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  • Writer's pictureAlexander Matambo

Effectively Marketing to Gen Z on Social Media: The Role of Authenticity

Brands have quickly figured out how to go viral on TikTok and other similar social media platforms, but holding younger consumers' attention for longer than it takes to swipe to the next video is proving to be a challenge. Brands need to take cues from the most successful content creators and build a persona that doesn't rely on hopping on the latest trends.

In summer 2021, the Adult Swim trend blessed our For You Pages (FYP) with ultra-creative short takes on the short clips Adult Swim aired during their commercial breaks. The videos appeared effortless and perfectly styled and were truly a pleasure to watch. However, fame is fleeting, because, by the time major brands started getting in on the trend, viewers had already moved on to the next trend, as is using the case on the clock app.

In essence, some brands have figured out how to catch Gen Z's attention. But keeping it for more than a few days- or hours- is proving to be a phenomenal challenge. Many Gen Z consumers interact with brands the same way they interact with online content: like it, potentially share it, and then move on. They're brand enthusiastic, but definitely not brand loyal.

It's almost like a double-edged sword. Social media quickly catapults brands to fame, but simultaneously restricts a brand's period of relevance.

To maintain Gen Z's attention for more than just a finger swipe to the next video, brands need to craft a distinctive voice in the sea of sameness, as opposed to chasing down the latest trends.

The Pitfall of Virality

When a creator or brand goes viral online, they become associated with the specific type of product or content that made them blow up. This has the unfortunate effect of trapping them in a cycle where they begin to believe that they need to keep selling on what got them the initial attention, often with diminishing returns.

As new trends emerge, people start to move on and the initial charm of attention fades, leaving the brands to lose relevance and appear less on people's feeds.

The Importance of Building Authenticity

An easier win for brands and creators is to focus on creating content that is authentic to their brand, as it will appeal to audiences better in the long run. The came consideration can be taken when looking at brand partnerships; it is essential to pick partners who demonstrate shared values and ideologies.

Brands and creators must prioritise their consistency and authenticity, as today's consumers can quickly spot brands trying to cash in on trends and hashtags. Consistency and continuity through a brand's actions, above all things, are the key to appealing to Gen Z consumers.

Brands as Creators

There is often a misconception that brands absolutely need to work with creators to build an audience. In actuality, they are fully capable of creating authentic and appealing online personas on their own.

Maintaining a brand's online identity is more crucial than ever because Gen Z, as a generation, is constantly hopping from one trend to another. This consumer behaviour has completely altered the way brands need to approach marketing strategy, as the traditional approach of trying to appeal to well-defined communities may no longer be as effective.

Internet culture, virality, and the ever-accelerating trend cycle have led customer tastes to become ambiguous at best, and contradictory at worst. Making it nearly impossible for brands to keep up.

"Build it and they will come"... The most effective way to relate to the new age of consumers on social media is to create authentic brand experiences on the platforms they frequent, and engage with them after they initiate interaction.

Whilst contradictory; on one hand, customer loyalty is dead... On the other hand, brands are expected to play a key role in the lives of these young buyers. The brands that get it right, are the ones that can connect with their audiences and speak to them in a language they will understand, without the need of following online trends.


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