April 25, 2024

Do’s and Don’ts of Reaching Gen Z on Social Media

Do’s and Don’ts of Reaching Gen Z on Social Media

Navigating the dynamic world of social media to effectively connect with Gen Z can be a challenge. 

Here at STN Digital, we specialize in staying ahead of the curve with the latest trends and strategies. This guide offers in-depth insights and examples for engaging Gen Z in 2024.

Who is Gen Z: 
  • Born between 1997-2012
  • The “Trendsetters” 
  • Known for being open-minded and accepting
  • Want brands to align with their values
  • Known for wanting to be independent 

RELATED: Decoding Gen Z Speak: Essential Marketing Vocabulary for Brands

Insights on Gen Z and Their Social Media Usage:
  • Population Stats: There are now 82 million Gen Z members in the US, a demographic that continues to grow their disposable income. 
  • Search Trends: Over 60% of Gen Z prefer TikTok and Instagram for searches, surpassing Google. 
  • Buying Power: Gen Z controls about $160 billion in buying power.
  • Privacy Concerns: 90% value privacy more than social media likes. 
  • Brand Discovery: 88% use social media to discover new brands. 
  • User Base: 50 million Gen Zers are on TikTok and 45 million on Instagram in the US. 
Our top do’s and don’ts to reach Gen Z:
  • Do: Embrace Forward-Thinking Content
  • Don’t: Ignore Social Commerce
  • Do: Create Personalized Content
  • Don’t: Take Too Long to Get to Your CTA
  • Do: Hop on Trending Content that Gen Z  Loves 
  • Don’t: Miss Opportunities for UGC 

In-Depth Strategies to Engage Gen Z:

Do: Embrace Forward-Thinking Content

Innovative and bold content is crucial to capture the attention of Gen Z. This audience gravitates towards brands that push the boundaries of conventional creativity with their immersive experiences and clever use of humor. 

Engaging this tech-savvy generation requires a blend of aesthetic creativity and social awareness that can transform passive viewers into active participants. By adopting forward-thinking strategies, brands can foster a deeper connection and create memorable experiences that resonate with Gen Z’s values.

Example – Abercrombie:

Abercrombie & Fitch has successfully revamped its brand image to resonate with Gen Z by focusing on inclusivity and sustainability—two values highly prioritized by this demographic. Their recent marketing strategies include launching limited-edition collections that feature eco-friendly materials and body-positive models.

Abercrombie’s social media channels showcase this forward-thinking approach by using immersive, high-quality visual storytelling that highlights the diversity of their models and the versatility of their clothing. These campaigns are not just about selling clothes, they’re about making a statement and engaging with young consumers on issues that matter to them.

This fresh approach has helped Abercrombie regain relevance with Gen Z, who seek brands that reflect their social and environmental values.

Don’t: Ignore Social Commerce

Social commerce has become an integral part of the digital shopping landscape, especially among younger consumers. In 2024, it’s estimated that 98% of Gen Z consumers use social media for shopping inspiration, reflecting a slight increase from previous years.

If you’re not leveraging social commerce, you’re not fully tapping into a significant revenue stream.

Platforms like Instagram and TikTok continue to be preferred by Gen Z for their seamless integration of shopping experiences. These platforms have evolved their features to offer even more interactive and engaging shopping options.

Example – Tiktok and Instagram:

Instagram’s Enhanced Shopping Features:

In 2024, Instagram upgraded its shopping tools to include augmented reality (AR) filters for virtual try-ons directly from Stories or Reels, and live shopping during streams. These features allow users to try and buy products like sunglasses and makeup without leaving the app, enhancing user engagement and increasing sales opportunities.

TikTok Shop:

TikTok has rolled out ‘Shop Now’ buttons that allow in-video purchases, enabling users to buy products instantly without pausing their video. The platform has also enhanced its shopping tab with personalized product recommendations, optimizing the shopping experience to trigger impulse buys and better target Gen Z consumers.

Do: Create Personalized Content

Personalization is crucial for engaging Gen Z, who expect content that reflects their individual tastes and lifestyles.

There are numerous ways brands can create personalized content to reach Gen Z on social media. Try quizzes that suggest product recommendations or create content series around a specific buyer persona. 

Example – Spotify:

Spotify excels in personalization with features like “Spotify Wrapped,” which provides users with a customized summary of their yearly listening habits. They share these insights through engaging, shareable social media content that users often post on their own profiles, thus amplifying reach organically. 

This personalized touch not only enhances user experience but also encourages more social sharing and engagement. 


Just in case you didn’t know, it still isn't too late to share your Top Songs of 2023… ⏳

♬ original sound - Spotify
Don’t: Take Too Long to Get to Your CTA

Gen Z’s attention span is short, so make sure your CTA is within the first few seconds of your video or is easily identifiable in your content. 

To reach Gen Z on social, think of creative ways you can share your brand messaging.

Example – Duolingo

Duolingo’s approach to social media exemplifies how to effectively capture Gen Z’s attention quickly. On platforms like TikTok, Duolingo often uses their iconic green owl mascot in humorous, meme-like videos that engage viewers immediately. 

These videos typically introduce a clear call-to-action early on, whether it’s encouraging viewers to try a new language lesson or to participate in a language challenge. This strategy not only respects the viewer’s time but also leverages humor and relatability, which are key to engaging Gen Z. This approach has proven successful, making Duolingo’s content highly shareable and effective in driving user interaction and app downloads.

Do: Hop on Trending Content that Gen Z Loves 

Staying relevant with Gen Z means engaging with trending topics and content they are passionate about. This demographic is particularly responsive to brands that participate in current cultural conversations or viral moments.

By aligning your content with these trends, your brand not only increases its visibility among young consumers but also demonstrates an understanding of their interests and values. This can lead to higher engagement rates, as Gen Z appreciates brands that can authentically connect with their world. Successfully tapping into trends can transform brand perception, making your brand seem more relatable and approachable to this young audience.

Example – Pixar: 

When Taylor Swift released her ‘TTPD’ album, it created a massive buzz, particularly among Gen Z, who are known for their support of Taylor. Recognizing the opportunity, Pixar decided to engage with this trend by creating content that cleverly tied into themes from Swift’s album. For instance, Pixar could have used visual or thematic elements from ‘TTPD’ that mirrored or complemented the narratives and aesthetics of their own upcoming movies or popular franchises. 

This approach not only captured the attention of Swift’s extensive fan base but also showcased Pixar’s ability to stay culturally relevant and creatively adaptive. Aligning with a major cultural moment not only amplified Pixar’s reach but also enhanced its connection with a demographic that values creativity and timely engagement in popular culture.


Don’t: Miss Opportunities for UGC 

User-generated content (UGC) is a potent authenticity tool, which Gen Z values immensely. This demographic seeks genuine connections with brands, and UGC offers an organic way to foster these connections. By featuring real people and their experiences, brands can demonstrate authenticity and build trust. 

UGC can significantly amplify a brand’s reach and influence, as content created by users typically garners high engagement and can virally spread across platforms. Neglecting UGC means not only missing out on these engagement opportunities but also risking being perceived as out of touch or insincere by a demographic that places high importance on authenticity and relatability.

Example Chick-fil-A:

Chick-fil-A encountered a public relations issue when it chose to shut down an employee’s upbeat TikTok videos. These videos, which captured the employee’s positive energy and unique engagement with customers, quickly gained millions of views and contributed positively to the brand’s image among Gen Z. However, the company’s decision to cease these videos was perceived as a misstep, especially among a demographic that values transparency and authenticity.

In a savvy move, Shake Shack saw this as an opportunity to differentiate themselves by embracing what Chick-fil-A had dismissed. They partnered with the same TikTok creator, launching a collaborative campaign that was strategically released on a Sunday. This campaign not only capitalized on the existing popularity of the TikToker but also underscored Shake Shack’s brand values of inclusivity and community engagement. 

@mirithesiren Chick-fil-A Corporate has asked me to stop making content. I’m sorry you guys :/ Thank you for all the support and love but an era has ended. “The postings on this site are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of TC&Js Enterprises, Chick-fil-A Whittwood, nor Chick-fil-A, Inc.” #fyp #chickfila #chickfilaemployee #chickfilasauce #chickfilahacks #curlyhair #blackgirl ♬ original sound - mirithesiren
@mirithesiren Went to @SHAKE SHACK and tried their CHICKEN SHACK - and you can too! Every Sunday in April you can get a free Chicken Shack with $10 minimum purchase using code CHICKENSUNDAY. #shakeshack #shakeshackpartner #chickenshack #fyp ♬ original sound - mirithesiren

To successfully engage Gen Z, brands must be dynamic, innovative, and personal in their social media strategies. By adopting these expanded strategies and leveraging the latest digital tools, companies can build stronger, more meaningful connections with Gen Z.

Explore our Generational Marketing Guide for further detailed strategies and insights.

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