Like so many other things in the world, humor is very subjective.
While there’s no doubt that every individual has a unique sense of humor, when we zoom out to look at the bigger picture, we start to see patterns and similarities that develop within each generational cohort.
This is a natural outcome that results from experiencing life in a synchronous manner. After all, generational cohorts witness the same shaping historical events and pop culture moments at the same time.
As the number of US Gen Z digital buyers is predicted to surpass 41 million in 2022, brands have become increasingly interested in developing a marketing strategy that targets this specific generation. How? Through social media.
So, if you are looking to understand Gen Z and create social media content they will enjoy, stay tuned as we discuss how to use humor as a bridge between you and the younger segment of your target audience.
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What Is the Age Range for Gen Z People?
Generation Z, commonly known as Gen Z or zoomers, is a demographic cohort that succeeds Millenials and precedes Generation Alpha.
While the age range fluctuates from source to source, the interval that seems to be the most commonly recognized as the Gen Z time span starts in 1995 and ends in 2012.
Gen Z Humor Defined
Gen Z humor is widely described as dark and surreal.
To better understand how to create Gen Z-friendly humorous content, let’s try to find some defining traits that provide a more generous look at what the younger generation considers funny.
The characteristics of Gen Z humor:
- Dark comedy: Self-deprecating jokes and allusions to mental health issues are two leitmotifs of Gen Z’s humor.
- Absurdist: It lacks structure and relies on the combination of seemingly random elements to generate laughs.
- Fast-paced and ephemeral: Most Gen Z memes and trends have a very short life span, and they are funny only during a specific time frame.
- Obscure: The Gen Z humor references obscure events and occurrences. It’s a type of inside humor that only targets people who are familiar with specific online happenings.
Why Is Gen Z Humor So Fast-Paced?
Unlike Millenials, Zoomers have had access to the internet from a very young age, which makes them digital natives.
Unlimited access to information and entertainment, although positive from certain perspectives, has also affected the way Gen Z-ers consume content. This is a part of the reason why viral posts have such a short life span among Gen Z people.
For instance, let’s say a meme gains popularity. The first thing that happens: it gets shared by everyone, everywhere. Plus, the original joke also gets “recycled” by multiple creators that want to claim ownership over the idea, which also adds to the saturation of the meme.
As a result, people get overexposed to it, which then leads to them being sick and tired of it just a few days after going viral.
This phenomenon is similar to listening to your favorite song on repeat. At first, you love it, but by listening to it over and over again, it becomes almost irritating.
Why Does Gen Z Use Dark Humor?
Gen Z seems to be under much bigger levels of stress than older generations.
In fact, a study done by the American Psychological Association discovered that “91 percent of Gen Zs between ages 18 and 21 say they have experienced at least one physical or emotional symptom due to stress in the past month compared to 74 percent of adults overall.”
The stress and the rising incidence of mental health issues can be linked to various factors, such as:
- Climate change
- Economic instability and crisis, debt
- War, school shootings, and terrorist attacks
- The pressure of constantly broadcasting oneself on social media
While all generations have been affected by the aforementioned factors, going through such unpredictable world events and experiences during your formative years has definitely had a more significant impact on young people.
Naturally, humor has become a coping mechanism for Gen Z-ers, and the nature of the events they went through at an impressionable age resulted in a darker sense of humor. This type of comedy often references more serious themes and makes light of painful subject matters.
What Makes Gen Z Humor Obscure and Sometimes Absurdist to other Generations?
Gen Z-ers tend to be much more immersed in the internet culture than any other generation.
While other generations grew up watching TV and looking up to talk show hosts, movie stars, singers, and similar types of celebrities, Gen Z-ers had a different set of role models.
In this category, we can include YouTubers, TikTokers, streamers, and different types of social media influencers.
Being so involved in the internet culture, Gen Z-ers have developed common interests, have been a part of the same online communities, and thus:
- Have been exposed to the same type of entertainment
- Saw the same viral posts
- Witnessed the same pop culture moments in real-time
These shared experiences have molded their preferences and sense of humor, and most of the memes circulating the internet are a result of that.
It might not be absurd humor, after all. If some memes might seem ludicrous to you, it might be a sign that you are an outsider looking in. It’s basically one big inside joke other generations have a hard time understanding because most of them aren’t as familiar with the same sides of the internet.
How to Create Social Media Content for Generation Z
You might have figured out that Gen Z humor is no walk in the park. But if you are targeting this younger generation, then you need to become well-versed in this field. After all, humor memes are something that Millenials and Gen Z alike appreciate a lot, so you need to include them in your social media posts.
Here are five tips to help you include Gen Z humor in your social media posts:
- Research your audience
- Choose the right platforms to share funny content
- Keep it short, simple, and a little weird
- Don’t take yourself too seriously
1. Research Your Audience
No matter the audience you’re targeting, you must always perform a great amount of research to get to know your potential buyers better. Gen Z is no different.
A good way of getting to know your audience is by building a buyer persona. This way, you will have a clear image of who you are selling to. But just reading about Gen Z might not help you understand it entirely, which might make your buyer persona flawed.
What you can do besides reading is observe and use the internet the same way Gen Z-ers do. Call it, method researching, if you will.
Here are the steps you can take to better understand Generation Z:
- Start by using the platforms Gen Zers use the most (Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, BeReal).
- Follow well-known Gen Z influencers and observe the kind of content they post.
- Pay attention to what type of humorous content they share and their takes on trending news and viral posts.
2. Choose the Right Platforms to Share Funny Content
Selecting the right platform is just as important as writing good copy and making a great meme.
Think of it like this. Let’s say you have mastered Gen Z’s humor, and now you are applying it to your copies and visuals. But you’re not getting the response you want because you have been posting your content on social media platforms that are not frequently used by Gen Z.
So then, what are the platforms that Gen Z uses most?
Well, a study run by the Pew Research Center disclosed the following:
- The majority of 18 to 29-year-olds say they use Instagram or Snapchat and about half of them revealed they use TikTok.
- The younger segment of this cohort (ages 18 to 24) has reported using Instagram (76%), Snapchat (75%), or TikTok (55%) most of the time.
To craft the perfect social media content strategy, you first have to decide which platform you’d like to use as a way to reach the younger generation that also works for your niche.
Then you have to brainstorm content ideas and create posts that will resonate with your audience (here is where the previously mentioned research will come in handy).
A good thing to remember is that video content does quite well with Gen Z, as seen from the exceptional popularity that TikTok has gained in the last few years.
Although video content might be harder to nail and involves more resources, it is definitely worth a try, not only on TikTok but also on other platforms, such as Instagram.
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3. Keep It Short, Simple, and a Little Weird
If you want to make Gen Z laugh, sometimes the safest way to go is to keep it simple and add a dash of quirkiness.
How can you achieve this? Simple, by referencing the latest trending news and adding funny twits to them, using observational humor, or simply by trying to recreate a fever dream you had a few years ago.
As you might expect, Gen Z humor is hard to define, so let’s use examples to better understand the vibe we are going with here.
Let’s start with a meme format that has become a whole separate genre of humor: badly written signs.
Have you come across a sign with a weird structure? Well, now it’s your moment to shine and have a laugh. Why get it right, when you can focus on what’s wrong to make a meme?
All out of inspiration? Make sure you check the news. There might be a new development that sparks a funny idea your Gen Z audience will appreciate. Take for example the following meme that makes reference to the latest iPhone launch.
What do we mean when we encourage you to tap into your weird side? Make a meme about a strawberry holding a gun. That’s all.
This next meme is the perfect example of how Gen Z’s humor is different from Millennial humor and Boomer humor.
While these types of absurd memes won’t come naturally at first, after scrolling through meme pages, such ideas will start to form more easily. You decide if it’s a bad thing or a good thing.
If you want to come up with a similar meme, study this type of humor to understand what makes it funny. In the case of our previous example, we can see that the creator used a play on words and developed it into a meme by adding some intentionally weird-looking graphics.
4. Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously
If you think millennial jokes are self-deprecating, then you haven’t come across enough Gen Z memes.
As we mentioned before, gen z humor and the meme culture surrounding it often reference self-deprecating themes. More specifically, jokes that allude to mental health issues and personal flaws.
They even address social issues in an attempt to make light of the unfortunate events that plague our society at the moment. The next meme perfectly illustrates our last point.
If you want to give the self-deprecating genre of humor a try, don’t shy away from exploring your business flaws to generate some funny ideas. This way, you will humanize your brand and become more approachable to your audience as a result.
Once you have the right concept, search for a meme template that emphasizes the intended comedic effect and share your creation on the right social media channels.
Start Using Gen Z Humor in Your Content
Using Gen Z humor can be daunting, but not impossible.
Slowly integrating memes and funny remarks into your social media marketing campaigns is a great way to approach Gen Z humor. At the end of the day, the most important thing is for you and your team to have fun with it and try to bond with your younger audience in a genuine way.
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