We Grabbed a Seat at the Table with Generation Z

Matthew Ray
October 18, 2017

Editor’s Note: The ChatterBlast Media team prides itself on staying ahead of the curve when it comes to evolving pathways and tactics in the world of social media. Welcome to Future Trends: A blog series where we identify and examine core trends and topics that we predict will be vital to digital marketing in 2018 and beyond. Remember: You heard it from us, folks. 

“What are the kids doing?”

Maybe it’s just in my life that I hear this phrase weekly, but we can’t ignore that we have a youth-obsessed culture. Teens and young adults are always the harbingers of new ideas, the drivers of culture shifts, and the heralds of new trends.  With the social media landscape evolving continuously, communications professionals are constantly concerned about where our younglings are, what they’re saying, and most importantly, what they’re absorbing.   

As a Gen Xer, I’m also sick to death of millennial marketing. Lord, enough already. I’m ready for the undiscovered and pristine country that is the next generation: Generation Z. 

Courtesy the New York Times, a helpful chart navigating the differences between millennials and Gen Z.

Gen Z is commonly placed as being born between 1990 and 2010.  They currently control $20 billion in buying power, and honey, they ain’t even making post-college money yet. 

As part of ChatterBlast Media’s exhaustive research efforts to explore future trends in social media, Director of Digital Strategy Jackie Kollar and myself surveyed more than 300 Gen Zers from across the country. We questioned them on their internet, social media, and social ad-ingestion habits.  Here are some of our tippity-top findings that further illustrate this lucrative and dominant consumer group. 

Curation is life. 

This is the generation that created the concepts of Finstigrams and RinstagramsThey know how to stage a good picture, and know how to define and influence larger social media trends. They know they’re being watched, monitored and judged. Nearly all survey respondents admitted to crafting their social posts and personas to portray an inspirational life, as well as to deleting posts that failed to gain strong social engagement.  They have a concept of their personal brand and aesthetic, perhaps more so than the rest of us. 

They’re likely reading this on their phones.

The survey doesn’t lie.

Seventy-nine percent of survey responders indicated that their go-to pathway to the internet was their smartphone. Laptops and desktops trailed behind, with tablets barely on the radar. And what are they even doing online, you ask? Top internet uses were boiled down to entertainment, education, and socialization. Surprisingly, pornography was in the bottom, but we believe it’s possible not all survey respondents were completely honest here.

Everything is coming up Instagram.  

Not only did the photo-sharing platform edge out upstart Snapchat with Gen Z users, it is also the go-to spot for them to interact with brands and absorb advertisements. Instagram and Snapchat also represent the most popular channels for Generation Z to maintain friendships, but Snapchat edges out Instagram when it comes to relationships. (We’ll let you use your imagination to get a grasp on what that’s all about.)  

Facebook isn’t dead—it’s for family. 


While Gen Zers admit that Facebook feels “dated,” “noisy,” and “too political,” they turn to the platform when it comes to their kin. Seventy-nine percent of those surveyed find the channel to be the most connective for families. Keep posting those baby pictures on there, Ma!

Brands, brands, brands!

Ninety-one percent of survey respondents acknowledged that social media has persuaded their buying behavior. When interacting with brands, Gen Z is looking for social channels to offer product information and humor, with little interest in employee or overall company information.  

Let’s get visual.

No duh that a generation that lives on Instagram would be so hungry for imagery.  Survey respondents overwhelmingly indicated across the board that visuals were important in all social engagement, with heavy influence on memes and GIFs. Given that this generation tunes you out after 30 seconds, according to survey results, you’ll need to quickly get them engaged with eye-catching entertainment.

Riverdale: ????????????

Are you watching this CW barnburner? The kids are. You should be, you old idiot. It’s Archie. It’s Archie, but sexy and dark. And Dylan McKay, I mean, uh, Luke Perry, plays Archie’s dad. You’re old. Old.

We here at CBM HQ will be using this data to craft campaigns for clients, as well as to begin to evolve our strategies to be prepared for Gen Z’s ascendancy to full-fledged omnivorous consumers. 

While I continue to sift through this information hoping to relive my teenage years, check out Jackie Kollar’s follow-up to this piece, where she examines what to do with all of this information when it comes to marketing to this elusive demographic. On fleek!