May 13, 2022

The Age of Authenticity: How Brands Can Win Back Gen Z and Millennial Consumers

The Age of Authenticity: How Brands Can Win Back Gen Z and Millennial Consumers

In an age of massive brand distrust it’s critical for organizations to show up authentically and be vocal about the issues and causes they support. This is especially true if you’re trying to reach Gen Z and millennials. In fact, 90 percent of millennials say authenticity is an important factor in determining which brands they like and support.

Another 30 percent of millennials say they’ve unfollowed a brand on social media because they felt their content was inauthentic. Combined, Gen Z and millennials make up a cohort of 139 million people in the US who want to support brands that show up truthfully and take a stand on important issues. 

So, how can you make sure your organization is showing up authentically on social media? 

We’ll walk you through the importance of a user-generated-content (UGC) strategy and the power of partnering with content creators. Let’s dive in!

How to Incorporate UGC Into Your Content Strategy 

User generated content is one of the best and most underutilized tools available to social media marketers in 2022. It’s a goldmine for brands who want to break through the noise and reach audiences with content that resonates. 

Just as a refresher, this is any type of content (text, videos, images, reviews, etc.) created by people rather than by brands. It functions as modern-day word of mouth; audiences turn to UGC the same way they’d ask friends or family to share their opinions. This is great news for marketers since over 50 percent of millennials base their decisions to buy a product based on recommendations from family and friends (aka UGC).


3 Ways to Engage Millennials on Social Media

Incorporating these types of posts into your social strategy also opens up the dialogue between brands and audiences helping to build a more engaged community based off of authentic content. Creating UGC allows users to fully participate in and be a part of your brand. It’s also the content consumers reach for most.

In fact, UGC overperforms compared to the average post on X and Instagram. During the 2021-22 football season, STN Digital worked with the NFL on Prime account to weave UGC into their social strategy. The content received more engagements than the average post by 2.38x on X and 1.43x on Instagram.

Sparkling water brand La Croix heavily features UGC on their Instagram account, showing real people using the product in their everyday lives adding a human element to their content. This plays right into the authenticity Gen Z and millennials crave as the content is hyper-relatable and allows audiences to see themselves within the brand.

Similarly, NBC Sports’ On Her Turf account incorporates UCG in their content strategy to add an authentic and human feel to their feeds. Posts that show extraordinary, jaw-dropping, and incredibly touching moments especially resonate with their audience.

Pro Tip: A study of US, UK, and Australian consumers found people are 2.4x more likely to say UGC is most authentic when compared to brand-created content. These types of posts allow you to humanize and add a dose of authenticity to your feed.

The Power of Influencer Generated Content 

Much like UGC, influencer generated content is hyper relatable and features real people allowing brands to share messaging through accessible non-branded posts. Influencer generated content is made for brands to utilize on their owned social channels and is not distributed on influencer’s feeds. 

Influencer generated content functions much in the way UGC does, but here brands are partnering with specific creators. The creators will do all the work to shoot and develop the assets your brand desires. This takes significant time off of your team’s plate to film and produce content and allows your feeds to have more human and approachable posts.

These partnerships are particularly useful for brands looking to engage audiences on TikTok. We know this is a platform that is driven by trends and authenticity. It’s also one of Gen Z’s favorite spaces to spend time. 

Click here to learn how to reach Gen Z.

@chipotle Don’t miss out on free guac!! Sign up before 3/31. Chipotle Rewards Terms: #chipotle #guac ♬ original sound - Chipotle

Brands of any size can find it challenging to create relevant content for the video-based platform as it is hyper-trends and people focused. Branded content doesn’t do well here. But, if your organization finds a handful of influencers who align with your brand values, you can partner with them to create assets on behalf of your brand.

Chipotle has partnered with a group of ambassadors to create video content for their TikTok account. Through this influencer generated content, Chipotle is able to share new menu items, features in their app, and promote their brand in a way that feels authentic and natural to followers.

When Brands Should Partner with Macro Influencers

If you’ve already mastered your brand’s UGC strategy and have established content creation partnerships with micro influencers, it might be time to think about working with a macro influencer. They’ll be able to share your brand message with new, highly engaged audiences.

Sustaining authentic partnerships at this level is just as important as it is with micro influencers. Brands should look for creators who are already posting about them or using their products in order to create a more trustworthy relationship both with the creator and their audience. 

Consider Dunkin’s collaboration with Charli D’Amelio. Dunkin’ knew Charli posted about and genuinely loved drinking their coffee so it was a natural partnership to work together. Dunkin’ named multiple drinks after the TikTok star including the Charli: a Dunkin’ Cold Brew with whole milk and three pumps of caramel swirl. After she shared the collaboration on her account, the Dunkin’ app saw a 57 percent increase in daily downloads and saw cold brew coffee sales surge up to 45 percent the day after the drink was launched.  

@dunkin So official, we put it in writing @charlidamelio. Order ‘The Charli’ on the Dunkin’ app!🙌 #CharliRunsOnDunkin #TheCharli #Dunkin ♬ original sound - Dunkin'

Dunkin’ chose to work with an influencer who already used and loved their product, making the partnership more authentic and successful in driving new customers to the Dunkin’ app.

Pro Tip: When determining which macro influencer to partner with don’t base your decision solely on follower count. Take a look at the overlap between the influencer’s audience and your own target audience. This will make a huge difference in the overall success of your campaign.

While brand trust is at an all time low, organizations can win back Gen Z and millennial audiences by sharing authentic, people-focused content on social media. Whether through UGC, influencer generated content, or partnerships with macro influencers, consumers respond when brands show up authentically on social media. 

If you’re interested in learning more about how organizations can win back Gen Z and millennial consumers through authentic content, contact our team of expert social strategists using the form below!

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