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Study reveals Generation Z flocks away from inauthentic social media

A new study from advertising firm Hill Holliday’s research branch Origin reveals that Generation Z, those born in the mid 1990s and early 2000s, are flocking away from social media in droves.

While most Gen Z’ers are fully intrenched in the social world, which should come as little surprise, a sizable number, 34 percent, have sworn off social media as a whole and 64 percent are taking a break from social platforms.

Further, in the survey of more than 1,000 18 to 24-year-old Americans, 41 percent claimed they felt anxious, sad, or depressed by social media like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.


Lesley Bielby, chief strategy officer at Hill Holliday, spoke about the results of the survey, which may be shocking to some brands that have used social media to reach Gen Z.

“Firstly, most Gen Z’ers are more likely to turn down or temporarily pause some social media sites rather than abandoning them completely, so there’s no need to panic. But in the light of this, there is definitely a need to think differently about how brands can use social media. While most people in our study felt that the good outweighed the bad, they are more likely to turn down or turn off sites and content that feed their insecurities.”


Bielby went on to say that this survey shouldn’t stop brands from using social media, in fact the results of the study prove that Gen Z’ers are still all over social platforms, but companies need to find a way to help Gen Z use social media positively:

“The study actually suggests that for the most part, social platforms are still relevant and worthy of investment. But marketers and advertisers need to refocus on helping Gen Z’ers use social media for good, instead of amplifying any negative impact on young adults, who are in one of the most vulnerable developmental stages of their lives.”

Bielby went further to describe how Gen Z resents “institutions and corporations,” thus social responsibility and authenticity are key to connecting to Gen Z on social media.

“We have to remember that this is a cohort that doesn’t trust institutions and that has little faith in corporations. They align with brands they believe in and will call foul of those that don’t demonstrate strong values and ethics. Brands need to invest in using social sites responsibly, to focus on amplifying brand messages that are relevant, and that do good.”


Ultimately, just because a social media platform exists doesn’t mean that a brand needs to fill it with inauthentic content. Companies would be best served using a smaller selection of social with more impactful content as opposed to flooding all social channels with as much stuff as possible:

“Just because a social platform exists doesn’t mean that your brand has to fill it with content. Gen Z’ers, who are supposed to be social natives, are now at worst, overwhelmed by the amount of sites and content and the amount of mind-space and maintenance that too much social engagement can entail. To that end, only the most relevant and respectful social platforms will thrive.”

While these results don’t signal any sort of apocalypse for social media, they do reveal a new way of thinking for brands and how they use social platforms to connect to Generation Z. Impactful and authentic content over volume always.