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NCMPR 2022 Takeaway: Connecting with Gen Z Audiences

Bill Stamats

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Held in Denver, this year’s National Council for Marketing & Public Relations conference wrapped up on March 26th. As both an exhibitor and participant, it was refreshing to attend an in-person event (remember those?) and feel the energy of bright minds coming together to explore important topics.

Though I found value in every session I attended, the keynote address by Justin Shaifer (a.k.a. “Mr. Fascinate”) was particularly informative and inspiring. An expert in Gen Z marketing strategies, Shaifer shared the history, priorities, and motivations of this key demographic group―insights that can inform every communication effort, large and small.  

5 Gen Z Communication Tips

Born after 1997, members of Generation Z are true digital natives. They are on their phones (primarily on social media) for about eight hours each day. And, not surprisingly, they’re the most marketed-to generation in history.

For Shaifer, marketers who hope to reach and connect with Gen Zers must first:

1. Be original and authentic.

Savvy marketers themselves, Gen Zers have little patience for brands without an original and authentic message. Focus on the truth of what you’re trying to convey. Be bold and speak with a fresh voice.

2. Take a stance.

Don’t waver. Express what your brand stands for and then prove it. Gen Zers expect the businesses and organizations they support to put action behind their words. 

3. Create interactive moments.

Gen Zers respond to messaging that’s fun and participatory. Explore ways to promote interaction through tapping, swiping, clicking, or voting. 

4. Make it meme-able

Content may be king, but shareable content creates kingdoms. Social media messages delivered through memes are more shareable and they help showcase a brand’s sense of humor.

5. Use TikTok and Instagram wisely.

These two video-focused social media platforms are not interchangeable. TikTok users prefer quantity over quality (more is better). Instagram users prefer quality over quantity (better is better). Know the difference and use each to your advantage.

Finally, no matter what business you’re in, these tips serve as a good starting point for engaging this tech and marketing-savvy generation. But with one important caveat: The best people to create Gen Z messaging are Gen Zers themselves. Older generations run the very real risk of not getting it right and producing truly “cringe-worthy” campaigns. Remember: Voice and language matter, humor matters, and nuance matters.

In addition, Mariah Obiedzinski, Associate Vice President of Content Services at Stamats, has presented and written extensively on Gen Z communication strategies. Check out her blog post for more tips.

With this in mind, if you’re having trouble connecting with your most valued audiences, Stamats can help. Our custom content solutions include:

  • Content audits
  • Strategy development
  • Content creation
  • Marketing and distribution

Call or email to speak with one of our nationally-recognized content innovators.

Read next: How Teens Use College Websites: A Fast-Scrolling User Journey

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