Last updated on February 26th, 2019 at 10:11 am
There’s no doubt about it – millennials and Gen Z are addicted to their phones. Often referred to as the mobile-first generation, these two groups describe young people aged 13 to 38.
Though there is quite a large overlap between how these two groups use technology and consume media, there are some differences between the platforms they choose to use and how they choose to use them. If your target audience includes people in these age groups, you can use social messaging apps to reach them, advertise and ultimately win their business.
What are Social Messaging Apps?
Social messaging apps enable users to communicate and message with one another through a social media platform. This includes popular apps such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram and Snapchat. Each of these provides different use cases, and millennials and Gen Zers are often using many or all of them simultaneously to serve different purposes. For example, WhatsApp and Messenger are primarily chat platforms – an easy way to text and communicate with one person or groups of people instantly. Instagram and Snapchat are both visually-driven platforms, with photo and video content to be consumed on a feed level. However, they all have Story functionality – temporary content that can be shared with individuals, groups or your entire network, then disappear after 24 hours. This shift toward User Generated Content (UGC) reflects the fact that millennials and Gen Zers are more interested in authenticity and the human touch, especially when it comes to following brands and celebrities.
Despite all having Story functionality, the core purposes of each platform attract different mindsets and expectations when people are using each app. This means that you, as a brand and advertiser on these platforms, need to take these differences into consideration and tailor your content to fit each app’s purpose.
Snapchat Marketing for Brands
Let’s start with the original story-based social platform: Snapchat. They started out as a way for people to send private images and videos to one another that could only be viewed once, then disappear. Then, they evolved to include Stories, a way to share these images and videos with your exclusive network for 24 hours. At its core, Snapchat was a response to the lack of privacy and abundance of personal data available online – its ephemeral nature made users feel more comfortable sharing content. In general, Stories are a great way to share quick snapshots from day-to-day life in a casual, easy to consume, authentic way.
Organic Snapchat Marketing
78% of 18 to 24 year olds use Snapchat, and more and more Gen Zers are ditching Facebook for Snapchat. This means there’s huge potential for businesses to reach this group with both organic and paid content. You can set up a branded account for your business and share snaps in chronological order to your Story for everyone, not just your followers, to see. This is a great way to boost brand awareness and give followers access to exclusive, behind-the-scenes content. Use your existing network to drive traffic to and gain followers for your new Snapchat account, with the promise of exclusive content they can’t access anywhere else. For example, you can showcase your office culture and employees, or share short, casual how-to videos. It doesn’t need to be super polished – after all, people prefer the authenticity of these types of UGC.
Paid Snapchat Advertising
If you’re really going after the 13 to 24 demographic, you may want to explore paid ads on Snapchat. While users are consuming branded content through the Discovery section of the app, they’ll be served targeted ads between snaps and Stories. These ads are a full-screen takeover and can include Calls-to-Action (CTAs) to visit your website, download an app or build anticipation for an event. Depending on your budget, you can even have a sponsored Discover tile on the discovery screen. You can also explore creating custom branded geofilters for people to use while sending their own snaps. Snapchat is an ideal platform for businesses who are interested in reaching teens and young adults, both with organic and paid content.
Instagram Stories for Businesses
Instagram is one of the best apps for visual content sharing and discovery. Millennials and Gen Zers love to follow friends and family, brands and influencers and scroll through dozens of photos and videos in mere seconds. Short, consumable visual content performs best on Instagram, which is why the launch of Instagram Stories in 2016 was a major success. With a billion users on the app, 59% of which are under age 30, brands are able to effectively use Instagram organically to interact with their existing audience while using paid ads to tap into a huge market.
Instagram Marketing Strategies
People love following their favourite brands, celebrities and influencers on Instagram. In addition to following specific accounts, hashtags are used for discovery and inspiration. Having a strong curated feed of stunning visual content is key for organic Instagram marketing. However, much like Snap Stories, Instagram Stories give you the opportunity to add an authentic human touch to an otherwise seemingly staged corporate presence, before disappearing after 24 hours. You can use similar (possibly even the same) content from your Snap Stories in your Instagram Stories given the similar audiences and formats.
When you feel ready to launch paid advertising on Instagram, you can test photo and video ads similar ones that you might run on Facebook. Or, tap into a potential audience of over 400 million daily users of Instagram Stories to increase brand awareness and drive purchases or downloads. Engaging, visually appealing content will work best with Instagram Stories ads – give your viewers a reason to swipe up and learn more.
Facebook Messenger and Stories for Brands
Facebook Messenger has an enormous reach. With more than 1.3 billion users every month, it’s becoming one of the most popular ways for brands to reach their audiences. With the recent integration of Facebook Stories at the top of the Messenger app, it’s clear that this quick consumable content is becoming the priority. It’s also prime real estate to get in front of users, located at the top of both the Facebook native app and Messenger before disappearing after 24 hours. Just like Snapchat and Instagram, you can promote sponsored ads with Stories. Keep in mind that the age group of Facebook users skews a bit older than Snapchat and Instagram, so you’ll want your content and messaging to match.
Facebook Messenger Advertising
In addition to Facebook Stories, you can create sponsored ads that appear directly within the Messenger platform, click-to-Messenger ads that stem from existing Facebook and Instagram ads and even retargeting campaigns to send your existing Messenger user base relevant content and deals. One great way to maximize Messenger’s global reach while scaling your business is by using automated chatbots [link] to interact with your customers for customer service, ecommerce sales and more. Messenger is a valuable tool for customers to speak directly with your business for quick and easy answers, transactions and content sharing.
WhatsApp for Advertisers
Of all the platforms discussed in this article, WhatsApp is still the most popular with 1.5 billion users. Its primary purpose is a secure messaging platform, but in early 2017 they introduced WhatsApp Status to compete with the Stories feature that has become increasingly popular with millennials and Gen Zers. Naturally, the ability to run paid ads within WhatsApp Status will come next – expect it to launch in mid-2019. Until then, continue testing different types of content on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat Stories to identify what works best on each platform so you’ll be able to hit the ground running when WhatsApp Status ads are live.
Are you hoping to reach more millennials and Gen Zers? If so, social media platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook all provide robust advertising options for you to explore. You can build your brand and increase engagement through organic content, and explore paid options to widen your reach.