only growing in popularity, as Instagram continues to attract a vast user-base that has a taste for instantaneous media content that is constantly being updated.
Instagram also reported that 80 percent of Instagram accounts follow a business profile. And even when users aren’t following business accounts, more than 200 million users visit at least one business profile daily. Instagram users are not shy about following brands they like, giving companies plenty of chances to post content that will resonate with potential Gen Z customers.
PR practitioners, marketers and advertisers should seriously consider hopping on the social media train. Whether they like it or not, social media is increasingly becoming an integral part of peoples’ lives. And it may be the most effective way to reach the millions of Generation Zers – many of whom have never gone a day without using social media.
To learn more about social media and how it can boost business to consumer engagement, save the date PRSA Boston’s 6th annual Social Media Summit, May 11 at Bentley University. The Summit will feature trends and insights from a wealth of social media experts. Last year’s Summit drew more than 300 PR and marketing professionals from the New England region.
Get your ticket HERE!