How to Virtually Connect to “The Youth”: It’s Simpler Than You Think

Social media is a central part to many people’s lives. But when it comes to the “elusive youth,” or more specifically those born between 1995 and 2006, social media is something seen and used every day. So if you want to connect to that generation, you need to be ready to adapt and interact. Take it from a Gen-Z’er, born in 2002, I’ve grown up learning about social media and watching it change and grow.

A drawing of a girl in a red sweater holding up a laptop, a cellphone, and two tablets. Faces pop out of the devices with illegible text bubbles.
Virtually Connected • Illustration by Robert Neubecker

So, you want to connect with a younger audience?

First things first, you’re going to need to figure out where. TV, Facebook, and blogs are all swell, but you won’t be finding much of your target audience there. Which social media platform you choose is KEY to finding your audience. These days, there are 3 top social media platforms you need to use to connect with younger audiences.

  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • TikTok

Now you could also settle your brand on Tumblr or Snapchat, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
Tumblr is notoriously unmarketable. The mobile app is well known for being buggy and not properly loading images, most of the ads displayed on the website are very strange (see these two tumblr blogs dedicated to weird ads on the site), misinformation is spread regularly and treated as a fun quirk of the site (like this fake mutation and this fake food processing machine). Don’t get me wrong, it can be a very fun place to curate your own dashboard (your personal feed), but it is not brand-friendly.
Snapchat on the other hand lacks intractability. Sure, this is a fine place to be if you’re using the Broadcast Method, but you need to know that that method isn’t a very effective way of engaging a young audience. As a generation that has grown up learning to ignore clickbait and random ads thrown at us, if it isn’t engaging then it won’t stick. On Snapchat you can post something and a viewer can look at it, but that’s about it. Despite the option to promote your content on the platform, it’s more of a messaging app than anything else.

Now lets talk about connection.

The main thing you’ll want to focus on when it comes to this is personal interaction. Things like interacting directly via retweets, follows, and replies work wonders when it comes to connecting with a younger audience. Personal connection can build a relationship between you and “the youth” quickly and effectively. It’s important to to highlight the different between yourself and a younger generation. Yes, this does include calling us “the youth.” You want to show who you are as an individual, and compare what might make you similar. Young audiences respond better to and are more likely to remember a person behind an account, rather than a faceless brand. This is why the Engagement Strategy works best for this demographic. If someone is personally interacting with you it’s much harder to forget that a few moments of content you don’t care about being shoved in your face.

Another way to connect that doesn’t involve interacting directly would be participating in “meme culture”. For example, the Duolingo Owl has become incredibly popular on TikTok. Duolingo boasts over 3 million followers on the platform for both participating in meme culture as well as interacting directly with consumers via the comments section of their videos. 

The idea of “meme culture” can be really daunting, but there’s a tool to help you navigate this as well: the website KnowYourMeme. You can search up almost any meme or internet trend out there, and it will provide you with all the background you need to know. Even if you’re relatively well-versed in memes, KnowYourMeme is an effective way to catch up on anything you might have missed along the way.

All that being said, the best way to interact through social media with “the youth” – or anyone, for that matter – is to immerse yourself in what they’re experiencing. Don’t be disingenuous, really take the time to see what Gen-Z groups enjoy and why. As a generation that widely understands social media, we know the difference between trying to make a connection and general pandering. Understanding the world from the perspective of a young person can be hard, but it’s not impossible. Look for what we’re interested in and look for reasons why. It’s not too hard to find someone who’s written out exactly what they or “the internet” love(s) about a topic. Read their Tweets and duet their Tiktoks, and you’ll be connecting with your target audience in no time.

Need more tips? Tried some of these before? Looking for even more advice? Let me know in the comments below!

Can’t seem to connect with “The Youth” online? Let me help you out. Here are some simple tips from a Gen-Z’er! #socialmedia #genz #howtointernet

“What is it with youth these days? Why can’t I seem to connect with them?”
Feeling alienated from younger generations on the internet? Struggling to navigate social media in the eyes of a Millennial or Gen-Z? If this is you, then I have the answer!

👇 Read my blog to learn my advice on connecting to “The Youth” online! 👇

2 thoughts on “How to Virtually Connect to “The Youth”: It’s Simpler Than You Think

  1. Way to represent us Gen. Z “youths”! Apart from the fact that I can’t write a blog to save my life, I was kind of worried that my content sounded a little ageist. I like how you approached making connections to people our age by talking about social media and the generational platform gaps

    • Thanks for the reply! I’m glad you thought my approach was good. I can’t say I’m very confident in my blog writing abilities either haha, I’m definitely more adept at micro-blogging with a purpose.
      It’s easy to fall into a trap of excluding other generations, it’s something I try to look out for in my own work! I think that communication and understanding is the simplest and most effective way to connect with someone different than you. It just takes a bit of effort!

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