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Understanding the new generation of Gen Z social platforms

Rob Kabrovski, VP of Accounts EMEA at Adaptly, reviews three of the platforms most popular with the Gen Z audience.

A flurry of new social platforms are emerging with a clear focus on Generation Z: a young and tech-savvy demographic segment which, in reality, many marketers know relatively little about.

Studies show that, by 2020, Generation Z will account for close to 40% of all consumers, making it more important than ever to successfully connect with and engage the 16-19 year age group. And shrewd companies are starting to pay attention.

Yeay, a social shopping app which came out of beta only three months ago, is so popular with young people that Apple execs have already been to its offices to understand more about its audience of dedicated 13 to 20-year-olds. The platform allows its users to upload videos as a way of selling various types products, offering a commercial marketplace element alongside a social channel complete with stickers and filters.

Yeay is interesting for brands wishing to reach a younger customer group as its users actively meet not only to share ideas but also to trade products online. This could potentially open up great opportunities for advertisers to serve highly targeted content based on the consumer behaviour users display on the platform. Younger audiences are known for wanting fast, “snackable” content that is relatable and actionable.  So an app where product videos become transactional definitely has the potential to fulfil this need, should Yeay decide to start offering ad products to companies going forward.

Another Gen Z focused platform, Musical.ly, became an overnight sensation when it first launched in 2014, exploding to the top of the App Store charts about a year ago and staying within the Top 40 list ever since. The app lets its users create their own lip-syncing music videos in order to share these with friends. The 15-second clips are long enough to tell a story, but not so dragged out that they fail to capture the flickering attention of the platform’s young audience. In fact, it’s been shown that users spend an average of three and a half minutes on the app every time they open it, indicating that Musical.ly manages to capture and maintain people’s attention.

This provides an attractive proposition for advertisers looking to engage with the Gen Z age group in a fun and interactive way. That being said, brands need to ensure that their content fits with the overall Musical.ly theme and makes sense as part of the user experience. For advertisers with a natural tie to music, or with a heavy focus on other areas of younger skewed pop culture, the connection might come easy but, overall, brands are wise to carefully consider the tone, style, and look of content they opt to promote on the platform.

And while Music.ly still lags behind more established apps such as Snapchat and Instagram in terms of user numbers, it definitely has the capability of becoming a firm, popular fixture within the music industry. The platform is already promoting various types of competitions within its features, and has also started to include content from high profile celebrities, such as American pop singer Ariana Grande.

Communication and interaction with peers has long been at the heart of most social media platforms and increasingly, we are seeing the emergence of apps with a particular focus on facilitating this experience. Houseparty, a live video chatroom platform, launched in February last year and as of December, had more than one million daily active users. With 60% of its audience under the age of 24, the platform has huge potential for brands wishing to engage with the Gen Z age group in a non-intrusive way.

However, advertising may prove a difficult area for the platform as Houseparty is currently not designed for users to be presented with new content or for it to be place for influence by brands or celebrities. Rather, it is about nourishing existing relationships and facilitating communication with peers. Therefore, the platform will have to carefully consider how to potentially add a branding element to the group chats: perhaps by increasing the size of its conferences exponentially so that brands can essentially be invited to liaise directly with users in a live video manner.

That said, Houseparty is quickly gaining popularity amongst a younger age group. Together with developments in social messaging AI capabilities, it is possible that there will be increased opportunities for brands to join in the fun in the future. Also, the nature of the app, with a heavy focus on peer-to-peer communication, means that it can offer brands opportunities related to qualitative research, and understanding consumer preferences and behaviours.

Overall, members of Generation Z might be avid users of social media (91% access at least one of their accounts daily), but they also tend to have a low tolerance for intrusion. In fact, a recent study from Kantar Millward Brown describes them as more “advertising-resistant” than any other demographic. At the same time, more than two-thirds of 16-19 year-olds, surveyed by Accenture earlier this year, say that they are interested in purchasing items directly through social platforms.

Yeay, Musical.ly and Houseparty, while still in their infancy, will likely become increasingly interesting for brands wishing to connect with the young and digitally native Gen Z tribe.

As long as advertisers take care to offer relevant and seamless experiences, I think that there will be significant opportunities to connect with users on these platforms going forward.

Adaptly enables advertisers to scale campaigns across Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and Pinterest through tech and services.

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