Social media platforms have become increasingly relevant forms of communication—especially to interact with Gen Z, a demographic born into the digital age. For instance, learning how to maneuver social media is no longer an option, but a necessity, for businesses that want to keep up with current, constantly evolving marketing and advertising strategies. Marketers are in a frenzy to find and unlock the perfect social media marketing strategy to discover information, share a story, and generate metrics.

 Source: Recode.com

Source: Recode.com

Earlier this month, a photo and video sharing mobile app, Snapchat, updated the layout of its app in order to create more visibility and accessibility to its “Discover” section for news articles and ads. Since its initial release in 2011, the app has gained 100 million users,45% who are 18 to 24 year olds, a demographic known as Gen Z. As marketers and advertising agencies scramble to find ways to connect and communicate with Gen Z and Gen Y (Millenials), individuals ages 25 to 34, there has been increasing interest in Snapchat. In January, the company launched Discover with 11 partner publishers, like ESPN, CNN, Cosmopolitan, The Daily Mail, and Vice. Still considered a relatively young company, Snapchat has to develop comprehensive revenue and traffic measures to prove marketers and advertising agencies that Discover is worth paying for.

Online marketing leaders like Facebook and Google use tracking and targeting, methods that can generate tangible numbers and metrics for marketers and advertising agencies. Backed by a successful track record, the use of tracking and targeting technology seem to be the direction many marketers and advertising agencies are taking. According to the eMarketer and the Wall Street Journal, Instagram is estimated to generate $600 million in mobile ad revenue this year and plans to incorporate ad-targeting capabilities to match Facebook’s.  This trend suggests that social media marketing is becoming increasingly personalized, which raises critical questions for users: what do marketers know about me and how did they get this information?

Perhaps more attention should be turned towards Snapchat’s refreshing approach to advertising, which does not track or specifically target users based on their behaviors and preferences. The Wall Street Journal states, “Snapchat Chief Evan Spiegel said, ‘we really care about not being creepy.’” Snapchat is focused on providing more original content from media partners, each having a unique method of creating content for the app that refreshes daily. According to Business Insider, Spiegel has a “grander vision for advertising: that it should be content people actively want to watch.”

The social media marketing frontier has seen great growth and development in the recent years; however, social media marketing strategy is generally trending in a unilateral direction, one that many often find “creepy.” If marketers and advertisers do not take these concerns seriously or consider different approaches to reach users, then businesses run the risk of losing trust and open-mindedness from users. In fact, tech-savy Gen Z or Gen Y users may find ways to circumvent communications efforts from social media marketers. Marketers, be wary of abusing social media, since it has become a marketing strategy staple.

Leslie Park, MSD Intern