A marketing manager who has clocked-up 21 million likes on TikTok was asked why her organisation – a museum – were using TikTok.
‘Because we want to reach under 24s, don’t you’, was her answer.
The answer in pretty much all organisations should be that yes, the under 24s are pretty important. But I suspect there reemains a block amongst communicators.
I get why. Time is limited. People who are commissioning your work may not see that age group as important. Properly reaching them means learning a new set of skills with a new set of channels and that’s an extra task in a busy day.
Part of the block is also not understanding the age group. This is where Beatfreaks’ The 2nd Dose youth trends research comes in really handy. With a younger audience, I’ve long advocated talking with them to work out what’s important and how best to reach them.
I’m a bloke in my 40s. I don’t know from lived experience what this demographic think. I’d head to insight and I’d ask them which is what the report does,
Why is this research handy? It’s UK-based. Its data collection is also late 2021 and mid-pandemic.
Here’s what public sector people need to know
First, the brass tacks.
What’s Generation Z?
Generation Z are people who were born from the late 1990s to 2010. That means they’re aged 11 to to around 24. For the purpose of the Beatfreaks report its 16 to 24.
They’re the group who succeeded Millennials who are born from 1981 to 1996. In 2021, these are aged 25 to 40.
What the report says
89 per cent of Gen Z think of themselves as creative people
In other words, people who are used to making, selecting, clicking and dreaming have a set of skills where creating is the norm.
I’ve often spoken to someone whose aim is to make video as good as their son or daughter. This quantifies it.
A crucial factor is that there are simply more outlets and opportunities to exercise creativity than ever before. First, the (sometimes) democratising internet has rendered it’s users curators of their own museums and galleries, stockers of their own newsstands, DJs on their own stations, window dressers of their own arcades. We’re all now faced with an almost endless number of options for content, our feeds becoming more and more personal, where we can pick what to consume and when we want to consume it.
Beatfreaks 2nd Dose Report
But anxiety is widespread and empathy is valued
37 per cent anxious at big events, the report says. The long shadow of COVID-19 hasn’t gone.
Mental health problems which were prevalent amongst Gen Z before lockdown haven’t gone.
Anxiety is changing how people think. The report says that this was the case pre-COVID-19 and the pandemic has accelerated that. Those with teenagers at home can relate to this.
Five children in a classroom of 30 are likely to have a mental health problem, they quote the Childrens Society as saying.
Empathy is highly valued, their research says.
They believe in equality and want to shape the future
This is a group who know they have years ahead of them and want to change the world they live in, the report says.
Black Lives Matter, climate emergency and other campaigns have left a mark. They believe in equality and they want to change in work and out of it.
But 92 per cent thought that the pandemic was a chance to make positive changes.
To respect a brand, the report says, it needs to be making an improvement in the world.
One of things which has been made clear throughout by this group, as well as many others, is that matters of equality, diversity and inclusion, are not going to go away. Pressure has mounted in the mainstream over the past two years.
Diversity cannot just sit across marketing and HR but rather needs to be embedded in all parts of corporate strategy.
Working with Gen Z on their vision of the future is the most effective way to sustain organisations and build the Institutions of the Future. In understanding, learning from and working with young people to
forge culture, to change narratives, and to challenge norms, organisations will slowly begin to change today, so that they’re still around tomorrow.
Beatfreaks The 2nd Dose report
This optimism is good to see but it needs to be tapped into by those who can tap into it.
Social media is positively embedded in Gen Z
For good and for ill social media is something that is part of the life of a 16 to 24-year-old.
The report says that 99 per cent of this demographic use at least one platform but how they use it can be different to how older people use it. That chimes with Ofcom data.
We’re told that young people are slaves to their tablets and are missing out. The data says that’s not broadly true.
Social media is seen by the majority as a positive with 60 per cent said it brightened their day – four times as many as had a negative view.
We need, and rely on, these platforms to connect, for escape, for belonging.
Whilst there is little debate about the evolution of our use of social media, we still often settle for the dated and aged view that social media = anxiety.
Beatfreaks The 2nd Dose report
Interestingly, there are a range of reasons why young people use social media. Education, for friends and for entertainment were amongst the most popular.
Older people may use it to check football scores or keep in touch with family. Young people’s use is far more broad than that. It’s a cornerstone of their life.
What content works best? Visual story telling.
Career isn’t important but doing something they love is
A further trend is that career isn’t really something that’s a strong motivator.
More than half say they feel burnt out with salary, work life balance and good people to work with important.
Perhaps surprisingly, they aren’t bothered about working exclusively remotely. Just eight per cent want this – that’s a third of the rest of the population.
For public sector communicators, the Generation Z demographic who fit into the 16 to 24 age group are a demographic at home with social media whose lives are improved by it.
They want to improve the world they live in and value empathy and equality.
They are an audience of their own and what’s also clear is that they should be treated as an audience in their own right. If you want to reach them you need to understand them and create content that’s pitched to them.
It’s tempting to think that the Facebook page post will reach everyone. It won’t and this is further evidence.