If Generation Z was the first to grow up with social media, Generation Alpha—that is, the group of people born between 2010 and 2025—is the first to grow up on social media. Even the oldest Gen Alphas were born into a world with Instagram and iPhones, and by the time they reach adulthood, all of our favorite platforms could be a distant memory.
It might sound preemptive to think about reaching and marketing to people younger than Gen Z; after all, as recently as two years ago, some critics argued it was still too soon to even identify a post-Zoomer generation. Millennials and Gen Z were both specifically defined by bleak, unifying circumstances and crises, along with technological advancements like the internet explosion and social media. But many members of Gen Alpha haven’t even been born yet. How can they already have a shared unifying experience?
The truth is, though, they do. While Gen Z has had to acclimate to Zoom classes and millennials to remote work, the youngest generation won’t be able to remember a world without COVID—and a world that doesn’t rely on technology the way we do right now. As a result, they’ll likely use social media differently at school and at home. And they’ll interact with brands differently, too.
According to Mark McCrindle, the social analyst and generational researcher who coined the term, Gen Alpha is on track to reach a population of nearly two billion. Even though many of them are still too young to read or type, it’s not too early to start thinking about the best ways to reach the most technologically savvy generation. Here are some tips and statistics to keep in mind.
Social media can help you reach Gen Alpha… but there are some caveats.
When Gen Alpha takes Gen Z’s reins, it will be more imperative than ever to use social and video content as marketing tools. One 2019 study from Common Sense Media shows that young people spend nearly an hour a day watching videos on platforms like YouTube—twice as long as the same age demographic did in 2015. But although it won’t be hard to get to Gen Alpha, per se, it could be harder to get them to stick around. With shorter attention spans and heightened digital literacy, young people might not be swayed by content they don’t find authentic or uniquely compelling.
There are already Gen Alpha influencers and content creators.
Kids aren’t only spending hours a week watching videos. They’re also making their own content. Take Ryan Kaji, a 10-year-old YouTuber whose daily videos—including toy reviews, games, and challenges—reliably amass upward of a million views. Some brands have already cashed in on working with younger influencers (or, well, their parents): In 2018, Walmart collaborated with Kaji to create a line of toys, and youth-focused brands like Lunchables and Legoland have also sponsored his videos.
Consider the generation raising Gen Alpha.
Gen Alpha is the first generation predominantly raised by parents who are also active on social media. If you’re selling products designed for kids, their parents are a good conduit—and on a similar note, you can also reach parents through their kids. Historically, young people have always influenced their parents’ buying decisions, but studies show that’s truer than ever today.
It’s important to note that, right now, Gen Alpha is still very young. And although they’re online right now, we’re also having more and more conversations about the negative impact social media can have on young children and teenagers. Earlier this year, Facebook executives were met with immediate backlash after announcing their plan to roll out “Instagram Kids”: Critics pointed to study after study proving that access to Instagram can lead to low self-esteem and mental health issues. (The head of Instagram eventually announced he’d be pressing pause on the feature and taking some “time to work with parents, experts, policymakers, and regulators.”)
If Gen Alpha follows in Gen Z’s footsteps, maybe they’ll find a way to create positive change and use Instagram in a whole new way. Maybe they’ll just rely on new, yet-to-be-created social platforms. But the biggest thing to keep in mind is that, like Gen Z and millennials before them, this new generation will likely make new rules and set their own trends—and if you’re able to keep up, your audience might just get a little savvier, a little smarter, and a lot bigger.