Keeping Up With the Teenagers: How Gen Z Uses Social Media

We’ve all seen it. The blunder a company makes on social media that makes it blatantly obvious how #hip and #trendy they’re trying to be, without actually using the popular culture reference in the right way. It can even be so bad that the company quickly loses followers.


Millennials are currently the youngest demographic in the professional sector, and as a result Millennials are often the ones curating content for social media sites. This content is going to be increasingly directed towards the next up-and-coming generation, Gen Z, as they currently make up 25.9% of the population and have $44 billion in purchasing power. This makes them an obvious demographic for targeted marketing campaigns.

Therefore, it would be really wise for those pursuing careers in social media and marketing to familiarize themselves with the social media habits of those currently in high school and entering college. While Millennials grew up as social media evolved, Gen Z are known as social media natives. And they prefer this social media to be across five screens.

Researchers have begun to notice that whereas Millennials are on every social media platform, Gen Z is more selective with their social media consumption. As a result, social media managers will have to be extra-savvy in regards to what content they are putting online, how they are doing so, and how often. Even more so, Gen Z most often consumes videos and images, making things like infographics increasingly important. Not so important to Gen Z? Twitter. Unfortunately, Gen Zers probably won’t be a fan of this blog either.

Gen Z vs. Gen Y: Does the Hype Add Up?

This Gen-Z Teenager Explains Why and How She Uses Various Social Media Platforms


6 thoughts on “Keeping Up With the Teenagers: How Gen Z Uses Social Media

  1. I liked the two articles you provided links for at the bottom. This post enforces the idea that businesses and individuals who use social media need to constantly research or scan the environment for what’s new. It’s important to not only stay up-to-date, but also staying ahead of the curve could set you apart. It feels like our generation is the social media one since we’ve experienced a variety of the platforms, but Generation Z is actually more involved that us. Like you said, they are more selective than our generation which wanted to try everything. I always get annoyed when I see 8-year-olds posting stupid videos on Vine, but I realize that social media is a normal part of Generation Z’s life… which is kind of scary, and definitely important to keep in mind for business. Good post!


  2. Great post! You bring up a lot of interesting ideas that I hadn’t really thought about before regarding the use of social media for Gen Z. I too considered us to be to generation that knew it all when it came to social media, but then I look back to when I was younger and it wasn’t really a thing for me until later in middle school, whereas so many high schoolers I know now use social media not as a supplement to their daily communication, but as a necessary means of it. I find it interesting that they are selective with the platforms that they choose–as someone who has a presence on quite a few platforms, I can see where the benefit is to choosing only one or two to focus on. This definitely makes me realize that as someone who wants to pursue social media strategy somehow in the future, I have to be on my toes in order to cater to Gen Z without losing them in the process.


  3. This is a great blog…let me say that I fall under the Gen ‘X’ category but my reason for being selective with social media consumption is due to my fear of posting my life and opinions online. Although I am technology native that came about in my 20’s, I grew up in a time where everything we did was private and not broadcast for everyone else to see. Although your blog is directed towards the Gen Z, I wanted to give my opinion about my generation. To go back to the Gen Zs, I have 3 children that are all Gen Z so I am well aware and keep track of what they are doing on social media, My oldest will be graduating from high school next year, I recommended that she should take a professional social media class (like this great course we are in) at the college she will attend to familiarize herself with how to use social media in a professional manner. I am glad I have done so myself!


  4. I think that this post is incredibly relevant. One thing I hate the most is going onto social media and seeing major companies promote their business on social media in the lamest ways possible. It’s embarrassing seeing them struggle to keep up with current trends. Your post reminded me a lot of the panel discussion from the symposium when Sarah Hamm talked about how her superiors wanted to use the “damn Daniel” meme in their social media promotions and how Sarah knew better than to use it because “damn Daniel” was beyond irrelevant before her bosses had ever even heard of it. I think Sarah would agree completely with your statement that professionals using social media in their work need to stay updated and be one step ahead of Gen Z to be able to effectively communicate with them. Otherwise, Gen Z would roll their eyes (as I do) and call them “old”. On another note, I hadn’t really considered that we are no longer the most experienced with social media. There is a whole new generation of people who were basically born with smart phone data plans already purchased for them. We, on the other hand, grew up and learned the technological changes and new platforms of social media as they were created. We remember when Facebook was first widely used and we experienced Snapchat’s birth. This makes me think of how some parents establish their children’s online footprints before they’re even born. While it makes me sad that my future children will be born into a world where their interactions with others will largely be over the internet and the crushing weight of social media’s power to feed into someone’s self-worth will be ever more real than it is now, I know I will be that mom that posts even the most mundane photographs of my babies. I guess I’m just part of the problem.


  5. I remember seeing an article that was a collection of companies using outdated memes to sell their products. All I could think of was that it was sad that they couldn’t keep up and didn’t have a young employee running their Twitter or Facebook. This mistake certainly didn’t make me want to buy any of the products. I cannot imagine what it will be like for Gen Z online. Most of them have grown up with social media, as you said, they’re natives. The majority of ads will have to be online and focused on specific platforms that probably haven’t been created yet. I cannot imagine how companies are going to keep up if they already lose followers posting outdated content.


  6. This is a great post that emphasizes the importance of companies keeping up with the times. Things change so rapidly anymore and social media is one arenas that seems to change the fastest. Of course, this is only reminding me that while I may be a young millennial, I’m not going to hip for much longer and will need to learn how the kids are communicating online these days. Very interesting that they tend more toward images and videos than to written forms like blogs or Twitter. I’m very interested to see where youth on social media goes in the next few years. Thanks for such an informative post!


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