Can B2Bs win over Gen Z? It'll take more than TikTok

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A couple of years ago, B2B paid marketing campaigns were focused almost exclusively on Google and LinkedIn. Those two platforms are still vital and command a lot of B2B ad spend, but B2B marketers have to cover more ground these days to engage a demographic growing in importance: Gen Z.

So how can marketers shift their strategies to be inclusive of our youngest professionals? Let’s explore Gen Z’s favorite platforms and what it takes to succeed on them – and the approach you need to take to make a good impression on the internet’s most savvy and skeptical users.

The Gen Z platforms currently underused by B2B brands

The Gen Z platforms currently underused by B2B brands This list does of course include TikTok, which recently released a HubSpot integration aimed at improving lead quality, but there’s a lot of opportunity at hand with Facebook/Instagram as well. In the last couple of years, Facebook has expanded targeting and ad types, and its machine learning has gotten markedly better at reaching the right users. That’s not to say that Gen Z will be using these platforms at work, but they’ll be spending plenty of time there outside of work – and more than older demographics, they stray from the 9-to-5 mentality and can be induced to engage on a professional level at unconventional times and in non-office settings.

Natalie Hanson

Account Director at Jordan Digital Marketing.

How to scope out creative assets to engage Gen Z

The quality and variety of B2B creative is slowly improving, but even a year ago, all the assets we got from clients followed a basic template: static images, with a headline and CTA. These days, that kind of generic content gets scrolled past, even on LinkedIn. The goal of creative should be to engage users by standing out, and that’s crucial to nail on TikTok and Instagram, where you’re competing with lots of entertaining content. Just about every B2B brand looking to engage Gen Z users should invest in a few versions of a short-form video that explains your offering, your value props, and how your product or service benefits your target companies. Gen Z characteristics B2B marketers must consider when adapting their approach.

Gen Z has no patience for inauthenticity. This means marketers trying to engage them should absolutely not take shortcuts or try to borrow credibility they haven’t earned.

For instance, there’s no shortage of trends marketers can tap into on Instagram or (especially) TikTok, but trying to do it when there’s no alignment with your product can backfire and lead to users dismissing you.

For another, don’t align yourself with social issues like environmentalism, DEI, or LGBTQ rights if your company can’t prove its commitment to those causes. Take lessons from consumer brands that have tried and been shown the door by Gen Z uses attuned to greenwashing and rainbow washing: it’s better to stay out of the discussion if you have nothing genuine to add or, worse, can be demonstrably tied to practices that work against those issues.

Last, Gen Z’s natural skepticism means they’re much more likely to look for social proof before purchasing. Find influencers and/or thought leaders who have used your product successfully and leverage them for customer success stories and testimonials to use in creative assets. Don’t go to the lengths of paying for good reviews, of course (red flag alert that could backfire big-time), but work to give your happy customers a reason to sing your praises in public.

Personnel resources you’ll need to engage Gen Z

If you’re examining your marketing resources and wondering about the talent you need to engage Gen Z, start with creative. Whether you’re running your own marketing or working with an agency, make sure you have someone on your team who can own performance creative: the production, the library, the testing schedule, the reporting. Creative fatigue sets in incredibly quickly on TikTok and Instagram; you need to have a big supply on hand and be able to spin up more quickly. Note: your creative resources must be fluent in video.

The other facet of marketing critical to success with Gen Z is relationships. Make sure there’s someone on your team (or working with your team) who is communicating with existing customers to understand how your product is being used and what its relative strengths and weaknesses are – and make sure your marketing team is being fed that information on a regular basis.

Ultimately, marketers who see the value of investing in Gen Z engagement may have to pitch higher-ups for the resources to do it. But if it’s not crucial yet, it will be in a couple of years as Gen Zers ascend into leadership roles. Give Gen Zers a reason to consider your brand (and pitch for it internally) now, and you’re building advocacy with today’s purchase influencers and tomorrow’s decision-makers.

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Natalie Hanson is an Account Director at Jordan Digital Marketing.