Gen Z, born roughly between 1997 and 2012, possesses an estimated $150 billion in collective buying power. They have now surpassed millennials as the largest generation, and there are many characteristics that make them unique.

First, they grew up with the internet and are considered digital natives. For many, social media has been around for half their lives, and they are very adept at using technology. Second, even moreso than millennials, Gen Z cares about world issues and shows loyalty to brands that stand for a cause. Third, Gen Z is uninhibited when it comes to talking about topics other generations might deem taboo, and want the brands and publishers they follow to tackle them head-on.

Brands and publishers that can capture the attention of this increasingly influential generation early will see more long-term engagement and lifetime loyalty. And given that Gen Z is more vocal about current events, social causes, and controversial topics, attracting them to your site via its comments section can increase returning visitor traffic and time on site. Here are three things to consider when creating content for, and guiding conversation with, Gen Z.

Be funny

Gen Z likes it when brands and publishers get weird. It’s not surprising—this is the meme generation after all. They like dark and absurd humor, very apt for a generation that has already been through two economic recessions and a pandemic. They also very much love Pete Davidson

Being serious has its time and place, but anything that gets too real too quick is likely to turn off Gen Z. Crafting and curating chuckle-worthy content, even embedding memes, UCG and ridiculous videos, can help draw in these young users. Keeping your comments section lighthearted by using moderation tactics will also go a long way towards reeling in this generation. 

Be authentic 

Gen Zers want genuine communications. For instance, 82% say they trust a company more if it uses pictures of real people instead of models. But this also means Gen Z can spot a fake from a mile away. Brands need to really be, well, on-brand to engage this generation. If your content is, say, usually more technical or authoritative and you suddenly try to play funny, Gen Zers will get turned off quickly and permanently. 

A better tactic is to proudly share what your company does in fact stand for and weave that into your content, from its tone to the advertising you allow on your site. This also means you can’t allow anything in your comments section to disparage your site’s brand. If you promote yourself as a site that cares about racial equity but you allow racist comments to pepper your comments section, you will never secure followership amongst Gen Z. So make sure to swiftly shut down nefarious and spammy users and comments. 

Be socially aware 

Sixty-six percent of Gen Z consumers say a brand tied to a social cause or platform has a positive impact on how they view the brand, while 58% say this boosts the likelihood they will make a purchase. However, only 12% have “top of mind” association between specific brands and social causes. Not only does getting this right tie back to the previous point about authenticity, but it also means infusing more messaging around these causes into your content. It’s not enough to just share content around key events like International Women’s Day or Pride Month. 

A couple of thoughts on how to do this. First, you can make sure to surface content about social issues by using a recommendations engine that drives users to discussions with relevant, recent activity. Second, you can give your most active and engaging community members special badges, either automatically or manually, including customizable ones like a Pride Badge from The Avocado.

Gen Z can either be a content creator’s best friend or worst enemy. By keeping these three tips in mind, you’ll attract high-value users to your site and keep coming back for more.