There's no denying that social media isn't going away, and it's becoming a bigger part of our daily lives as time goes on. The number of people using social media has exploded around the world, particularly since the start of the global pandemic - where video became the new social interaction.
So where does the generational preference come in - and does it make any difference?
As of 2022, the bulk of Instagram's users is Millennials or Gen Z. That said - 60% of TikTok users are GenZ’ers. The trendsetters. The go-getters. The take no-nonsense generation is shaped by their commitment to making the world just that much better. By 2023 - 74 million people in the U.S. will be a part of GenZ, officially making it the largest generation of them all.
What does this platform preference tell us about GenZ?
GenZ is supporting the rise of TikTok in the same way that millennials drove the rise of earlier social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, and understanding the relationship between people and platforms is highly telling of what to expect from this coming generation.
A shift in identification
According to McKinsey & Company research, one of GenZ's (highly) differentiating qualities is their expression of personal truth. They value individual identities, oppose stereotypes, and practice identity expressions with patronage, regardless of social background. They are more adaptable to change and fluidity, as well as willing to collaborate with people from other backgrounds on common causes and interests.
In general, millennials like to consume material, whereas Generation Z prefers to create it. Similar comparisons can be drawn on other social media platforms. For millennials to absorb content fluidly, Facebook and Instagram both promote vertical feeds, but Snapchat stresses its camera viewfinder and visual effects for Gen Z's creative self-expression.TikTok is also the polar opposite of what some millennials believe social media has become: a source of anxiety and insecurity for many. TikTok has been transformed into a place where raw honesty is appreciated because of GenZ's dominance.
Rich content matters
Gen Z prefers to access content in rich video formats, whether for casual amusement or formal education. While it is sometimes assumed that young, digitally savvy audiences dislike being advertised to, this is not the case. This is an entire generation made up of digital natives who are attracted to new approaches to advertising, such as authentic videos.
Is TikTok the easiest way to access this generation?
This generation uses technology not only to be entertained, but also to learn about and discuss more serious problems such as climate change, politics, and current events. Other social media platforms also provide this type of content, but TikTok's distinct video style and visual appeal to a generation that is still forming their brand preferences.
As Millennials, GenX’ers, and Boomers trying to advertise to these digital natives - it requires more than a shift in the platform. It begs for a shift in perspective. This is the generation that is making their own way. Forming preferences from a young age, viewing loyalty and sustainability as a currency - what spoke to us, just doesn’t speak to them.
Here’s what we think
Our thoughts on the matter are pretty simple. Instead of seeing the two social giants as rivals - why not view them as opportunities? Generationally speaking, people aren’t easily swayed. If Gen Z prefers to consume content on TikTok - then tailor your campaigns that way! There’s no reason for marketers to try and reinvent themselves, or the wheel while they’re at it.