Gen Z and YouTube

Many people are often confused by what defines a generation. Differentiating factors often include age, music tastes, memorable historical moments and experiences that could only have taken place within that timeframe of youth. Generation Z (Gen Z) is the first generation to be born in a truly digital existence. Coming of age in a digital world from the internet to social media has shaped this generation in a myriad of ways. While Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers may enjoy YouTube, Gen Z has a very distinctive relationship with this video social media platform.

Learning with Video

With the debut of the iPhone in 2007, the smartphone has been a quintessential part of technology for Gen Z. If they are searching for information, the simplicity and convenience of their mobile phones enables them to have easy access to knowledge. Most young people in this generation prefer video content versus written content. In fact, Gen Z watches digital videos and short clips six times as often as they read blogs or digitally published content, according to the Center for Generational Kinetics. If they would like to learn a new skill or trade, they turn to video social media networks as their digital teacher. From learning how to swim to playing guitar, there are countless instructional videos on the platform that this generation does not hesitate to watch.

Relatable Content

As this generation has been able to benefit from the advantages of living in a digital world, they also feel the pitfalls. At times, the constant bombarding of information can leave youth feeling overwhelmed and sad. Even though Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and cable television caters to specific audiences, they do not always hit the mark. On YouTube, youth can always find content that is relatable as it may have been created by someone their own age. As there are no gatekeepers on this platform, a vlogger just needs a camera phone and Wi-Fi to upload content. Vloggers come in all ages and backgrounds, providing a sense of authenticity that other entertainment platforms do not organically possess. By watching content by someone who is going through similar life experiences, the viewer might feel a sense of relief or connection. Relatable content may inspire the audience and provide a sense of belonging.

Entertainment Value

The evolution of digital entertainment has been well documented across platforms from Netflix to Amazon Prime. While this generation still watches movies on digital platforms, they also embrace this video social media platform for short entertainment clips to full episodes from their favorite vloggers. This social network platform contains free daily videos on individual channels, including fashion and makeup tutorials, slime videos, pranks, family topics, motivational speaking, talk show clips, video game reviews, music videos and more. This platform has also given Gen Z more accessibility to their favorite vloggers, allowing them to write comments and send private messages. The comment section also allows a sense of community among both casual and dedicated viewers alike.

The Impact of Influencers

Not only does Gen Z watch video more than other generations, they also trust high-ranked vloggers who are considered “influencers” in their space by creating a strong reputation for their expertise in a specific niche. Influencers usually have a large following and have proven to have enough power to influence purchasing decisions of their audience. Gen Z watches influencers for how-to videos and entertainment purposes, but they also purchase products from them as well. If one of their favorite vloggers reviews a product or wears a brand in a video, they may check out the product link in the description box faster than using an emailed discount code from the actual company. Many vloggers earn a living from advertising products on their channel more than gaining an income from actual views per video. Influencer marketing wouldn’t be as successful and impactful without the buy-in of Gen Z.

Engaging with Brands

Since Gen Z is either growing up or has grown up in a fully digital era, they are more accustomed to engaging with brands on social media platforms. For example, the billion-dollar success of Kylie Jenner’s lip kits can be partially attributed to her social media fanbase, including mostly Gen Z consumers. This video platform allows influencers, vloggers and companies to speak directly to their target audience, allowing them to get to know them better. It adds a human connection to the digital world, which makes viewers want to further engage after the video is over. Gen Z engages with brands on video platforms because the storytelling makes sense to them. While product placement on television shows or billboards worked effectively in the past, video content has proven to resonate more with this generation.