“Wait, how are you already on Snapchat?!”
For the first time in my 26-year-old life, I felt old. Watching my 10-year-old nephew Snapping away with such ease left me completely speechless. I couldn’t help but laugh as I recalled how foreign Snapchat, and Instagram for that matter, used to feel. I vividly remember trying to figure out filters and hashtags, while it appears like my nephew was born a pro. I can pinpoint the day my family got its first computer and how I anxiously awaited every connection to AIM so I could chat with my crush before my time on the shared computer expired...
Experiences like mine are typical for a generation that grew up on the World Wide Web – it may take me a bit more more time to adapt to new technologies than it takes my nephew, but I do eventually get the hang of it and find myself teaching my parents things that seem obvious to me. But what do we know about my nephew’s generation, Generation Z?
Born in 1996 and after, Generation Z makes up 25.9% of the United States population. And, although I think my nephew is brilliant, the reality is that his seemingly innate knowledge about social platforms is a common trait for a generation that has grown up with social media. So how does this affect the way that Gen Z is consuming media, and how does it compare to the millennial generation?
Here’s what we know about the media consumption habits of Millennials vs Generation Z, and what it means for publishers looking to create video content that resonates:
1. Ability to multitask
Or in Generation Z’s case, the ability to multi-multitask. This group effortlessly switches between up to five different devices at a time (mobile phone, TV, laptop, desktop and tablet) while Millennials tend to prefer two (mobile and desktop).
Bottom-line: Think multiplatform when publishing videos. Audiences look for different types of video storytelling on their mobile phones than they do on their TV or desktop – make sure that you're telling your story in a way that resonates for each individual audience on each specific platform and screen.
2. Dependence on technology
Both groups are big on technology, but Millennials find it easier to disconnect because they know a world without it. While Gen Z is jumping between screens, 78% still prefer using their mobile devices over everything else, and spend an average of 15.4 hours a week on their phones. According to self-proclaimed Generation Z expert Jason Dorsey, “the age at which you get your first smartphone is more important than the age at which you get your driver’s license.” Millennials still spend the most of their time on desktop – 16.4 hours a week – followed by mobile at 14.8 hours.
Bottom-line: As content creators, we need to be able to adapt to new technologies as quickly as our audience, and find innovative ways to tell our story through every new device.
3. Shared love for mobile video
Regardless of device preference, video dominates on mobile for both audience groups – Millennials spend about three hours a day watching video content on mobile and Gen Z spends even more. Mobile video is an amazing way to reach and engage with audiences on mobile sites, and join the important conversations they’re having on social media, in real time.
Bottom-line: Make sure both your videos and your site are optimized for mobile screens. Your mobile videos should load fast, take up the vertical screen, be short, and feature mid-roll ads that are even shorter.
4. Varied social media preferences
Born into the emoji and meme generation, Gen Z communicates through both images and text and thinks visually engaging platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, Whisper and Secret are ‘cool’. Millennials are more inclined to communicate with text through platforms like Facebook and Whatsapp.
Bottom-line: Social videos that feature the perfect combination of large text overlays and visual footage allow for easy digestion on typically muted platforms, which both generations gravitate towards. But before you publish videos on social media, make sure that they fit the optimal format for the intended platform – square video on Facebook and Instagram feeds, vertical video snippets on Snapchat and Instagram Stories, etc.
5. Selective attention span
Millennials were the first generation to be called out for an exceptionally short attention span. But as a generation raised on multiple platforms and devices, and a never ending flow of information, it's become even more difficult for brands to keep Gen Zers engaged. Nevertheless, both groups share the same average attention span as the rest of the world. These younger generations are not lacking in attention per se, they’re just more selective about which content deserves their attention.
Bottom-line: The shorter, more image-focused, and, most importantly, meaningful your video content is, the better chance you’ll have in grabbing, holding, and maintaining meaningful connections with the members of both groups.
It is no secret that Millennials and Generation Z are pushing boundaries of what is possible and that content creators are working to keep up. Although the media consumption habits of the cord-cutting generations are dynamic, a true, lasting connection is still made through listening to the cues we are given. Emphasizing engagement that is authentic, relevant and meaningful to each platform, as well as to each audience group, is a great rule of thumb as we strive to produce impactful content.