Communication @Work

The Digital Natives Are Coming

Gen Z Isn't Interested in Your Email or Phone Call

Gen Z - A Generation of Digital Natives

A digital native is a person who was brought up entirely in an age of digital technology, and Gen Z is the first generation to be entirely composed of digital natives. Growing up in a world where everyone has a personal computer, smartphone, and constant internet access has had a significant effect on these younger people that older generations may not fully understand or appreciate.

The digital landscape has shaped Gen Z’s perspectives and habits. For example, while a member of an older generation may immediately think of sending an email, or jumping onto Facebook for their social media, Gen Z prefers to keep in touch via text, consume TikTok videos, make video calls, and send video messages.

Differences between the generations, and especially their “media lifestyles” impact their behavior, buying decisions, and preferences in the workplace. For businesses that want to market to Gen Z or work with them, it’s important to recognize how they interact with the world, what they value, and how they behave.

What Does Gen Z Want?

Gen Z is eager to engage with brands in ways beyond the traditional storefront. 76% say they communicate with businesses and brands through social media, and 78% say they also use social media to find out about new brands. On the other hand, they're probably not spending much time on your website.

Gen Z is moving the awareness phase of the purchasing process to social media, and they expect brands to keep up. Businesses should be taking note and making sure they are investing in their social media presence. That means more than simply making posts. It means building a community and engaging with it.

Where? It is predicted that this year's top three social media platforms among Gen Z will be Snapchat, TikTok, and Instagram.

“Traditional” Communication Methods Don't Appeal To Gen Z

Due to their unique communication preferences, “older” ways of doing things (even methods that worked 5-10 years ago) are unlikely to get through to Gen Z. For example, they are unlikely to respond to email marketing strategies, and they’re very unlikely to answer your cold calls. 

We can make some contrasts here with older Millennials. When comparing the two generations, one of the most apparent distinctions is in the preferred methods of communication. Millennials appear to prefer using email. Gen Z seems to primarily use visuals in their professional communication - in other words, video.

Some people think this has to do with Gen Z having a shorter attention span, but a more careful analysis will show that they simply understand their options and refuse to give much time to content (or mediums) that don’t suit them or hold their interest. This means that content has to be “punchy” and points have to be made quickly or in a bite-sized format. It also means that content should be visual, as opposed to written, whenever possible.

Gen Z Prefers Direct Messages and Texts

Some basic advice: choose the most appropriate methods of reaching out to Gen Z and tailor your messages to their preferences. Once you've established a proper mode of communication, you can give attention to the content of your message. 

While it's crucial to have several different ways to get in touch with someone, texting stands out - for all generations, actually. There are many benefits we could mention here. First and foremost, texting occurs on mobile devices that everyone always has with them. Beyond that, it’s great because it allows for easy opt-in/out, it integrates with other platforms, it promotes immediate engagement, and it nurtures customer loyalty.

When it comes to younger people, stay open to the option of direct messaging on their favorite social media apps - especially Instagram and TikTok, which are experiencing meteoric growth in user numbers.

Async Video Messaging is on the Rise

Due to its widespread appeal, video is rapidly replacing other forms of communication. This is true for all demographics, actually, but younger people are accelerating the trend.

Gen Z sees async video messaging as a convenient and quick means of communicating with friends. In the workplace things are much the same. Gen Z appreciates the ability to eliminate in-person and real-time meetings, while still maintaining the benefits of face-to-face interaction. This is a good example of people wanting their professional communication methods to be a natural extension of their personal communication methods.

As a company thinking about the best means of internal communication, or as a brand thinking about how to connect with consumers, async video offers what young people are looking for.

The use cases are nearly endless across internal comms., sales, recruiting, employee development, customer support, and more. For example, just think about how a customer - especially a younger one - might prefer a video that directly shows how an issue can be resolved, rather than a long written set of instructions.

Async video is simple and fast, and ideal for people who are already plugged into video as a recreational and professional communication medium.

The Bottom Line

If a company doesn't cater directly to Generation Z, they risk losing touch with a sizable customer base now, as well as missing out on the cohort that is set to become their core consumers, and employees, in the future. Gen Z’s, and every person that comes after, are digital natives who are fully immersed in video communication. It’s time for businesses to adapt or face the consequences, and that means embracing video in all of its forms.

Photo credit: Ron Lach,

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