What Signs of Legitimacy Do Generation Z Care About?

One of the hallmarks of Generation Z is their emphasis on status and legitimacy.  This quality requires an emphasis on earning the respect of Gen Z before any person or brand can truly capture them as followers.  Gaining legitimacy in the eyes of these youngsters does have a few tricks.  Certain milestones hold more weight than others.

1) Press

Growing up checking Forbes lists, seeing the latest batches of 30 under 30, and staying in tune with the latest information of society via publications, means that Gen Z cares about press.  Merely being able to say you or your company is covered in major publications means enormous brand value in return.  Especially since much of your competition plays the press game and consumers are required to sort through so much information, if you fail to gain press you will inevitably have a lesser status in Gen Z’s mind.

Gaining press requires a good relationship with writers and potentially PR agencies, for extended reach.  When pitching these writers and firms, rule number one is to treat them like people with their own personal interests and values.  Understanding what the writers hope to achieve with their time and careers will let you align your interests with theirs and in turn get you your needed press coverage.

2) Social Media Engagement

Not only is a large social media following important, but even more so a large social media engagement.  Due to the prowess of this generation in detecting fake social media following, you need to care more about the engagement levels than anything else.  A following of 5,000 with engagement of 250 is not as impressive as a following of 200 with an engagement of 150.

In order to generate solid engagement, you need to understand what your followers want to engage with and be prolific with doing that.  The best influencers are able to engage with their followers and portray a lifestyle and feed of content, which aligns perfectly with the demographics’ desires.  Additionally, avoiding the potential pitfall of inorganically growing your following is a must.  Everyone hates a faker and it is easy to spot paid followers.

3) Best-Selling Author

It is easy to see how putting “best-selling author” next to your name is of value, but often the response is how could you possibly achieve that?  Nowadays being a best-selling author is not entirely the hardest thing to achieve, depending on your metric of sales.  Most initial thoughts of the subject would jump to the New York Times best-selling list, which requires about 10,000 unit sales in the first week of launch.  Other metrics include the Wall Street Journal, which is about 5,000 in the first week, and Amazon, which is about 1,000.  However, what is not well known is that on Amazon there are many subcategories for books and it is easy to become a best-seller in these subcategories since they often only require a few dozen sales in the first week.  Even a simple sales push can attain this level of success and earn you the golden title of “best-selling author.”

Just did a #drivebysigning of all of my books at the Powell’s in Portland on SE Hawthorne.

A photo posted by Tim Ferriss (@timferriss) on Dec 30, 2016 at 4:46pm PST


4) Financial Backing

Since startups have grown to be a huge component of this generation, legitimacy is often measured in startup terms, which relies mainly on funding.  If you are doing a business venture, your ability to convince other people to invest in you or pay for your product or service is a direct endorsement of you as a person and entrepreneur.  Money speaks.

Not only is a good source of funding in either investment or sales important, but the quality matters as well.  In the venture capital sector it is often said that investors are all either financers, founders, or fools.  Meaning people who can invest in you are either money guys who know value, founders who have been through it before and can tell a good entrepreneur, or idiots who think they know how to invest and want to get rich.  Money from the first two is worth a lot more than from the last, since it means there is a much clearer endorsement of your abilities.

5) Constant Content

Content can take many forms, but overall at its purest form content is a means of passing time, stimulating thoughts and emotions, and enjoying culture.  Whether content takes the form of a blockbuster movie, a blog post, or a meme on social media, content allows people to feel something.  Nowadays the version of content the public consumes has expanded drastically and following this trend, becoming a thought leader has ballooned tremendously.

Thought leaders are entirely created on whether you can pump out content.  Not only does this satisfy a huge need in consumers, but it demonstrates an ability to have a large amount of unique thoughts and to entertain or inform a mass.  Thinking differently has value and constant content is your means of demonstrating that value.

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