Our Insights

Reaching Gen Z Through Trending Apps

May 12, 2023
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Today, Gen-Z makes up the large majority of social media consumers. These individuals, born after 1996, are trendsetters — constantly looking for new fads and content to feed their almost insatiable appetites for entertainment. They’re incredibly opinionated, passionate about topics like politics, environmental sustainability, global issues, and social media trends. A topic can be trending one day, only to give way to another the next, and another the day after that. The same goes for the platforms themselves, there’s no guarantee that the app that’s the most popular with this age group today will remain that way. That’s why TikTok’s overnight popularity pushed app developers to make competitive social media apps. New social media platforms such as BeReal, Gas, and Fizz have quickly populated the market and challenged TikTok’s presence.

Advertisers have to shift their strategies to keep up. In the early stages of digital and social media marketing, static display image ads were more than sufficient, providing enough content and relevancy to make a real impact on consumers. Now, video advertisements are becoming increasingly popular because they typically earn higher engagement rates, thanks to their ability to capture viewers’ attention. But with TikTok’s impact on our attention spans, video ads are shifting towards being shorter and shorter. If a longer ad is necessary, it has to be compelling enough to convince users not to hit the skip button. As a rule, content that appeals to emotions over logic tends to resonate with consumers more. And of course, brands that appeal to personal interests with relevant messaging tend to be more effective.

Social media currently makes up 33% of all digital ad spending and is projected to increase in 2023 (Marketing Insider Group). However, it’s proven difficult for advertising agencies to take advantage of the large target audience that these newer social media platforms reach. While TikTok has adjusted their platform to allow advertising agencies to serve ads to users, many of the rising platforms like BeReal actually restrict advertising or commercial marketing within their terms and conditions. Instead, they lean into paid sponsorships and influencer marketing to build brand awareness and connect with platform followers. But, by taking on more and more sponsorships, influencers lose their sense of authenticity and jeopardize the trust of their following and their advertisements have less of an impact on consumers.

With these limitations, advertisers are faced with a hurdle – how can agencies build their presence and authenticity in platforms that simply don’t allow it? As it currently stands, if advertisers want to find a loophole to reach their target audience through these social media platforms, they need to create content that is native to the platform. One way they can achieve this is by getting creative, personifying their brand, and posting content in the same manner that any regular user would. One example of a brand that has integrated itself seamlessly into a variety of social media platforms is Chipotle. Through Chipotle’s BeReal account, they post regular pictures that include coupons and rewards for a set number of customers, incentivizing users on BeReal to purchase their food (Influencer Marketing Hub). Since Chipotle makes posts that appear like any regular user’s posts, the content acts as native advertisements and they are able to successfully connect with their consumers in a way that seems authentic and relatable, leaving a lasting impression.

Without adapting to new consumer trends and technological advancements, and finding ways to reach the large audiences that are on these new social media platforms, advertisers will face several lost opportunities. As the digital landscape and consumer behavior continue to transform every day, it is imperative that advertising agencies stay up to date on current trends and marketing techniques to effectively vye for ever-shortening attention spans. Here at Lewis Media Partners, we’re always looking ahead, to shift our approaches and garner results for our clients. We know that what worked last year, might not this year, and in fact, what worked yesterday, might not work today. It’s about leaning on the fundamentals of media planning, and innovating to keep up with the change. 




Tricia Janney