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Being real on social media – the dos and the don’ts

Instagram 'like' button painted on a brick wall

Being honest and transparent online is important to Gen Zs, who we know spend a considerable amount of their time on social. Here, we explore how brands can best achieve authenticity on social media.

Tapping into social media trends 

One thing to consider when tapping into a social media trend is how far it relates to your brand sector – can this trend be adapted in a way that makes it relevant to you? If the answer is yes, now is your chance to get those creative juices flowing. 

Social media features that brands can definitely tap into include Instagram carousels, TikTok hashtags like #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt and #LearnOnTikTok, and the ‘show me your’ sticker on Instagram stories. Plus, as the holiday season gets underway, you can expect Vlogmas to make a return to YouTube very soon. Gen Zs love YouTube for its long form, authentic content, so this is a great platform to get your brand featured on.  

In short, it’s important to consider social media features as a base for your brand to get creative and adapt the trends to fit your brand’s overall messaging, purpose and product. Simply jumping on a trend or viral conversation with no real direction or meaning will make your brand seem inauthentic and, in some cases, insensitive.

person on their phone and laptop surrounded by creative tools like paint brushes

Working with influencers 

Influencers started with Millenials and they certainly aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. However, Gen Zs have a very simple criteria when it comes to what makes an influencer worth following – they have to be authentic and honest. Our findings show that 82% of 16-24s follow at least one influencer with 5k+ followers, and 45% believe influencers with 5,000 – 20,000 followers are the most trustworthy. 

For brands, this means influencers are a good way to boost peer-to-peer relationships and recommendations, which Gen Zs value highly. However, it’s important to build partnerships with influencers that suit your brand and have the engagement factor you’re looking for. As a general rule, influencers that go above and beyond just posting sponsored ads/content will 100% be more on Gen Zs level. Nano-influencers are also a good way to ensure optimal engagement patterns. 

Influencers that have been praised for their authenticity on social media include Chessie King and Lucy Mountain, who have both been instrumental in calling out toxic diet culture and showing their true selves online. Of course, there are some influencers, like Healthy Chef Steph, makeup by Manny Gutierrez or Nutty Foodie Fitness, who have a certain niche or interest that feeds into all of their content – this could be food content, beauty or fitness, to name a few. Working with influencers who favors your sector will work wonders in elevating your brand messaging and products in front of the right audience. 

Nostalgia – how can this feed into your social media content? 

Gen Zs take comfort in nostalgia, especially with everything that’s happened over the last two years with the pandemic – memories of times from their childhood or even before open up a calming sense of nostalgia. 

Fashion and beauty brands in particular have been instrumental in circulating this trend. We’ve seen brands like ASOS bringing back the noughties icon, Groovy Chick, with their new range earlier this year, plus the Nike x Space Jam collection, Primark’s Disney range, Revolution’s Bratz make up palettes, and of course, the 70s style that has been inundating fashion stores in recent months. 

Even if your brand doesn’t have a specific range or licence that directly links to nostalgia, creating content for your social channels that speaks to another time is a great way to get Gen Zs sharing and reposting your content for a wider audience to see. 

This blog is part of our authenticity edit. Next up: Gen Z role models that changed the game: activists and figureheads

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