How To Tailor Your Writing for Gen Z and Millennials (with Examples)
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It’s no secret that Gen Z and Millennials communicate differently. While Millennials have seen the growth of the internet and social media apps, Gen Z are digital natives — having grown up with the internet as part of their everyday life. As a result, the way they use technology, as well as language, differs.
As a millennial with 10 years of experience in content marketing, I’ve seen first-hand how content that misses the mark can completely change my desire to engage with a brand. At worst, the content can feel contrived, pushy, and insincere. When done well, it can build rapport, trust, and encourage connection.
Understanding differences (and similarities) between Gen Z and Millennials can give you the tools to appeal to your target audience. With a few subtle changes, you’ll be able to tailor your writing and marketing to increase engagement, build trust, and connect with your audience.
Let’s look at the differences and similarities between how Millennials and Gen Z communicate. I’ll then break down how to adjust your writing for each audience with a few simple tips you can use today.
What are the differences between Millennials and Gen Z?
Both heavily online, the two generations have different approaches to using social media. This impacts how you can connect with each audience.
Here are some key generational differences to consider:
- Millennials are more interested in brands and brand identity than Gen Z
- Gen Z are looking for educational content and actively use social media platforms for search over Google. For example, searching on TikTok brings up the expected short-form videos alongside snippets from Wikipedia providing educational content.
- Gen Z are more likely to trust influencers and look to relatable creators that they can connect to. This influences their purchase decisions, too, with 32% of Gen Z using influencers as a guide for buying new products.
- 83% of Gen Z use social media for shopping
- Gen Z have shorter attention spans. Research shows that Millennials have slightly longer attention spans than their younger counterparts.
- 90% of Millennials say that brand authenticity is important to them
- Millennials spend less time online than Gen Z
How to write for both Gen Z and Millennials
Although there are differences between the two generations, there are also similarities in what they look for in online communication. Authenticity, transparency, adapting to feedback, and embracing social responsibility, diversity, and inclusion are equally important for both generations. Let’s look at how to cover these, with examples.
1. Be authentic and transparent
Millennials and Gen Z appreciate genuine, transparent communication. Avoid salesy or deceptive language — be straightforward and genuine in your communication by avoiding overly promotional or insincere content. Provide honest information about your products, services, or content. Share authentic stories, testimonials, or experiences that resonate with your audience’s everyday life. Relatable content helps establish a connection with them.
Why it works:
- It’s honest: “we’re not perfect.” This is immediately relatable and transparent.
- Striving for better feels authentic and shows a commitment to change.
- Sharing behind-the-scenes content increases transparency.
2. Seek feedback and engagement
Invite both Millennials and Gen Z to share their opinions, feedback, or ideas. Engage with them in comments, discussions, or polls to foster a sense of community. Make sure to pay attention to the feedback you receive and adapt accordingly.
Tip: When replying to comments on social media posts that offer feedback, be careful not to come across as defensive. Always thank your audience for their insight!
3. Embrace social responsibility
Both Millennials and Gen Z are very socially conscious and respond well to brands that support this, too. That means embracing social issues in an authentic way. Showcase your brand's efforts toward social responsibility, sustainability, diversity, inclusion, and community involvement to appeal to their values.
Tip: Be mindful to back up your words, as both generations are sensitive to hollow campaigns without real action behind them.
How to write for millennials (with examples)
Writing for Millennials should be focused on brand values, have a conversational tone, and feature good storytelling that connects with your audience. Here are some key tips to help you create content that resonates with this demographic:
1. Understand their values and interests
Millennials value authenticity, inclusivity, sustainability, social justice, and work-life balance, so align your content with these. Think about your brand, product, or service: what are some of the values you stand for? How can these align with the millennial audience? If you see overlap between the two, be explicit about your values when writing. Consider creating a mission statement that you can share on your website and across social media.
Why it works: Millennials care about work-life balance, self-care, authenticity, and sustainability. By referencing these topics you connect with their values and build rapport.
2. Use an engaging, conversational tone
Write in a conversational and approachable tone to connect with Millennials. Use relatable language and share personal stories or experiences to create a sense of togetherness.
Tip: Struggling to shift your tone? Use Wordtune to quickly make your writing sound less formal by choosing the Casual button.
3. Keep it relevant and valuable
Provide valuable information, insights, or solutions that address Millennials' challenges or interests. Show how your product or service can enhance their lives or align with their values. Creating relatable content on social media is a great way to build connections.
Why it works: Providing a (free) resource for your audience that appeals to and can directly help them gives immediate value.
4. Tell compelling stories
Use storytelling techniques to convey your message. Share inspiring stories about your brand, customers, or experiences that evoke emotions and capture attention.
Let’s take a look at sustainable outdoor-wear company Patagonia. In one of their Instagram posts, they have an eye-catching quote followed by a behind-the-scenes story.
Why it works: Transparency, authenticity, and strong storytelling techniques are all present in this example. They open with a surprising quote (calling Patagonia a “cash cow” seems the opposite of it’s image today as a sustainable, employee-owned business), followed by an inside look into the background of the company.
5. Address their pain points
Identify common challenges faced by Millennials and create content that offers solutions or guidance. Addressing their pain points demonstrates understanding and empathy.
6. Stay updated with trends
Stay informed about the latest trends, pop culture, and tech advancements that interest Millennials. Incorporate relevant references or topics into your content.
How to do it:
- Find reports and statistics that give you insight into broader impacts on Millennial life
- Use social media platforms’ Trending or Explore sections to see what’s popular now
- Use AI tools that can identify trends and their trajectories to make the most of your efforts
Understanding and respecting Millennials' preferences, values, and behaviors is key to creating content that resonates with them. Stay flexible and open to adjusting your approach based on feedback.
How to write for Gen Z (with examples)
Gen Z heavily references internet culture with memes, slang, and prefer informal, short captions. Let’s look at tips to craft fun, engaging content for the Gen Z audience.
1. Use internet slang and lingo
Incorporate popular internet slang, abbreviations, and expressions used by Gen Z. Stay updated with trending terms by checking out Trending Now sections on TikTok, Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), and Youtube.
Netflix is a great example: they draw upon internet slang and culture to create memes out of their own shows and movies.
Why it works: For this image, Netflix uses the internet term “it’s giving” along with a funny mention of high school deja vu. By using internet slang and keeping it brief, their content has a youthful and relatable edge.
2. Keep it short and snappy
Gen Z has a shorter attention span than Millenials. Keep your content brief, to the point, and engaging. Use punchy headlines and bullet points to deliver information quickly.
Check out this example from Chipotle. It successfully takes inspiration from meme culture with a simple carousel of images, creating their own meme. The caption simply says, “why are they all me.” The text is brief, humorous, and playful.
3. Make use of influencers and user-generated content
Encourage Gen Z to contribute by creating challenges, contests, or user-generated content (UGC) campaigns. Involving them in your brand's narrative fosters a sense of belonging. Then, interact directly with their content, making sure you use conversational and personable writing to make them feel seen.
Glossier offers a great example of interacting with user-generated content. Here, they repost a Glossier fan’s video requesting more product as she’s used so much of their product. Glossier gives this post a simple caption “More You coming to you @emilyjoylemus 👀❣️”
Why it works: Connecting directly with a fan of their brand and giving away products generates excitement while showcasing how loved their product is. By keeping the writing direct, personal, and conversational, it connects with the Gen Z audience.
4. Offer value and utility
Provide useful tips, hacks, or guides that add value to Gen Z's lives. Content that helps them solve problems or improve themselves is highly appreciated.
Why it works: Bearing in mind that most of Gen Z are between 11-26 years old, many of them are in school or university. By providing helpful tips on studying that are simple and to the point, this content keeps the Gen Zer engaged while giving useful value.
Apply this to your own brand by considering what you can offer your customers and audience. For example, provide product tips, how-to’s, free downloadables like e-books or templates, and more.
Adapting your writing style and content to resonate with Gen Z involves staying current, understanding their unique language and culture, and authentically engaging with them on platforms they frequent. Stay flexible and open to adapting your approach as Gen Z's preferences evolve over time.
Understanding the distinct communication preferences and values of Millennials and Gen Z is essential for effective content marketing.
While both generations share a desire for authenticity, transparency, and social consciousness, they have unique behaviors and values. Millennials are brand-influenced and prefer content that speaks to their interests, pain points, and trends. Gen Zers, with shorter attention spans, gravitate towards internet slang and short, snappy, and humorous content.
Adapting your approach and staying current with their evolving preferences is key to connecting with both demographics in the digital landscape. Check out our guide on creating relatable social media content and how to master TikTok’s newest text-only post feature to make the most of your content.
What is the millennial age range?
Millennials are between the ages of 27-42, being born between 1981 and 1996.
What is the gen z age range?
Gen Z were born between 1997-2012, which makes their age range between 11-26 years old.
What are the differences between millennials and gen Z?
Millennials and Gen Z differences include shopping habits, social media use, and communication styles. Millennials relate more to brand values and tend to use Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), and Facebook. Gen Z prefer short form, slang-heavy text and tend to use TikTok, BeReal, and Youtube more than Millennials.