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POSTED 13.5.2024

How to engage young people on social media 

Transition year student Aoife Cradock examines how companies can reach the younger generations on social media.

Changes in how businesses target their customers have been momentous over the past ten years. Social media has made goods and services more accessible and allows companies to spread their message to larger target audiences than ever before.

But Gen Z and Millennials are unlike any previous generations as they were born into and raised during this technological revolution and many traditional businesses are finding trying to reach them online to be a real headache.

These generations are well-versed in navigating social media to find what they want. If you want to engage these young consumers, you have to form a rapport with them on the social media platforms they use.

The main social media platforms they use are TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat. TikTok is the largest and most successful platform for businesses because it’s used every day by younger generations and collects data on what its users find entertaining and interesting.

Businesses on TikTok are able to develop a strategy for reaching this young audience by keeping tabs on how long they watch their videos for and how much they interact with them.

This tracking of their likes, comments, reposts, saves and attention spans enables companies to pinpoint exactly what their target audience wants from their brand and allows them to strengthen their bond with them.

To be successful, you must adapt your marketing strategies. You need to appeal to them intellectually and emotionally to create a long-lasting bond.

They don’t want to see your posts centred around your products or the services you provide but would be interested in finding out about the people behind your business and those using your products or services.

Your target customer wants to see your company generate content that speaks to the values that they care about – from climate change and social justice to equal rights and everything in between.

Data also shows that the younger generations tend to engage with companies or brands that use video as their main tool for marketing.

Influencer marketing is one of the key ways to attract their attention. As influencer content is heavily video-based, you need to ensure this is where your brand is at and include storytelling and user-generated content to effectively reach them.

Millennials and Gen Z are sophisticated consumers of visual media. This means you’re likely to lose their attention the moment you focus too heavily on the product or services you are trying to market. Short and sharp content is where it is at – don’t create videos that are too long or they will switch off.

You also need something to ensure that you keep them attracted to your post or video and you can do this by focusing on your branding. As you develop and expand your brand for social media platforms, you can apply and customise templates that mirror your company’s recognisable style to ensure you are immediately recognised by a young audience.

These templates make your social media marketing processes feel more cohesive and accessible, allowing you more time to focus on your diverse content.

Maintaining a strong dynamic between the company and consumer means you have to ensure consistent and regular posting. The younger generations want to feel heard and understood. They want engagement and support. If your company doesn’t uphold your side of the deal, they will move on to someone else who will create that bond with them.

Data analysis is a key way to ensure that you are always in tune with their changing needs and values.

Millennials and Gen Z are a huge, lucrative and growing market. If you want to reach them, you need to be creative in forming a special bond on social media to get their loyalty.

Aoife Cradock is a Transition Year Student at Sligo Grammar School. She wrote this piece while on work experience with StoryLab.