5 Ways News Publishers Can Grow Their Gen Z Audience

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Social media disruption and changing habits have created a significant opportunity for publishers to grow with Gen Z. Generation Z, 68 million strong in the US alone, are those born between 1997 to 2010 are in their late teens to early twenties. Along with Millenials (1981-1996), they represent the future. Win market share with these generations, and publishers will have a solid foundation for the next 20 years of your business.

First person view of news portal in a tablet

The Gen Z Opportunity For Publishers Is Growing

While it’s always possible to start growing an audience, there are always advantages to moving early to seize the opportunity. 

Building loyalty with Gen Z audiences today while they’re younger can sustain your business for years into the future. From an advertising perspective, focusing on Gen Z is vital because they have decades of spending ahead of them in many areas of life. If you build a sizeable Gen Z audience over the next few years you will have a solid foundation to attract paid subscribers and generate ad revenue for decades.

In terms of habits, comfort with digital technology, and media consumption, Gen Z also shares significant overlap with Millenials. That’s important because Millennials now represent the single largest demographic group ever in North American history. For example, Gen Z spends close to three hours per day on social media, while Millennials also spend over two hours per day on social media. Highly visual platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube are very popular with both groups. 

Why First-Party Data Matters For Engaging Your Audience

To fully understand what Gen Z and Millennials want, broad surveys will only tell you so much. It’s also vital to have a direct understanding of your specific audience. That’s where first-party data becomes vital. First-party data is information you collect directly from your audience without relying on any outside source or platform. Gathering this data means building rich audience profiles, making it easier to create engaging content and deepen engagement.

Of course building a first party data set is much easier said than done, especially when the average Metered Stop Rate for publishers hovers around 4% and Paid Stop Conversion Rate averages around .5%.3 Third party cookies are going away, so publishers need to evolve.  Read on for our tips! 

Five Ways To Attract Gen Z Audiences

Use this menu of strategies to grow an engaged Gen Z audience. Our ultimate goal is to bring audiences directly to your website, where you can engage them and build a direct connection.

1) Offer Micro Communities

In his classic essay, Kevin Kelly wrote that 1000 true fans should be enough to sustain creatives like musicians, designers, and other entrepreneurs. That principle is coming to life in a whole new way with Gen Z as they’ve grown up in a digital world filled with niche communities on Discord, Minecraft, Roblox, etc.

It can be difficult to predict which micro-community concepts will take off with Gen Z. That’s why it is smart to take small bets and empower your Gen Z audience to guide community building. Let’s say you’re considering building a micro-community around internships at nonprofits to help Gen Z build their skills. 

Before building out the community, test the concept by hosting a small digital event on your website around the theme. If you see significant engagement and sign-ups for the event, create a landing page where attendees can get more information about the new internship community. Use this strategy repeatedly over a few months, and you will have several successful communities based around your website. Make sure your digital events have an interactive aspect like Arena Live Chat so that Gen Z can ask questions and make connections both with you, and with each other. 

2) Revisit Your Social Media Goals

Young people on mobile

Growing a large audience on a social media platform like TikTok or Instagram may not be helpful to your goals. A person looking at your content on social media will likely see your content among many other posts. Also, gaining a meaningful audience connection on social media is difficult, and gaining first-party data is impossible. 

Instead, your social media goals should always have the end goal of bringing visitors back to your website. There are a few ways you better leverage social content to grow your audience once they’re there.

Use Arena Live Blog to highlight and react to social media posts. 

To make this live blog even more appealing, invite Gen Z influencers to contribute to your live blog posts. You can also share posts from social accounts you select and select content. This is a great way to add UCG, even if you don’t have an official relationship (yet).

Reinvent the social media challenge made popular by TikTok. 

Brands like Guess’s #InMyDenim and Scotts #DoTheScottsSlide challenge to encourage fans to create videos and share the event. Publishers can adapt this idea by hosting quizzes tied to specific events like elections, sports games, and award events like the Oscars. 

3) Invest In Short Form Video Content

Short form video content, like TikTok videos and YouTube Shorts, are very popular with Gen Z. Growing your Gen Z audience is easier when you invest in video. Length is not the only factor to keep in mind to win Gen Z’s engagement. As you create more videos, look for ways to incorporate the following qualities that most successful short-form videos leverage.

Many of the most successful short-form videos revolve around a few themes. Music, humor and how to videos all tend to perform well, and, of course, you’ll want to make sure that you use whichever format makes the most sense for your brand, and the specific content you’re promoting. For example, a beauty brand can show a model or influencer applying makeup. In addition to providing value to your audience, short videos should achieve another goal.

Look at your short-form videos as a “trailer” that promotes the main attraction on your website: in-depth videos and other types of premium content. For example, you might create a long-form video interview with your CEO at a product launch event. From this longer video, create a series of short form videos and post them to social media. Each of these short-form videos adds bite-sized value to your audience while giving you the opportunity to drive traffic back to your website.   If this formula works for top creators like Gary Vaynerchuk, it can work for you.

4) Step Up Your Sustainability Coverage

Sustainability Coverage

Climate change and sustainability concerns are top of mind for many in Generation Z. The Pew Research Center found that more than a third of Gen Z and Millenials feel addressing climate change is a top personal concern. Depending on your publication’s priorities, there are different ways to meet Gen Z’s interests.

  • Go Local.
    Sometimes, coverage of climate change and environmental issues can feel abstract and difficult to understand. Local publishers can stand out by exploring the local implications in greater detail. For example, publications based on Florida have expertise in covering natural disasters and the increase in extreme weather events.
    Emphasizing your local expertise is critical to sustaining trust with Gen Z. The American Press Institute found that Gen Z news readers tend to trust local news outlets more than national options.
  • Invite Special Guests To Share Advice.
    Sharing information and quality reporting isn’t the only way to attract Gen Z’s interest. Take inspiration from events like Creator Conf that bring together thousands of attendees and sponsors like YouTube, Patreon, and Clubhouse. 
  • Publish Unique, User-Friendly Data.

5) Enhance Diversity In Coverage and Staff 

Enhance Diversity In Coverage and Staff

Committing to diversity is critically important to appeal to Gen Z audiences. The American Press Institute reports that only 15% of Gen Z and Millennials feel coverage of immigrants is accurate in the news. Further, only 15% of these generations found that Black Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, and lower-income people are not covered accurately. 

There are several ways to demonstrate an increased commitment to diversity as a publisher. Look at your editorial staff first and ask yourself if you can improve your recruiting practices. Next, seek ways to improve the quantity and quality of coverage of diverse groups. Finally, work with your advertisers to encourage them to take diversity seriously in advertising.

The Pay Off For Meeting Gen Z’s Interests

Investing in new editorial approaches, media formats, and beyond will take time and resources. It’s a strategic investment for two reasons: first-party data generation and greater loyalty. By publishing content that directly meets Gen Z’s interests, you’re providing significant value to the audience. That means earning and keeping permission to gather first-party data is far easier. As you better understand Gen Z’s preferences and needs, selling subscriptions and keeping them engaged for years to come will become easier.

Get The Tools You Need To Connect With Gen Z Today

Succeeding with Gen Z news consumers takes serious editorial work. It also takes the right technology. Gen Z is used to highly interactive digital experiences from social media. Keeping their interest will become much more difficult if they come to your website and have no opportunity to interact with friends and family. Learn more about Arena’s solutions for publishers.

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