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It all starts with understanding that Gen Z’s values are just as important as their memes…

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To fully understand Twitter’s global Gen Z audience, Twitter partnered with cultural agency Sparks & Honey to unpack the trends that shape the conversation among this burgeoning generation on the platform. Tens of thousands of Gen Z Tweets from all over the world were analyzed to uncover Gen Z trends, and as a result, social media platform Twitter identified 10 emerging trends.

Why does this matter?

When people care about something, they talk about it, and by listening to those voices on Twitter, we learn what’s important to them. Just as the broad-scale analysis of conversation data helps to detect and predict the conversations today that will lead to movements tomorrow, knowing what’s important to a particular demographic allows brands to connect in an authentic and relevant way. 

Here’s what Gen Z is talking about on Twitter, by Olivia Sohn (she/they), Senior Research Analyst at Twitter.

1. Blended Identity 

It’s hard to define Gen Z because, ultimately, they often defy categorization. And as challengers of convention, Twitter is the space for them to experiment with what has historically been socially accepted. For example, Twitter has seen a 76% YOY increase in Tweet volume for the term ‘non-binary’ among Gen Z. This is due to Twitter’s lack of pretense and aesthetic, which makes it a place where Gen Z can honestly explore their identity.

2. Niche Micro Tribes

As conversations around representation and identity continue to flourish, Gen Z has sought out niche interest categories and sub-genres to meet their specific expression needs. For example, #cottagecore, one specific Niche Micro Tribe that focuses on agricultural life and crafting, grew 2,791% from 2019-2020.

Twitter is a space for Gen Z to connect with like-minded individuals, no matter how far off or off-beat their shared interests may be. If it exists, chances are it’s thriving on Twitter.

3. Crowd Economy

While Gen Z may not be old enough yet to run for office or fund campaigns, their collective voices and native understanding of social platforms give them a massive impact on Twitter’s activist dialogue.

Hashtags related to the K-Pop band BTS, for example, consistently rank among the top five most popular hashtags across categories, and that’s due to the power of the BTS Army, who have used their numbers to generate attention for social justice causes.

4. Moral Imperative

Gen Z is passionate, and they’ll use Twitter to not only call for what’s right but also to activate those values. And while generations prior may have operated within formal systems, Gen Z isn’t going to wait for structural problems to be addressed. To them, Twitter is a means of catalyzing immediate change, and they’ll use it persistently until their voice is acknowledged. And they do this out of a deep felt urgency.  

5. Icon Toppling

Gen Z is pushing to replace traditional icons and ideals with new systems and institutions that are better aligned with their values. Even if there are many who stubbornly challenge Gen Z’s value set and resist their progressive demands. 

Twitter can be seen as a tool for Gen Z to explore, discuss, and work through these new ideals and systems as they seek to replace the old ones that they’ve determined as antiquated, inefficient, and conflicting with their vision of the world. It’s no wonder that there’s been a 1,038% YOY increase in Tweet volume for the term ‘abolish’ for Gen Z.

6. Constant Connection

For better or worse, Gen Z is in a constant state of connectivity, and as the first generation having grown up with the internet, they see it intrinsically tied to daily life. Put more succinctly, they’re always on. Twitter, in particular, is a strong source of information, but it’s also a valuable resource for escapism, also known as ‘Twittertainment,’ where Gen Z can be simultaneously enlightened by news and entertained by memes. 

7. Ancient Wisdom

As much as they value their digital connection, Gen Z is also seeking out ancient practices and exploring spiritual approaches on Twitter. Perhaps this is happening in an effort to balance out their digital dependency. But it’s also due in part to the high uncertainty and anxiety of the last couple of years that Gen Z sought out the comfort of ancient practices and spiritual guidance.

Astrology-related Tweets among Gen Z, for example, have increased in volume by 51% YOY. Psychedelic Twitter is another category that has grown on Twitter, especially during the pandemic as a form of therapy and self exploration. Hey, whatever works. 

8. Major Minorstones

The internet loves to celebrate everyday joys just as much as they do a larger milestone moment. This was exponentially more apparent during the ongoing pandemic when Gen Z sought out mental health opportunities and found them through #smallwins, a hashtag which had a 71% YOY increase in usage among Gen Z.

Whether passing a driving test or changing a hairstyle, these minor celebrations, or #smalljoys, happening all over Twitter tell us that the Major Minorstones were celebrated with just as much enthusiasm as the big moments. A supportive Gen Z showed up when validation was needed.

9. Everyday Celebrity

The very concept of celebrity is evolving with Gen Z using Twitter to elevate everyday voices and shine the spotlight on unlikely corners of the internet. Gen Z is also more comfortable with their fandom as a significant part of their identity and will use the platform to reach out and engage with celebrities. And what qualifies a ‘celebrity?’ Even that’s changing with 77% of Gen Z Twitter thinking of themselves as influential, according to a recent GWI survey.

10. Mashup

For Gen Z, Twitter isn’t just a place to share new media: It’s an outlet for creativity and reinvention informed by a unique generational sense of humor. These meta-narratives commonly shared by Gen Z are references to pop culture so deeply layered that there’s almost a perpetual “if you know, you know” sentiment to these unique cultural hybrids.

As long as Gen Z enjoys the art of linking established fragments of pop culture and of-the-moment-stories, these mashups will likely continue to satiate Gen Z’s lol-seeking thrills on Twitter. 

Read more about Gen Z on Twitter here.

About the Author: Olivia Sohn (she/they), Senior Research Analyst at Twitter Inc.

Olivia Zohn (@oliviazohn) is a global research and insights lead in Twitter’s Market Insights & Analytics team. In her role, she works with media agencies to show the value of Twitter through thought leadership studies.

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