OW - Gen Z

A-Gen-Z Series

Goodbye Primetime News, Hello MrBeast

Gen Zers are ghosting traditional media organizations in favor of relatable creator content, and it's not all good news

A painterly illustration of two people looking at a pair of monitors. The screens glow vibrant icy blue. We see the two people from behind; the one on the left is standing, and the one on the right is sitting. Strokes of vibrant abstract color illuminate the darker silhouettes in the background. The background is light pink and magenta.

of Gen Zers go to social media for information — slightly more than the internet and twice as much as print or digital newspapers and magazines


of Gen Z trust social media, yet it is ranked No. 2 in platform loyalty, and No. 1 in usage for information


of Gen Zers favor social media for its content delivery, often at the expense of quality and accuracy


Gen Zers trust “people like them” twice as much as mainstream news


Gen Zers are almost twice as likely as other generations to use another source to fact-check news


of Gen Zers who said they fact-check their news still believe at least one COVID-19 conspiracy theory

Key takeaways

Social media: My personalized search engine. Gen Zers are redefining how media is consumed, from uni-channel to omni-channel. They prioritize convenience and multiple points of view and expect the most important content to be available in consolidated, short form content.

Loyalty without trust: When engagement trumps accuracy. Gen Zers are extremely loyal to social media, despite having the least trust for the platform. Their high usage of social media platforms leaves them susceptible to misinformation.

Personalized, please. Gen Zers expect relatable, ultra-personalized, easily digestible, and engaging content from people who look and sound like them. They prioritize how and who presents the content, often at the expense of quality and accuracy.

Faulty firehose: Gen Z’s fact-checking-misinformation dilemma. Despite being more concerned about misinformation, and taking a more active approach toward fake news, Gen Z’s affinity for social media’s familiar faces, more entertaining content, and more gratifying engagement model over traditional media and search engines leaves them more likely to fall for disinformation.

"If the comments in videos are leaning toward ‘no, you're wrong,' I would know you're wrong. Also, on TikTok, we see multiple videos from different points of view, so that helps me [figure out what is true]. And, you can just kind of hear it from the tone of people's voices — how they say it, etcetera…it's just a feeling that helps you figure out what’s true or false."

— 20, nursing student, she/her, New York

TikTok, time for a change: Reaching Gen Z

Traditional means of reaching Gen Zers don’t work. They expect information that is consolidated, visually pleasing, relatable, and personalized. If communication is anything less, they will balk — and companies will miss out. This means companies will need to rethink the methods in which they engage consumers — not just how, but where, and with whom as well.

Social media will only get stronger as a channel. Gen Zers think the most important news is shared on social media. Lacking a social media presence will make it nearly impossible to establish a presence with this generation.

Hyper-personalized, algorithm-driven content makes it harder for businesses to reach consumers and manage disinformation. Differentiated ads are becoming the norm thanks to algorithms and preferences for personalized content. Maximizing the use of personalized research will be imperative to reach targeted Gen Z groups. In addition, businesses can’t as effectively control information being spread about them nor ensure messages are seen by right audience. So, companies will need to be more proactive in sharing authentic content through channels and individuals best equipped to reach this generation.

Not actively managing disinformation can impact a company’s reputation, bottom line, and employee morale, and create legal challenges. Gen Zers are acutely aware and quickly critical of what they see as insincere corporate attempts to relate to them, so businesses need to be proactive yet authentic. Without proactive marketing and transparency efforts, companies will be more open and susceptible to different interpretations and quick conclusions made by workers and individuals alike, leading to the spread of misinformation and (often) hyperbolized content.

A-Gen-Z Case Study

Snap’s Nifty Newsroom: Bringing Gen Z credible news content via “stories” automatically repurposed from traditional news content

In 2015, Snap (formerly Snapchat) introduced its “Discover” platform, which presents news from traditional media outlets like CNN. In 2022, Snap introduced the “Dynamic Stories” feature, which uses publishers' RSS feeds to automatically create stories from news publishers’ online content. This update helps repurpose and reshape traditional content into a more Gen Z-friendly form on Snap Stories, thereby reducing the extra work previously needed by publishers to create Snap-specific content.

The Snap Stories are enjoying major success: Today more than 70% of Gen Zers on Snap watch stories, including news stories found in the Discover tab.

One way Snap helps to reduce the effects of misinformation is to allow only verified publishers and creators to appear on the Discover tab. This new feature allows publishers to easily create and distribute Gen Z-friendly content, while providing Gen Zers with quicker access to credible sources in their preferred format and location.