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“Snapchat is my biggest form of communication” – Social media trends according to Gen Z

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With so many social media sites circulating the internet, it can be difficult to keep up with how digitally-native Gen Zs navigate their way around each platform. Here’s a rundown of what’s hot on social, according to your next generation of consumers.

Snapchat – the one with the filters

86% of US students use Snapchat, and 63% use Snapchat everyday – but what exactly are they using it for? In the US, Snapchat is the most popular channel for private socializing; whether that’s messaging or sharing funny photos with friends, Snapchat is a student’s go-to platform for communicating.

“In my hometown, everyone communicates with Snapchat. I feel like I would not talk to two thirds as many people as I do on the daily if I did not have Snapchat. I would be extremely antisocial, probably.” – Rachel, future Finance student, Ohio

Iphone screen featuring the Snapchat Icon on a yellow background

But what does this mean for your brand? Being the top form of communication for students means that users are much more likely to use this platform for sharing discounts with friends – which 28% of students say they like to do in a private message.

The great thing about Snapchat is its versatility – users can choose to be public or private, and they also have access to a wide range of functions, including filters, Snapmaps, news content, games, quizzes and more.

“If I see something that my friends and I are really interested in, I would just let them know like, yo, I found this deal, and usually I will tell them on Snapchat or text them or something like that.” – Demi, 19, computer science student, New York

Instagram – the one with a ‘swipe up’ function

They might have migrated over to TikTok over the last couple of years, but that doesn’t mean Gen Zs don’t still love a good scroll on Instagram, or posting a ‘photo dump’ on their own feed.

In fact, 94% of students in the US use Instagram, and 74% use this platform everyday. Instagram started with millennials, but Gen Z voices continue to grow strong across this platform. The Gen Z consumer cohort are also the first to really utilize a growing trend for Instagram: shopping.

Did you know 73% of US students have shared a discount they found on social media with a friend, and 76% have gone on to buy from a brand or buy a specific product that they discovered on Instagram? With more brands stepping up their social media game, Instagram has quickly become Gen Zs’ favorite social media platform for shopping inspiration, or ‘social shopping’. The integration of Insta reels, brand advertisements and brand ambassadors have helped fuel the channel’s retail reputation among Gen Z consumers. So brands, if you don’t know, get to know.

Student sat on a yellow chair taking a selfie

YouTube – the one with tutorials

It might be one of the OG social media platforms, but YouTube is still going strong. Indeed, a massive 96% of US students use Youtube, and at least 47% use it everyday.

Over the years, YouTube has become a popular channel for vlogs and tutorials – which makes it a top platform for influencers to create and share content. Unlike visual platforms like Instagram, YouTube appeals more to Gen Z’s desire for authenticity by being a video platform. On YouTube, what you see is what you get – no one hides behind filters. As such, YouTube is the place for young consumers to go to for honest product and brand reviews.

“Sometimes, with certain items, if I want hands-on reviews, I’ll go to YouTube.” – Bailey, Business major from California

As a brand, it’s worthwhile to consider investing in YouTube ads to reach Gen Zs, or partnering with influencers to feature in a vlog – to help nurture Gen Zs purchasing journey, and see results for your brand.

TikTok – the one with #BookTok

TikTok – one of the latest names to join the social media line up – has made a solid first impression on Gen Zs, especially during the pandemic. According to our survey, 78% of US students use TikTok, and at least 55% use TikTok everyday.

“I find so much on TikTok and I love making TikToks.” – Rachel, future Finance student, Ohio

Overall, at least 60% of TikTok’s users are Gen Zs, and this consumer cohort are really making their mark on TikTok – creating scope for more brands to get involved. The latest trend making a splash in the TikTok world is BookTok; a community of young readers creating TikToks on everything to do with – you guessed it – books. The BookTok hashtag has ranked up over 14.3 billion views (and counting), and Gen Zs are loving it. Even bookstores have responded – The Barnes & Noble website now has a BookTok page highlighting the most popular books, as determined by Gen Z TikTokers.

It’s not just books stores that are benefiting from TikTok. We’ve found that 54% of students have discovered a brand or product on TikTok that they went on to buy. Gen Zs are an influential demographic, so it’s not surprising that a platform with such a strong Gen Z user base is having the same impact.

“Snapchat is my biggest form of communication, and TikTok just has a little bit of everything. With Instagram, I usually go for aesthetics or make up, and then I use streaming apps, but I can get the humor from TikTok, too.” – Kenia, Animation and media student, Arizona

Pinterest – the one with all the inspo

You may not have considered Pinterest to be a very Gen Z-centric form of social media, but 77% of US students actually use this platform. As an emerging generation of content creators, Gen Zs enjoy visual social media – which makes Pinterest a desirable choice.

The traditional uses for Pinterest remain consistent across young consumers. They use it for purchasing ideas, inspiration, hacks and tutorials, to name a few. As a brand, Pinterest is a great opportunity to make it onto Gen Zs’ radar. If you make a good impression, you may well score a place on their Pinterest board.

Get the full lowdown on Gen Z trends, shopping preferences and more by watching our exclusive panel discussion: The voice of Gen Z.

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