No Matter How You Define It, Generation Z Can’t Live Without YouTube

No Matter How You Define It, Generation Z Can’t Live Without YouTube

Generation Z is the demographic cohort after the Millennials, which is sometimes called Generation Y. They surveyed a group of 1,452 teens ages 13-20 about what they think about social media platforms, digital video, and the new breed of online celebrity. These teenagers were also asked, “Which one could you not live without?” And 50% said YouTube, 15% said Snapchat, 9% said Instagram, 9% said Facebook, and 6% said Twitter. For a good laugh, 51% use YouTube, 11% use Instagram, and 9% use Snapchat. But, they also found that Gen Z actually wants your branded content, social first is preferred, and influencers are still celebrities. Now, younger audiences are an important target for many brands, but not all brands recognize that there are actually two very different generations (depending on your definition) within that broad umbrella – in this case, Gen Z (13-17) and Millennials (18-34) – with two very different sets of social media habits. Now, when most marketers talk about how brands can best reach and engage with “young people,” they usually mean Millennials – because most marketers are over 35 years old. And like the Adweek study, the Fullscreen study found that one size does not fit all when it comes to social platforms. If you’re an older video marketer – either a member of Generation X or even a Baby Boomer like me – then what are the key takeaways? It may not be your brand.

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Generation Z is the demographic cohort after the Millennials, which is sometimes called Generation Y. There are no precise dates for when the Gen Z cohort starts or ends, which explains why two recent studies use different definitions. But, no matter how you define it, Generation Z can’t live without YouTube.

Generation Z: OK With Branded Content

One of the studies was conducted by Defy Media for Adweek. They surveyed a group of 1,452 teens ages 13-20 about what they think about social media platforms, digital video, and the new breed of online celebrity. This survey found that YouTube is a regular part of their media diet, with 95% turning to it. The next most popular platforms are Instagram (69%), Facebook (67%), Snapchat (67%), and Twitter (52%). These teenagers were also asked, “Which one could you not live without?” And 50% said YouTube, 15% said Snapchat, 9% said Instagram, 9% said Facebook, and 6% said Twitter.

The survey also found that teens trust social stars as much as (and sometimes more than) “mainstream” celebrities (like actors, singers, or reality stars). These teenagers were asked, “Which kinds of celebrities would you trust for advice about buying” a variety of items. For tech gadgets, 70% said online celebrities, while 21% said mainstream celebrities. For beauty products, 48% said online celebrities and 44% said mainstream celebrities. However, for clothes or accessories, 43% said mainstream celebrities, and 41% said online celebrities.

The majority of Gen Zers are cool with almost any type of celebrity branded content, but they prefer when it’s disclosed. (Their parents and teachers should be proud.) In fact, 79% said they are always or sometimes okay when a celeb talks about why they like or use a brand. And 62% said its totally or somewhat okay when a celeb talks about their political views. (And you thought that only late-night comedians had discovered that politics was cool.)

For me, the most fascinating findings were about the different ways that Generation Z uses different platforms. For keeping in touch with friends, 35% use Snapchat, 28% use Facebook, and 18% use Instagram. For catching up on the news, 23% use Facebook, 23% use YouTube, and 14% use Twitter. (Gen Z keeps up with the news! Who knew?) For a good laugh, 51% use YouTube, 11% use Instagram, and 9% use Snapchat.

For shopping recommendations, 24% use YouTube, 17% use Instagram, and 16% use Facebook. And for how-to info, 66% use YouTube, 9% use Pinterest, and 6% use Facebook or Google+ (a tie). (Hey, Gen Z has grown up in an entirely digital world, so they have a very sophisticated understanding of the best uses of more than half a dozen social media platforms. Maybe it’s just old Baby Boomers who assume that one size fits all.)

GenZ: Social Video First

But wait, there’s more! A second study by Leflein Associates for Fullscreen surveyed over 1,200 participants between 13 and 17 years old (Generation Z) and between 18 to 34 years old (Millennials). Yep, they used a different definition of Generation Z. But, they also found that Gen Z actually wants your branded content, social first is preferred, and influencers are still celebrities.

Now, younger audiences are an important target for many brands, but not all brands recognize that there are actually two very different generations (depending on your definition) within that broad umbrella – in this case, Gen Z (13-17) and Millennials (18-34) – with two very different sets of social media habits. Brands should not assume they can target both groups in the same way.

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