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📷 Image Credit: Teen Vogue 👆By: P. Claire Dodson TL;DR "Gossip Girl" is back on HBO Max with a brand new plot and cast, but it still has all the same juicy drama we know and love. HBO Max's "Gossip Girl" Reboot trailer just dropped, and fans are going crazy! We are all familiar with the original TV series, first released in 2007, starring fan favorites Blake Lively, Ed Westwick, Leighton Meester, and Penn Badgley. Now it's back with a new cast and reimagined plot. Although we will miss familiar characters and storylines, the new teaser hints at an all-new drama-filled narrative. The iconic and original Kristen Bell narrates the trailer as we see the camera pan around the fully glammed characters in slow motion. We see new cast members such as Zion Moreno and Savannah Smith whispering mysterious secrets, Evan Mock and Emily Alyn sharing an intimate embrace, and Jordan Alexander and Eli Brown posing for a ring-light selfie. The short trailer ends with the all too familiar 'Gossip Girl' phone alert. This snippet left fans wanting more, and the good thing is that we won't have to wait long. The reboot premieres on July 8th of this year! The new show will still have the juicy high school drama; however, it'll take a closer look at what privilege looks like in the Upper East Side. As Gen Z is much more progressive than when the original Gossip Girl came out, it'll be interesting to see how the show's new take on young people. We think this new version will be mega-packed with mystery, drama, love, and exploring what it's like to be a teen in our modern Gen Z world. What character are you most excited to watch in the reboot? Leave us a comment down below. XOXO, Engage Youth Co Sources:Teen Vogue Written by: Naia Mader, Intern Edited by: Lisa Knight, COO & Mentor


📷 Image Credit: The Verge 👆By: James Vincent TL; DR The 'Shorts' brand new audio sampling feature has a real chance of competing with TikTok; however, some users are upset about 'video stealing.' TikTok's newest competitor, Shorts, is starting to let creators sample other user's audios. Thisinspiringting news for the platform. Shorts will now have a higher chance of competing with TikTok. This new feature allows memes to spread through the platform rapidly and let other users experience new content by clicking on the sound. Sampling other audio benefits not only the originator of that sound but all other content users who find new ways to interpret and reimagine that sound. Currently, it's only available for creators in the UK, Canada, and some parts of Latin Ame; however, the sampling tool will thankfully continue to expand to the US within the next couple of weeks. Unfortunately, some all Shorts users are happy about the neManyt of people are complaining that their content will be 'stolen' with the argument that Youtube is legalizing video stealing. The other argument against this is the idea of using other audio that could potentially lead to harassment and abuse of that sound. YouTube is addressing these concerns by allowing creators to specify which videos they don't want to be used in ShorThisthis new sampling feature has a good chance of competing with TikTok. Will it indeed triumph over the Gen Z phenomenon? Let us know what you think in the comments below. Sources:The Verge Written by: Naia Mader, Intern Edited by: Lisa Knight, COO & Mentor


📷 Image Credit: ScreenRant 👆By: Hope Rosenblatt TL;DR We are "totally buggin!" over Alicia Silverstone's TikTok recreation of her old character Cher! It's ever-so-classic. It's hard to think of the iconic movie 'Clueless' without the classic Alicia Silverstone coming to mind. She just made her grand entrance to TikTok with a reenactment of her famous 'As If' scene from the movie. Silverstone's impersonation of her old character Cher Horowitz had fans going crazy. The video racked up over 34 million views! This proves that 26 years later, the actress has still got it. Silverstone even wore the same yellow plaid ensemble that is one of the most recognizable outfits for all of Gen Z, Millenials, and Gen X. The TikTok replicates the scene where Cher is walking to school when a male student wraps his arms around her, and she screams the iconic mantra; "Ew get off of me! Ugh, as if!" Silverstone replaces the male student with her adorable son in the new video. After pushing him away, she goes back in for a loving embrace. Her comment section is filled with thousands of fans welcoming her, and her son for that matter, to the popular app. Silverstone gained just under 2 million followers after joining, proving just how timeless Cher Horowitz truly is. Next, we need Paul Rudd to join in on the fun! Once again, TikTok proves the power of how quickly a short clip can go viral. Fans have been "totally buggin" because of Silverstone's TikTok, and hopefully, we don't have to wait too long to get more content. Sources:ScreenRant Written by: Naia Mader, Intern Edited by: Lisa Knight, COO & Mentor


📷 Image Credit: Social Media Today 👆By: Andrew Hutchinson TL;DR Do you want to learn how to grow a small business? TikTok might be the perfect space for you. In TikTok's 'Behind the Business Series,' we are given many tips for Small and Medium Businesses (SMBS) that help use the platform within their marketing. This series emphasizes techniques to help your TikTok videos stand out amongst the rest. The first video highlights the criteria needed to see if your business is right for TikTok. The series then gives the best feedback from actual SMB owners and how they achieve success on the app. These content creators focus on essential points such as creating a brand that is a reflection of the world we live in, producing authentic content, and giving your audience a sense of your brand's personality. We recommend checking out these short clips, which are around a minute and a half and are an excellent start for SMBS to build a presence on the app. Other essential elements that SMBS owners touch upon; the app is a great vehicle to create a distinct feeling, having people find you, building a relationship, and nurturing that relationship over time. TikTok is arguably the best app for SMBS owners to gain traction. ThisThisThis introduction video series is worth the watch. The app is predicted to reach over one billion active users this year! Are you having thoughts about starting a small business, or do you know someone who owns one? Leave us your comments about the 'Behind the Business Series' below! Sources:Social Media Today Written by: Naia Mader, Intern Edited by: Lisa Knight, COO & Mentor


📷 Image Credit: The Guardian 👆By: Funmi Fetto TL;DR Hyram Yarbro is taking the internet by storm with his do's and don'ts of skincare. If you have skin problems, we know where to find the solution! Hyram Yarbro, the internet's most prominent skincare guru, is GenZer's go-to for tips and tricks for beautiful-looking skin. The 25-year-old from a Mormon farming family has totally transformed his life in the past year. The quarantine lockdown has fuelled his obsession with skincare and social media. Hyram has accumulated 1.2 million followers on Instagram, 6.8 on TikTok, and 4.5 on YouTube in just over a year! His focus on making skincare accessible to all is one of the main reasons why Hyram is ever-so-popular and relatable. Hyram's videos focus on interpreting product ingredients, debunking skincare myths, and even including (sometimes) harsh reviews of brands. Despite giving a lot of constructive criticism to ensure the best product advice for his viewers, this skincare guru always has positive energy and a smile on his face. Due to his authenticity attracts loyal followers, Hyram receives upwards of 30 to 40 brand sponsorship offers daily. After he endorsed the brand CeraVe, the company reported a 65% increase in sales! Hyram is starting his own skincare line, Selfless by Hyram, which he hopes will be a "catalyst for creating social change." This new brand pairs clean and trusty skincare products with further expansion for a philanthropic space. Hyram's background proves that even a small-town ranch boy can inspire millions worldwide. Watch some of Hyram's videos and let us know what you think! Would you take his skincare advice? Sources:The Guardian Written by: Naia Mader, Intern Edited by: Lisa Knight, COO & Mentor


📷 Image Credit: Social Media Today 👆By: Andrew Hutchinson TL;DR As social media platforms slowly take over our lives, the government is starting to get involved. Are these regulations a good or bad thing? We think everyone is a little wary about how much privacy individuals truly have while online. The U.S. Government just recently made an announcement that could have major effects on how social media is operated. The House of Representatives introduced four separate bills that all have to do with putting potential limitations and restrictions on the abilities of digital platforms. This means that there could be possible obstacles within platforms buying other platforms, operating their ad businesses, and the utilization of user data. These bills could also possibly mean laws against platforms giving preference to their own product. For example, Apple would not be allowed to give bias to Apple Music versus Spotify. Other aspects include a restriction on business mergers in the tech sector, a ban on digital platforms owning subsidiaries that operate on their platform, improved user data portability, and more. When, or if, these laws are passed, they will put massive restrictions on the tech giants we know today, such as Google, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, etc. We could possibly see the disappearance of TikTok as the laws will continue to examine the implications of data sharing with China. As social media and the internet have slowly taken over our lives, we don’t find it shocking that the government is trying to enforce some regulations surrounding it. Social platforms essentially influence everything we do and can impact massive global shifts in social, economic, and even political aspects. In fact, 71% of people are now getting some source of news from the internet and/or social media. We expect to see significant changes within the industry as it becomes more powerful. What are your thoughts on these potential bills? Do you hope for them to pass? Let us know your opinion in the comments. Sources:Social Media Today Written by: Naia Mader, Intern Edited by: Lisa Knight, COO & Mentor


📷 Image Credit: Teen Vogue👆By: P. Claire Dodson TL;DR Listen to Lorde's new summer hit 'Solar Power.' It will guaranteed, make you want to get up and dance. We’re here to tell you everything we know about the next song of the summer: Solar Power. Lorde has finally emerged from 4 long years of hiding and given us an upbeat, chill, and flirtatious song. Her past discography revolved around breakups and sadness, yet her new song is anything but; this is an excitement and surprise to all of us! The song just dropped on June 10th and has already reached the global charts. Her new single represents the perfect beach day; everyone is happy, nobody is on their phones (hence the lyric: “Throw my cellular device in the water”), bare feet, tan-skinned, and all-around good vibes. Jack Antonoff, who many of you ‘Swifties’ are probably familiar with, gives us a ’70s acoustic production with background vocalists from singers Clairo and Phoebe Bridgers. The song has also had a ‘vibey’ music video to match were, we see the lovely Lorde frolicking and dancing on a sunny beach. We’ve definitely noticed some ‘Midsommar’ references with the almost ritualistic dance choreography and neutral-toned outfits that feature long, flowy skirts and dresses. In a letter to her fans, Lorde metaphorically described her album as a woman who is barefoot at all times, playful, free, and totally in touch with her past and future. Her new album is a celebration of the natural world and how we all should look to it when feeling down. We think this is a great and positive new theme for Lorde as she enters her ‘happy’ era of music. Give Solar Power a listen, and let us know your thoughts! Sources:Teen Vogue Written by: Naia Mader, Intern Edited by: Lisa Knight, COO & Mentor


📷 Image Credit: CNN👆By: Jackie Wattles TL;DR Would you pay $28 million to go to space with Jeff Bezos? Learn all about the 11-minute and 62-mile orbit up and around the upper atmosphere. Thinking of traveling to space anytime soon? All you need is a whopping $28 million dollars! That’s the price to pay to be onboard New Shepard’s inaugural crewed mission to space. get to travel into suborbital space with none other than Jeff Bezos. The sought-after spot was snatched up on Saturday when the month-long auction came to a close. Ariane Cornell, Blue Origin’s sales director, confirmed that 7,600 people from 159 countries were able to register and place a bid. How is this high price a good thing? Blue Origin’s ticket sales to the general public for the momentous event, alongside the auction money, will be used to promote science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education for the youth. The name of the lucky passenger has yet to be revealed. Nonetheless, we assume they are excited; who wouldn’t want to go to space with the world's richest man? The New Shepard takes off on July 20th from Van Horn, Texas, and will only be in space for approximately 11 minutes. The company has tested the New Shepard, the 60-foot-tall rocket, roughly 15 times since 2015 to ensure its safety. Due to the shortened time, the rocket will only travel 62 miles above Earth. This condensed launch will give the passengers a brief feeling of weightlessness, similar to the experience of reaching the peak of a roller coaster hill before shooting down again to the lower atmosphere. Is this short trip truly worth the $28 million it was auctioned off for? Would you choose to go to space? Is the money well spent? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below! Sources:CNN Written by: Naia Mader, Intern Edited by: Lisa Knight, COO & Mentor


📷 Image Credit: The Verge👆By: Tom Warren TL;DR Xbox is back and better than ever with 'Halo Infinite,' which now offers a brand new multiplayer feature! We have the latest intel on the brand-new multiplayer feature for Halo’s Infinite; users will most certainly be excited. The new game will launch on Xbox One, Xbox Series X / S, and PC in the later months of 2021. This new mode will allow you and your friends to play the free multiplayer version across countless platforms using cross-progression and crossplay. Halo Infinite will additionally offer a battle pass that essentially never expires after you purchase it, saving people a lot of money! The game also allows users to purchase old season passes and which battle pass they want. The new multiplayer version heavily focuses on armor, weapons, academy, training, and especially more customizations. When players are qualified to earn different customizations, they can even pick details down to their character's voice or prosthetics; how cool is that?! There are also millions of options for customizing players’ weapons and armor. With this, you can switch up coatings, effects, emblems, visors, knee pads, gloves, shoulders, helmets, and more. The catch, users can only get customizations through tangibly playing the game and reaching new levels, so if you want a brand-new gravity hammer or cool gold armor pads, you better get playing! Let's talk vehicles. The vehicle feature has also been updated and becomes centralized to the battle arena on Halo Infinite. The new Razorback vehicle is able to carry multiple weapons at the rear, which could give users a great advantage. Finally, for those who need more experience, there’s an ‘academy mode’ for players to get used to the game's look, feel, and terminology. This helps people get used to the varying levels of difficulty and understand training partners with the multiplayer version. Be sure to keep an eye out for Halo Infinite this fall; we most certainly are! For those who game, what feature are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments below. Sources:The Verge Written by: Naia Mader, Intern Edited by: Lisa Knight, COO & Mentor


📷 Image Credit: Teen Vogue 👆By: De Elizabeth TL;DR Ms. Swift has done it again! She just dropped the release of her new re-recorded album, 'Red (Taylor's Version).' Taylor Swift is an absolute powerhouse. Her discography is a force to be reckoned with as she's re-recording her albums to reclaim legal ownership of her music. Taylor plans to gradually re-release her nine studio albums, surprising fans with release dates. She just announced that her new album Red (Taylor's Version)' will be released on November 19th with more songs "from the vault." This means the new album will have 30 tracks! Swifties are going absolutely crazy. Taylor wrote the additional songs before 2012 to release with the original 'Red' album; however, only some of them made the album. She said she couldn't stop writing songs as this era in her life revolved around emotions of being happy, free, confused, lonely, devastated, euphoric, wild, and tortured by memories past. Taylor also added that this writing and recording 'Red' helped to heal her during some tough times. We're looking forward to hearing the re-recordings and listening to how much this pop star has changed and matured over her many years of fame. Not only do we get 30 songs, but Taylor also dropped that we might be getting a 10-minute-long version of the iconic 'All Too Well!' While we don't want summer to pass by quickly, we cannot wait for November 19th; sad girl, autumn is approaching! Let us know what song you are most excited to hear on the re-recordings. Sources:Teen Vogue Written by: Naia Mader, Intern Edited by: Lisa Knight, COO & Mentor


📷 Image Credit: CNN 👆By: Chloe Melas TL;DR After over a year of limited socializing, summer concerts are back! Check to see when and where your favorite artists are performing! Ready to see your favorite band in person again? The wait is over; concerts are in full swing this summer. People are vaxxed and ready to mingle! Artists are starting to take the stage again to perform in front of live audiences now that the Covid-19 pandemic has thankfully slowed down. It may be a little challenging to get used to swarms of people in large and sweaty crowds initially, but concertgoers will get accustomed to their roots in no time. Madison Square Garden kicked off its first reopening show on Sunday with the popular band, The Foo Fighters, and the crowds went absolutely crazy! It was the iconic venue's first show in over 400 days due to the pandemic. The concert wasn't without strict rules and regulations; those attending had to prove they were fully vaccinated. As things slowly start to warm back up, multiple artists have announced concert dates for the summer and later dates in 2021. Some that have made official announcements include Harry Styles, Maroon Five, One Republic, Luke Bryan, Green Day, Fall Out Boy, Chance the Rapper, and more. This is such exciting news as things finally start to feel normal again. Concerts are a staple part of our culture and one of the main ways we socialize. It's been hard to go without that for over a year now! We can't wait to see all our favorite bands and solo singers performing on stage again. Who are you most looking forward to seeing? Let us know in the comments below! Sources:CNN Written by: Naia Mader, Intern Edited by: Lisa Knight, COO & Mentor


📷 Image Credit: Social Media Today 👆By: Andrew Hutchinson TL;DR Facebook is testing a brand new public comment feature on Stories that could create some competition between platforms. Facebook has added another layer of engagement with its brand-new option to reply to stories! The new format splits a user's response into two options; one can either leave a public comment that would be seen by all viewers or leave a message that directly goes to the user who posted the story. The message option was previously there; however, Facebook is testing the 'comment' section. While this may seem a pretty minuscule feature, it could have some significant implications. Other massive social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok have yet to implement this new feature, so this sets Facebook aside in a big way. The public comment section will help solidify engagement between users and companies, overall strengthening connections. Additionally, if users actively respond to comments, others will see that and be more likely to share their thoughts on the story. If the testing goes well, this feature will be a great way to level up your online relationships! This could create some competition between other social media platforms we use. Do you think an app like Instagram will hop on the trend after Facebook? We certainly do. Please let us know what you think in the comments. Sources:Social Media Today Written by: Naia Mader, Intern Edited by: Lisa Knight, COO & Mentor


📷 Image Credit: CNN 👆By: Marianne Garvey TL;DR Want to watch the grown-up version of your favorite childhood TV show? The iCarly Reboot just dropped on Paramount+! Do you ever miss watching old Disney or Nickelodeon shows reminiscent of your childhood? The new reboot of 'iCarly' is the perfect antidote for Gen Z, who grew up on those types of comedic TV shows. The brand-new series just dropped its first three episodes on none other than Nickelodeon. It features old and familiar characters like Carly, Freddie, and Spencer; however, there's also an introduction of some new faces. The reboot features new actress Laci Mosley, who plays Carly's roommate, and Jaidyn Triplett, who acts as Freddie's daughter. This old and new cast will join together to celebrate the well-loved show almost 14 years after the original series' debut. The show still has its iCarly roots, but as Miranda Cosgrove says, it's all grown up now. Since the series premiered in 2007, it has left a cultural impact on mass media. There have been countless memes and content surrounding iCarly nearly a decade later. It's exciting to see that viewers have carried on the momentum of the reboot. The current version is more up-to-date on navigating work, family, and love life for the characters in their 20s. You can soon watch the 13-episode season on Paramount+! The show's revival is super exciting news for those who grew up watching the show and are now figuring out life as a young adult, just like Carly. Please give it a watch, and let us know what you think about the first three episodes in the comments below! Sources:CNN Written by: Naia Mader, Intern Edited by: Lisa Knight, COO & Mentor


📷 Image Credit: Social Media Today 👆By: Jette-Mari Anni TL;DR TikTok videos just got a whole lot more interesting! Users can now post videos for up to three minutes. New in the world of TikTok, all users can now make and post videos up to three minutes long! This new feature creates endless opportunities for individuals and businesses to market themselves and their products to their audience for ample time. If you're on TikTok, who isn't these days, you understand the struggle of multi-part videos. It's pretty aggravating when a storytime pops up on your FYP, but then you must navigate and locate all the various parts on the user's page. The new, longer format relieves the stress of worrying about condensing storytimes or having them split up into countless videos. We are pumped for all users to be able to create a whole new range of content in the new three-minute feature. What are your thoughts? Does the time extension generate more opportunities, or does this potentially make videos boring? Let us know! Sources:Social Media Today Written by: Naia Mader, Intern Edited by: Lisa Knight, COO & Mentor


📷 Image Credit: Teen Vogue 👆By: Brittney Mcnamara TL;DR Pop star Ariana Grande is aiding the public in giving away $2 million in free therapy. Thank You, Ariana! Mental health is a topic that we should constantly and casually be talking about. This week Ariana Grande announced she would be giving away $2 million to help bring free therapy to the general population. The pop singer partnered with the digital therapy app, BetterHelp, to help raise awareness and give people access to these resources that should be readily available to the public. The donation will enable users across the platform to receive one month of free therapy! Ariana is a mental health advocate herself, having gone through some dramatic events over the past couple of years. She encourages people struggling to "dip a toe in, to feel okay asking for help, and to rid your minds of any self-judgment hopefully." One in five adults experiences some mental illness; however, only 45% will seek treatment each year. Not only is the cost of therapy a hindrance, but the social stigma behind it also prohibits people from reaching out and seeking the professional help they need. The celebrity is taking a significant step in the right direction. Her hefty donation will lower the barrier of entry enough for someone to start a long therapy journey or even provide relief for someone in need. Ariana's $2 million in donations will most certainly make a difference in mental health. Here at Engage Youth, this topic is critical to GenZ and all generations. What is your take on therapy? Let us know in the comments below. Sources:Teen Vogue Written by: Naia Mader, Intern Edited by: Lisa Knight, COO & Mentor


📷 Image Credit: The Verge 👆By: Ashley Carman TL: DR Every user on Instagram can now put links in their story, enabling a more inclusive community for those businesses and individuals looking to grow their accounts! Instagram is starting to allow users to post a swipe-up link to their story. The new test for the platform could drastically change how stories are used. This is exciting news! This swipe-up is different from the original feature and instead offers a sticker instead of a swipe. Users will also be able to respond to stories that include the sticker, a feature that was unavailable before, for the stories with the link swipe-up. This new feature could genuinely change the dynamic of how profiles interact with each other. Only accounts with 10,000 followers or more could link various things to their stories which made this tool very selective. Now, it'll give more access to smaller businesses, organizations, nonprofits, and individuals who want to grow their brand and their platform base. According to Vishal Shah, the test is to help people learn how to take advantage of links. Instagram will be watching the category of users and the links they post while keeping a close watch on who is spreading misinformation and spamming. Shah also says that keeping the sticker, even for those with 10k + followers, is the ultimate. Using links in stories gives each user a voice and reach on the platform and overall creates a more inclusive environment that's not limited to follower count. What is your take on the new feature? Do you think users will be consistently using it? Let us know in the comments below! Sources:The Verge Written by: Naia Mader, Intern Edited by: Lisa Knight, COO & Mentor


📷 Image Credit: Teen Vogue 👆By: Teen Vogue Staff TL;DR Netflix is finally putting fan-favorite TV Shows and Movies on their platform this July. Get ready to binge-watch! We hope you are just as excited as we are for all the new movies and TV shows on Netflix. This month, the platform will have enough content to ensure you always have options for summer movie nights. Unfortunately, in the past, Netflix has gotten rid of fan favorites such as the classic TV series Friends. Despite this significant loss, summer will be a big comeback for Netflix by offering more options in all genres. Twilight fans, you are in for a treat! All five Stephenie Meyer movies are arriving on July 16th. You only have a couple of days to plan out your binge-movie marathon. This franchise is incredibly successful and loved by so many. Fans are also ecstatic for season 2 of Outer Banks, which drops at the end of the month on July 30th. Never Have I Ever, Fear Street, Austin Powers, Charlie's Angels, Kung Fu Panda, Love Actually, Mortal Kombat, Star Trek, Stuart Little, Grey's Anatomy, and Django Unchained are just a few of the more popular titles that will be added this month. Let us know what movies and TV shows you are most excited to see when everything drops on the platform in July! We love Netflix and look forward to all the great additions to this streaming service. Sources:Teen Vogue Written by: Naia Mader, Intern Edited by: Lisa Knight, COO & Mentor


📷 Image Credit: Social Media Today 👆By: Andrew Hutchinson TL;DR Are you ready for a new way to communicate? Look no further; introducing 'Soundmojis!' Big news! Messenger has announced the brand new launch of their new 'Soundmojis.' This exciting feature allows users to play a short audio clip instead of simply just words or emojis. This is an alternative way to express a message when words cannot do the job. By launching this, Facebook has created another interactive element for users to engage. Messenger users can send anything creative, from crickets, drumrolls, clapping, and audio clips from their favorite song, TV show, or movie! This creates an entirely new way to engage with your audience and give it a personal touch. According to statistics, people send over 2.4 million emojis daily on Messenger, so why not give it some extra pizzazz? Additionally, studies show that 88% of TikTok users said sound is essential to the app's experience. This new feature could indeed heighten the Messenger experience. What 'Soundmojis' are you looking forward to sending? Check your 'Soundmoji' options once you've updated the Messenger app by tapping on the smiley face and selecting the loudspeaker icon. Sources:Social Media Today Written by: Naia Mader, Intern Edited by: Lisa Knight, COO & Mentor


📷 Image Credit: Social Media Today 👆By: Andrew Hutchinson TL;DR Snapchat just launched courses in digital marketing expertise. We recommend you take them! The Snap Focus education platform now has a new feature. Social media marketers can now highlight their Snap ads knowledge through their new official certification method. For those who don't know, Snap Focus is a series of courses and certifications that help you to plan, buy, and run efficient Snapchat campaigns. One can learn the basics of marketing through hands-on experience and specialization courses for your area of expertise. This new education platform advertises its five key elements; drive full-funnel results, win bids in the auction, reach your audiences, activate cross-channel measurement, and launch a split-test campaign. These are each individual courses that only take roughly 30 minutes to complete to keep things pretty simple. If you meet all of them and pass the final exam at the end, you are eligible to receive your own Snapchat certification badge! This looks great on your profile, as it shows your industry knowledge and a deeper understanding of the tools needed to launch successful campaigns. Snap Focus is a free service and can only benefit you as an individual or your business in digital marketing. It's a great new feature, and did we mention it's free...yes we did! Would you take the Snap Focus courses? Could you tell us your thoughts in the comments below? Sources:Social Media Today Written by: Naia Mader, Intern Edited by: Lisa Knight, COO & Mentor


📷 Image Credit: Social Media Today 👆By: Andrew Hutchinson TL;DR Looking to grow your small business? Check out TikTok's 'Small Biz Block Party! Do you run or know someone who owns a small business? TikTok's 'Small Biz Block Party' could be the perfect opportunity to promote your business and expand your ideas to larger audiences. The app runs a nationwide, 20-event virtual workshop series that aids small business owners through advice from experts. The goal is to give American business owners a chance to broaden their horizons and receive the same opportunities given to prominent and wealthy entrepreneurs. The virtual events series will take place from August 5th to November 18th this year. The setup is simple; small business owners and their teams are invited to attend the hour-long listening session with experts. TikTok will even feature a segment called 'hometown heroes' in which famous entrepreneurs from their region of the country will share their keys to success. Check out TikToks website to get ahold of all the dates and times for the over-month-long events. We think this could be a huge advantage for small businesses. TikTok's popularity is skyrocketing by the minute. If you learn how to market your business on that app, you can master almost anything with social media-related videos. Let us know your thoughts about the Small Biz Block Party in the comments below! Sources:Social Media Today Written by: Naia Mader, Intern Edited by: Lisa Knight, COO & Mentor


📷 Image Credit: The Verge 👆By: Joey Roulette TL;DR Gen Z 18-year-old Oliver Daemen is now the youngest person to go to space. Remember the $28 million Blue Origin auction winner we told you about that was supposed to go to space with Jeff Bezos? Well, it turns out the lucky victor turned down the opportunity because of a scheduling conflict. Who can't make time to go to space? As most of the world knows, the new passenger on the suborbital trip departed and landed just recently on July 20th. The mission was successful, and the four crew on board said they enjoyed every minute of it. The Gen Z, 18-year-old Oliver Daemen, who replaced the auction winner, got to travel alongside Jeff Bezos, Mark Bezos, and Wally Funk. The Dutch teenager is the son of a prominent private equity executive and the youngest person to ever fly to space. Daemen is the first paying customer of Blue Origin. However, the company has not disclosed the family's price to get on board. It was the 16th successful flight for the New Shepard flight, although it was the first launch with actual passengers on board. Blue Origin plans to launch at least three more flights with science payloads and passengers by the end of 2021. What are your thoughts on the space race? We think it's pretty crazy that the anonymous auction winner chose to skip because it failed to fit their schedule. Do you think they got cold feet? Let us know about your thoughts on new Gen Z passenger Oliver Daemen and the successful New Shepard flight that recently took place. Sources:The Verge Written by: Naia Mader, Intern Edited by: Lisa Knight, COO & Mentor


📷 Image Credit: Luis Goya - Georgia high school football players (L-R) Cesar Parker, Treyvon Adams, Antwion Carey, Messiah Daniels, Tyson Brown, Alto Moore 👆 TL;DR: GenZ high school football players rush to help and save an elderly woman trapped in her car from an accident. Have you heard this feel-good story about GenZ football players saving lives? Six high school football players, Cesar Parker, Treyvon Adams, Antwion Carey, Messiah Daniels, Tyson Brown, and Alto Moore, worked together to save an elderly woman in an accident trapped in her car. The Football players from Rome, Georgia, got out of their vehicles from different vantage points at the intersection and rushed to help upon arriving at the scene. Luis Goya, a teacher at the boy's high school, described the scene in a social media post: "This morning, I witnessed something amazing that our Rome High Football players did," he wrote, sharing photos of the aftermath. "While I was in front of the school during my morning duty, I heard a loud noise at the intersection that appeared to be a wreck. While I was running to the intersection, I noticed that two cars were involved. There was a 50-year-old lady trapped in her car and couldn't get out. Smoke started to come out of the car, and fluid started to spill everywhere in the intersection. The door was jammed and in terrible shape." These high school football players worked together to get the lady out of her car, prying open the driver-side door. What great role models! In our post-covid world, our community engagement and community service have begun to return to normal...whatever that means? After years of isolation, going back to face-to-face contact and reading about GenZ doing good for others gives us hope. We are beginning to see a trend of selflessness among Gen-Z. They are more community-oriented and willing to advocate for causes that don't necessarily impact themselves. It is refreshing to know that we are creating a culture that requires us to care about issues in the world and issues that directly affects people in our surrounding communities. Sources:Today Written by: Bridgette Meshkani, Intern Edited by: Lisa Knight, COO & Mentor


📷 Image Credit: Snapchat 👆 TL;DR: Hoping to stay relevant with GenZ's newest popularized app, Snapchat has begun mirroring the features that BeReal offers. Don't have BeReal, or have it and wait for that BeReal notification to go off every day? No need! If you have Snapchat, you're golden. Snapchat has introduced a new feature that offers the same visuals as BeReal. However, Snapchat provides more than just a rectangle on the corner of your screen. Have you ever wanted your BeReal photos to be the same size? Have you ever wanted your BeReal photos in different shapes? Snapchat allows for formats that offer vertical, horizontal, circle picture-in-picture, and green screens that come in all different sizes. This will let you be able to be more creative with your pictures. Although BeReal has been a big part of GenZ's lives recently, Snapchat can still be relevant because it gives everyone a different experience. BeReal only allows you to post once daily, but Snapchat will enable you to post as many times as you want. Snapchat's front and rear-facing camera feature lets you add filters to your photos. Are you selective with whom you want to engage? Snapchat allows you to be selective with whom you wish to receive specific pictures, videos, and messages. It lets you have group chats, private stories, and the most significant incentive, streaks. If you continue sending a Snapchat once a day to the same person, you will have a number next to the person's name indicating how many days in a row you have been sending photos to each other back and forth. This everyday action will form a "streak" between you and your friend. Which do you choose: Snapchat, BeReal, or Both? Sources:TechCrunch Written by: Bridgette Meshkani, Intern Edited by: Lisa Knight, COO & Mentor


📷 Image Credit: BeReal social media app screenshot 👆 TL;DR: Amongst GenZ, BeReal is the new social media app to download. Were you one of the 10,000 average users that used BeReal just one year ago? If not, are you now one of the 10 million users that use it? BeReal has blown up ever since GenZ figured out about it. This app sends you a notification every day at a random time and requires that you post a picture of what you are doing at that moment. You have two minutes to post your BeReal before it is considered "late." It reminds me of when you turn in your homework assignment late. This app lets people, brands, and social media influencers post raw content that is unfiltered and in the moment. One image is taken from your front camera while simultaneously taking a picture with your back camera. BeReal even has features that add to that "rawness." This app lets your users know how often you have retaken your picture. Also, it enables you to know if your followers have screenshotted your BeReal. This is the first app to exist that takes a step back from the beauty standards that our society has set forth and forces people to share their unedited selves. Other apps, such as Snapchat and Instagram, have taken on this format of pictures to increase their apps' engagement. Our GenZ Creator Counsel polled a college campus to find out how many students actually downloaded the app. Of the 50 people that asked, over 80% of students said they have the app. When asked those in the 20% why they hadn't downloaded it, the general response was, "I haven't gotten around to it." It seems everyone on campus is aware of the app. It is only a matter of time before other generations hop on board to use and...BeReal. Sources:Social Media Today Written by: Bridgette Meshkani, Intern Edited by: Lisa Knight, COO & Mentor

15 killer TikTok videos to better understand the mindset of Gen Z

Gen-Z users are tech-savvy and highly involved with their social media. Which is why they use TikTok to find entertainment, inspiration, and community. We can confidently say that TikTok is one of the most defining platforms that Gen Z identifies with. TikTok's aesthetic and unique video style makes the social site appealing. The platform is highly aligned with this generation's overall desire for more organic, personalized content. What started off as a Gen Z app now spans across Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and soon-to-be Gen Alpha (some Gen A are already on the app through their parents!) No other age group has popularized lingo, songs, or trends in pop culture like the youth of today. Here’s an easy guide explaining the slang behind some of TikTok’s most viral videos and trends.   First, let's start off with some lit visual trends. One thing the following trends have in common is that they capture the imagination. These trends do an awesome job at quite literally painting a picture! Starting strong we have the ‘Tell Me Without Telling Me’ trend. The #tellmewithouttellingme, trend lets creators fix almost anything in a fun way. Typically, the creator will say something like, “Tell me you're in college without telling me you're in college. I'll go first.” We love these videos because the trend is long-lasting and is relatable ‘af’ to every topic!   Here we’ll list out a few more similar trends. Are you into photography? The #WhatImeanwhenIsayI’mfrom, trend shows off your original (OG) roots through the simple use of pictures. This is an efficiency that Gen Z often prefers. We are also loving the #GoogleEarth, trend where we can zoom into beautiful landmarks. Who knows, you might learn a thing or two about geography as well! Ever feel like you’re the star of your own movie? Then the #MainCharacter, trend is for you. This trend on TikTok is a series of videos referencing cliche characters where you can show off their unique and hilarious personalities.   Everyone loves a fit check. Be sure to check out the #OutfitoftheDay, (OOTD) trend to show off your style. We are obsessed with the #Don’tbesurprisedifonedayIjust, trend as it shows off Gen Z’s crazy imagination about living out their dream lives. Who doesn’t want to quit their job and travel the world? There are too many trends to count! More include the #3Dphoto, trend the #AdultSwim, short art film trend and the #shapeshiftlookaliketoacelebrity, trend. These all have incredible potential for the “I’m dead” type of laughs!   Any iconic Tik Tok sound can perk up Gen Z’s ear. Next on the list is audio-based trends! The #Sheeeshhh, trend sound can be used for almost anything. Gen Z typically uses it to show off themselves or their partner; we love confident kings and queens! Do your prefer using DM’s over texting? Turning your #InstaDMs, into inspirational quotes and reading them pokes fun at some of the crazy messages on the internet. It does indeed ‘go down in the DM’s!’ We are living for the trend of #lip-syncing to Taylor Swift’s ‘All Too Well.’ Who doesn’t love a good TS bop? Next in line is the #Iwasbusythinkingbout, trend. Tik Tokers lipsync those words and follow it up with something random they’ve been thinking about. This can get pretty creative. The most recent #MaterialGirl, trend is a perfect example of how something so simple can create hilarious content. Creators just use this catchy, one-line sound and put a video where they feel like an absolute boss.   Tik Tok has more trends that fall into just visual or audio-based categories. There are endless types of videos users can create! For example, recreating chef Emily Mariko’s #salmonricebowl, has been all the buzz recently. We are absolutely living for it! Users also reenact her facial expressions as she takes a bite of her creations. Eating yummy food is a trend we can definitely get behind! Gen X’er Carla Rockmore also defies typical trends. At 54 years old Carla is killing the style game. She became popular because of her trend to bizarrely mix and match clothing pieces. Millennial Emily and Gen X’er Carla just goes to show how popular different generations can be on this app. While it’s clear that Gen Z owns Tik Tok trends, Gen X and Millenials have hopped on the bandwagon. The app is even more special because these generations are bringing their own style of humor, insight, and creativity. At Engage Youth Co. our job is to keep you posted with the latest trends and we hope we did just that. TikTok is the gateway to Gen Z’s mind. If you want a peek inside their humor, just open the app!   Sources: Written by: Naia Mader EYC Intern Edited by: Lisa Knight Source: The Bark Blog

7 Netflix Series That Every Smart Youth Market Brand Should Watch and Why

Teens and young adults aka Gen Z are able to spill the tea on just about every binge-worthy series. There are endless amounts of possibilities for young viewers to stream. Many recent shows have done a fantastic job capturing the Gen-Z experience, viewing diverse and emotionally compelling storylines. Shocking or not shocking, here are the top 7 Generation Z shows that have massive viewership! What’s important to them is that they can’t get enough of shows that feel authentic, have diversity, have relatable humor and plot lines, and something they can identify with. Let’s dive in! 7. Euphoria First up we have the mind-blowingly relatable series, Euphoria, which first premiered in the summer of 2019. We are so excited that the new season came out, starring big-name celebrity Zendaya! Check out the first few episodes on HBO Max. Euphoria is a series about a group of high school students who learn lessons through their experiences with drugs, sex, love, and relationships. It covers a range of pressing everyday issues that high school teenagers face, showing the raw ups and downs; and they aren’t afraid to sugarcoat it. Gen Z is obsessed! 6. Bridgerton Next up, we have Bridgerton, a period drama with a modern twist. Who would have thought we would bop to Ariana Grande’s ‘Thank You, Next,’ by a string quartet band? Bridgerton is precisely what many young viewers are looking for. The clothing is fantastical, the scenery is opulent, and the show carries us to a nostalgia of time that we can only dream of. If you are drama hungry, you’ll love this diverse and beautiful ensemble cast. Everyone loves a good secret, if you know, you know. If you don’t, check it out. Season 2 is coming this March! 5. Sex Education ‘Sex Education,’ the awkward and hilarious show, has been grabbing young viewers’ attention left and right. With its raunchy humor and honest insight into the reality of teenagers’ romantic lives, it’s been dominating Netflix’s Top 10. Never underestimate the power of the Gen Z effect. A coming-of-age comedy that got it’s viewership for its open and honest depictions of sexuality in young people. With 3 seasons under its belt, season 4 is being renewed this year! 4. You Who would’ve thought we would be binging a series about a serial stalker? The Netflix series ‘You’ shows some of Gen Z’s stalking fascinations taken to the next level. Joe Goldberg, played by Penn Badgley, the main character (and psycho might we add) makes cringeworthy decisions we can’t stop watching. It’s hard to root for him, but that’s why this suspense thriller is so addicting to young viewers. If this is your cup of tea, check out the crazy if you haven’t already! 3. Maid The new series on the block, Maid, has totally been flying under the radar until now. The storyline focuses on a woman named Alex, dealing with a string of unfortunate events in her life. Alex, played by Margaret Qualley, stars alongside her TV and real-time mom Andie MacDowell. The bonding mother-daughter storyline is relatable to Gen Z. Props to her for acting with her mom. We love a nepotism baby duo! If you want a heart-wrenching story and are in for a good cry or two, be sure to check it out on Netflix. 2. Riverdale Are you a comic book fan? The series Riverdale follows the original plotline of the drama-filled Archie Comics. If you crave mysterious adventures, love triangles, and unexpected surprises, you’ve come to the right place. We would best describe Riverdale as a quirky thriller. Right up Gen Z’s alley! It has an OMG factor! You can completely relate to the characters in this show. Anything can happen; we are still just as confused about the whole ‘Gargoyle King’ as well, trust us! 1.The Society Wouldn’t you agree that Gen Z’s dream is to live in a town where there are no adults or rules? ‘The Society’ is a mystery thriller show centered on a group of teenagers living in West Ham, Connecticut. They are trying to cope with their new lives as they run their community by themselves after the rest of their population has disappeared. The teenagers defy any adult expectations and do basically whatever they want, whenever they want. Did we forget to mention the part about how they can’t leave the city’s limits? They also have to learn how to run a participatory democracy all while being 18 years old! Big yikes! We hope we helped you find the 7 trendiest shows of Gen Z! Go find your Netflix N’ Chill buddy and binge-watch these killer series. Engage Youth Co always gives you the most up-to-date trends in social media. Stay tuned for what’s to come! Sources:

A True Story of Cultivating Gen Z Relevance: Nike SB

Nike is known for connecting with niche, athletic lifestyle groups within the youth market, and it’s why they resonate so well with Gen Z today. Yet, about 20 years ago, they found a group that posed some unique resistance.The story may not be what you would expect from such a titan of the sports and lifestyle market, but it’s part of why Nike is, well…Nike. The youth market is not particularly easy to get immersed in, especially if you are an adult with a job that has the ulterior motive of making money. Gen Z is a skeptical generation: they’ve been hyper-exposed to all the good, the bad, and the ugly that today’s society has to offer, delivered directly to their devices and platforms. If you want to win their hearts and wallet share, you will need to prove that your brand is aligned with their wants and needs, or risk being perceived as inauthentic. They are collectively a fast-moving target and reaching them is a challenging task. But cultural relevance with the youth market is not isolated to Gen Z, and this is what Nike struggled with 20 years ago, before they cracked the code and eventually became a dominant industry player in the global skateboarding subculture. Nike made a few attempts to enter the insular skateboarding world. Their first effort was in 1995-96, during and after the first X Games. They even sponsored the games, but skateboarders felt like Nike hadn’t earned their way into the culture,  they felt like they were trying to buy it. The Nike advertising campaigns at the time were very creative and arguably good for the public image of skateboarding, but the core audience still felt like Nike was an outsider, and trying too hard. Lesson One: Don’t assume to know the target audience based on traditional demographic targeting models or past successes alone. The core of any audience segment expects your brand to be an authentic contributor who walks the walk. On Nike’s second go at market entry, in 1998,  they took a deeper dive and launched their first dedicated skateboarding line. The shoes, while state of the art (which Nike is known for), lacked the features and style desired by most skaters. Even Nike-sponsored skaters had a hard time finding models that they could embrace. To the scene, Nike’s efforts to embrace skate culture felt more like infiltration than engagement;  the product line was canceled about one year later. Undeterred, Nike went back to the drawing board, determined to reach and resonate with this tenacious audience segment. Lesson Two: Above all, make sure you are producing a product or service that your audience actually needs and wants. When Nike finally broke through the ice and started to earn the respect of skateboarders, it was because of some very focused collaboration between Nike executives and a group of influential athletes revered by their culture. Nike humbly approached these skaters and asked, hey what do YOU want in a skate shoe and brand? After some serious consultation and co-creation, the Nike SB Dunk Lows were born in 2005. It was accompanied by a grassroots campaign that listened to and championed skate culture. and planted seeds that grew into a genuine acceptance of Nike by the community. The seeds planted during this time continued to grow, with each new generation of skaters growing up with Nike’s authentic presence. Today, the majority of Generation Z view Nike as a longtime champion of skateboarding, helping to support and grow the art and sport. Lesson Three: To truly engage with youth culture, you have to become involved in that culture, respect and listen to the members, and add value to what the audience is already doing. Nike’s journey to skateboarding and streetwear dominance illustrates how they masterfully engaged youth culture as a company, across many specializations. It teaches the observer three important rules of consumer engagement with Gen Z and youth culture at large. Forget your assumptions about consumer groups and start immersing yourself in the cultural lifestyles of your target audience. Identify your audience needs, and what authenticity means to them, before imposing your brand’s products and services on them. Consumer relationships are not seasonal: develop meaningful partnerships with youth segments, and commit to them.

How Retailers Can Better Engage and Sell to Gen Z Shoppers

Amidst the sea of struggling retailers, a few brands stand out as industry leaders when it comes to effectively engaging and selling to Gen Z shoppers. These retailers include Supreme NYC (streetwear), GameStop(video games and consumer electronics), and NTWRK (home shopping). They each have one key strategy in common that’s winning the hearts and wallets of today’s youth culture: they create a sense of belonging for shoppers. Each retailer brings Gen Z together in unique ways that are relevant to their targeted young audiences while staying true to its business model. For example, Supreme has done away with outmoded seasonal product releases, and “drops” (launches) new products or smaller, limited-quantity collections every Thursday. This approach drives demand that creates long lines outside of its store, where young people gather in hopes of getting the latest products before they’re sold out. However, the true genius behind this strategy is that the experience of waiting in line itself builds a strong community of passionate fans, who look forward to connecting with other like-minded peers. The brand’s appeal goes far beyond its physical store, however. The exclusivity of the products has fostered a new economy of Gen Z resellers, who sell or trade Supreme items online after they’re no longer available. It works because the strategy is as much about creating a deeper connection and elevating the status of shoppers as it is about the retailer making money. At GameStop, it’s an entirely different strategy to engage and sell to Gen Z shoppers. This national video game retailer builds a strong sense of community by employing incredibly knowledgeable staff known as “associates,” who are authentic experts in the field (many are rising eSports players themselves). The associates create a powerful comfort level among parent buyers, who are often disconnected from the latest gaming trends, products and technologies. It’s also worthy to mention that GameStop has remained nimble enough to pivot into collectibles and other must-have products, which are popular among Gen Z and many multigenerational fandoms. The latest retailer to step in and get it right when it comes to engaging Gen Z shoppers is a drops-driven QVC-like shopping network for the YouTube generation. The company is called NTWRK, and features daily content segments focused on e-commerce sales hosted by creators, musicians and other pop culture figures. NTWRK’s strategy is to create the next wave of video commerce: a mobile-first, home shopping experience that brings curated styles from big personalities directly to consumers. Young shoppers typically want the most exclusive products, content and experiences, yet gaining access can often be a serious challenge. NTWRK is dedicated to making exclusivity more accessible. The first content released was a shopping show hosted by youth culture icons DJ Khaled and Sean Andre. NTWRK is now partnering with top brands in fashion, tech, sneakers, toys and collectibles. Related story: A Marketing Guide for Generation Z 5 Engagement Considerations for Retailers Targeting Gen Z The world is a fast-growing global generation. Look to emerging geographic markets such as Nigeria, Southeast Asia, and Mexico for opportunities to reach some of the largest audiences of Gen Z shoppers. Practice good storytelling. In a world where the greatest prize is attention, content must capture young shoppers’ attention and inspire them to participate and take action. Don’t take Gen Z for granted; they expect authenticity and will quickly see through any lack of relevance. Create retail experiences that elevate a young shopper’s status. Create content and real-world experiences that positively showcase the coolest, most meaningful and original things you’re doing as a brand. This provides young shoppers a currency that can be leveraged to elevate their status. Be where they are; build a presence on emerging social platforms. YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat are among the top social channels for engaging Gen Z. However, the algorithms work against everyone — including retailers trying to reach young shoppers. Consider opportunities to be a “big fish in a small pond” by establishing a presence on fast-growing social platforms like Twitch, Discord, TikTok, and YouNow. You’ll reach millions, and with less algorithm resistance. Future-proof your retail business and embrace the conversational economy. Start developing strategies that use chatbots to create two-way conversations with young shoppers. Focus your efforts on channels those customers are already comfortable using. Gregg L. Witt is a renowned youth marketing strategist and generational expert, author and public speaker. He has spent 17 years in consumer insights, media and youth marketing, and is currently chief strategy officer of Engage Youth Co. He co-authors the insightful new book, “The Gen Z Frequency: How Brands Tune In and Build Credibility,” now available from Amazon and other retailers. Visit   Article originally published in

How Micro-Influencers Can Bring Macro-Sales

Influencers have become important brand advocates, whose videos, posts, and images initiate consumer word of mouth about a product, service, or brand.  They are particularly important for attracting millennials and Generation Z consumers.  An implicit assumption among marketing managers is that picking the influencer with the largest audience is best for the brand. But that assumption about audience size no longer is an absolute.  As more individuals build an influencer presence, marketing managers gain opportunities for nuanced personality-to-brand matches that can better increase awareness and sales. This has given rise to micro-influencers – people who have developed a small yet highly engaged social media community around a particular subject. One criterion of a quality among influencers has been the ability to attract a sizeable audience.  But savvier analytics over time have revealed that brands should seek influencers whose audiences are consistent, and whose content speaks to followers with a sense of voice, empowerment, and shared values.   Those qualities engender an authentic engaged audience, rather than one mixed with a large volume of bots and fake profiles. An engaged audience  engenders meaningful sales activity. Experts are weighing on how to best select influencers. Youth brand experts Gregg Witt and Derek Baird note in their book, The Gen Z Frequency How Brands Tune In and Build Credibility, that two kinds of influencers exist. There are influencers who establish a cohesive sphere of influence by attracting an audience.  Others create exceptional content. Influencers that master both audience development and content creation are rare and highly prized. Experts also debate about how to measure the ROI brands get from influencer campaigns, but social platform have found promising results by examining correlations between influencer activity and sales.  Twitter has touted since 2016 that “Nearly 40% of Twitter users say they’ve made a purchase as a direct result of a Tweet from an influencer.” Micro-influencers sometimes speak on overlapping subjects. Some smart influencers address that overlap by banding together and co-ordinating.   A great example is SoulPhoodie, a Facebook and Twitter account that shares content on African American cuisine, dining, and cultural history.  SoulPhoodie was started by Toni Tipton Martin, Adrian Miller, Dr. Fred Opie, Nicole Taylor, and Michael Twitty, professional chefs or foodies that wanted to share their culinary experiences, as well as a love for researched food history as it relates to African American culture. Micro-influencers can also be a way to connect to consumers with a strong cultural identity. In my article How To Use Data to Reach Hispanic Consumers, I mentioned how social media usage among the African American and Hispanic population has risen substantially.  This trend means brands can partner with micro-influencers like LeJuan James, Asiyami Gold, and Olalla “Caeli” Lopez who speak to digital community sub-segments (albeit in Lopez’s case a very large one). But as influencers proliferate on social media platforms, the FTC has repeatedly sought to ensure transparency about paid posts.  Back in 2015, eMarketer reported that awareness of FTC sponsored content guidelines among marketing managers was low.   But in the wake of fake content concerns and mishaps like the Fyre Festival, marketers are working to ensure that influencers associated with their brands are reputable and compliant. Moreover, brands can struggle with how consumers respond to hints of inauthenticity.  Posed or staged images can prompt negative reactions. A UK Instagram influencer, Scarlett Dixon, receiving viral criticism over a sponsored Listerine Instagram post because of the staged nature of the post image. Many of the tweets asked what the image had anything to do with mouthwash. Despite the potential for pitfalls, marketing managers can take several steps to select the right micro-influencers. Marketers must first clarify the brand message and the types of images consistently conjured when that message is delivered. This clarification helps to frame decisions on which influencers can best complement the brand image and its message Marketers should also consider their social media policy – how should a brand respond to influencer-prompted social comments that may reflect negatively on the brand? Volatile responses on social media are more common than ever – for more on this subject, check out my articles on protecting brand integrity and on how brands should express themselves on social media When it comes to how the products and services are mentioned, marketers must find ways to trust micro-influencers’ modes of online expression. Influencers at all levels have access to devices with better capabilities than that a few years ago. Combined with having established a consistent specific audience, micro-influencers can be savvy engagement in ways that brands have not imagined. David Pring-Mill notes a few examples in his article on  IGTV (Instagram TV) To understand how well an influencer alliance is working, marketers should use metrics like the share of brand voice on a social platform, and changes which are seen when social ad campaigns are used concurrently with influencer initiatives. In general, influencers can enhance the frequency of a brand or product mention on a given platform.  As for social ad spending, marketing experts expect budgets to grow to complement influencer campaigns. Micro-influencers wield a great deal of power when it comes to boosting brand awareness and driving consumer action.  It’s up to brands to approach micro-influencers who demonstrate domain knowledge and cultural awareness in order to provoke the most genuine engagement with their products and services. Article originally published in

The 7 markers of Gen Z that businesses need to know

Gregg L. Witt, youth brand strategist and Chief Strategy Officer of Engage Youth Co. has conducted hundreds of interviews with Gen Z kids, tweens, teens and young adults and has distilled his findings into a list of youth culture attributes. These generational markers are the identifying traits of what will be the most significant global demographic shift in history. Gen Z Generational Markers: Independent: Gen Z is willing to work hard for success vs the ‘be discovered’ mentality prevalent among their older Millennial siblings. Diverse: As a global cohort, Gen Z is open to all ethnicities, races, genders and orientations. They expect to see those values reflected in their brands, classrooms and media. Engaged: Gen Z is very politically aware and actively involved in supporting environmental, social impact and civil rights causes. They are focused on making the world a better place and want to align with organizations dedicated to making a difference. Activists like Malala Yousafzai are their role models. Knowledge managers: Often misrepresented as having a ‘short attention span,’ Gen Z has developed an ability to quickly filter the mass quantities of information that appear on their screens and decide what is worthwhile and what should be filtered and discarded. Pragmatic: Raised by Gen X parents who experienced a similar childhood shaped by the recession, Gen Z are choosing more pragmatic careers (for example, selecting a legal profession instead of trying to be a YouTuber influencer), are financially conservative and are avoiding the social media privacy pitfalls of Millennials. Personal brands: Unlike Millennials who tended to overshare on social media, young people are managing their presence like a brand; privacy matters and contributes to the popularity of ephemeral social media apps such as Snapchat and Instagram. Collaborative: Whether it is in the classroom using Skype with students in another country, playing Club Penguin or team sports in their backyard, Gen Z has learned early in life the importance of collaboration in both local and distributed (or virtual) environments. Article originally published in

Bullies Are No Match For The Principles Of Empowerment

Most people, at some point, have experienced a form of bullying. In fact, a lot of bullies were bullied, and they are just doing what they were taught. There is no excuse for this behavior, however, and awareness and education around the issue has made a big difference. What more can we do to address the effects of bullying? Starting in about 3rd or 4th grade, when I started riding the bus, I also became a target of bullying. I was taunted, given wedgies, pushed around, and had my bag taken. I was scrawny, they were cool and older – I didn’t know how to fight back. I tried to laugh it off or ignore it, and accepted it as my fate, but I didn’t feel good about it. Circumstances changed, and the bullying died down, only to start back up again when I started high school. This time I was heckled for being a skateboarder, and for being different. And I was, but this time that difference gave me confidence. I was proud of who I was as a skateboarder. I was talented, it made me happy, and I had friends and a whole life outside of school. The intolerance and aggressive behavior, instead of intimidating me, now fostered an internal rebellion. I resolved to be successful and outdo everyone who thought they could beat me down. I started a skateboard company at 16, after traveling extensively as a sponsored amateur skateboarder for Vans. Within a year it became a global company, and this time I was traveling the world entering skateboarding competitions, doing exhibitions and now promoting my own brand. What had been a liability was now a strength, and the bullies were rendered obsolete. I felt powerful, and I could shut down aggressive behavior almost before it began. I had learned to trust and be proud of myself, and developed the valuable skill of never backing down in the face of adversity or intimidation. Trust me, I’m not about to thank my bullies; they also left some pretty deep scars. What I am grateful for was that I developed a strong sense of self around what I loved, and that this gave me the authority to stand up for myself under any circumstance. To answer the question, “What more can we do to address the effects of bullying?” I think we need to continue to look toward reinforcing the confidence and esteem of kids as they grow up, especially during the critical years of self-discovery and development. In my current role as a youth marketer, I observe, interact with and analyze the youth mindset in its various stages. I see daily the interactions and constant evolution of mindset and character, and am constantly reminded of the intensely complex lives, that adults often write of as simple and unchallenged. As brands and businesses, we can make an impact on the mental well-being of our young people, while positively impacting our bottom line. In my role as Chief Strategy Officer at Engage Youth Co., I follow five guiding principles of empowerment in marketing, that are designed to build relationships through mutual respect and benefit, and empower the parties on both sides of the equation. 1. Identity. An individual, and a brand, must know themselves honestly and respect and grow that persona. They must similarly strive to know the identity of the individual or audience they wish to engage. When we seek to understand and respect young audiences, we empower them, and create a sense of belonging, or tribe. This is critical to any relationship, and reinforces the confidence of those involved. 2. Trust. Trust is earned when the relationship is established and respectful. Trust also provides a layer of safety and comfort that allows those involved to let down their guard and explore themselves, their environment and to thrive. 3. Relevance. When a brand provides offerings that are relevant to their audience, it reinforces trust and contributes to a sense of belonging and inclusion…that their wants and needs are recognized and addressed. 4. Possibility. Creating a sense of possibility offers a pathway to the hopes and dreams of the audience. It inspires thoughts and actions, and instills a sense of aspiration that can change the course of a life. 5. Experience. A positive experience is the final piece of the puzzle. When we can create a positive experience, shared or not, we create a reinforcement of the relationship, and a reinforcement of the individual’s wellbeing. These five principles have guided me through my entrepreneurial life since I was 16, and continue to keep my work focused on the empowering relationships that keep clients, audiences, and myself, passionately invested.  If bullying taught me anything, it’s that we must find our path and our tribe, and help others to do the same. Working with people – young and old, big brand or fledgling entrepreneur – to feel good about who they are and where they are going, and to have the resolve and confidence to overcome obstacles and find their best self… that is the best revenge.   Article originally published in

Cultural Alignment Key for Brands Aiming at Gen Z

Today’s young people tend to be highly individualized and making culturally relevant connections is non-negotiable. If you want to be noticed, followed and garner their attention, find and align with the most relevant groups within youth culture. Successful brand alignment with young people depends, in part, on your organization’s capability to make psychographic and situational context a priority. What does this mean? Many brands default to demographic, geographic and behavioral targeting as their primary filters because they are more convenient, but the reality is that relationships are built in the personal realm. Demographic targeting, such as age, gender and ethnicity, remain a starting point to help organize consumers who are more likely to be a good match with a brand. However, the ultimate goal is audience segmentation that helps us not just organize youth culture, but to understand it. Hyper-individualization is the norm Gen Z is pushing the idea of individualism, sometimes to the point of hyper-individualism. Gen Z defines itself as being more highly individualized than previous generations. This perception is important. Whether or not they truly are the most individual generation of our time is a moot point if they believe they are. It’s interesting when you consider how much exposure they have to the world via the Internet and social media, at a time when they’re developing a sense of self: they may have more options and raw materials to choose from than previous generations. Regardless of studies and statistics, to understand Gen Z’s perspective we have to recognize their self-perception as the most unique generation. A 2017 report by AwesomenessTV found that, “Growing up in a time when intersectionality is the buzzword du jour, [Gen Z] perceive identity on a spectrum — a complex, ever-evolving construction of self rather than a static set of demographic descriptors. Now we are faced with an arsenal of niche, interchangeable and hyper-specific labels …” In fact, there seems to be an infinite number of hybrid subcultures that young people can zero in on and claim as “home.” No identity is too specific or personalized; it can all be made-to-order. Being highly individualized isn’t a barrier to entry or to societal acceptance. One might easily be accepted because of their individuality, instead of being excluded for it. Today’s youth celebrate differences with less judgment or hesitation than previous generations, but it goes beyond just self-expression. Gen Z needs a more flexible identity because they have to adapt to more variety and situations in their lives. Identity is less and less conveyed by a static, stereotypical ‘persona,’ and more by a fluid, evolving, ever-changing condition. We’ve all been in situations where we bring forward a different side of our personality to blend in with others, whether that’s our parents, boss, peers or partners. This is adaptation. Gen Z will try to match themselves to their current situation just like everyone else. Yet, because they’re also at a life stage marked by transition, coming up with the right personality may be more intense, because they’re discovering and defining themselves, as opposed to toggling between more solidified personalities like adults might do. Gen Z is blending characteristics like the pieces in a kaleidoscope. A teenage male entrepreneur who enjoys knitting while he and some friends drive to Coachella is no longer seen as having an identity crisis. He’s making an identity statement. If brands want to connect, they need to understand and adapt to the way that Gen Z defines and identifies themselves. But tuning into the trends and influences that inform Gen Z’s lifestyle and consumer choices means getting out of boardroom comfort zones and into the complexity of youth experience. So, where do we start? Putting alignment into action A brand’s likelihood of building a commercially viable audience is in direct relation to that brand’s ability to identify and connect with the right spectrum of groups within youth culture. The key word here is spectrum. Relying on demographic targeting alone is like casting a net into the water and crossing your fingers. A segmentation method rooted in the lifestyles of youth culture may require more patience and work up front, but it’s far more likely to result in real cultural identification and alignment with the groups that will desire and value what that brand represents. Key stages of youth culture alignment Stage 1: Needs Analysis: Determine the extent of your targeting needs. How big, small, specific, etc. does your audience have to be for a particular offering? Stage 2: Brand and youth personality match: Identify the consumer traits and characteristics you should look for that would be compatible with your brand’s offerings. What qualities do you and your ideal audience share? Stage 3: Identify and prioritize potential subgroups: Develop a list of subgroups that share key personality traits and characteristics with your brand, and determine their alignment with commercial viability for your brand. What groups share these qualities? How deep is the connection, and how commercially viable is that group for your brand? Stage 4: Optimal youth audience definition: How do alignment and commercial viability intersect? Who’s most aligned, who is most viable, and how can you strike the most successful balance? Do you need to sacrifice a little alignment to reach a more profitable group, or will sticking to a smaller group of more aligned youth result in more long-term success? Youth culture alignment tips, takeaways Hyper-individualization is the norm: Gen Z expects unique. When developing creative strategies to reach Gen Z, remember that being highly individualized or even “weird” presents an opportunity to connect with them on their frequency. Traditional demographic targeting models are outmoded. If you really want to get tuned in with this group of individualistic young consumers, focus segmentation strategies on psychographic, lifestyle and situational context as priorities. Embrace the diversity of Gen Z. If you approach Gen Z as a homogeneous entity and fail to appeal to the multitude of segments that comprise it, you’ll be relegated to a limited view of both their world and the motivations behind their decision making….

How Small Banks Can Market to Generation Z

As small banks and credit unions strive to market more effectively to the millennial generation, the next cohort has started coming into its own as consumers. And while Generation Z — generally defined as those born between 1996 and 2010, making the oldest among them 24 — is the first truly digital-native generation in history, connecting with them takes much more than building a great mobile app. For one thing, Gen Zers tends to be more fiscally conservative than millennials, says Gregg Witt, author of “The Gen Z Frequency: How Brands Tune In and Build Credibility.” “Because many of them grew up during the Great Recession, they are more apt to care about their financial futures,” Witt says. “We find them to be much more pragmatic than the older millennials.” Generation Z Is Surprisingly Conservative Marc DeCastro, an analyst for IDC Financial Insights, agrees. For example, he points to IDC’s 2018 U.S. Consumer Banking Channel Preference Survey, which found that 55 percent of those surveyed between the ages of 18 and 24 prefer opening up a new bank account using a mobile device, laptop or a call center. This compares with 49 percent of those age 25 to 35; 55 percent of Gen Xers (those born between 1964 and 1985); and 70 percent of those over age 65. “I think bankers have to take a step back on the mobility aspect, because it may be a mistake to assume that these young people will do all their business through a mobile device,” DeCastro says. Witt and DeCastro agreed on several other important points. Here’s some advice they offer to small bankers marketing to Gen Z: Become mentors: In one important respect, Gen Z and millennials are similar: Both groups demand authentic relationships with businesses based on shared values. Witt says small banks need to take advantage of their many years in the community by seeking to build genuine relationships with young consumers. But that means doing more than sponsoring a Little League team or the high school marching band. He suggests partnering with the local schools to teach financial literacy, for example. DeCastro agrees, adding that financial literacy is not often taught at the K–12 level. He believes students would very much enjoy learning about the difference between a credit card and a debit card, for example, or to better understand what a credit union does. Tell good stories with video: Witt says anything small banks can do to use video in their marketing would appeal to Gen Z. Consider highlighting the success story of a high school or college student who started a business with a loan from a community bank, he says, or profiling those pursuing their education with money saved in a college fund they had at the bank. DeCastro says it’s important for banks to communicate that many small business owners, such as plumbers and other tradespeople, would never have gotten off the ground if not for a community bank. It underscores the role of small banks in the economic lives of communities, which is important to young consumers. Leverage the potential of chatbots: Witt’s research shows that Gen Z members are more open to chatbots than their older counterparts. They use them in gaming and on social media sites, so if the bank offers a fast response and valuable promotional offers, chatbots can leverage the bank’s brand. Witt says that bankers should expect that Gen Z will break the mold and in their own way disrupt the market. He points to social media sites such as Snapchat and Instagram, which have created new segmented markets for all kinds of products. Gen Z also values diversity, he says, adding that while the younger generation are more fiscally conservative, they don’t follow the staid, old establishment either. “Generation Z expects diversity,” Witt says. “They won’t be on board with a brand unless there’s some diversity.” Article originally published in

The Key to Gen Z Marketing

Marketers once targeted young people through television, but that doesn’t cut it for Gen Z, whose screen of choice is a smartphone, and who seek to identify with brands they not only trust but feel connected with. Developing that sense of belonging is the real key to success with this market. Gregg L. Witt, co-author of The Gen Z Frequency: How Brands Tune In and Build Credibilit,  has been named a “Top 5 Youth Marketer to Follow” by, and has worked with over 100 brands on developing strategies that resonate with youth culture. He  spoke with me about how marketing in the digital age to a young demographics requires a more integrated and connected approach. Witt identifies  five foundational truths of youth marketing: Identity Trust Relevance Possibility Experience “For research in the book  everything that worked with young people involved these, and everything that they hated about brands deviated from these,” he said.  The starting point for these principles is authenticity, something many brands are striving to project. “This is fundamentally important,” Witt said. Brands that fail to communicate and act in accordance with an authentic identity will not succeed in connecting with Gen Z. That’s the premise for achieving trust, which Witt said is “the highest barrier for every brand.” Indeed, new data from Survey Monkey reveals that trust is an issue for the overwhelming majority of all shoppers, and the online presence of a brand is a major factor in that trust, even more so among younger demographics. By capitalizing on that online communication, brands have opportunities to win trust, and even snatch a kind of victory from the jaws of failure. Witt referred to Samsung’s openness in addressing a problem with the Pebble Blue Galaxy S3. “Samsung just hit the nail on the head. It was almost heroic in handling that,” Witt said. That was appreciated by its target market, and so it earned their trust. “Once you earn that trust, you get to the magic sweet spot of relevance & leverage all the fun, cool things that make brands special and have the special spark,” he said.  This is what draws people in with a sense of belonging through possibility and experience.. Brands  that effectively tap into that also add what Witt calls an “aspirational component.” They include Nike with its “Do it”campaign and Lululemon that reaches out to its market with community pages that say, “Meet the people and explore the places that inspire us.” Witt observes, “There’s a reason why these incredibly successful companies are incredibly successful; they’re working on this stuff.” Among other brands that have proven very successful in reaching Gen Z is Carhartt Work In Progress. “They applied these principles so deeply that in some ways they defied traditional marketing principles,” Witt said, “with any copy or any ad in the beginning.”. The fact that they referred to themselves as “work in progress” with no other messaging made people outside their target market fail to understand what they were about. But for those in the know, it made sense.  The brand  tapped into the cultural subgroups of its audience by focusing on emerging artists and athletes. “They didn’t go for the biggest names,” he said. Instead they opted for lesser known people whose talents would resonate with their audience, creating opportunities to draw them in. Another brand that “completely gets youth culture” is Supreme. Witt identities its “secret sauce” as its demand buildup; the result of introducing a new product new each Thursday without letting people know how many will be produced. As a result the items not only maintain their value but can go up to as much as 100 times the original price in a resell. “There’s an entire ecosystem of reselling among Gen Z.” “But the  secret, secret sauce is the global sense of belonging,” Witt said. It is the relevance that really gets people excited. Witt says television is not the way to win over Gen Z precisely because they’re operating in a different kind of ecosystem. Even when they have a TV on, it often is just serving as background noise. What they watch is more likely something on YouTube, or Netflix, or Hulu. So to get them to engage with a brand, you need to reach them through a number of channels. Brand ambassadors are one of the ways many new brands are reaching out to Gen Z, often with no traditional ads at all. My own teen serves as an ambassador for BANGS Shoes. It’s still early days for the brand, which has 127k followers on Instagram. Its ambassadors are major contributors to the featured photos. That provides them with images that are from real people in real places rather than slick ad photos, which is just what their target market desires. With so many brands competing for the attention of Gen Z, it’s important to reach beyond just digital channels to rise above the noise and really connect with them. That entails using a variety of tools to deliver your message effectively. “You need a mix of social, digital, and, to be honest, live experiences,” Witt said. ”If you don’t create a deep cultural connection with young people, you’re  just asking Amazon to take that customer away from you.” Article originally published in

Generation Z Is Coming To Work And Their Stress Is Already High

The newest generation of professionals is entering the professional world, and their stress levels are already higher than their parents. According to research from the American Psychological Association, Generation Z—those born anywhere from 1994-1997 depending on which expert you reference—are more likely than any previous generation to report their mental health as fair or poor. Over 90% have reported experiencing at least one symptom of stress, including lack of motivation and depression. There are many issues at play that are stressing Gen Z out, including the political climate, fears regarding their safety, reports of sexual harassment and assault and ever-present issues surrounding money. But of the Gen Z adults completing the survey, 77% of them reported that work was a cause of their stress, compared to 64% of adults overall. So, why does this matter? Though they are still young and just starting to enter the working world, Gen Z makes up 26% of the overall population. That means they will make up a significant portion of professionals in the not-too-distant future. What’s stressing them out at work Work can be a place that provides an engaging, fulfilling way for people to follow their passions. Or, it can be a soul-sucking experience that leaves employees significantly more stressed out at the end of the day than when they arrived at the office. And of course, it can run the gamut of the spectrum in between. Generational expert Gregg L. Witt of MotivateInc track trends impacting Gen Z annually from a pool of over 6,000 participants. He notes the major causes of stress at work include the perception of an extremely competitive environment, long hours and tight deadlines imposed by employers, substantial time spent in front of a computer screen, and after-hours side hustles allowing for little downtime. The reality of the working world may also set in quite harshly, according to Ettore Fantin of “When Gen Z enters the workforce, they often realize it is not their true passion, see the dead end for the first time, and immediately begin to reevaluate their career path. It’s not about the salary. Things just aren’t as great when they look under the hood of their employer or industry.” The disconnect between what they expect when they get to work and the reality they find is only heightened by the profound awareness this group has of maintaining their social image. Jess Watts of ad agency RPA conducted a year-long qualitative exploration of Gen Z, finding that perception is top-of-mind. “They feel this very public awareness of their success. It’s not a personal professional journey to them – the stakes are much higher and accelerated. You have to be the best, as soon as possible, and you need others to see it and know it.” Watts also notes that the focus is on individual achievement rather than social acceptance. “In one exercise, our ethnography respondents overwhelming chose the ideal of ‘power’ over ‘belonging.’ They’re desperately seeking control and expecting success at a much younger age, which ends up being a major stressor.” What employers can do to help Is it a business’s responsibility to solve an individual’s problem with stress, particularly when it’s partially created by things that happen outside of work? Perhaps not. However, it is undeniable that stress has a profound impact on a person’s ability to contribute at their highest level, leading to lower engagement at work, less creativity and decreased productivity. So, if you want a workforce made up of mediocre employees, feel free to ignore the stress problem. But if the goal is to create a high-performing team, then creating an environment that supports everyone doing their best work simply must be a priority. The good news is that there are relatively easy ways that organizations can begin to solve the stress problem, without implementing a full-blown wellness program that less than half of employees would likely participate in. Here are some ideas: Empowerment with purpose. Gen Z wants to own things from day one. Managers can find ways to empower them in small, safe ways by empowering them with tasks to own now, as well as tasks to aspire to as part of a personal development plan that is reviewed regularly. That will allow them to see their path of growth in the organization in a highly tangible way. Understand and cultivate their passions. This is a generation that wants to change the world and has definitive ideas about how to do it. Instead of quashing this youthful enthusiasm, find a way to embrace it by showing them the impact of their daily efforts and look for ways to foster their passions, even if it’s outside of their job description. A little mentorship and cross-training can go a long way. Give them a creative outlet. Research has shown that doing a simple creative task can substantially reduce stress levels. This can be as simple as having adult coloring books in the break room. Provide mindfulness tools and training. Mindfulness at work doesn’t always mean creating a meditation program. Sometimes, it’s just about giving your team the training and tools to understand how to control their own thoughts and perspectives when things get stressful. Apps like Levelhead can also provide an easy approach to encouraging mindfulness as part of a daily routine at an enterprise level. Embrace the power of positive recognition. It can be easy to look at Gen Z’s addiction to social media with a bit of cynicism, but it’s more productive to use their desire for recognition to your advantage. If they want a good pat on the back or to be recognized in front of the group for their hard work, find ways to give it to them! And do it even if the recognition is for smaller tasks. The point is not specifically what they are working on – the point is to help them feel great about the work they’re doing, even when they are at the entry level. The reality is that most employees (of all generations) do not get enough positive recognition at work. Cultivating an environment that supports it is one…

How Brands Marketing to Gen Z Win With Gamification

  Excerpt from The Gen Z Frequency featured in Brand Strategy Insider A powerful social engagement strategy to boost engagement is to integrate elements of gamification into your marketing, social media, community and other digital brand experiences. Gamification is the term used to describe the use of game-design principles (points, levels, leader boards, social sharing, rewards) to drive community engagement and organic growth and to enhance your social reach, achieve marketing goals and build brand awareness. As a marketing strategy, gamification works because it introduces active elements of fun and competition, taking your marketing from a dull and passive experience and turning it into an inclusive activity that allows any brand enthusiast to participate. Gamification will also enable you to create opportunities for interaction that can help you build trust and create opportunities for authentic and emotional connections with your community. Gamification is now widely used across all sectors, from entertainment to banking and healthcare. For example, Penny is a personal finance app to help track spending habits, and Fitbit uses gamification to help its community reach their health goals through social validation, achievement-based objectives and other gaming mechanics. Trivia HQ, created by the founders of Vine (acquired by Twitter), utilizes many aspects of gamification to engage its community and build its brand simultaneously. What makes HQ different from other mobile games is that it re-creates the shared experience of watching a TV game show, where people shout out the answers and win actual cold hard cash, right on their mobile device. Here’s how Trivia HQ works: Every day the game goes live (3 pm and 9 pm ET), with the host asking a series of 12 trivia questions that players answer in real time. The game mechanics are simple (social validation, leaderboards and rewards). If you get the answer right, you move on to the next question. If you answer incorrectly, you’re out. At the end of the game, the winners split the cash. If nobody wins, the money rolls over to the next game until there’s a winner. The reason HQ is succeeding is that it paired gamification with a screen that’s always within reach – the smartphone – to be a conduit for a shared experience, sponsored content, and revenue. Contributed to Branding Strategy Insider by Gregg Witt and Derek Baird, excerpted from our new book The Gen Z Frequency ©2018 with permission from Kogan Page Ltd.   Article originally published in BrandingStrategy Insider

How Tillys AR Experience Drove Retail Engagement

A powerful social engagement strategy to boost interaction with youthful audiences at retail is to integrate elements of gamification into merchandising, content, social media and event-driven brand experiences. Here’s what Tilly’s is doing right on their ROCK-PAPER-SCISSORS promotion: They’ve aligned with a vendor brand, JanSport and two pop culture influencers, @shonduras and Echosmith’s @sydneysierota, who are actually into both brands (and it shows). Created a simple AR game for customers to interact in two distinct areas in-store (female and male sections) Layered in a traditional (yet effective) sweeps contest with a 20% discount for participation Driving engagement and retail traffic w/ a steady stream of relevant Instagram stories Increasing app downloads and growing their customer database. Best part? It doesn’t feel forced, it’s fun, it creates a sense of belonging and everyone wins!

7 Marketing Tips to Reach Gen Z

Embrace the Conflicts with Youth Culture   Companies all over the world face similar challenges when targeting youth culture, but what makes understanding today’s young consumers so difficult or elusive? While we were all young at some point, unless we are under the age of 21 in 2018 we are not a part of Gen Z. We can only gather second-hand intelligence, no matter how immersed we get. Gen Z is growing up in the world that we created, but they, of course, see it from a very different perspective. Some researchers have described youth culture as embodying values that are ‘in conflict with those of the adult world’ (Patil, 2014). How can adults connect authentically with a culture that is in conflict with them? There is undoubtedly a conflict of interests and priorities that need to be overcome, but there are also many unexpected similarities and shared values. Look past your assumptions about youth culture and listen to this cohort when they tell you how they experience the world. See it from their perspective; embrace the conflicts or face the consequences.   7 Marketing Tips to Reach Gen Z   FORGET WHAT YOU THOUGHT YOU KNEW: Spend more time listening and co-creating with your targeted youth audiences. BE TRANSPARENT: Make your youth marketing agenda clear and easy to follow. Respect is a two-way street and it’s no different with tweens, teens and young adults. STEP OUTSIDE OF YOUR CUBICLE: Challenge your team to approach data collection and ideation in original ways that generate authentic Gen Z insights and create opportunities for innovation. RESIST THE TEMPTATION: Gen Z is not a monolithic cohort. You’re not targeting “teen boys”, “tweens” or “college students”. The old shotgun marketing approach doesn’t work anymore, align with the cultural groups that best match your brand and products, or you are already bound for disruption. BE COPPA COMPLIANT: Keep your interactions compliant when engaging young people under 13, especially for gaming, technology and app-based brands who might unintentionally request information or track interactions that render your brand out of compliance. BE WHERE THEY ARE: Don’t forget the popular youth-focused social channels beyond mainstream platforms  YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat. Consider channels where you can be a bigger fish in a smaller pond. For example; Twitch, Discord, HouseParty, YouNow, TikTok and others. MASTER CONTENT FORMATS THAT COUNT: Get great at vertical video, live streaming, and creative use of chatbots.   For further reading on this topic check out Chapter 01 of The Gen Z Frequency: How Brands Tune In & Build Credibility

A Crash Course in Gen Z Marketing Strategy: Earn Trust

Establishing trust is absolutely critical when building consumer relationships. The process, while it might not always be easy, doesn’t need to be complicated. Trust in youth culture comes down to a simple equation: Transparency + Authenticity + Action = Credibility. By avoiding pretense or deceit and being true to core beliefs, young people will be more likely to trust in your promise, reliability, and the strength of your company. Trust: prove it. Create content that helps give young people reasons to believe that your brand will deliver what it claims. That it’s reliable, has ethical business practices and that an association will be beneficial to Gen Z by exposing ‘how it’s made’, ‘demonstrations of…’ – it’s about showing, not telling. Why should consumers within the youth culture trust your brand? How do you reinforce your relationship with people who engage in your brand? Are you transparent about your business practices? Does Gen Z view you as an ally or an authority? Do you even know?

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