Attention parents! Your kids are not on Facebook.

A lot has been written recently about Generation Z, the post-millennial generation raised with multiple screens and egalitarian expectations. As the first wave of Gen Z enters into college and the workforce, they are showing preferences and proclivities that significantly differentiate them from previous generations.

Their attitudes toward social media and technology drive a lot of these differences.

Mom can find me on Facebook, friends can find me on Tumblr

Last month Garry Tan and market research company Survata  did a survey of the social proclivities of 13-25 year-olds. What they found was that the 13-18 year olds spent more time on social media than 19-25 year-olds. The second most popular social network for the entire Gen Z cohort was Facebook. The most popular social network was (wait for it…..) Tumblr.  The difference was even more pronounced in the younger population.

In Pew’s most recent survey, 6% of surveyed adults used Tumblr and 67% used Facebook.  There is a seismic shift in the social preferences for these users. Also consider Gen Z expert Kathy Savitt’s description of Facebook’s diminished value for Gen Z because their entire family is there. It could be that Gen Z is on Facebook, but possibly not as integrated as previous generations.

Gen Z has a vastly different perspective

Forrester’s Tracy Stokes describes some further differentiation of Gen Z on her blog. She explains that Gen Z will consume more online than offline media. They have an average of 1.5 Internet connected devices.  They prefer to be partnered with than marketed to.  She says they are brand loyal.

Despite this loyalty, Savitt describes Gen Z as a group that isn’t store loyal.  They are accustomed to being able to purchase individual items along the internet’s long tail, so they would be much less likely to make all of their purchases at Abercrombie and Fitch or The Gap than previous generations.

I don’t know how to reconcile how Gen Z’s behaviors and preferences diverge from current norms. But it’s becoming increasingly evident that there is a huge change coming, and marketers might want to loosen their grips on their preconceived notions. Gen Z is a entirely different animal.

What do you think?  What will the impact of Gen Z be on social media, marketing and selling for the future?


Illustration by User:ZyMOS [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Jim Dougherty

Jim Dougherty

Writer and chief of miscellany at
I'm the guy that wrote the article you just read. Sorry for the typos.
  • Sociallyfein

    Thank you for the great blog! After reading this, I honestly have to say that I asked my 13 year old if she used Tumblr, and she said, “How do you know about Tumblr?” I replied, “Umm, it’s my job to know and use social tools, honey.” Then, of course (wait for it…) she said it;(oh yes she did!) the unthinkable, “Mom, stop trying to be cool. Just stick to what you do best, playing on Facebook.” So, there you have it. Thanx Gen Z!

    • jimdougherty

      Thanks for your affirmation! I don’t how I missed your comment, but not am even more apprehensive about my kids becoming teenagers! I’m not sure I’m equipped for it! 😀