Think Gen Z isn’t established enough to be a valuable target market? Think again. Gen Z is a large and influential demographic with significant buying power and influence.
Savvy small businesses that learn how to market to Gen Z now will have an advantage over those who wait to take Gen Z seriously. That’s why, at a recent Level Up with Keap event, we invited Tamara Thompson of Serious Take Productions to share her insights into:
- Gen Z values and mindset
- What platforms and technologies to use to reach Gen Z
- Best practices for marketing to Gen Z with TikTok, Instagram and podcasts
- How to leverage Gen Z influencers (and maybe even become one yourself)
Plus, Tamara and host Jade Olivia discussed how to use Keap to streamline your Gen Z marketing.
Here, we’ve summarized the event’s key takeaways.
Lessons from viral videos
Tamara Thompson started out as a filmmaker who owned a company that produced viral long-form YouTube content, specifically documentaries. A big part of her strategy was creating short-form content designed to help people find that longer content.
Since then, Tarmara has evolved her business into a content marketing agency focused on podcasts and micro content for small business clients.
Her core strategy remains the same:
- Create micro content (like short videos) based on what people are searching for
- Use tagging and keywords to reach a wider audience on your channels
- Link from your shorter content to a video podcast, where the expert shares insights in their own authentic way
This leads to trust in the expert, which helps them build a following and gain opportunities to mention products and services.
Tamara also emphasizes the importance of adapting to new technologies and platforms, such as Instagram and TikTok, because great content is useless if it’s not being posted where it will get the most visibility.
Gen Z leads the way to the platforms, but every generation values great content
Young people are the trendsetters for where people go to consume online content. Right now, Gen Z favors TikTok, Instagram and YouTube.
But when it comes to the content itself, relevance and authenticity triumph, regardless of the platform. In fact, solid content can cross the generational gap.
Tamara tells the story of a client in his sixties, a doctor and a surgeon, who wanted to market to younger generations. Tamara helped him create Instagram Reels and TikTok videos. His authenticity attracted viewers between the ages of 25-35 on TikTok and Instagram. In one month alone, he gained over 40,000 engagements on Instagram — a significant increase in his reach.
Why marketing to Gen Z makes financial sense
Generation Z — born from 1997 to 2012 and currently ages 11 to 26 — grew up with smartphones and social media. They’ve never known a world without the internet, so they’re extremely comfortable with technology and social media — often preferring it to face-to-face interactions.
Even though many Gen Zers are too young to be employed, they still have a huge impact on buying, whether they’re preteens spending mom and dad’s money, teens spending money earned from their part-time jobs, or young adults establishing their first household.
According to a 2021 Bloomberg article, Gen Z has $360 billion in spending power. And that number will only go up as the generation matures.
Because they’re so comfortable with technology, Gen Zers often make purchasing decisions based on what they see on social media, and what is recommended by influencers and friends on social platforms.
“That's a misconception that they're not a valuable market,” says Tamara. “They definitely are.”
Should I be on TikTok if I have a serious business?
Some small business owners object to the idea of marketing to Gen Z on TikTok, feeling like they’ll have to dance or do goofy things. However, there’s plenty of mainstream content on TikTok these days. In fact, how-to videos are especially popular.
Tamara points out that there are plenty of ways to use platforms like TikTok and Instagram without ever being silly. “I own a company called Serious Take Productions because I want people to take me seriously and I want people to take our clients seriously,” Tamara says.
She points out that you can capitalize on trends without being overly trendy. “You don't necessarily have to go with the mold to create these trending dances. You can simply use the trending music. Your video will start going into the trending music part and you're not doing the dance, but your video is populating and you're starting to get traction.”
Tamara also encourages her clients to repurpose content wherever possible. “You don't have to go out and create new content to match what you believe people are searching for. If you know that there's a really inspiring tip that you provided in a keynote speech, a webinar, a training, a podcast interview, take those micro pieces of content that are inspiring and educational — that can have great keywords as well — and repurpose those and test them out on your TikTok and Instagram.”
Building relationships with influencers
To build strong relationships with influencers, find ones that align with your core values. “Do the market research to see who you'd actually feel like you'd connect with,” recommends Tamara.
Tamara emphasizes the importance of allowing influencers to see how you can provide value to them — whether it’s sharing content you know they’ll like, hiring them, or offering affiliate or commission partnerships — before you reach out to see if they’d be interested in a collaboration. Start with small things and work up to bigger collabs if it makes sense.
“I'm in the process of doing this right now,” says Tamara. “I'm creating a micro content summit that releases in May. We're doing it with 15 influencers, a mix of TikTokers, Instagrammers and YouTube short creators. So right now we're reaching out to the ones we feel are in alignment with our core values. They provide a lot of value. They're fun. They're educational. We're building relationships with them that will allow them to do collaborations to share on their posts.”
To find influencers to connect with, Tamara recommends sites such as:
- Upfluence — An influencer marketing platform that allows businesses to find and connect with influencers across various social media platforms.
- Creator IQ — Similar to Upfluence, but geared more to enterprise level businesses.
- TikTok Creator Fund — A program that provides financial support for popular TikTok creators and brands that are self-funded.
Do I have to go viral?
One of the pressures of being on social media is the expectation that one isn’t successful unless their videos are going viral.
“You don't have to,” Tamara reassures us. “You can leverage other people's audiences. Set up the right intention, they will see that in you and they will be able to open doors for you that you might not have had yourself. I love to make introductions to clients to be on other people's podcasts.”
Tamara also recommends getting on a social platform like TikTok yourself to understand how people interact there, what people are looking for and what strikes a chord with audiences.
Becoming an influencer through podcasting
Tamara recommends that small business owners who want to share their expertise and build a following use video podcasting — whether that means having your own podcast or being a guest on other influencers’ podcasts.
Having your own podcast is important for positioning yourself as an expert and generating original content, but — especially in the beginning — you need to be a guest on other platforms with bigger audiences so people can discover you and start following you.
Both forms of podcasting are easier than you might think, if you know where to turn to for help.
“If you're interested in being on other people's podcasts, there are booking agencies out there,” says Tamara. “I have a booking agency that books me on shows every single month, but I also approve of them. They send the pitch and I say, ‘Who's their demographic? What's the size of their downloads and listeners?’ It's very strategic. I always recommend being on podcasts that are gonna reach your target demographic. Don't be on a podcast just to be on a podcast. You really want to be focused.”
At the same time, you should be building your own platform.
“I have my own podcast, and all of our clients have their own podcast,” says Tamara. “That's great for positioning. It's also a weekly consistent content source that can be optimized for YouTube and blasted out to all the podcast platforms, like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Deezer, Stitcher, you name it.”
Original content from your own podcast can also be mined for micro-content: Short, valuable nuggets that can be shared as TikToks, Instagram Reels and YouTube shorts. This bite-sized content helps your longer content (like your podcast episodes) get discovered.
To stay consistent with publishing, Tamara recommends recording a lot of content at once and then releasing it consistently over time. For example, if you have a weekly podcast, you don’t have to record every week, you can pump out a whole month's worth of content in one day.
“Set up your batch recording and actually record your content once a month, and you're done for the month,” says Tamara. “You pass it off to the team, they edit, they do everything to get it out onto social media.”
To avoid overwhelm, Tamara suggests to small business owners, “The only thing you should be doing is pushing the record button. Delegate out the rest of it so you can be found more consistently.”