Gen Z, "Gen We," or Whatever We're Calling People Age 13–17
Two things on the youngest of the youth. First up, a pretty interesting infographic—which reveals, among other interesting stats, that YouTube is the most popular social channel. According to Adweek, 95% of Gen Z uses it, with nearly 50% stating that they, quote, "could not live without it." More predictably, Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat follow YouTube (in that order) in terms of popularity.
The infographic also notes that most Gen Zers "are cool" with branded content, which brings us to this second article. It's worth a full read, but here are three main takeaways:
- Gen Z is... more likely than millennials to view brand photos, like/share brand content, read product reviews, and tag friends in branded content.
- Gen Z, who grew up with the internet and are not only demanding that all brands entertain them, but also that entertainment shifts to behave like a friend. It’s also why influencers are so effective in selling to this generation.
- Half of teens would prefer to see a brand advertise via social influencers rather than produce TV commercials, pre-roll video ads, sponsored articles/posts, or banner ads.
Interested in the generation gap? Click here to learn more.
On Net Neutrality
The Net Neutrality debate is back in the spotlight, thanks largely to a recent John Oliver bit. If you can spare 20 minutes to watch the video, it’s certainly worthwhile. But the core of the issue is this:
Net Neutrality means that all websites are treated the same by internet service providers (ISPs). Eliminating Net Neutrality would essentially permit ISPs to give preferential treatment to certain websites, while throttling access to others. For example, Bing could pay Verizon, and in turn Verizon would make sure search engines like Google or Yahoo! run much slower through Verizon’s network, with the net result of Verizon users getting fed up and eventually turning to Bing, which Verizon keeps running at normal speed.
And the reason Oliver is calling attention to the issue is because Trump’s new head of the FCC, Ajit Pai, has stated that Net Neutrality’s “days are numbered.”
On the surface, Net Neutrality concerns might not sound wholly related to the marketing world—but it spells out a future where it might have severe implications. Imagine a world where paying off ISPs to maintain good connections to clients sites is factored into budgets. We’re not necessarily close to that reality yet, but we’re getting closer to a legal justification for establishing that kind of system.
Facebook's Questionable Targeting Methods
Teenagers are typically a bit emotional. The idea of marketers exploiting that for a brand’s gain should make you feel a bit uneasy. Well... what if exploiting it was a systemic issue that the industry was enabling, if not encouraging? Not good.
A document leaked earlier this month revealed that Facebook is helping marketers target young users who feel particularly vulnerable, and none of it will leave you feeling very good.
Facebook can and will let advertisers pinpoint, ‘moments when young people need a confidence boost.’ The document specifies what emotional states Facebook is interested in helping advertisers pinpoint: ‘stressed,’ ‘a failure,’ ‘worthless,’ ‘insecure,’ ‘defeated,’ ‘anxious,’ ‘silly,’ ‘useless,’ ‘stupid,’ and ‘overwhelmed.’ Other parts of the document... focused on body image and weight loss, describing how image-recognition tools are used on Instagram and Facebook.
This isn’t the first morally questionable and generally tactless offering this social platform is willing to give marketers. A few months ago they came under some fire for attributing an "ethnic affinity" to users, basically using context clues to guess at your heritage or racial identity. There’s not really an update beyond that, but for all we talk about “Facebook’s robust targeting capabilities,” it’s interesting to examine the instances when they overreach and make their user base uncomfortable.
SC Cheat Sheet
Digiday has put together a nifty one-pager detailing the changes in Snapchat’s latest paid offerings (including sponsored world-lenses and new targeting options), highlighting some platform stats, and sharing some industry takes. Still, despite the tweaks and updates, it’s easy to sympathize with the author’s closing thoughts on the platform:
Snapchat has entered the trough of disappointment. Many marketers (and publishers) would like for it to become a counterweight to Google and Facebook, but there’s an open question as to how quickly it can innovate while Facebook keeps copying its features.
Not covered in the cheatsheet is Snapchat's new "Group Stories" feature. It is more or less exactly what it sounds like:
Groups of friends can make two different types of custom Stories: those that are tied to a specific location and those shared directly with a group of friends. In both cases, a custom Story can be active within the app for more than 24 hours, but each piece of content shared to a Story will only be live for 24 hours.
This seems to open the door for brands and influencers to share a story, which is kind of cool, as content creators can place snaps directly next to the influencers they’re paying. There are also a lot of opportunities for co-branded campaigns and things of that nature.
Sometimes change on social media is obvious—new features, tools, platforms, etc. Other times it’s a bit more subtle. Here’s a terrific example of the latter. A few years ago humor and slang helped marketers cut through the noise, giving brands’ social channels a playful and humanizing touch. Predictably, it became a pretty popular tactic. At some point, though, and it’s unclear when, that sort of "I'm just like you" fun and silly messaging lost its impact.
Now data shows that it's not only overdone—it's actually a quantifiably ineffective approach. Only 1/3 of consumers favor "snarky" brands on social media, while less than half of consumers care if a brand is "trendy."
So what does it mean? Well, you should probably drop the "bae," "fam," and "squad" lingo from your content calendars and engagements, instead focusing on being honest, friendly, and helpful.