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Reaching and Engaging Gen Z Through Social Media

As a Gen Z youth, I can confidently say that I know a thing or two about social media. Since I was in middle school, I worked to curate my own branding for my Instagram feed, what I referred to as “my aesthetic” at the time. This involved use of Photoshop-like applications on my phone (one for photo layering and juxtaposition, and another for color correction and filtering) to carefully create a page that I felt fit the look I was going for. Though this may seem like it was a bit much for a thirteen-year-old to be doing several times each day, most of my peers did the same.

As technology becomes increasingly prevalent in everyday life, it’s a surprise when I meet someone who isn’t on social media, or even someone who restricts their usage to a single platform. It’s become a trend among my peers to attempt to make their profiles as visually appealing and engaging as possible by learning the basics of photo manipulation. Despite the inevitable time crunch from our daily lives, we still choose to put in this effort in order to grow our followers and likes. If one sees a visually pleasing profile on a photo-oriented platform, there is a higher chance that they will follow it, see the posts as they scroll through their timeline, and like them. Considering this fact, many of my peers are generally more aware of the appearance of not only our own social media feeds, but those of companies choosing to direct their marketing towards us.

Recently, I have made the transition from being someone on the receiving end of such advertisements to being on the output end by working at R² Media, Inc. Because of this, I have learned quite a few techniques (both first-hand and from reading blogs by SEO experts, customer engagement, and so on, such as Neil Patel) that could be used in order to encourage social media engagement among those of my generation.

Here are three basic tips to help improve engagement from a Gen Z audience on social media.

Tip #1: Unify Your Photos and Videos

While a patchwork of mismatched photos may seem like an intriguing idea, it would more than likely give off a disorganized, unprofessional feel, and may be daunting for a person of any age to peruse the goods or services being offered.

An important aspect of one’s social media presentation is the color scheme. One technique would be to use the same filter on every photo — this way, all of the colors would be of similar tones, and each photo would match up fairly well. A good example of this would be Jeep’s Instagram account.

They increase the saturation, contrast, and lightly fade their photos so they are all equally vibrant. Another way that involves slightly more effort is to find a way to incorporate the same one or several colors into every photo.

BMW does this well by including black, white, or blue in all of their photos, which are colors featured in their logo and strongly associated with their brand.

Combining these techniques would make a business’s social media profile look far more uniform, which not only makes it easier on the consumer to find what they’re looking for, but also encourages them to remember the page for its pleasing appearance and return to it at a later time.

Tip #2: Embrace a Personality

While the visual content is important, so is the person or team behind it creating captions and other written communication. More than ever, Gen Z socializes with companies, particularly on Twitter. It isn’t uncommon to see my peers asking a restaurant to see a number of retweets for free food, or to see a company jokingly “throwing shade” or “clapping back” at Twitter users who make a derogatory statement towards them.

A business needs to form a bold personality to appeal to a young adult. However, as contradictory as this may seem, it’s important not to try too hard. In other words, don’t try to be a hip teenager who dabs after everything. Instead, be conscious of Gen Z culture and give it a subtle nod every so often. This casual form of communication is important to increase engagement amongst Gen Z because it creates a level of interest and camaraderie that simply would not occur with a business that takes themselves too seriously.

Tip #3: Allow Yourself to be Meme-able

Memes, which may be described as a widespread joke produced on the internet, are a large part of this generation’s online culture. While it is important to recognize the fact that yes, they are jokes, they may also be used as an excellent way to market a business. For example, restaurant chains Denny’s and Chili’s have found interesting ways to incorporate themselves into the consciousness of Gen Z using different techniques, but both allowed themselves to be laughed at a little.

For many years now, Denny’s has been utilizing their social media accounts to post weird photoshopped images of food items on their menu. Though they are most well-known in my generation for their Tumblr posts (both pictures and text), they also do the same thing via their Instagram and Twitter. Recently, they posted a picture of “flip-flapjacks” (sandals made out of pancakes) with little-to-no explanation. These posts garner much attention and engagement from my generation because of how outright bizarre they are.

Chili’s, on the other hand, has an interesting relationship with Instagram account @middleclassfancy, in which they regularly post humorous comments on the meme account’s posts, connecting them back to their restaurant chain. Instagram’s new comment algorithm works in favor of these types of comments, because it shows users the most liked comments and comments made by verified accounts first.

To be recognized as something original, just remember to think a little bit differently. Don’t be afraid to embrace your weirder side every once in a while.

Gen Z-ers want to engage with interesting content, so in order to attract them, you must develop an image on social media that best represents your brand and own it. If you do, you will be rewarded with not only followers, but loyal customers as well.

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