The GenZ Influencer and Peer-to-Peer Marketing

Michael K. Spencer
Apr 4, 2018 · 4 min read
Angelababy — nickname for Yang Yin, b. 1989

A lot has been made of late about GenZ influencers and their incredible reach and entrepreneurship tendencies via social media. This has been occuring via live-video in China for quite some time.

According to Nielsen, 90 percent of consumers trust peer recommendations while only 33 percent trust ads.

Musical.ly is often cited as the amazing way the top influencers there are able to reach millions of teens around the world, what they neglect to mention is the company is based in China and was acquired by Bytedance recently.

GenZ are Video Natives

In the west, many vloggers (video bloggers) are GenZ who appear to be more native to creating and consuming mobile video content and typically use YouTube a lot more (incidentally Facebook a lot less). GenZ will typically be creating Instagram stories on a regular basis, which is basically a form of micro video. GenZ and young Millennial attention spans have also given rise to the popularity of GIFs in recent years.

GenZ are all about inclusion and celebrating social media content that go viral in ways older cohorts have some trouble understanding. James Charles was born in 1999, and is the first male CoverGirl spokeperson, with 3.5 million YouTube subscribers we can understand why.

GenZ are Creators Not just Consumers

It’s not that GenZ are somehow even more attuned to social media than younger Millennials were, it’s that their niche apps such as Snapchat, Instagram, musical.ly have matured along with live-streaming and vlogging enterting the mainstream. With 5G coming, this will be even more the case! GenZ are embracing video creation and sharing GIFs like older Millennials took to visual storytelling as social media moves beyond older norms.

We’ve moved beyond Vine, beyond what we thought Teen influencers would do and accomplish in a few short months or a few years. Social media and thus the attention economy have basically eclipsed links and written content, they are no longer optimized for mobile content.

GenZ Apps are Reaching Maturity

The internet is now video, memes, GIFs and the act of going viral and sharing experiences. This cannot be captured in a static image, in a blog, or in an article. That’s now how the digital web moves any more, in speed or format.

Many brands pour $$$ into legacy advertising without tapping into the influencers and leaders of these new trends. There are probably thousands of Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and other peer-to-peer influencers.

GenZ Influencers Grow Viral Quickly

As algorithms hack attention and humans, young people are hacking the attention economy in their own ways. How musical.ly influencers can tap into and promote younger emerging musical artists or how a GenZ influencer on YouTube can be monetzied is still pretty limited to what is happening in China with a larger 90s something consumer base and live-streaming distribution channels that are more mature.

The Chinese 90-something is more mobile-native than a young person in the West, and will be using WeChat and other popular apps in China more than a Western teenager likely spends on Instagram and Snapchat combined. On channels such as Twitch or Musical.ly their audiences can pay and tip creators with real $. This is important to note, since GenZ (unlike Millennials) aren’t just incentived by vanity metrics, but by actual monetary value and rewards. This is the best way to make sure the channels are customer and community-centric and audience driven.

The way we have to think about influencers need to change, not just by what they are doing in the West, but by how China is leading how they influence their peer groups. That musical.ly was made in China, and not bought by Facebook but acquired by Toutiao, is very telling of the future of GenZ and the world they will grow up in.

It doesn’t matter if Facebook has 2 Billion users, if GenZ isn’t using it. Whereas WeChat in China is still one of the most used apps by young people. In China you can have a dating app that pivots to a live-streaming app as with Momo (陌陌). In China, bike-sharing apps such as Ofo and Mobike rival their Uber (DiDi) in usefulness. It’s 900 million consumers and their preferences signaling a much more competitive attention economy than we have in North America.

We can safety expect more viral apps for young people and GenZ such as musical.ly to come out of China and how those influeners operate could change the future of social media forever.

Michael K. Spencer

Written by

Blockchain Mark Consultant, tech Futurist, prolific writer. LinkedIn: michaelkspencer