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3 strategies for going viral among Gen Z

Six young adults looking down against sky background
Tanya Pro/Unsplash
Nov 12, 2022

Gen Z is known for being extremely social media-savvy. WGSN explores how to capture and retain the interest of this cohort that’s determined to redefine wellness and self-care.

“Originality, public interest and emotional literacy. Even as digital culture constantly changes and new platforms emerge and consumers evolve, these are the three basic principles for going viral that have been consistent,” Liz Tan, Strategist at WGSN Insight, tells Vogue Business. WGSN delves into each of these factors.

1. Originality

This is the era of peak ‘aesthetic’ – a term Gen Zers use as a favourable description to convey a vibe or feeling, as well as a curation tool to build community around a shared set of visual cues and values.

Social media-born aesthetics have captivated this cohort as they come of age amid chronic uncertainty and try to make sense of the world. Gen Z grew up online with access to information at their fingertips, allowing them to explore and experiment with trends freely, mixing and matching and creating new variations along the way. Unlike the sea of sameness permeating other visual apps, TikTok has provided users an opportunity to experiment with their creativity.

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Ivan Samkov/Pexels

2. Public interest

The micro-trend cycle is fuelled by everyday users rather than authority figures. TikTok’s For You Page has accelerated the speed of micro-trends, inducing a short-term nostalgia cycle and forcing brands to pay attention and adapt, or miss out on a sales and community-building opportunity. The platform, however, upends the trend lifecycle, meaning everything starts with the masses. Brands can harness public interest during cultural or seasonal moments.

Practise social listening on social media platforms, where you can leverage hashtags to understand subcultures and communities in real time, and spot emerging creators to partner with or trends that align with your brand. The comments section is key for social listening, as it enables brands to witness reactions to organic viral moments and gain insight into micro-communities.

Brands can seek out emerging consumer sentiments on Reddit and Discord communities or the comments sections of TikTok and YouTube. Capitalise on moments where your brand aligns with a trending aesthetic movement and adjust marketing accordingly. 

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3. Emotional literacy

Brands have to exercise emotional literacy, especially when consumers are faced with a toxic news cycle and turn to social platforms as an escape from the real world. Instead of capitalising on virality, add value to these spaces and foster emotional relationships to engineer long-term loyalty.

To power growth, connect with Gen Z on intentional social media platforms such as Geneva. The messaging app is designed for clubs and communities that offer various types of chat room formats, from forums to audio, which can drive conversation and collaboration and allow brands to forge real connections with their communities.

WGSN subscribers can read Slanguage 2022 to learn more about how to target Gen Z by speaking their language. 

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