Gen Z: we’re a generation of digital natives on track to dominate consumer consumption and trend decisions in every way. Unlike generations past, we grew up right alongside new age technology and social media–and understand it better than anyone. We also grew up in the thick of the 2008 financial crisis and saw it affect our parents, so we have a strong aversion to debt and a desire to save. Let me put this frankly: This is a huge opportunity for banks and credit unions that just isn’t being realized.
I’ve been active in the bank marketing industry for the last year as a student intern at Social Assurance, and I’ve learned that it’s not that financial institutions don’t want to market to Gen Z purposefully; it’s that they simply aren’t speaking their language.
So as a member of Gen Z and a bank marketer myself, I’ve compiled a list of what your bank or credit union can do to speak to us in a way that matters—and gets us to act.
1. Create learning opportunities and a safe space for education.
Financial institutions have struggled to reach Gen Z, but it isn’t due to a lack of Gen Z curiosity. We’re interested and concerned about financial literacy, but 84% of us rely on our family for our financial education. Why? Information on loan processes, account types, and interest rates isn’t easily accessible or understandable. It might be out there, but it’s buried deep in a bank’s website. Gen Z wants easy-to-find, easy-to-read financial education content. This doesn’t mean an overhaul of the way your bank markets, but consider, for example, posting a short explanation of the ins and outs of obtaining a car loan on social media with a link that directs to more information on your site. Or try a short Instagram reel explaining the benefits of credit cards you offer and link back to a blog on your website that talks about building credit. These simple strategies give us the financial education we’re craving—and open up viable avenues for Gen Z to find and interact with you!
2. Develop a social presence where Gen Z hangs out.
There’s no way around it: Your bank must have a presence on the platforms Gen Z uses in order to reach and target them. If your bank doesn’t already have accounts on platforms like Instagram and TikTok, create them!
Gen Z communicates through social media all the time, and we’re able to tell when businesses are being genuine (and when they’re not). Banks and credit unions have serious (and often boring!) social media presences. Don’t be afraid to add some warmth, fun, and authenticity—values that make Gen Z tick. This is how you start creating a relationship with us. We want to know there are real people behind your social channels! Keep your tone casual in your social posts. Remember: we want to be talked to online (social, blogs, website content, etc.) the same way you’d talk to us in-branch.
Think of ways to relate to us and what we’re interested in. You could record members of your staff talking about banking questions they had as young adults—and how they would answer those now. Edit your clips together and post the video across your social channels. This shows you know Gen Z has valid questions, and your team is capable of answering them—even through social media! Create posts, reels, stories, and videos, and be sure to include your team. Content that emphasizes the human aspect of banking (especially through a screen) is precisely what Gen Z wants.
"Content that emphasizes the human aspect of banking (especially through a screen) is precisely what Gen Z wants."
Know who’s best at creating content for Gen Z? Gen Z! Consider hiring an intern to be a part of your content team and empower them to help you move in the direction of authenticity. The Social Assurance marketing platform allows interns and other teammates to maximize creativity on marketing content with the peace of mind that nothing will be published without leadership and/or compliance oversight. And you can always hit up the Gen Z content experts here at Social Assurance. We’d love to help you brainstorm ideas.
3. Make your values regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion known—and be vocal about them.
Gen Z is the most diverse generation to enter the workforce, and the one to hold institutions (including banks and credit unions) most accountable regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion. Gen Z wants the values of the institutions they work with to reflect their own. Emphasize your positive values through channels like social media, your website, and in branch locations.
But here’s the thing: these communications must be genuine. If Gen Z sees your efforts as performative activism, they’ll have the opposite result. Truth and authenticity are vital when it comes to gaining our trust.
"...there's a certain level of understanding that can only come from shared experiences."
So how does this translate? Commit to diversity in your hiring and employment practices and truly provide equal opportunities. It’s important for Gen Z, as well as older generations, to see people who look like them, both in your branches and within your online presence. A diverse team attracts a diverse customer base; there’s a certain level of understanding that can only come from shared experiences.
Community banks and credit unions are notorious for initiatives that serve underrepresented and underserved people in your community. Share these stories on social media. You’re doing so many good things in your community; let people know. Gen Z loves nothing more than seeing how businesses and institutions are benefiting their communities. This is a quick way to get Gen Z’s attention—and gain some trust.
4. Prove you understand what Gen Z cares about.
Once you’re on the social channels where Gen Z hangs out, start paying attention to the trends we love. Take part in them, but give them your own spin. Gen Z will notice you taking an active step toward understanding them (even if it is just a dancing video).
Further improve your connection with us by creating and sharing content on the financial topics we care about. As we move into adulthood, we’re most concerned about student and car loans, building credit, saving, investing, and buying our first home—to name a few. Create short, informational videos around these topics to build trust with us. For example, have someone from your staff record an “Investing 101” video. Provide digestible, but valuable investing advice for beginners. And be sure to mention how your bank or credit union could be of help. (We really don’t mind being sold to if you provide approachable, helpful, and genuine information we care about first.)
The good news? You really don’t need any special equipment. Just use your phone’s front camera and opt for a casual vibe. You can also leverage Instagram’s carousel feature, where you can use multiple images in one post. Consider dedicating each image in the carousel to one important credit score factor. This way, we can easily swipe through the images and learn about building credit without the information feeling too dense. Be sure to link back to your website if you have more relevant information on the topic. And if you don’t have a blog on the topic—consider writing one!
Don’t forget to make the most efficient use of your content by cross posting. Say you create a video explaining the benefits of a CD you offer. Post it on your TikTok page, as an Instagram reel, and maybe even on your Instagram story. Feed one piece of content to multiple channels to reach a wider audience.
5. Provide customers a user-friendly mobile banking app.
Accessibility and user-friendliness are key here. Gen Z uses modern, efficient technology, and we have similar expectations for our banking app. We do everything from our phones—and quickly. This means the services and products your bank or credit union offer us also need to be mobile-accessible and user-friendly. Easy-to-use check deposits, money transfers, automated payments, and automated savings are important to Gen Z, and should be available through your app. And don’t forget to promote your app on your social channels; your Gen Z customers will download it, but we need to know about it first. If we can complete a majority of our banking needs from your app, you can be sure we’ll reach out when we need help or guidance with a larger banking need (i.e. car loan, mortgage, commercial loan) because of the relationship and trust you built with us through your app.
Take the Next Steps
Reaching Gen Z can be intimidating, but we’re listening, and we’re eager to engage. Whether you’re working through a strategic communications plan or simply need a hand launching or evolving your social media presence to target Gen Z more strategically, Social Assurance is here to help. Our team can help you create, manage, publish, and report on content across all your channels, while also ensuring that you collect, curate, and share it in an optimized way. We’re experts in bank marketing and social media trends, and we have the team and tools you need for widening your audience.
Reach us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow the link below to learn more.