Generation Z—those aged approximately 14 to 22 years old—is the first generation to grow up in a world where Google and free wifi are ubiquitous. While social media platforms have exploded in the past 5 years, we see teens less interested in broadcasting to a wide network and more focused on specialized messages. Anonymity, more freedom of self-expression and the ability to send specific messages to specific groups are the keys to success with the “curation generation.”
As Generation Z continues coming of age and flexing its consumer might, it’s increasingly clear that businesses and brands need to modify marketing and communications strategies to engage these young people where they’re at. A recent Business Insider report cited that teens spend about six hours a day on their smartphones.Let’s consider some of the reasons why Generation Z chooses to spend 1/3 of their waking lives on smartphones.
- Material items and ownership are less important than experiences and the ability to share. In fact, this is the generation that’s been dubbed “Gen-Narration Z” given their interest in mixing content and curation, using various platforms to put their personal stamp on life while sharing it with the world. It’s certainly one of many factors that’s driving the success of Snapchat and Instagram as well as music streaming companies.
- Contrary to older adults, who are more likely to consider efficiency when selecting apps, tweens and teens love the variety offered by a broad range of apps. In another notable contrast with older generations, they find email to be an outdated communications method.
- Perhaps counter intuitively given the amount of time spent online, they value privacy, embracing several apps that provide both self-expression and anonymity.
- With an attention span of just 8 seconds (vs. 12 seconds for Millennials) , this generation enjoys communicating through images.
So, what are the top 7 apps used by Generation Z? While this is a fast-moving target that’s constantly evolving, here is our roundup:
- Instagram – Since launching just over 6 years old, this app has proven itself a juggernaut in terms of image sharing and self-expression. Not surprisingly, Generation Z quickly latched onto Instagram.
- Kik Messenger – Curious what Generation Z uses instead of email? The short answer is instant messaging. As with other IM platforms, Kik offers a wonderfully succinct and speedy way to stay connected, with the added benefit of anonymity.
- Snapchat – If we had to select just one of these apps to spotlight, Snapchat is the obvious choice. Inflexion Interactive summarizes its appeal as follows: “It’s simple, easy, instant and for Gen Z, a generation famous for their FOMO (fear of missing out), it’s as close to being everyone at once as you can get."
- Spotify – As with earlier generations, music plays a big part in the lives of Generation Z. The first “digital natives,” these young people have grown up in an interconnected, life-on-demand world. Spotify allows them to choose the songs they want to play, when they want to play them.
- Twitter – Compared to other apps on this list, Twitter is a somewhat ancient, perhaps surprising choice. Generation Z uses Twitter as both news source and platform for self-expression, and the app offers greater immediacy and concision than Facebook.
- Yik Yak – Like Twitter, but anonymous. Yik Yak also has the cool distinction of just distributing messages to others within a 10-mile radius. For adolescents, this app provides a safe-from-judgment (and parental scrutiny) space to share their feelings and observations.
- YouTube – YouTube offers dual appeal as an entertainment outlet and a social media platform for self-expression and sharing. According to Business 2 Community, Generation Z is “twice as likely to use YouTube than their Gen Y counterparts…[they] take in between two to four hours of YouTube and less than one hour of traditional television per day."
For more on Generation Z’s social media preferences, check out Barefoot Solutions’ recently published take. While the smartphone revolution has affected everyone’s day-to-day habits, this group of individuals is increasingly defining and driving online behavior. Plugging into Generation Z may require just that: using the technological interfaces that speak to these individuals most strongly. The preference for mobile communications is only going to increase as the world becomes more digitally integrated.