New Social Media Platforms Taking Generation Z by Storm

Why Marketers Need to be Paying Attention

Social media has become a fact of life for Americans. The average American has 7.1 social media accounts (Hootsuite) and spends almost 2.5 hours per day on social media (Statista). But if you are only thinking the powerhouses of Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Snapchat when you think “Social”, you are on the verge of missing out on the sources a new generation is consuming in droves.


Generation Z (loosely defined as those 24 and under) is the newest to enter educational institutions and the workforce. They are a dynamic generation, much different from their Millennial and Gen X predecessors. They use their smartphones more than any other generation and watch TV less (VisionCritical). They are more likely to be moved by a “cool product” than a “cool experience” and ads with celebrities (or at least internet celebs) catch and hold their attention. And their usage of social media is much different. Sure, they are still using the “big” networks like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat, but they are also exploring more unique social media experiences designed for their generation.


In the remainder of this article, we will discuss 3 of the most up and coming social media networks with our younger counterparts. You may not have heard of these, but believe me, the generation Z-ers in your life have and are consuming them in staggering quantities.


First up is TikTok.

What is TikTok? TikTok is an iOS and Android social media app for creating and sharing short lip-sync, comedy, dance and talent videos. Previously known in the States as, this app was acquired by Chinese company ByteDance in November 2017 and absorbed into its previously owned TikTok brand. Users can create videos using filters and sounds or can just view videos from others in their feed. Unlike Snapchat or Instagram’s stories, TikTok videos are tall not square and reside in a feed you navigate by swiping up and down.


So how does it work?

Users download the app and create an account. The stream (like a Facebook newsfeed) will curate videos that you may like and match you to them via your preferences and behaviors. Users can also follow other users based on their video content or personal connections. From there, you can watch, share, like, comment or even post your own videos and soon you will be on your way to becoming a tween sensation!


So as EDU marketers, why should we be paying attention?

TikTok has over 500 million monthly active users (SCMP) and has grown over 400% since 2017. 60% of users are in the coveted 16-24 years old group (Mediakix) making it used by 1 in 8 adults aged 18-24 in the US (Marketing Charts).


The good news is that TikTok is just now opening up its doors to brands and there are many different ways to get exposure to this important segment of the population. There are 3 main ways brands can use TikTok: 1) create their own channel and upload relevant videos 2) work with influencers (maybe host a hashtag challenge like Jimmy Fallon’s #tumbleweedchallenge) or 3) pay to advertise on TikTok using their ad units (this is still in the testing phase and should be opening up to more brands/budgets in the months to come). Mostly, brands need to be keeping their eye on TikTok and continuing to look for ways to interact with their loyal audience.


Next up is Twitch.

Twitch? Like an involuntary movement?? No, like the world’s leading streaming platform for gamers and all things game related. Twitch, first introduced in 2011 and purchased by Amazon in 2014, is the unique combination of live streaming game destination meets social network allowing users to connect with one another in chatrooms and via direct message. Twitch can be accessed via apps, Xbox, Playstation, Amazon Fire TV, Google Chromecast and more.


So, how does Twitch work?

Users can either view content on any internet-enabled device or subscribe to an account to get the full experience including the ability to upload your own gameplay. In addition to watching or uploading games, you can also participate in the chatrooms of your favorite streamer or communicate via direct message with fellow Twitch users. In general, you can geek out with all your gamer friends! FYI…the most watched game in August 2019 has been Fortnite with over 96,000,000 viewer hours logged!


Ok…so it’s about gaming. Why should it be on my radar?

Twitch has over 15 million daily active users and the majority of them, over 80%, are male which can be an elusive demo to get in front of ( In addition, gamers see sponsorship and brand dollars as good for the gaming industry.  They tend to better recognize the need for brand dollars to continue to support platforms like Twitch. And Amazon is betting on Twitch. They paid over $970 million for it in 2014.


Brands can play in the Twitch space in a variety of ways. There are traditional ad units, either static, animated or video, that are available on a CPM basis. In addition, brands can create, stream, produce and share original content or they can partner with an influential streamer to sponsor a channel or title. Twitch even offers an API that helps brands more easily identify influencers that might be a good fit for them.


Finally, let’s chat about Quora.

Of the platforms discussed in this post, Quora tends to draw the largest non Gen Z audience, but is still very popular with college students. Quora is a question and answer network where questions are asked, answered, edited, and organized by its community of users. It’s the Yahoo! Answers for 2019. Users set up a profile and follow topics (like education, books, health, popular culture) or follow people. The questions and answers from your followed topics and people will be populated into a feed that can be perused. You can also search for specific topics (or questions) by keywords, answer questions, upvote (like) answers, or ask your own questions.


Quora can give brands access to a community of over 300 million daily users, skews male and over 32% of users are 25 to 34. Quora users are typically more highly educated and skew towards more professional jobs or desired vocations. Quora spans over 500,000 topics so there is bound to be something for every brand.


Brands can reach the Quora audience in a variety of ways.

First, there are typical “sponsored” posts that can be placed in user’s feeds targeting them based upon the self-reported information entered when a profile is set up. This traffic is sold on a CPC basis and is similar to Facebook. In addition, brands can organically search the site and find questions that are about the brand or industry and write compelling answers giving them a perceived expertise in the desired area. Hint: to do this, brands must consistently be spending time with Quora. Quora answers also show up relatively high for question-based queries in both Google and Bing SERPs. As such, brands can plan their answers, including relevant keywords and take up additional real estate.


New social networks launch (and crash and burn) each year, but these three have shown the aptitude to attract a large audience and provide a unique and desired service. As you look into 2020 and beyond, make sure you’re keeping TikTok, Twitch and Quora in your sights (and possibly in your ad plans).


Rebecca Streeter, VP of Integrated Marketing