6 Qualities Gen Z Wants from Brands on Social Media

June 14, 2022

You can largely thank Gen Z social media users for the rapid and widespread adoption of new platforms like TikTok and loyalty to more established ones like Instagram and Twitter.

Most in this generation have used social media in some way for more than half their lives. Our recent shopper insights survey shows Gen Z social media habits are unique.

35% of Gen Z consumers start their shopping path by gathering information through social media, a habit that sets them apart from other generations.

This highlights the importance of influencing Gen Z consumer decision-making in the digital world long before they enter a store.

In this blog, we’ll explore how brands can use this research to inform their marketing strategies for reaching Gen Z social media users.

1. Humor & Comedy (60%)


Our research of Gen Z social media preferences shows 60% like ads in this channel to lead with humor.

As the Gen-Z collective JUV Consulting says, “Gen Z humor can be dark, obscure, and absurd; the world is incredibly messy, so we might as well crack a few jokes about it.”

This explains Gen Z social media users’ love of memes.

Brands can incorporate these Gen Z social media trends into their ads to capture the attention of this generation.

However, this has to be done authentically. If you have a naturally humorous, self-deprecating brand voice, meme marketing won’t seem out of place.

But if your voice is more corporate or authoritative, you will need to tread lightly to appear genuine to Gen Z social media users. 

Examples of brands doing this well on social media: Wendy’s and Chipotle 

2. Addressing Social Causes & Issues (52%)

Addressing social causes is favored by 52% of our Gen Z social media users. 66% of Gen Z consumers say they experience more positive feelings about a brand if it’s tied to a social cause, with 58% reporting that this could even make them purchase.

This goes beyond just one-off social media posts celebrating Women’s History Month or Pride Month. Gen Z social media users can easily spot — and have no problem calling out — a fake when they detect one. 

As a result, practicing what you preach can be a strong strategy to engage Gen Z consumers.

Avoid promoting racial equity if your brand is not yet up to snuff on diversity and inclusion efforts or sports a homogenous leadership team.

Don’t tout Earth Day if you aren’t working diligently to infuse sustainability into your product development, manufacturing and office practices.

Anything that is not done genuinely will turn off Gen Z social media users.

Examples of brands doing this well on social media: Oreo and Calm

3. Informational Facts & Figures (51%)


Roughly half of Gen Z consumers want businesses to advertise brand and product information on social media.

What’s more, 20% prefer directly buying from product ads in social media, making Gen Z twice as likely as Gen X or Boomers to buy in this way.

Gen Z is just behind millennials in terms of social commerce adoption, with 43% having made a purchase natively on a social media platform.

Brands looking to capitalize on Gen Z social media use should make sure they share product information and facts in an easily digestible, compelling way, whether that’s through a traditional ad, a video or an influencer hosting a livestream. 

Examples of brands doing this well on social media: Sephora and E.L.F. 

4. Inspirational & Uplifting Messaging (48%)

Nearly half of Gen Z social media survey respondents said they prefer uplifting communication approaches.

YOLO economy was the term coined for burned-out, socially-conscious, savings-rich millennials and Gen Z looking to do more with their lives than just work after almost two years of pandemic rise and grind.

With their intentions set on pursuing passions, indulging in the best life has to offer and doing more good in the world, brands must infuse inspirational messaging into their marketing to reach Gen Z social media consumers. 

Examples of brands doing this well on social media: Nike and Wayfair

5. Explanations of What the Brand Stands for (48%)


As Gen Z social media users like brands that stand for a social cause, it’s unsurprising that almost half find it important for businesses to express what they stand for.

None of the other generations we surveyed listed this as a top communication approach for social media. This means brands must work extra hard to explain to Gen Z social media users what they offer beyond just consumer products and services.

Some ways to do this in social media marketing campaigns include incorporating a brand’s mission and values, highlighting real people instead of models and actors and sharing sustainability efforts. 

Examples of brands doing this well on social media: Parade and Cocokind

6. Emotional & Heartwarming Messaging (45%)

With everything that has gone on in the world the last two-plus years, it’s understandable that Gen Z social media users would be drawn to content that tugs at their heartstrings.

Half of Gen Z that is working-age said that they or a household member lost a job or took a pay cut during the COVID-19 lockdowns, and 25% of Gen Z said they felt emotionally distraught because of the pandemic in particular. 

Brands that can inspire hope for the future and touch upon the full range of human emotions at a time of so much fear and uncertainty in the world will resonate most with Gen Z social media users. 

Examples of brands doing this well on social media: Coca-Cola and Google

Download Our Full Study on Generational Preferences

Gen Z’s values and beliefs impact its preferences and how it engages with brands. 

But there’s more to Gen Z than just social media, and other generations show different beliefs than Gen Z’s. 

Now, you can discover the beliefs and sentiment that underlie Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, and Boomers+ in a single study report.

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