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5 Myths Marketers Got Wrong About Gen Z, According to Data & Our Gen Z Intern

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5 Myths Marketers Got Wrong About Gen Z, According to Data & Our Gen Z Intern

To be honest, Gen Z can feel like foreign territory to all. Even myself, born in 2001. Although I’m smack in the middle of the TikTok, middle-part wearing generation, I don’t always fully understand the trends we start, stop, or totally cancel.

Even though I’m no genius when it comes to how to market to our generation, I can tell you it’s pretty obvious when marketers try too hard to sell to us. It often feels too forced and fake.

That’s why I’m here to help! Let me debunk a few myths and predictions marketers might have made about our wild generation so that you can find the right ways to grab our attention and keep us engaged. Let’s dive right into some of those incorrect thoughts, debunk them with data from our State of Consumer Trends Survey, and discuss tips for what you can do instead.

5 Gen Z Myths, Debunked

1. “Gen Z is obsessed with fast fashion.”

It’s easy to see SHEIN or Princess Polly hauls on TikTok or Instagram and think these represent our generation. Of course, these online retailers do have a grasp on our generation to some extent, but what grabs our attention are retail resale sites. For example, 90% of Depop’s users are younger than 26.

Today, Gen Zers are purchasing this apparel, but in a much less harmful way, being that resale clothing is second-hand.

Instead of getting caught up in cheap prices and deals, Gen Z, more than any other generation, considers the brand’s ethics and its stance on social issues. You don’t just need to take my word for it. we surveyed over 100 Gen Zers and found that how a brand approaches social responsibility has a real impact on Gen Z purchase decisions.

does gen z think companies should take a stance on social issues

And, when we asked whether companies should take a stance on social issues, 50% of Gen Z said they should. As a marketer, this means that, if you haven’t already, you need to prioritize this for Gen Z and even younger millennial audiences.

I also urge you not to think of social issues as a broad term that is often thrown around without any substance to back it up. Instead, break it down into specific issues that you can actually fight with tangible results. And, just to help you out even more, here is where to start:

When we asked Gen Zers who want companies to take a stance on which issues are most important to them, racial justice was by far the top issue (69%), followed by LGBTQ+ rights (50%), gender inequality (46%), and climate change (42%).

2. “Data privacy and security are irrelevant for Gen Z.”

I get why many people believe this one. Gen Z is known for being glued to their phones, which obviously comes with the risk of unsecured and unrestricted data.

Furthermore, we are the TikTok generation, and – as many of us know — TikTok has had its share of privacy concerns. And yes, we may come across as irresponsible at times, especially when it comes to social media (the milk crate challenge was not the best idea); but don’t underestimate us.

As the first generation born into a technology-based world, we’ve seen the realities of a digital space more than any other generation, so data security and safety are naturally top of mind.

Gen z is more likely to purchase from brands that do these things.

As you can see in the graph above, Gen Z purchase decisions are strongly influenced by whether or not they can trust a company with their data (as it is the second highest ranked consideration before purchase, at 83%).

The data above means that, as a marketer, you need to convey data privacy to our generation and can’t just assume we don’t care about these criteria. Assure us that we aren’t being scammed or exploited. We may not always prioritize it over experience and entertainment (as seen with our usage of TikTok), but don’t believe that you can do anything with our data, and we won’t mind.

3. “TikTok is The Best Way to Reach Gen Z”

TikTok is a great space for Gen Z; it offers a genuine feel to the content that no other app provides. This style is quite attractive for some of our shorter attention spans and busy schedules. In fact, TikTok is the app Gen Z uses most often. Despite this, surprisingly (or not), it’s not our favorite social media platform.

When we asked Gen Z their favorite social media app, Instagram and YouTube easily took the cake, with TikTok placing third, as seen in the graph below.

Gen z's favorite social platform

From your perspective as a marketer, this means that even though a significant effort should still definitely be made to generate TikTok content, don’t forget about our trusty old friend Instagram – even for Gen Z.

There are many reasons why Gen Z shies away from directly buying on TikTok. These include the concern for data privacy previously mentioned and just wanting to use that space for the sake of connection and entertainment rather than advertisements and purchasing.

So, If you plan to sell directly through social media, Instagram definitely should be your go-to (as 28% of Gen Z saying they bought something directly in a social media app in the past three months).

HubSpot’s recent Instagram Marketing Report goes into more detail on why the app presents such an opportunity for social marketing and selling, so don’t lose sight of it!

4. “Put a product in front of Gen Z, and they’ll buy it.”

Even though we do gravitate towards TikTok-style content, that doesn’t mean we’re receptive to just any type of short-form videos, including those that market products.

Before making a purchase via social media, we need to be made to feel like we found the product on our own. We don’t want to feel forced into any decision, especially when it comes from a clear advertisement that we can’t relate to.

To persuade Gen Z, brands must prioritize making entertaining content that feels authentic to grab our attention. Then, once they have our genuine interest, they can more easily slip in their product rather, than getting yet another eye roll from us.

how gen z discovers new products

As this graph above shows, the top way we prefer to discover a new product is through TikTok, Reel, or other short-form video formats, where the product is shown but not imposed on us. In a world where we are often made to feel powerless, we strongly value a sense of autonomy and agency– help us feel empowered through your actions.

5. “Word of mouth is a great way to reach Gen Z.”

Yeah, I know this may seem contradictory as we really like to talk but hear me out. As just outlined, Gen Z is stressed: we feel out of control, doomed, and like the weight of the world lies on our shoulders.

With that comes a unique sense of camaraderie and connection among us. As a result, Gen Zs trust other Gen Zs as they are also going through the same shared emotions. And, what better way to unify than via social media?

We have turned social media and online communities into our modern-day version of word of mouth. Therefore, we even trust influencers’ recommendations more than those from our friends and family.

top Gen Z channels

This graph above helps emphasize that your marketing focus should be on connecting with Gen Z in the spaces we feel comfortable: social media. Sorry, Mom and Dad, but you don’t have much influence over us anymore.  

More Resources for Marketing to Your Target Audience

Now that we’ve explored and debunk some of the biggest Gen Z myths and predictions, you might be wanting to learn even more about the generation and how they shop. Here’s a quick list of more data-driven resources that we hope you enjoy:

And for a detailed deep dive into all of our consumer trends data survey (including insights not on the blog), download the free report below.

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Skills to Look for in a Freelance Software Developer

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Skills to Look for in a Freelance Software Developer

According to Statista, the number of software developers around the globe is expected to increase to 28.7 million by 2024.

Freelance software developers benefit companies because of the ease and speed with which they can be onboarded and used as project-specific resources. This blog will answer the most asked concerns about using contract services.

Benefits of Hiring Freelance Software Developers

When hiring a freelancer, your first expectation is impeccable skills and expertise, followed closely by cost savings, or vice versa. Here are the most popular reasons why companies choose to hire freelance talent.

Cost-efficiency

Full-time employees cost an organisation a salary, as well as added investments in training, equipment, perks, overheads of utilities and rented space, and benefits such as healthcare and social security.

Freelancers work remotely using personal resources; businesses reduce investments without losing quality.

Reduced Risk

Businesses reduce financial risk by working with freelancers on an hourly, monthly, or project basis. Setting a clearly worded contract that the freelance software developer agrees to and signs, mitigates financial risk and clearly stipulates ownership of intellectual property.

Expertise

Freelancers with niche expertise such as software development company in London, provide companies with the best talents for their projects. Hiring freelancers for different projects allows businesses to match the varying demands of each project, streamlines workflows and ensures productivity.

Global Talent

Businesses choose professional freelancers expecting them to complete any given task with minimum input from the organization. You can access talent from across the globe on platforms such as UpWork, People Per Hour, Fiverr, and Toptal, amongst others. Client reviews on such portals help in assessing proficiency and expertise.

Work Quality

A freelancer is as good as her or his portfolio. Successful freelancers achieve credibility by building long-term relationships and providing consistent quality. Freelancer work depends on referrals and good reviews, hence a potential contract employee’s work portfolio, and reviews showcase their abilities.

Skills of A High-Quality Freelance Software Developer

The first criterion for hiring a developer for your project is knowing what skill sets are needed. List your project specifications to customise your search and determine the expertise required for the project. Freelance developers may work on web development (front-end, back-end, or full-stack developers) or mobile application development.

Front-end freelance developers

Front-end software developers design websites and web applications and manage the graphical interface of websites. They use HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and technologies like Foundation, AngularJS, Bootstrap, Backbone, DOM, and EmberJS to create layouts and graphics.

Back-end freelance developers

Back-end developers handle server-side processes such as website security, speed, databases, servers, application logic, and APIs. Back-end developers are typically skilled in Java, Python, and PHP, as well as SQL, Git, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Full-stack freelance developers

Full-stack freelance developers handle both the front and back ends of the website. They are responsible for everything from project planning to website coding. Front-end frameworks include HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and backends employ NodeJS, ExpressJS, Django, Flask, and C++. Full stack programmers manage database systems (such as SQL SERVER, MySQL, PostgreSQL, MongoDB, and Oracle Database), version control, and web hosting.

Mobile app developers

Mobile app developers develop, create, and test mobile applications for iOS and Android operating systems. Mobile app developers have programming language skills such as NodeJS, PHP, Python, or Ruby on Rails. They must also be proficient in back-end frameworks, database management and security, and hardware interaction. They need expertise in UI/UX design, security, and the Internet of things (IoT) for mobile devices.

How to Locate the Best Freelancers  Online

Talent portals such as Upwork, People Per Hour, and Fiverr showcase many talented freelance software developers. Here are steps on how to hire talent from an online opportunity marketplace.

Set a Hiring Budget

Look for similar job postings to learn what are the current hourly rates for the work you require. Define a reasonable budget. Beware that a freelance software developer may have higher hourly rates than regular employees.  

Clearly Define Project Requirements

Freelancers can be effective resources when you provide clear details about your project requirements. Be sure to mention the following

  • Allocated Budget
  • Payment terms
  • Project start and end dates
  • Clear job descriptions
  • Project expectations

Shortlist and Assess Freelance Software Developers

Top software developers typically work harder and achieve results because client reviews are essential to their ongoing success. The details you post make it easier for them to determine if they fit your requirements. Once you begin receiving qualified responses, choose according to their ratings and reviews, your interview process, and any sample project to build software and check their skills.

Six Factors to Consider when Hiring Freelance Sofware Developers

Hiring a freelancer revolves around their technical skills, certifications and education, attitude towards work, and ability to deliver results. Here are some crucial pointers to help you find the most appropriate fit for your project.

Technical Expertise

Freelancers must be able to handle the technical requirements of the project. They should be well-versed in software stacks, coding, development and task management software, version control tools, and deployment processes. Freelance software developers may charge more for specific technical abilities such as mobile app development, web development, or project rescues.

Experience

Freelancers who have worked on similar projects will have come across pain points and solutions. Any relevant experience enhances their expertise for your project and boosts their ability to strategise toward productive outcomes. Note that a freelancer’s experience typically increases their pay rate.

Cost

Experience and expertise increase a freelancer’s worth, but their services must provide value for your money. Knowing current hourly or project rates ensures that you are connecting with the right candidates. Freelancers that accept less payment may be new to the market and want to create a client base. Or, are choosing to supplement their income with multiple projects, which may reduce their work quality.

Professionalism

Education and certifications improve a freelancer’s pay scale, but they do not signal a freelancer’s abilities. The easiest way to gauge work ethic is from social proof such as client endorsements and their portfolio. A professional freelance software developer will openly share these details, with their client’s approval, of course.

Reliability

A reliable freelancer will have a long-standing client base, developed by consistent efforts and proven results. The more repeat customers a freelancer has, the better the chances of them being dependable. The following actions demonstrate the integrity of any freelance work and can be testified by customer reviews.

  • Following instructions
  • Regular updates
  • Quickly responding to queries
  • Willingly accepting critique
  • Meeting deadlines consistently

Location

One of the best features of acquiring freelance talent is access to global resources. Ensure that your communication skills match. Also, check that the culture and holidays in the freelancer’s location do not conflict with project development. Location can also affect fees, where freelancers in the USA charge the highest as compared to their Asian counterparts.

Conclusion

Finding and hiring the right freelance software developers is easy when you have the necessary checklists in place. Software development work is complex, make sure you are vetting your candidates carefully to get the best fit for your project. Good luck!

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State of Content Marketing in 2023

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State of Content Marketing in 2023

I just pressed send on the manuscript for my book to be released in September. It’s called Content Marketing Strategy (snappy, eh?), and Kogan Page will publish it.

Last week, marketing professor Philip Kotler wrote the foreword. I won’t spoil it, but he mentioned the need for a strategic approach to owned media.

He writes, “(T)he company doesn’t carry an account of showing these marketing assets and their value. As a result, the company cannot show the CEO and company board members a return on owned assets or content.”

Luckily, my upcoming book shows exactly how to do that. Funny how that works out.

In any event, all this struck me that now is an opportune time to look at where the beloved practice of content marketing stands today.

First, let’s go back to 1999 when Kotler published Kotler On Marketing, one of his more than 70 books. The latter 1990s – a time of tumultuous change – fueled most of the thinking for the book. But he knew that it was merely the beginning.

Kotler concluded the book with a section called “Transformational Marketing.”  In the next decade, he wrote, “marketing will be re-engineered from A to Z. Marketing will need to rethink fundamentally the processes by which they identify, communicate, and deliver customer value.”

Well, it’s taken over two decades, but it’s finally happening.

Consumers have changed, but marketing operations are just starting to

In case you didn’t notice, almost every marketing conference these days starts with the same four or five requisite slides:

  • Digital technologies, such as search and social media, empower consumers today.
  • Consumers research, engage, buy, and stay loyal to brands in ways that have fundamentally changed.
  • First-party data and privacy are of the utmost importance.
  • Artificial intelligence begins to threaten the idea of the usefulness of search and pressure companies to deliver better and more personalized experiences.

You get it. Consumer expectations in the age of the social, mobile, and AI-driven web are different than they were.

However, the continuing challenge in 2023 is that content and/or marketing operations in enterprise companies are only beginning to evolve. Most marketing departments have remained as they were when Kotler wrote his book — they still work from mid- to late-20th century hierarchies, strategies, and processes.

Most marketing departments still work with mid- to late-20th-century hierarchies, strategies, and processes, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Content marketing isn’t new, but a content marketing strategy is

For hundreds of years, businesses have used content to affect some kind of profitable outcome. But the reality is this: Whether it was John Deere’s The Furrow from the 1800s, Michelin’s guide to car maintenance in the early 1900s, or even Hasbro’s GI-Joe partnership with Marvel in the 1980s, content was not — and is not for the most part now — a scalable, repeatable practice within the function of marketing. In short, companies almost always treat content marketing as a project, not a process.

That fundamental change will finally take hold in 2023. It could happen because of the digital disruption and ease by which you can now publish and distribute content to aggregate your own audiences. It could happen through the natural evolution that the ultimate outcome – more than the marketing – matters more.

As we roll through 2023 and beyond, content — and the exponentially increasing quantities of it produced by every organization — deeply affects not just your marketing strategy, but your business strategy. Content in marketing is now bigger than simply content marketing, and it should be dealt with as a component of that business strategy throughout the enterprise.

#Content in marketing is bigger than #ContentMarketing. Treat it as a component of the business strategy, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

In 2023, the No. 1 focus of my consulting and advisory practice these days: help companies transform content into a repeatable, scalable, and measurable function that drives value through a multi-channel strategy. It’s bigger than publishing a blog, creating a lead-generating resource center, or sending an email newsletter. Today’s content marketing team is being absorbed into marketing because marketing and its various operations are fundamentally transforming into a content-producing machine.

It is not good enough to produce content “like a media company would.” The goal must be to operate as a media company does. Your job is not to change content to fit new marketing goals. Rather, your job in 2023 is to change marketing to fit the new business content goals.

Your job in 2023 is to change #marketing to fit the new business #content goals, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

The unaware builds a case for the aware

The term “content marketing” continues to evolve. Even today, I run across those who still call it “brand publishing,” “custom content,” or “inbound marketing.”

My take matches with what Kotler described in 1999. I always thought the term “content marketing” would become part of “marketing” more broadly. In 2023, that happened. So, returning to the lexiconic debates of 2013, 2014, or 2015 doesn’t seem terribly productive. Content marketing is just good marketing, and marketing is just good content marketing.

That said, two kinds of companies do well at the broader view of content marketing. Some of them, such as Cleveland Clinic, Red Bull, Arrow Electronics, HubSpot, and REI, have purposely devised content marketing strategies as differentiating approaches to their marketing. They are succeeding.

Others, like Amazon, Microsoft, JPMorgan Chase, and Peloton, backed into a smart content marketing strategy. But executives at those companies probably don’t recognize it as such. If asked (and some have been), they would say acquiring or launching a media company operation was just a smart business strategy to diversify their ability to reach their consumers consistently.

They’re right, of course. Many have yet to read books about content marketing, been influenced by the Content Marketing Institute, or even recognize content marketing as a separate approach (as far as I know). And they are also succeeding.

Consider this proof: As I write this article, six companies have a market capitalization of more than $1 trillion. Four of the six wholly or partially use the business model of media creation to further marketing and business strategies. Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, and Amazon are all, in part, media companies that also sell products and services.

Why would you not avail yourself of that same model?

The future looks cloudy and bright

As for the overall state of enterprise content marketing, it’s in transition, as all marketing is. As a focused project-based approach, working in ad-hoc ways across a business, content marketing appears to have proven its worth. Hundreds of entries every year to the Content Marketing Awards feature myriad case studies using content marketing techniques in strategic ways to profitably affect business results.

And yet, it remains to be seen whether you can make content marketing a scalable, repeatable, measurable function within marketing.

As to what the discipline’s future holds? At last year’s Content Marketing World, one of my favorite events, the Executive Forum gathered senior leaders from brands succeeding with content marketing. As we talked about the future, one participant said: “The only certainty is change. I can’t tell you where or when, but I do know there will be change, and this is the principle we build on now.”

As for my take, Kotler’s idea of transforming the marketing function seems to have gotten lost along the digital road traveled by marketers. In so many cases, marketing – and especially content – remains just an on-demand service function within the business. Its sole job is to produce ever more voluminous amounts of content that describe the value of the brand (or its products or services) so that sales can sell more efficiently, customer support can serve more effectively, and all manner of customer interfaces are more beneficial to both sides.

However, and maybe because I need to rationalize now that my book is finished, I passionately believe it’s finally time for marketing to reclaim its ability to create value — not just reflect it in the polished shine of your traditional products and services.

Almost 27 years ago today, Microsoft founder Bill Gates wrote an essay called Content is King. In it, he said that “(C)ontent is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting.”

It certainly was one of his more prescient moments. Nearly three decades later, his words have proven true. The essay title has become the rallying cry for thousands and thousands of entrepreneurs who now make their living on creating, managing, optimizing, and measuring content on the internet. (A Google search for “content is king” nets more than 1.7 million results.)

But it’s the last line of his essay that I find the most visionary: “(T)hose who succeed will propel the Internet forward as a marketplace of ideas, experiences, and products – a marketplace of content.”

That’s what content marketing is for me in 2023. It’s just marketing – optimizing the value of ideas, experiences, and products in a marketplace of content.

Time to get to work.

It’s your story. Tell it well.

Get Robert’s take on content marketing industry news in just five minutes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=videoseries

Watch previous episodes or read the lightly edited transcripts.

Subscribe to workday or weekly CMI emails to get Rose-Colored Glasses in your inbox each week. 

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT:

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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27 Best About Us and About Me Page Examples [+Templates]

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Your about page summarizes your history, values, and mission — all in one place. That’s a tall order for just a few paragraphs. If you’re feeling stuck, turn to these about-page examples for inspiration. 

about us page example: laptop held in palm of hand

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