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01/19/2021

Beyond TikTok: Exploring New Platforms for the New Consumer

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Young millennials and Generation Z have long been overlooked by brands, cast-typed as too young or with negligible spending power. However, 2021 has arrived with a new reality: Younger audiences have quickly become the largest consumer group, with Gen Z alone holding more than $143 billion in buying power.

These audiences are digitally native and increasingly online, and their behaviors in the digital space have shown to vary greater from their older predecessors.

For one, this younger audience prefers completely different social platforms, and uses them in new, innovative ways, which push the platforms themselves to keep evolving. On top of it, younger audiences are quicker to change their platform preferences, altering larger social media trends.

TikTok, typically the first to come to mind when most people think of platforms geared towards younger audiences, is one where we’re seeing a surprising shift in at the moment. With the introduction of Instagram Reels and the threat of U.S. and company-specific bans on the platform, the use of TikTok has actually flattened out — or fallen — among user groups. This shift, coupled with the surprising increase of Snapchat usage as of late, continues to show us that digital behaviors, like platform preference, will continue to constantly evolve.

But when it comes to engaging with these audiences on their platforms of choice, most brands tend to opt out or overlook them. Many would prefer to stick to what they know, relying on platforms like Facebook to keep their older, established audiences engaged.

We get it: the daunting task of branching out to new platforms is tiring and can have negative impacts if not done correctly. That said, the advantages here greatly outweigh the risk. Doing the research, exploring these new platforms and creating the right content can earn you the brand loyalty of an entirely new audience — one that will only continue to grow — and eventually outgrow your current fans.

If younger audiences align with your brand’s targets, 2021 is your year to branch out into new social spaces. Here are four platforms we’d suggest exploring, paired with best practices and predictions to help guide your content:

Snapchat

Around 33% of all Snapchats sent include their AR filters, or Lenses. To build on the popularity of these filters, the platform is integrating a voice command feature to encourage discoverability. Create an interactive Lens for your brand and stay ahead of the curve when these features come out to make yours easy to find and easy to gain traction.

Twitch

Twitch was formerly a site to exclusively watch gamers’ streams; 2020 saw this platform increase total streams by more than 65%. Keep an eye out for growth in influencers and stream topics — from live makeup tutorials to fitness class streams — that make sense for your brand, and explore the low-cost ad options before demand skyrockets. 

Triller

Your Triller content doesn’t have to be all that different from your content on TikTok, and allows you to capitalize on much cheaper ad space. This is another space where platform-specific influencers can take your content the extra mile.

TikTok

Though the virality of TikTok videos is seemingly sporadic, there’s a recipe for brand content that can really resonate. Drive views with easy-to-understand videos that both entertain and inform. Using trending songs and hashtags, and pairing videos with platform-relevant influencers, can help aid in visibility.

The nature of these social platforms forces brands to bring out creativity and personality  key pillars in understanding the habits of these new consumers. But that's not all these groups are looking for: When marketing to late-teen and 20-somethings, understand that virality of content isn’t always necessary, but brand loyalty and authenticity stick.

Make your content relevant and fun for each platform, but  most importantly  make sure your brand is one that gives audiences reasons to believe. Sustainability, diversity tactics and social justice initiatives are important for this generation. If you're not backing your platform-specific content with doing the necessary work, you might still get left behind by the consumers of the future.
 
How are you going to evolve as a brand? Stay relevant to different audience segments and adapt as necessary with your content, even if it’s only with paid content.

Alex Goodwin is a senior strategist at Sparkloft Media.  

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