W

hile young, Gen Ze has proven their seasoned expertise in the world of social media. Studies have suggested that Gen Z spends more time looking at a screen than any other preceding generation. One study suggested the average teen spends almost three hours a day on social media. Another study in the UK found that Gen Z spends up to 10.6 hours online each day. 


With all that screen time, it’s obvious that Gen Z values social media and the content they consume. However, Gen Z uses social media in ways never seen before. There is a lot to learn from this unprecedented group and their behavior on social media. Here’s a complete guide to Gen Z and their social media usage. 

Popular platforms

According to a 2019 Business Insider study, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat are Gen Z’s most-used social media platforms. One fourth of all participants in the study said they use one of these three platforms everyday. Facebook fell to a distant fourth place among Gen Zers, setting this demographic apart from Millenials, Gen X, and Boomers who claim that Facebook continues to be their favorite social media platform.

Emerging Social Media 

Keep in mind that the social media landscape shifts constantly, especially among Gen Z users. Most notably, TikTok saw meteoric growth in 2020. Currently, 25% of Gen Z reports using TikTok, while the app boasts 689 million active monthly users (with over 60% of those users being a member of Gen Z.) App Annie has even predicted that the app will see over 1.2 billion users over the course of 2021, placing it in the ranks of social media giants like Facebook and YouTube.


As well, Gen Z considers gaming platforms to be social media. Games such as Fortnite create social settings in which users can interact in a virtual environment. Twitch, a gaming platform used by 41% of Gen Z males, has proved its popularity as an interactive video game broadcasting platform.

Check out our Emerging Platforms in 2021 White page for more information on the platforms Gen Z is flocking to.


Reasons for social media use 

Gen Z’s reasons for using social media seem to share a common thread, and — you guessed it — it differs from older generations. While over half of Boomers and Gen X use social media to share pictures and updates, only one-third of Gen Z reported this reason as to why they use social media, according to a study conducted by Adobe.


According to an Adobe study, Gen Zers are most likely to use social media to “hang out and chat with friends.” As well, Gen Z had the most people report they use social media to get the news, advice and inspiration. 

Source: MarketingCharts, Adobe


Social media behavior 

Now that we know what platforms Gen Z uses and why they use them, let’s dive into Gen Z’s behavior, attitudes, and motivations while using social media. 


The eight second window 

Fifteen minutes of fame? For Gen Z, it’s more like eight seconds. That’s the length of a typical Gen Zer’s attention span. This eight-second attention span is shorter than a millennial’s attention span, making Gen Zers the most likely to grow disinterested in content they are viewing on social media.


Video is King

When it comes to capturing the attention of Gen Z, video is king. As seen by Gen Z’s affinity for YouTube and TikTok, video content is immensely popular. 


In fact, the time teenagers spend watching video has doubled in the past four years, with YouTube reigning supreme among video streaming platforms for Gen Z. Vlogging is also wildly popular among this group, allowing viewers to watch personal videos of their favorite personalities. 


Content artists in the making 

According to a Snapchat study, 56% of Gen Z believes they are more creative than previous generations, and 81% believe they can express themselves on social media in ways they could not otherwise. As social media platforms and trends evolve, expect to see Gen Z embracing them first and their content to fulfill their intent of self-expression. 


That being said, Gen Z also respects creative and genuine expression from brands. They don’t want to see some cheesy attempt at staying woke. 


Influenced by Influencers 

More than 76% of Gen Zers claimed that they follow at least one influencer on social media. And 25% of all female Gen Zers said they have bought a product because it was recommended by an influencer they follow.


These statistics imply that Gen Z enjoys content posted by influencers, and they find the influencers they follow to be trustworthy. Popular influencers among the Gen Z demographic are Emma Chamberlain, James Charles, and David Dobrik. These influencers are extremely active on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube. Their YouTube channels consist mainly of vlogs and tutorials in which products and services are frequently promoted by the influencer. They also utilize their Instagram and TikTok accounts to promote brands to Gen Zers.  


Moreover, Gen Z has turned their attention to virtual influencers. Virtual influencers are computer-generated humans that have their own social media accounts. While it may seem strange to follow an animated persona on social media, Gen Z seems to have fully embraced virtual personas on social media. Because they grew up in the era of virtual reality, following virtual influencers on social media is almost second nature for Gen Zers. 


Conclusion

Gen Z is spending more and more time on social media, and the pandemic has only increased the amount of time they’re spending online. Brands that can find Gen Z where they’re at, using a combination of memes, video content, influencers, and branded posts will see success.

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