New registrations by young people on Facebook are declining sharply. Instagram, Tik Tok, Snapchat and, of course, messenger apps like WhatsApp and the like are booming in the young target group. However, not only the choice of platforms, but also the user behavior in social media differs greatly from that of previous generations. We therefore address the question: What makes Generation Z (Gen Z for short) tick?
A rough division of the generations:
Baby Boomers: born between 1943 and 1964
Generation X: born between 1965 and 1978
Generation Y: born between 1979 and 1998
Generation Z: born from 1999
Of course, the members of the individual generations cannot and should not be lumped together. What can be stated without a doubt, however, is that Gen Z has grown up with all the possibilities that a digitally networked world makes available. Smartphones, apps and social media are part of their self-image as digital natives. They primarily use the offerings of video portals, social media platforms, stream music or simply like to “surf” the web. But old values, such as security, structure, stability and cohesion, also play a major role.
In addition to family, fun, sports or career and partnership, education also plays a major role in their lives. Members of this generation, who are currently in their educational phase or gaining their first professional experience, are tech-savvy.
More than half of Gen Z considers themselves early adopters, meaning someone who buys new tech products early, compared to an average of 40% of Germans. Despite this affinity for technology, human interaction still plays a very important role for them. Because members of this generation have this high level of familiarity with their smartphones, the term “swipe generation” is also often used. In addition to their affinity for technology, they are also characterized by a keen interest in politics. What is particularly interesting here is how young people sometimes misuse familiar platforms such as Instagram and the like, set up their very own rules and not infrequently use them to organize political demonstrations.
No wonder that when we think of Generation Z, we see young people with smartphones in their hands. Gen Z now makes up 20 percent of the world’s population, representing one-fifth of humanity. No other generation has also been so keen to integrate an appropriate work-life balance. They have learned from the mistakes of Generation Y and, instead of bringing work home, leave emails unanswered until the next day. This is not out of laziness, but rather a reaction to the changing working conditions in the digital age.
This generation no longer wants to present itself online with perfect photos that have been edited and optimized for hours. 42% of Gen Z think social media has an impact on their self-perception. A clear trend can be seen on Instagram in particular: Young people have a great need for immediate feedback and place great value on interaction through long photo descriptions, sharing in the comments, the use of memes, and taking advantage of given features. For parties, for example, they no longer post events on Facebook, but simply create new Instagram accounts where details are posted and interested people can follow those accounts. Niche accounts gather a lot of followers in a short time through relevant and authentic content. This is also how a meme culture has emerged. Young people inspire their peers, get to know each other in the comment columns, and often even become friends. Instagram stories also support the above trend by offering many interactive options, such as question or quiz stickers.
If you take a closer look at the social media user behavior of Gen Z, you will quickly notice that it is not so much about superficial self-dramatization, but more about the exchange between people and the creation of relevant content. It is extremely important for marketing to deal intensively with this content and to recognize such trends quickly if the young target group is not only to be reached, but also to be picked up and bound to one’s own content.