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    Caught in the funnel: How to make social media Gen Z’s one-stop-shop

    Social media in recent years has presented itself as a major selling point to brands looking to create a more authentic connection with followers, but the extra draw continues to be the potential of social commerce integrations to streamline the customer journey and create new revenue streams. And while the clarity of that potential largely remains hazy, apps like TikTok are placing bets that the social commerce door is wide open for Gen Z.

    This week, TikTok began teasing its intentions to build its own product fulfillment centers in the U.S. and had posted several job openings to LinkedIn to help kickstart the process, per findings reported by Axios. The job postings suggest an “international e-commerce fulfillment system” that could help some sellers on the ByteDance-owned platform ship products out to consumers faster in a play likely supported by the app’s blossoming ads business. 

    A massive move to close its social commerce loop, TikTok’s bet on the strategy speaks to the untapped potential social commerce could have. By 2025, social commerce is expected to hit $1.2 trillion with a growth rate three times that of e-commerce. 

    Platforms lately have evolved in efforts to sway both marketers and consumers ahead of the holidays —  TikTok recently added three new ad formats to its portfolio and Instagram quickly followed behind it. Research by the Meta-owned platform found that 90% of its users follow at least one business, signaling intent, and additional tools like augmented reality filters and machine-based learning could make finalizing a purchase enjoyable, and above all else, convenient. 

    But being shoppable and actually making a sale requires a strategy well-suited to the users of such platforms. For example, when developing an in-app commerce integration, brands may consider abandoning traditional call-to-action statements to maintain a throughline of authenticity and avoid corporate jargon likely to drive away Gen Z users.

    “Gen Z who are using social media understand how to shop on the internet,” said Zellie Vaz, managing director of organic social at Power Digital. “They don’t need to be told ‘click here to check out,’ they already know the link is in the bio or to tap on the product. I think CTA’s are going to retire.”

    While social commerce faced some downturns prompted by shifting privacy concerns and return to brick-and-mortar stores, investing in the integration could offer a massive advantage for the ability to not only keep consumers on one screen, but also on a single platform. 

    “Being able to shop in the app means never having to leave someone’s ‘cage,’” said Lauren Lyons, senior strategist at PSFK. “… Five, six years ago, everyone was talking about social shopping but nobody was really into it … Now I feel like we have a better experience where social and shopping are both seamless, convenient, perhaps enjoyable.”

    Winning Gen Z

    Marketing to Gen Z on social platforms requires a pulse on the emotion and vulnerability the young cohort craves. Such traits were amplified in part due to COVID-19, but even as consumers seemingly have transitioned out of many pandemic habits, Gen Z’s desire for authenticity has remained strong. Perhaps stronger, though, is the ability to spot an emotionally empty activation. 

    “The thing about Gen Z is they are extremely aware,” said Lyons. “They’ve always grown up with marketing and advertising online. They know how to spot the things that feel inauthentic very easily.”

    When compared to millennials, Gen Z is less trusting of what they consume on social media, Vaz said. Increasingly, the cohort will use social media as a place to research brands they are considering buying from to see who tags them in posts, what other customers are saying and whether or not they tick boxes in other causes they care about, namely sustainability and diversity — the two causes Gen Z cares about the most, per a Gen Z study by GWI. 

    “These are all factors the audience is looking at,” Vaz added. “Does this company give back? Does [it] care about its customers? Can I have a long-term relationship with this company, am I going to be more than a number?” 

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