Generation Z. iGeneration. Post-Millennials. There’s a lot of talk right now about this largely undefined group following Millennials, or generation Y (roughly born between 1980-2000). Who the heck makes up this cohort of people? With Gen Z now comprising approximately 25% of the U.S. population, it’s imperative that marketers work to understand their unique preferences, behaviors and expectations.  After all, they’re not kids anymore.

Your baby cousin who was so adorable in all her school pictures? Born in 2001, she’s now 17. Your little nephew who you still imagine standing at three feet tall? He’s now 18. In the blink of an eye, babies born in the twenty-first century have become young adults with complex opinions and specific consumption habits. They’re carving out new ways of thinking, engaging and problem-solving. They’re driven by different goals and outcomes than preceding generations.

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, it’s our job to completely captivate them.

So, how can marketers position content in a way that truly engages, retains and captivates Generation Z? Here are several research-backed suggestions:

  1. Keep it short (like, really short): This is the generation that grew up on six-second Vine videos. They live for short-lived Snapchats that shock and grab attention. It’s a generation familiar and accustomed to the immediate gratifications afforded by technology. Research suggests Gen Z’s attention span is only around eight seconds. Keep Gen Z-targeted content short, simple yet impactful (and by “impactful,” I mean creative, intentional and outside-of-the-box). This might not be easy, but Gen Z gets bored quickly.
  2. Make it visual 99.9999% of the time: Seriously, Gen Z has no interest in any form of content that’s not accompanied by video or imagery. This is evidenced by their most-used social platforms including YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat (in that order). One-third of Gen Z watches video online at least one hour per day, and YouTube is considered the top destination by 80%.
  3. Optimize all content for mobile: Gen Z has no time or interest for content that’s hard to access or view on a smartphone, tablet or even smart watch. Ninety-six percent of Gen Z now owns a smartphone, and 50% connect online about 10 hours each day. That’s a lot of exposure your brand can capitalize on, if content is positioned the right way.
  4. Create device-specific content: Consider diversifying content based on the type of device being used. Research shows Gen Z can be viewing content on as many as five different screens (smartphones, TVs, laptops, desktops, tablets) simultaneously. Think about what kind of content would be best on a smartphone verses a laptop; a desktop versus a tablet; etc.…
  5. Think TV: Gen Z is spending more time on Netflix and YouTube (59%) compared to traditional TV (29%). Consider how you can tell your brand’s story in a way that reflects popular video sites and apps. Some brands, for example, are experimenting with YouTube series that educate and engage through multiple “episodes.” There is much to be learned from Netflix’s approach to original programming in terms of branding and storytelling through content (think of the viral effect of shows like “Stranger Things,” “Orange is the New Black,” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”).

Do you have any content marketing tips for Gen Z? Let me know, interested in hearing your thoughts!

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