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Gen Z: Stop Talking About and Start Engaging Them

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As presented at SXSWedu by Carolyn Kent of Ologie on March 9, 2016.

Published in: Education
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Gen Z: Stop Talking About and Start Engaging Them

  1. 1. Gen Stop Talking About and Start Engaging #EngageGenZ
  2. 2. Teenagers are intimidating. And we are in the business of getting 16-year-olds to make a quarter-million-dollar decision. #EngageGenZ
  3. 3. They communicate constantly. #EngageGenZ
  4. 4. They communicate constantly. They’re sensitive to oversharing. #EngageGenZ
  5. 5. They communicate constantly. They’re sensitive to oversharing. They have short attention spans. #EngageGenZ
  6. 6. They communicate constantly. They’re sensitive to oversharing. They have short attention spans. They develop their own language and social structures. #EngageGenZ
  7. 7. They communicate constantly. They’re sensitive to oversharing. They have short attention spans. They develop their own language and social structures. They don’t just consume — they create (and manipulate, and share). #EngageGenZ
  8. 8. How do we engage them in meaningful ways? Start by understanding their mindset on a few key dimensions. #EngageGenZ
  9. 9. Technology HOW TO ENGAGE Gen Z Decoder AF = as f*ck HMU = hit me up Fire = cool Thirsty = desperate Technology is an organic part of their lives, and they are masters of circumventing brand messages in their digital worlds. 1. Don’t be thirsty. Your priorities are not theirs. 2. Weave your story into their lives by creating something of value, rather than interrupting their moments. 3. Echo their desire to put themselves out there — express the personality of your brand. “I’m digital AF, but HMU with something fire.” #EngageGenZ
  10. 10. Family Life HOW TO ENGAGE Gen Z Decoder BFF = best friend forever Squad = friends BAE = before anyone else The idea of a “traditional” family structure is obsolete and they happen to be super close with parentals. Friends are considered extensions of their family when it comes to making important decisions. 1. Tap into the power of influence by connecting with people that matter in their lives. 2. But, be mindful of using channels that appeal most to each group of people. “My mom and I are BFF (but my squad is still BAE).” #EngageGenZ
  11. 11. Education Careers HOW TO ENGAGE Gen Z Decoder Beat = undesirable Clutch = utter fulfillment They are future focused, and most already know what they want to study (but reserve the right to change their minds). Ultimately, they are entrepreneurial and want what they do to mean something. 1. Help them see a clear path at your institution, but encourage exploration by connecting their endless adaptability to alternative options. 2. Rethink the “outcomes story”— emphasize that doing what you love and changing the world for good are the hallmarks of success. “This homework is really beat, but my volunteer gig is clutch.” #EngageGenZ
  12. 12. Social Issues HOW TO ENGAGE Gen Z Decoder Ratchet = a mess Persistent access to the web + greater diversity all around them has expanded their worldview. They are passionate about helping change what they don’t like about the world. 1. Invite them to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Show that you value a culture of community. 2. Demonstrate the tangible change they can create with you. Give them opportunities to participate in meaningful work in and out of the classroom. “The world we live in is just ratchet.” #EngageGenZ
  13. 13. Entertainment Gen Z Decoder Mood = state of mind Emo = emotional They are drawn to underdog characters who change the world against all odds. In fact, weird is the new black. But you can’t manufacture this — they have impeccable BS detectors. “Current mood: emo.” #EngageGenZ HOW TO ENGAGE 1. Show how ordinary people can make a difference at your school and in the world. 2. Allow them to play an active role in your brand’s story — cast them as the hero. 3. Celebrate individualism, and the humans behind the brand — what’s real is what’s meaningful.
  14. 14. #EngageGenZ So, who’s killing it? ✓ Compelling ✓ Authentic ✓ Clear ✓ Inclusive ✓ Humanizing ✓ Value-adding It all comes down to telling sharing your story. And it had better be: #EngageGenZ
  15. 15. Brands On Fleek #EngageGenZ
  16. 16. #EngageGenZ #NailedIt: Campbell’s Takeaway The solution is not always as simple as being on the right platforms. Your message has to resonate (the most powerful messages resonate with multiple generations).
  17. 17. #EngageGenZ #NailedIt: Banksy Takeaway Technology is a fundamental way to connect, but remember that Gen Z craves regular “digital detoxes.”
  18. 18. #EngageGenZ #NailedIt: Converse Takeaway Being inclusive means relinquishing some of the control over your brand’s projection.
  19. 19. #EngageGenZ #NailedIt: Taylor Swift Takeaway Today’s teens don’t want messages thrust upon them, they want a community. Bonus points for making strides toward personalized experiences.
  20. 20. #EngageGenZ #NailedIt: Old Spice Takeaway Brands that embrace their quirky elements, while remaining true to their authentic story, are rewarded.
  21. 21. A Roadmap for Meaningful Engagement Focus messages and content based on Gen Z mindsets and the experience goal you are trying to drive. AD HOC No plan exists for generating engagement OPPORTUNISTIC Engagement is created almost by accident, in a reactive way REPEATABLE The brand understands what drives engagement and can replicate it MANAGED Engagement is pursued and created with intention, and cross-functional collaboration OPTIMIZED Engagement strategies are innovative and continuously improved Experience Goal: Understand Audiences Understand Content Drive Active Engagement Collaborate with Audiences Foster Advocacy TECHNOLOGY Digital is a fluid, organic part of their lives Don’t be “thirsty” Measure to spot trends and opportunities Echo their desire to put themselves out there Weave your story into their lives by creating something of value FAMILY LIFE Nontraditional notion of family that includes extendeds and close friends Learn and document how different audiences use different channels Be intentional about channel usage for audience types Encourage interaction that crosses traditional boundaries Tap into the power of influence EDUCATION CAREERS Future focused, with a desire to do something meaningful Don’t be “thirsty” Rethink the “outcomes” story Help them see a clear path, but encourage exploration Provide tools and experiences, and partner with them to create and experiment SOCIAL ISSUES Passionate about changing what they don’t like in the world Don’t be “thirsty” Show that you value a culture of community Demonstrate the tangible change they can create with you Invite them to be a part of something bigger than themselves Engage them in causes that align with your brand’s values ENTERTAINMENT Authenticity, underdogs, and weirdos rule Immerse your team in Gen Z culture and content Determine what content elicits the desired response from your community Celebrate individualism Show how ordinary people can make a difference Cast them as the hero of your brand’s story GEN Z MINDSET
  22. 22. Questions? Comments? General nerdery? As the kids say, “HMU” – @CarolynLKent ckent@ologie.com

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