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Gen Z and Millennials Aren’t Looking for the Same Kind of Content on Every Social Media Platform

Gen Z and Millennials are looking for different types of content from each of their most-used social media platforms—and brands can use that to their advantage… 

TL;DR

  • Every platform serves a different main purpose to Gen Z and Millennials, whether personally social, for viral content, or to find brands
  • Young people are most looking for straightforward brand content on Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook
  • Brands / product content can blend into other kinds of content through influencer collabs and tapping into viral memes

YPulse data shows Gen Z and Millennials are active users of an average of six social media platforms. On each one, all brands are competing for their divided attention—but it’s important to know that young people are going to each platform in search of different content. In fact, our TikTok Effect trend research found 84% of young consumers agree “I go to different social media platforms for different reasons.” For brands, this means that content can’t be one-size-fits-all across platforms—they’ve got to pay attention to exactly what purpose each one serves for young audiences.  

In YPulse’s The TikTok Effect trend report, we dive into why TikTok has become Gen Z’s favorite platform, but how other apps are maintaining their relevancy. When YPulse asks which platforms young people want to see these seven kinds of content on (of their most used platforms) it’s clear that they’re expecting different kinds of content depending on the app: 

Table showing the top 5 different kinds of content Gen Z and Millennials look for on TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat, and Twitter

They go to each platform with different intentions 

The vast majority of Gen Z and Millennials (81%) agree, “I don’t want every social media platform to have exactly the same kind of content.” So what works on one platform won’t necessarily land on another. We see this with TikTok driving the rise of short form video content; as it is young peoples’ favorite to watch, every platform is looking for ways to integrate it. But young audiences aren’t exactly looking to see it replicated everywhere else—in fact, 44% of young TikTok users agree that they only want to watch social media videos on TikTok, not other platforms. And 65% of young people agree, “I don’t like when social media platforms create new features that replicate other social media platforms.” They want platforms to be unique, and in turn expect different kinds of content on each.

So while social media is a huge source of entertainment for Gen Z and Millennials, it can still be a way to connect with people they know personally. Content from their friends makes the top five for five out of seven platforms, and is the number one thing they’re looking for on Instagram. Facebook and Snapchat are now the only two platforms young people want to see content from their family on, with that the number one kind of content they’re looking for on Facebook (74%) and second for Snapchat (34%).

They’re open to seeing brands / products on most on these platforms  

The platforms that young people say they want to see content from brands / products on most are Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Pinterest. On Pinterest, it’s the number one kind of content they want to see; the platform is a hub for product recommendations, linked within aesthetically pleasing pictures. Like so many other platforms now, Pinterest has developed their in-post shopping so creators can tag the items they show, and users can purchase the items directly. But it’s clear it’s not just influencers they’re looking to see here, they want content directly from the brands. 

On Instagram and Facebook, social shopping also allows brands to reach young consumers directly, without losing time or attention redirecting to a website. On Instagram, more than half (52%) of young people say they want to see brands / products—and it may come as surprise that they also prefer to see niche, personalized content there over viral and popular posts. YouTube, on the other hand, is the place where young people are most likely to be open to advertising—YPulse’s Social and Mobile Marketing Preferences report shows 63% of young people say it’s where they’re open to seeing it, followed by Instagram and Facebook. So, brands can use these platforms most to their advantage to tap into the young consumers seeking out their content. Although, that doesn’t mean to give up on the top platforms where brand content doesn’t make their top five—just to come at it from a different, less direct, angle… 

Content from celebrities / online influencers can be brand content, too 

Gen Z and Millennials also say content from online influencers is a top kind they want to see on every platform except Facebook and Snapchat—the two apps where they’re prioritizing content from family and friends. For brands, this means influencer partnerships are the way to go on most social sites as sponsored content from creators they already know and follow blends seamlessly into their feeds. And YPulse data shows young people prefer to see these kinds of ads: 76% of Gen Z and Millennials agree they like when brands use regular people’s posts in their advertisements or social media feeds. 

Influencers, even micro and nano influencers, have a strong influence on how young people shop now. YPulse’s Celebrities and Influencers report shows 54% of young consumers say they have purchased something after an online celebrity (big or small) spoke about it or recommended it. Everything from beauty products and clothing to books and tech purchases are likely to be influenced by recommendations on social media, so brands can use this to their advantage by partnering with creators young audiences trust.  

Memes / viral content are what they’re looking for on every platform 

Regardless of what platform they’re on, Gen Z and Millennials love to see memes / viral content. On TikTok, this is number one, and luckily that’s exactly what the algorithm gives them; the For You Page gets to know their interests and makes it so even niche videos can get millions of views from the right audience. The app is also a prime spot for Gen Z’s weird (and sometimes dark) humor, as the trending audios can be easily adapted to different jokes over and over—notably the mark of a good meme.  

Lucky for brands, this kind of content is easy to get in on if done right—and is yet another way to blend ads and brand content into their feeds. Brands have been able to create an identity with their humor on other platforms (notably on brand Twitter) and can do the same on TikTok if they know what trends to do and when to do them. Of TikTok users, 49% say they want to see funny content from brands on that platform, so it’s important that brands pay attention to trends and trending audios and find a simple way to apply it to their message—if the trend suits it. But even if a brand doesn’t think humor is part of their identity, there’s viral potential for everything—wholesome, lifestyle, DIY, you name it—and as long as it’s entertaining and personal, young consumers will be interested.