Gen Z Online Behavior and Insights for Marketers

by | Mar 17, 2019 | Podcast Episodes | 0 comments

Gen Z Online Behavior and Insights for Marketers

Written by Stacy Jackson

Mar 17, 2019

March 17, 2019

Season 1, Episode 6

Interview with a Gen Zer: What Insights Can a 14-year-old Share with Marketers?

Ever wonder what a real, live teen in 2019 is doing on her phone all day? Listen in to learn a little about Gen Z online behavior from one young lady’s experience..

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This week, we interview a real, live teenager to learn what she thinks about social media and Gen Z online behavior.

our niece, Kira, talks with us about her gen z online behavior

  • How she and her friends use Snapchat
  • Discuss whether or not Facebook is for “old people”
  • Discover the awesomeness of “streaks” on Snapchat
  • Define “spill the tea
  • Talk about commercials on YouTube versus sponsored YouTube stars like Shane Dawson
  • Think about the future and what social she will use and how she’ll do research
  • and a lot more
generation z and social media

Related Resources

Read the Transcript for Season 1, Episode 6

Stacy Jackson: Hey there, this is Stacy Jackson.

Alanna Jackson: And I’m Alanna Jackson.

Stacy Jackson: We’re co-founders of Jackson marketing. We’re also sisters and we’re bringing you Episode Six of The Marketing Mix. Alanna, what’s this very special, extended-family episode about today?

Alanna Jackson: Today we are going to dig into the mind of a fourteen-year-old and find out what makes them tick when it comes to social and how they use the internet and just different things like that.

So we have our nice here. Her name is Kira Jackson. She is 14 years old, and she is a Snapchat Guru. And she is going to share with us her thoughts on some of the different social media channels, and we are excited to have her today.

Stacy Jackson: So, at least this is a fun way to finish out spring break, Kira. We’re not listening to that book you have to read.

Kira Jackson: Definitely

Stacy Jackson: So Alanna and Kira, why don’t we take a quick break to hear about today’s sponsor. Then we’ll come back and start talking about what Generation Z is doing online. Sound good?

Alanna Jackson: Let’s do it.

Alanna Jackson: All right, and we are back. So Stacy, what should we start off with talking to care about.

Stacy Jackson: Let’s see. Well, one thing I always wonder about kids your age, Kira, and people in Generation Z . . .  . It doesn’t seem like you use social media the way older generations do. Do you like to talk to your friends on social media, or what are you doing when you’re on your phone or on the computer?

Kira Jackson: When I’m on my phone, I usually talk with my friend and chat with them and send them videos or, like, silly photos of me on Snapchat. And we talk a lot in the group chat.

Stacy Jackson: So, you’re mainly chatting through some kind of chat app. You guys don’t get on, like, Twitter or Facebook, right?

Kira Jackson: Well, I don’t personally use Facebook or Twitter, but I know my friends have them but they don’t use it a lot.

Stacy Jackson: Why is that? Is it because it’s mainly old people, or you don’t want your parents to see it what you’re talking about?

Kira Jackson: No, I don’t really know.

Stacy Jackson: Well, I think last spring break you did tell me that Facebook was for old people.

Kira Jackson: Well, I don’t really see my friends using it that much or anybody, like, my age using it as so often as older people do. Oh, I don’t mean to sound mean or anything.

Stacy Jackson: No, you sound honest, and that’s okay.

Kira Jackson: Okay.

Alanna Jackson: So Kira. Snapchat is your choice of social profile to go use and talk to your friends on. So what kinds of things about Snapchat do you like, and what is it that you guys are talking about? Are you sure are you actually sharing information with one another about what’s happening or are you just sending silly pics to one another?

Kira Jackson: I talk with my friends a lot about different things like stuff that’s going on with school or, like, what’s happening when I saw on Snapchat. Like, they have stories and if I see something funny or interesting, I’ll share that post with them. And also I do like to send a lot of silly photos of me and we go back and forth.

Stacy Jackson: Are you guys spilling the tea?

Kira Jackson: Yes. We are spilling all the tea.

Stacy Jackson: And why don’t you tell our audience, just in case it’s a bunch of old people like me, what does that mean?

Kira Jackson: It means, like, spilling gossip or spilling something that like . . . or, like, telling somebody, like, what happened your day that was really interesting or, like, something that’s just really mind-blowing.

Alanna Jackson: So Kira, on Snapchat I know that we do streaks. Maybe you can explain for the audience what streaks are and why they’re so important to you and your friends and what’s the longest one you have?

Kira Jackson: Okay. Streaks are when you send Snapchats between someone daily. Like people will send morning streaks and, like, goodnight streaks. And after three days, it’ll pop up, like, next to the person’s name, and it’ll say how long you have a shake for. So, like, I have a streak with Alanna; it’s 55 days. And I have a streak with Stacy that’s nine days.

And if you don’t keep repeating to send Snapchats, then it will show up with a little time bar thing. I forgot what it’s called, but it’ll pop up with one of those and if you don’t send one while that’s up, you’ll lose the streak. And I just think streaks are really fun to have and stuff and my longest streak . . . . My longest past streak was like 200 days or something, but my longest streak right now is a hundred and sixty-one.

Alanna Jackson: Okay, so that’s kind of crazy. And one thing that I’ve heard from someone that’s a parent who their kid was going on a trip for church or something like that . . . . They left their phone and gave it to a friend so that they could keep their streaks going.

Is that something that you might do?

Kira Jackson: I don’t think I would do that. Like if I have the person’s, like. If my friend was right next to me and I had my phone and I could log in and stuff and then, like, log back out; I would do that. But I wouldn’t let them if they’re, like, across the country or something, log into my stuff. I would not let them do that.

Alanna Jackson: Okay, so I think we’re good on Snapchat. What do you think, Stace?

Stacy Jackson: Yeah, I think so except for one question. So Kira, if you have a favorite brand . . . like I know you like Vans shoes or Dr. Pepper . . . would you like it or dislike it if the brand sent you a Snapchat or was reaching you through Snapchat?

Alanna Jackson: So in other words, if you got a Snapchat — you know how, like, I might send you a Snapchat, you get a chat from me?

What if like somebody like Adidas or somebody like that like . . . a big brand . . . sent you a Snapchat directly? Is that what you’re meaning Stacy?

Stacy Jackson: Yes, or if you were to encounter an advertisement in Snapchat from one of those brands, would you feel like “gross,” or would you be cool with it?

Kira Jackson: I would be cool with it.

Like some like if it’s like something really new and cool, I would probably, like, swipe up or, like, look it up online to see what it’s about.

Stacy Jackson: Okay, that’s that’s what I wanted to know. I don’t ever interact with brands on Snapchat, and I was interested in what someone your age who use a Snapchat a lot more than I do might think about that.

Kira Jackson: Also the other day, I just realized this . . . . There was an ad that came up about this game, and it was on Snapchat. I thought oh, it looked really cool, so I swiped up and it’s and I downloaded on my phone.

Stacy Jackson: So the power of advertising is alive and well on Snapchat. Good to know.

Alanna Jackson: Exactly. So yeah, it’s good to know. So for those of B2C companies, especially listening to this, your audience is telling you what they would do. So make sure you’re taking advantage of those opportunities.

Stacy Jackson: So Kira, I know you spend a lot of time watching videos on YouTube. Is YouTube your favorite place to go see videos, and are you just browsing or are you looking for specific things on there?

Kira Jackson: I’m not really looking for a specific thing. I’m just looking for things to watch because sometimes I get bored of, like, my regular shows and want to find something, like, really funny now, will make me laugh and that’s just, like, crazy.

Stacy Jackson: Do you skip the ads in the videos, or do you watch them?

Kira Jackson: If I’m forced to, yes, I do watch them. But if there’s one side of a skidpad, I usually skip it. If it looks really interesting, I’ll watch it.

Stacy Jackson: Have you ever used YouTube for, like, homework or to learn new things? Or are you just using it for entertainment?

Kira Jackson: I’ve been using it for entertainment so far. If I want to, like, learn how to do something, I think I would usually go to Google. But if I want to learn how to, like, build something if I bought something from Ikea, I would definitely look it up on YouTube.

Alanna Jackson: So that’s interesting because the other day, we were talking to someone who . . . I think they have a sixteen-year-old son. And she said that if he has anything to look up, he never goes to Google. He only goes to YouTube, which I thought was kind of interesting because not everything is a video that you might want to look up.

So you’re saying here that you mainly would only use YouTube If like there’s something you want to learn how to do and maybe there’s a video for; but, like, if you want to go look up a restaurant or something, you might go to Google.

Kira Jackson: Yes, like maybe if I was really confused in, like, math, which I struggle with, I think I would go to YouTube because they have . . . do have some helpful videos, but I would usually go to Google.

Alanna Jackson: Okay, so that’s, that’s interesting good to know.

Stacy Jackson: So Kira, of the people that you like to watch on YouTube, are they like “YouTube famous” kind of people, or are they just everyday people doing crazy stunts? What kind of people are you watching on YouTube?

Kira Jackson: I guess I’m watching, like, some that have, like, a million or, like, more than that. But I also do watch some, like, lowered or not, like, lower channels, but they have, like, fewer subscribers.

But they’re also funny, and I also like to watch like “try not to laugh” challenges.

Stacy Jackson: I think you mentioned people like Shane Dawson and other people . . . . Do they ever talk about brands or things on their videos that they want people to try?

Kira Jackson: Definitely because on YouTube, they’ll get sponsored by someone, and they’ll mention in their video.

Stacy Jackson: So do you feel like that’s a commercial, too, or you just . . . it doesn’t bother you that that commercial’s happening? You don’t care about skipping that because you like the entertainment they provide?

Kira Jackson: Well, it depends on, like, what they’re talking about.

Like, if they’re talking about, like, any sponsored by, like, a car brand or something, I think I would skip that part of the video.

But I know Shane Dawson came out with a video, and it was talking about an app where it like finds super, good deals on websites. And it helps filter stuff for you, and I was really interested in that.

Alanna Jackson: There’s a makeup guy, right, that you, you watch, and he’s supposed to be pretty popular. I think that he talks about specific kinds of makeup.

So does that make you, when you see. . . like the different things that he does and how he might use it . . . does that make you want to try the specific makeup he is talking about?

Kira Jackson: Definitely. When I watched Beauty gurus, I definitely want to try the makeup that they use because it looks so good when they put it on. And I’m like, “I have to try that. If they look so good, maybe I would.”

Alanna Jackson: Well, I can say that you would look good no matter what you use for your makeup. I’m a little biased, but I think you’re gorgeous.

Stacy Jackson: Yes, girlfriend.

Kira, when you think about the programs you’re going to take when you enter high school next year. . . . I know you’re going to do some culinary classes. Do you think you’d want to start your own YouTube channel to show people how to cook, or start your own podcast or even a blog? I know you’re not going to write a blog, but what do you think about making yourself into some kind of YouTube or podcast star?

Alanna Jackson: I’m not sure because I feel like I would be really awkward, but I think it would also be fun to do it.

But, like, I know that people can be very hateful, so that’s something that I’m . . . I wouldn’t like. I would be really scared to do it.

Alanna Jackson: So one thing we previously talked about doing was the “As Seen On TV” stuff and starting a YouTube channel for that. Is that something you still want to do?

Alanna Jackson: Possibly.

Stacy Jackson: When you think about yourself in the future and whatever job you might have, how do you think you might use the internet or social media to do your job? Do you have any ideas?

Alanna Jackson: So put another way, let’s say you started working a job, and you had to learn something new. Or maybe they ask you to use Excel in a way that you didn’t know. How — are there ways that you might . . . you think that those might apply for you to use the internet in those situations to get the answers to some of the questions you might have?

Stacy Jackson: Or even to make a purchase of something that you’ve never bought before that you have to learn about so that you make the right purchase.

Kira Jackson: If it was something that had to do with, like, Excel or like one of those formats, I would definitely use YouTube because I know there’s a lot of tutorials about it. And for, like, a purchase, I think I would use Google because I don’t think there is not many tutorials and stuff like that on YouTube, but I think Google would be more a reliable source for me.

Stacy Jackson: Do you think you would ask your friends or colleagues that might be in your business about “what’s a good product I should purchase for this purpose?” Would you rely totally on Google?

Kira Jackson: I would definitely get it from another person’s perspective because Google may tell me one thing, but somebody who’s had experience with that might tell me another.

Stacy Jackson: And do you think you would see yourself in the future still ask your friends . . . when you’re older . . . through like WhatsApp or Snapchat, or do you think you would move into a more public type of forum like a Facebook if that’s still around or Twitter?

Kira Jackson: I think if I got older . . . I think I would use Snapchat and stuff like that less, and I would use more text messages.

Stacy Jackson: Okay, so that’s interesting. So you’d still try to keep the conversation between you and your friends or whoever you want to speak with and not put it out in public like Alanna and I or [the] millennial generation might do now with Twitter or LinkedIn or Facebook.

Kira Jackson: I think I would use . . . .  If, when I got older, I think I would use text messages more than anything, but I think I would still try to keep up with other platforms, like, just post once in a while but not, like, be like post after post after post after post.

Stacy Jackson: Got ya. And have you heard of LinkedIn?

Kira Jackson: I’ve heard of it, but I’m not really sure how it works.

Stacy Jackson: That’s okay. There’s a lot of people that are on it that aren’t really sure how it works either.

Alanna Jackson: So I know that you mentioned you would ask others about if you wanted to know more about a project but . . . not a project, but a product . . . would you look up reviews? I know, like, if you’re going to look at a restaurant, you might look on Yelp just to check out the reviews, but if you wanted to find out about a product, would you look up reviews on Google or anything like that? Is that something that would be of interest to you?

Kira Jackson: Definitely because I got new Crocs, and I went on Amazon, and I was looking at these I like like really cheap . . . like a hundred Crocs charms. And, like, I went through the reviews, and they look really reliable because they added, like, photos onto them. And, and one person gave it a really bad review because they got like the same charm, so I was not sure about that one.

Stacy Jackson: What are Croc charms?

Kira Jackson: It’s the stuff you see at the Croc store if you ever go and one. And there’s this stuff that you put in the holes in the Crocs.

Stacy Jackson: Okay, you learn something new every day.

Alanna Jackson:  And for those of you that don’t know what Crocs are she’s talking about the shoes the Croc shoes

Stacy Jackson: Oh, I thought it was a crocodile. Thank you, Alanna.

Alanna Jackson: Some people may not know what Crocs are.

Stacy Jackson: I’m just making a joke. I wasn’t being a smart aleck.

Okay. Well, you’ve given us some interesting insights here, Kira. What do you think in the future? Do you think people will mainly rely on their phones and not even use computers, or do you think people will still need computers in the workplace and at school.

Kira Jackson: I definitely think computers will be there because they’re very reliable, and you can do a lot more on a computer than you can do on a phone.

Stacy Jackson: That’s true.

Alanna Jackson: It seems like most of the time, you like . . . you would prefer to watch shows and stuff on your TV —  I mean, on your phone instead of the actual TV. So, you don’t, you don’t think that you would have that same kind of feeling of wanting to just work on your phone as opposed to a computer or laptop or something?

Kira Jackson: I think for me it all depends because like sometimes I don’t feel like doing stuff on the computer because, like, I have to, like, load it up, and then I gotta do all that. But my phone, I could just, like, grab it and, like, do that and I’m done.

But computers are also really nice to use because you can have multiple tabs open, and you can click on each one. But on the phone, you can only have one open at a time, and it takes some time to open the new tab. And I think it’s easier to use the computer for, like, multiple things online than a phone, especially with like Excel, Word, and PowerPoint.

Alanna Jackson: Yeah, I agree and it’s good to hear that. We’re not going to lose the computer.

Stacy Jackson: Although, mobile search on Google has overtaken desktop search. So who knows when they happen?

Alanna Jackson: Yeah, but I mean, just searching for something is different from actually working. You know?

Stacy Jackson: That’s true.

Alanna Jackson: Kira, is there any other knowledge you want to drop on us today about social as far as how teenagers use it or just in general marketing kind of stuff that you can give your knowledge on?

Stacy Jackson: I’d be curious to know what you do with technology at school, too, before we wrap.

Kira Jackson: In 6th and 7th grade, there was a game called Kahoot where the teacher would set up a whole quiz of, like, how many questions they wanted, and it would be on the interview projected to the  Smartboard, and there would be a question and it would be timed.

And there are four choices you could choose from, so you have to pick the right one. And after the time ran up and after everybody answered the question, it would show it, like, kind of like, a bar graph. It would, like, show how many people answered this question, not answer, how they answer that answer.

 So, like, in my science class, we would take it and whoever got, like, first, second, and third [place] got extra credit.

Stacy Jackson: Nice.

So, you like to do the quizzes at school, but I know you also like to take those personality quizzes. Who were you the other day when you took the Harry Potter quiz?

Kira Jackson: First time I took it I was Hufflepuff the second time. I’m Slytherin. I’m just not sure anymore.

Stacy Jackson:  And which Office character were you?

Kira Jackson: I was between two of them, too. Like, I was either Toby or Andy, but I don’t think that’s right at all.

Alanna Jackson: That’s a big difference with Toby and Andy.

Stacy Jackson: I could see Andy. I could see Andy, but not Toby.

So, Lane, any other questions for Kira before we go?

Alanna Jackson: Are there any other knowledge that you would like to drop on us today about how teens use social or just technology in general?

Kira Jackson: I don’t think so.

Stacy Jackson: Then thank you very much, Miss Kira, for joining us today on your last day of spring break. We both appreciate it greatly.

Alanna Jackson: Yes we do.

Stacy Jackson: So, everybody there you have it. Our little Gen Z Jackson giving us some insights.

I think some takeaways that even B2B marketers can have are that these younger generation individuals like to take quizzes, so keep those quizzes ready for when those people get into the job market and getting into purchasing roles or research roles. That’s still going to be relevant.

You’re going to need to rethink some of your social media strategies, perhaps, to work around more of a “messenger” type of strategy or text messaging, which that has its own issues with opt-ins. But just start thinking about how you might reach those individuals in a more closed type of system.

Alanna Jackson: And another thing to think about is on YouTube and different places like that where you have ads come in on videos. You want to create an ad that is more catching and that will draw their attention so that they’ll go and check it out because while that it seems to be a given, it’s not always a given for certain brands.

Stacy Jackson: And on the YouTube front. . . . Yeah, the influencers they like today as teenagers or even people in their college years . . . Those influencers are going to change. They’ll either evolve with the audience or new people that are influencers in their industry that they choose will become top of mine to them.

So think about as you grow or begin to create influencer programs, who are those influencers in your industry that can start cultivating a younger audience of new people that enter your industry and how can you use video and that influencer to reach people. Because like Kira said, she might skip a commercial but if she’s hearing from someone she either finds entertaining or that she respects, she and other gen Z people will engage and listen to what that influencer has to say.

Alanna Jackson: And let’s not forget Snapchat. If you’re not currently using Snapchat, it’s an easy thing to get involved in and you don’t want to miss out on certain opportunities.

You can set up filters as a brand and the people that are using Snapchat will see those filters and possibly be using them. And it just creates a different way of connecting with and engaging with your audience.

Stacy Jackson: I think another way that people could use those filters, not just as a brand, like a lot of consumer brands do, but say you’re HubSpot or some kind of like software brand or another brand that does a big B2B event. You could create those geofilters in Snapchat for people to use. So even if you don’t directly advertise or create those custom filters, there’s always geofilters that you can set up start getting those younger people involved in your B2B brand through the platforms that they like to use already.

Alanna Jackson: Right, and as they start to get a little bit older, getting that name recognition out there for your brand so that once they get into that working get into the workforce, they will have a better sense of knowing who you are . . . who you are as a brand. And if they hear that name, they’ll be like, “I know that name,” and it won’t be a [completely] new experience for them.

Stacy Jackson: And even if you’re not a brand that a 14-year-old is going to notice today — like if you create industrial widgets, at least you’ll be getting used to using that . . . those new social outlets that those younger people as they mature and enter the workforce and your industry — they’ll be there when they’re ready to learn about you.

Alanna Jackson: Kira wants to add something.

Kira Jackson: Also, make sure you don’t over advertise because I know I’ve seen so many ads over and over, and it just gets annoying.

Stacy Jackson: Good to know.

Alanna Jackson: So that’s a good thing to know, to know your audience.

Stacy Jackson: Right? I wonder she hates the same brand advertising over and over again or the same commercial over and over again?

Alanna Jackson: She said “same commercial.”

Stacy Jackson: Okay, so mix it up, people.

All right, so I think those are some of the main takeaways I had in mind about, “what could we learn from a Gen Z person” whether you’re trying to reach them now at this age they are or in the future when they enter your different industries and workforces.

So thanks everybody for joining us today. I hope you got a little something out of it. And even if you didn’t, we had a good time hanging out on spring break with our niece.

Alanna Jackson: Yes we did, and if you want to give us some comments or leave us a voicemail you can do that. You can reach Stacy on Twitter at stacy_jax, or you can reach me on Twitter at alanna_jax.

Or you can go to and leave us a voicemail. So, we look forward to hearing from you and continuing the conversation

Stacy Jackson: Bye.

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