Gen Z is walking away from social media

Uh, Oh. Social Media Losing its Allure for Generation Z

We probably could have anticipated it. Social media is losing its allure for so-called Generation Z, those born in the mid-1990s or later. Sure, they’re still posting, mostly to Facebook and Instagram, but 41% of this generation feel they’re wasting too much time on it.

In fact, 34% of Gen Z say they’re permanently quitting social media, and 64% are taking a break, according to new research from Hill Holliday, an agency within the Interpublic Group

Implications for Marketers

Social media was like a shiny new toy when Facebook first disrupted our lives. But the newest generation of consumers feels it has better things to do than be on social media 24/7.

Marketers take note: By 2020, it is expected that 40% of consumers will be Gen Z.

The study found that Gen Z social media users expressed these reasons for considering quitting social media:

  • 41% wasting too much time on it
  • 35% there was too much negativity
  • 31% not using it very often
  • 26% not interested in the content
  • 22% wanted more privacy
  • 18% too much pressure to get attention
  • 18% too much commercialized
  • 17% made me feel bad about myself

Gen Z young people feel pressured by having to always be active on social media. From the study:

Gen Z young people feel pressured by social media

A Change in the Media Landscape

It’s not that Gen Z aren’t on social media. More than 90% of them are getting their content from social media, vs. 29% from traditional TV. So wise marketers will shift their media spend to social media. It’s just that Gen Z is not tethered to it like the generations that preceded them.

Gen Z social media shoppers report that Facebook (61%) and Instagram (47%) are the most popular platforms on which to find new products. They also report that paid advertising and brand content are the most common ways they come across products of interest. The study found that Gen Z consumers want to see themselves represented in branded social media content.

They have come to expect that the brands they buy from reflect their style, personality, and life-stage, and social media content must do the same. Because more than half of Gen Z social media users have taken a temporary break from social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, brands will need to deliver content across multiple platforms to achieve reach and frequency.

Most important, according to the study, today’s approach to social media is about engagement and conversation, in targeted one-to-one campaigns.

That means if you’re a brand manager, you need to stop telling these young Gen Z consumers what they want. Instead, start a dialogue and learn what’s important to them and tailor your messages and products accordingly.

It’s a new generation out there and they’ll buy into your brand if you buy into their needs and their way of looking at the world.

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  1. A lot of 20’s somethings (generation x ), are tiring of social media. I know Facebook is not as popular with that age group as it once was. Perhaps when the more mature began accessing Facebook it was deemed as no longer cool so they switched to Instagram and Snapchat. It must be exhausting being tied to social media but feeling you must live on it because your friendship circle do. I can take or leave Facebook/Instagram and do not log on for a day or two but then I am in my forties and am under no pressure or the fear of missing out.

    I am so pleased social media did not exist in my youth. Looking back it was a good thing not to have every element of your life documented. I have the memories. I recall attending a party or concert and calling/meeting to discuss with friends. With social media you can see it all online. There is a lot less talking going on and a lot more uploading.

    • Phoenicia — I couldn’t agree more. Being online too often nowadays replaces meeting with friends in person. There is nothing like the human touch.

  2. Interesting post about marketing to different generations and especially Gen Z. I find the younger people have such short attention spans! Probably because they’re so used to multi-tasting and doing 5 things at once. I think those of us in the boomer age group have a tendency to be better focused and will see a project thru to completion/fruition rather than dumping it quickly as the Gen Z’ers do.

    • Doreen — a problem is that there are so many more options than we had growing up: multiple social networks to check, video games, streaming content. It’s enough to make your head spin.

  3. Interesting to learn this, Jeannette. I was recently on a trip where internet was spotty and downright absent from one cottage we rented. It was such a nice change to not even think about social media for a bit. Sure puts you squarely in the present.

    • RoseMary — I know some people who take “vacations” from social media over the weekend. I personally limit myself to checking Facebook once a day for about 10 minutes. I have to say, though, that I do appreciate keeping up with friends and family through their postings.

  4. I can’t help but feel relieved that Gen Z is putting the social back into social media. Both of my kids have told me that they take breaks from social media because it depresses them. There are times when I feel it serves three purposes, to tell me that everyone else is living a perfect life (in other words a perfect lie), to sell me something I don’t need or to show me what’s wrong in the world. I know it can also do tremendous good, but it’s a tool that has to be deftly managed.

    • Debra — how sad that being on social media depresses your children. The study also found that social media made some Gen Z youngsters feel bad about themselves. I think everyone needs to place boundaries on themselves regarding how much time they spend on social media.