How to Attract Generation Z Brand Ambassadors

After recently touring for a group of venture company representatives, I realized that most brands have no clue how to attract Generation Z ambassadors. Gen Zers only recently started entering the workforce, and marketers underestimate their completely different skill sets, life experiences, and values. But connecting with Gen Z is the secret to marketing life in today’s landscape.

Most Millennials remember when Instagram and Facebook blew up, so they recognize that digitization and social media changed the game dramatically. But Gen Zers never knew anything else. They were born into the digitized world, relying on computers and social media as an essential resource.

While marketers consider social media a shiny new thing, Gen Zers consider it part of their identities. In fact, 42 percent admit that social media “has a direct impact on their self-image,” according to research from the Center for Generational Kinetics.

Marketing copy that’s written by marketers based on their own skill sets often goes right over Gen Zers’ heads because they can’t relate. Their skills revolve more around communicating ideas quickly, testing video and social content, receiving and absorbing feedback on social media, and working across multiple screens simultaneously.

Because their skills were forged in a much different environment, Gen Zers also have different values and expectations in their work. To attract them to your brand, you have to be flexible enough to understand these values and learn how to meet these expectations.

Think Like a Gen Zer

Marketers know that to reach any group of people, they have to craft a message that resonates with them. The same is true for attracting Gen Zers to be your brand’s ambassadors.

Gen Zers approach almost everything in life — but especially work — differently from Millennials. Gen Zers grew up with transaction-based on-demand opportunities as the norm. Platforms like Uber, Instacart, Fiverr, and TaskRabbit gave them plenty of random ways to generate short-term cash for 10 to 30 minutes of work.

This has created a unique generational skill set. The ability to communicate a message, build a following, and monetize that following is becoming as common for today’s young people as flipping burgers in high school was for their predecessors. That skill, along with the different values that come with it, should be as highly respected as it is sought-after.

The New Meaning of Meaningful Work

While their parents sought most to find stable, fulfilling careers, the younger generation craves to be part of something more. They want memorable experiences, support from their friends and followers, personal development, and real-world rewards.

To court Gen Z ambassadors, take them out to the coolest new café in town instead of meeting them in the office. Rather than tour your company’s warehouse, tour the brewery down the street. Gen Zers share all their experiences online, so choose a memorable one.

Remember that experience also needs to match the ambassador’s message and target audience. If the content isn’t validated by friends and followers, ambassadors will stop sharing it. There’s nothing worse than a post that doesn’t even get 11 likes, after all.

Aside from increased validation, Gen Zers also view their social media presences as job experience. For better or worse, training, webinars, and access to other members are critical for their personal development. Their rewards should also match this shift, as Gen Zers most often seek real-world rewards as a status symbol.

Such rewards don’t have to be elaborate; they just have to provide a new experience. Imagine a top performer posting about the $150 gift card she’s using to take her significant other out to dinner at a high-end restaurant — that would be a huge win for everyone.

3 Ways to Appeal to Gen Z Ambassadors

With these differences in mind, it becomes clearer why so many companies have trouble attracting brand ambassadors from Generation Z. If your brand needs to change its approach to attracting ambassadors, start with these three steps:

1. Discuss your message with Gen Zers.

The best way to step into Gen Zers’ shoes is to actually speak with them. Vet your messaging and marketing plans through Generation Z stakeholders. Run it by 10 of them to make sure you’re not missing the mark. Interview your friend’s kids or neighbor’s kids, if you have to. Having this discussion is the most important task — don’t move forward without checking the box.

2. Collect feedback.

Continue the discussion by gathering feedback from your team, and get plenty of it. You can use tools like Typeform to perform quick surveys on the fly or make it a regular focus for each month or quarter. You’ll need consistent feedback to make adjustments in order to ensure that your messaging stays on point and to keep your ambassadors continuously satisfied.

3. Stay flexible.

Finally, be willing to hear and accept that feedback. Once you start rolling out new plans and strategies, you’re delving into new territory, so it’s OK to change rewards and incentives according to feedback. However, know your audience and who’s providing the feedback so that you don’t make decisions by the opinions of just one or two people.

Most brands find it challenging to attract Generation Z ambassadors because they’re still using tactics developed for Millennials. It’s a different world, and the new generation is a different breed of employee. As with all generations, though, you just need to understand and meet their expectations to recruit them into the fold.