Move over millennials, Gen Z is marching in with the numbers!
This generation that has never known the world without smartphones is making up 32 percent of the world population this year, Bloomberg tells us. They are edging out the millennials (born 1980-2000) and are apparently forcing humanity to rethink the workings of the world, including social media.
To help us shake off the millennial hangover and introduce the generation birthed at the turn of the millennium, mobile-first short-video platform TikTok flew Super to Singapore on July 10 for [REC]reate, their first-ever South East Asia Creators and Content Marketing Conference.
“I think TikTok’s mission is really to capture the world’s creativity and inspiration, and moments that are important in our lives,” said Lionel Sim, TikTok senior director for global marketing, explaining the event. Gen Z, by its sheer number, is part and parcel of that mission.
In that gathering of over 300 creators and marketers across the region, experts tackled how social media content should adapt for the generation that, in the words of one expert, is “actually good kids in a very strange kind of way.”
Super summarizes those Gen Z learnings for you:
1. Embrace the mobile lifestyle
Smartphones will not go away. Global Web Index says 98 percent of Gen Z own at least one device and really can’t imagine life without it.
“I used pay phones when I was in school, so that would tell you how old I am. But my kids, these days… [smartphones] have been described especially in Southeast Asian studies as their personal secretary, their lifeline,” said Chito Jusi, head of media at Kantar Singapore. Some 75 percent of them would rather be on their phones than TV, radio or newspaper.
In Southeast Asia, said TikTok Thailand marketing lead Surayot Aimlor, people can spend an average of 3.6 hours a day on their mobile phones. Both millennials and Gen Zers can be online up to 10 hours daily, too!
2. Build on your individuality
If you thought millennials were big on individuality, dial that up for Gen Z. This is a generation that unapologetically celebrates—and ever seeks—uniqueness.
How do you make that work to your advantage? It’s in discovering your niche and growing from there, noted Doreen Tan, TikTok Singapore’s user and content operations manager. In three steps, she explained: Find your main creative focus; upload unique “slice of life” content and; elevate your content with edits, filters and other effects that would set you apart.
“We are opening doors for our organic users to be creators themselves on the app,” she said. And that has worked amazingly for many creators, who’ve crossed over from TikTok to stardom. Case in point: Lil Nas X, whose “Old Town Road” skyrocketed with from TikTok.
3. Don’t be perfect
Gen Z does not expect perfection. In fact, they are turned off by content that’s overly polished.
“When they go on social media, they don’t go on these things for utility, they go for entertainment,” said Jusi. “But they don’t go for just any kind, they like authentic, real entertainment.”
They don’t like overdesigned content, he explained. They don’t like pretentious content. More than Hollywood stars, they’d much prefer vloggers who are popular on their own merits; who do product reviews, daredevil stunts, would make fun of themselves, etc.
The keyword is authenticity, says Rana Deepender, CEO of Kantar China. “I think brands are not so used to making fun of themselves, and just being relaxed, giving control to the creators. I think that’s the next leap.”
4. Be responsible for your own content
Gen Z likes “the bigger person.”
While observers would say the generation is simply “millennials on steroids,” who can’t focus and have no morals, Deepender said, “They’re actually good kids in a very strange kind of way.”
Generation Z smokes and drinks the least and expects brands —including personalities—they support to be responsible, he said. “The brands that don’t take care of things like the environment, global warming, recycling or having a bigger purpose do not matter to them.”
“They want to do good, so anything that helps them to collaborate, to create, to contribute, they like that. They’re not passive receivers of entertainment; they’re not happy with just clicking and tapping like. They want to create, they want to cocreate.”
5. Make every second count
Time is ticking, so no nonsense, please.
Jamie Wang, associate director at Mindshare, admits it’s “very difficult” to capture peoples’ eyes nowadays, because they are always on-the-go, are used to multitasking and deal with information overload at every turn. Thus, from millennials’ 12 seconds, attention span is down to eight seconds (Mumbrella Asia).
The message has to be within that window, she concluded. “What consumers want is a story that’s inspiring, interesting and easy to digest, and videos are the best format to deliver these elements… But, we have to make the video short, concise and simple.”