Whether you’re promoting an industry leader’s brand or are building a small business’s SEO strategy, you’ve probably noticed that Generations Y (Gen Y) and Z (Gen Z) audiences are a little different.

Gens Y and Z consist of anyone born between 1981 and the early 2010s. This means they grew up in the digital age and are accustomed to having the power of the internet and social media at the tips of their fingers. Additionally, Gens Y & Z have different financial habits than other folks, and will only make a serious purchase from a brand that aligns with their values and presents itself as ethical.

Appealing to a more culturally and digitally savvy audience can be a real headache for some marketers. But it is still possible to connect Gens Y and Z through social media campaigns that are authentic, research-driven, and up to date with current trends. Here’s how you can appeal to younger generations and get the most out of your next social media campaign.

Values and Authenticity

Gens Y and Z have grown up in a tumultuous political period and understand the importance of having values that you can stand behind with pride. This is reflected in recent market research, which shows that 72% of Americans now say that they want to buy from companies that share their values. As a marketer, you can leverage this generational interest in values by creating social media campaigns that center around commendable values.

However, before you start making campaigns that laud your “goodness”, you need to ensure that anything you say in a campaign can be backed up by reality. That’s because Gens Y and Z are adept at looking beyond the immediate presentation of a campaign and will dig into any claims you make to fact-check them. So, if you claim to be a sustainable business, ensure that you follow through on sustainability principles, or you will be accused of greenwashing and damaging your brand identity. 

Instead of trumping up false claims, focus on authenticity and don’t be afraid to apologize if you make a mistake. For example, if you are running a social media campaign for a company that has recently purchased carbon offsets, consider pushing this act to the forefront of your marketing material. But, ensure that you don’t overstate your commitment to sustainability and be clear about how your business is planning to help the environment in the future.

If you want to be on the cutting edge of value-based marketing, then you need to use sustainable UX design. Sustainable UX design helps combat carbon emissions by providing audiences with a seamless, user-friendly experience. As a marketer, you’re in a great position to advocate for more sustainable design by reducing the number of clicks it takes to get from your advert to placing an order and by cutting down on the amount of data used on your website. This will reduce your digital carbon footprint, and will help busy Gens Y & Z audiences find the right information quickly.

Short Form Video and Social Listening

Short-form videos are the holy grail of social media marketing for Gens Y and Z. If you can convince a younger viewer to stop their scroll and watch your content, you’ll likely see a significant bump in conversion rates and a genuine buzz around your campaign.

Creating video marketing for Gens Y and Z takes some serious planning and a little marketing savvy. You need to ensure that your short-form videos are relevant to your brand, market trends, and the world at large. You can do this by leveraging the power of social listening.

Social listening is a market research strategy that helps businesses arrive at a “market destination” sooner than their competitors. To employ social listening, you must get an accurate snapshot of what is being said about your brand online by monitoring social media channels for keywords and phrases that are related to your brand. Once you’ve gathered an accurate image of your brand identity on social media, you’re ready to create a humorous or trend-driven short-form video that will be well received.

Humor and Trends

Understanding Gens Y and Z is one thing; actually engaging with them in a productive, profit-generating way is another. The best way to build your brand and appeal to Gens Y and Z today is through campaigns that are funny and are up to date on current trends.

Recent research shows that the best way to engage with online consumers is through “non-product-related” posts, which focus more on humor, authentic personal interaction, and social responsibility than on the product itself. This might sound counter-intuitive, but you have to remember that social media isn’t a natural sales venue, and folks who stumble across your campaigns are probably more interested in catching up with friends than they are in buying a new product.

You can employ humor in your next campaign by targeting key dates like April Fool’s Day and running ambitious campaigns to generate a buzz around your brand. However, you need to ensure that any humor you use never “punches down”. This means that the butt of your joke cannot be a demographic or person who is traditionally marginalized. Not only is punching down unethical, but it will also damage your brand identity in culturally conscious Gens Y and Z audiences.


Gens Y and Z are more digitally and socially savvy than any other generation. They grew up in an age of iPhones and Twitter trends and can spot a deceitful ad campaign from a mile away. As a marketer, you can appeal to Gens Y and Z through authentic social media campaigns which identify a clear ethical value or cause and never “punch down”.

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