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February 10, 2023   |   4 min read

Storylining Part 3: Shapeshifting in a Gen-Z World

As the Gen Z audience grows more powerful, Storylining helps brands authentically connect while staying true to themselves.

Few things signal the incarnation of a generational shift than when Collins Dictionary adds to its pages. New entries stand as time stamps, defining the emerging generation’s ethos and a sign of the times. What “selfie,” “photobomb” and “onesies” were to Millennials in 2014 —whom Time Magazine infamously referred to as the Me Me Me Generation— are what “NFT,” “metaverse,” “gender non-conforming” and the second definition of “hamburger” are to Generation Z. Dubbed digital natives, Gen Z is the first generation to access the internet at an early age and to have grown up with social media.

To effectively reach your target audience within this soon-to-be-dominant consumer group, brands must think bigger and quicker in the realm of content creation. As Gen Z zips between social platforms faster than you can say ChatGPT, more content is required to keep up. Here, we tackle a few tips on how to do just that.


Who Is Gen Z?

Simply put, people born between 1997 and 2012 are considered Generation Z. However, their belief systems and behaviors reveal this is a collection of individuals who are averse to being defined. Gen Z is the most ethnically and racially diverse generation, making up 30% of the world’s population, and is a powerful force in digital marketing and brand engagement.

  GEN Z Online Shopping Preferences  

Quick-Moving Digital Integrators

Gen Z-ers are digital integrators because technology has permeated all areas of their lives. Having used it from the youngest age, they rely on it like air to maintain personal and professional relationships, blurring the lines between work and social, study and entertainment.

Generation Z and younger Millennials, or Zillennials, are incredibly tech-savvy and have unique expectations when interacting with brands online. Always connected and always on the go, Gen Z accesses information and entertainment at their fingertips. They expect brands to keep up with their life online and collaborate with brands for more entertaining posts and relevant products and services.

Highly visual and preferring to consume content in short, bite-sized formats, Gen Z interacts most with brands on platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok.


TikTok & Gen Z

If you still think TikTok is the social platform for Gen Z dance challenges, think again. TikTok is the 6th most-used social platform on the globe and encompasses every kind of content and community. What Instagram was to Millennials, TikTok is to Gen Z. Users are swapping the polish of Instagram for the realism of TikTok. Gen-Z is reimagining social from highly curated content to more real, true-to-life tones. With its launch of in-app shopping TikTok has grown to be more important to brands looking to directly connect to their audience.


Selling Vs. Telling

Identifying a few different content pillars or categories that include different brand story angles is always a good start to content creation. But the most important first step should be about finding ways to express your brand’s values. Gen Z-ers care just as much about a company’s culture as they do about the product or service. 45% of Gen Z-ers say that a brand appearing trustworthy and transparent is a big motivation for engagement on social media.


The First Global Generation

Generation Z is highly conscious of the world around them and looks for brands that share their values. They are more likely to support brands that are transparent about their practices, embrace cultural shifts, and are actively working to make a positive impact on the world. As the “first global generation,” growing up in a society where world content and information are generally more freely available and where one-click shopping for goods from anywhere in the world is the new normal.


Storylining & Gen Z

To effectively engage with this generation, marketers must provide seamless, easy-to-digest digital experiences with content that reflects their diverse culture, global concern and values. However, that doesn’t mean you need to abandon your hard-earned brand identity. Generations change yet achieving success by staying true to your brand values will never sway.


Collaboration is Key

Although some marketers define storylining as a process of creating a narrative that outlines the content creation necessary to extend a campaign into the digital space, we take a different approach. The Mindstream Interactive proprietary Storylining method starts before the content creation phase to lead the concept phase to develop emotionally driven and action-oriented fundamental stories that can be told across all platforms and traditional media outlets. Storylining starts by filtering a brand’s core identity and values through a banded spectrum that tempers the rational with the emotional. The output produces a series of weighted themes or senses that lead you to communicate a more profound message that resonates outside your brand.


Rethinking Testing

A/B testing is an integral step marketers take to decipher a singular campaign visual and copy message that resonates best with an audience. However, as label nonconformists and online content creators themselves, Gen Z-ers are influencing marketers to favor multiple paid and earned campaign executions. Gen Z expects brands to be as diverse and entertaining as they are in the social sphere and wants marketers to speak with them instead of at them, preferring to see ads based on their interests. Doing that requires supporting your initiative with more than one narrative.

Like Gen Z, your brand isn’t one-dimensional, so your social media strategy shouldn’t be, either.

Learn about the foundation of our strategic method in part 1 of our Storylining series. Contact our team to find out how we can build a digital marketing strategy to increase your digital footprint.

  Mindstreams Collaborative Model  

Mindstream Interactive puts customers first. We thrive at providing excellent experiences that impact how your audience interacts with your brand to garner incredible results you can measure. Brand strategy and content creation is a passion shared across all our teams from Analytics, Content, Paid Search, Social, UX and Web Development. Some of our work in this area includes client partnerships with Bob Evans, Visit California, Advanced Drainage Systems and PenFed Credit Union.

Are you looking for ways to connect your brand, services or products with Generation Z? Contact us to find out how we can build a digital marketing strategy that’s both relevant to this emerging audience and indicative of your brand identity.

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