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How to Be Where Gen Z is via Local Social


It’s no secret that people use search engines, navigational apps (like Google Maps), and social media platforms to find local businesses. Our Consumer Behavior Index (CBI) research found that 84% of consumers have sometimes or frequently discovered a new product, service, or business online.


That said, how people find information online and which platforms they use varies significantly by generation.

In this article, we’re focusing on Generation Z (Gen Z). We’ll explain how Gen Z prefers social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram to search and discover new local businesses and how you can enhance your local social strategy to gain this younger generation’s business.


Where and How Does Gen Z Spend Their Digital Time?


Gen Z adults, who span from ages 18 and 27, are masters of digital technology, so much so they’re referred to as the iGeneration or Zoomers. They spend a lot of time on social media. Research found that 35% of Gen Z spend over four hours on social media, and 18% spend around four hours daily.


But what is Gen Z doing on social media?


Many are actively shopping online. Nearly a third of Gen Z consumers shop online at least once daily, and 43% of their product searches start on TikTok. 


What about at the local level? 


In July 2022, Prabhakar Raghavan, Senior VP at Google, stated that according to Google’s internal studies, nearly 40% of young people don’t go to Google Maps or Search when looking for a place to eat lunch. Instead, they turn to TikTok or Instagram.


Additionally, our recent 2024 CBI research indicates that younger generations (ages 18-24) increasingly prefer using social media platforms for local searches. Gen Z’s top three local tools are:

  • Instagram (67%)
  • TikTok (62%
  • Google Search (61%)

Colorful vertical bar chart showing how different generations value social media platforms with a white background.

These compelling statistics show the need for multi-location brands to recalibrate their social media strategies to engage Gen Z consumers effectively.


The Gen Z Customer Journey Unpacked


Younger consumers spend much of their day on social media, favoring Instagram and TikTok over traditional search engines. They also seem to actively search for information, tips, and new products on social platforms. 


But what does Gen Z’s customer journey look like? What makes them click and purchase an item or connect with a brand?


1. Helpful Information


Gen Z eagerly seeks information about products, brands, and news. They trust social platforms to provide this necessary information. GWI found that between Q4 2020 and Q3 2023, these were the most significant increases in platform usage for Gen Z worldwide, except for China and India:

  • TikTok: Follow and find about products and brands (+104%)
  • TikTok: Keep up-to-date with news and the world (+90%)
  • TikTok: Message friends and family (+69%)
  • TikTok: Post and share photos or videos (+38%)
  • Instagram: Message friends and family (+28%)

Additionally, Meta conducted a survey which found that 80% of respondents use Instagram to decide whether or not to make a purchase.


2. Online Video Reviews

Because Gen Z values Instagram and TikTok, how they consume reviews differs from that of other generations. Older generations typically rely on search engines or local directories like Google Search, Maps, or Yelp, which have star ratings and written reviews, to help make purchase decisions.

On Instagram and TikTok, videos reign supreme. According to Morning Consult research, the content that leads to purchases are reviews, haul videos, and get ready with me videos (GRWMs).


Horizontal bar chart with green and orange bars showing led to purchase or enjoyable to watch for Gen Z watching the following types of online content.

Courtesy of Morning Consult


Review videos are typical product reviews ranging from 30 seconds to several minutes, depending on the product and how in-depth the creator goes.

Haul videos are when a user or creator purchases several products and spends a few seconds reviewing each item.


@mereyazmine Recent Pickups ❤️‍🔥 ALL BRANDS ARE LISTED #fashion #fyp #foryoupage #atlanta #clothingbrand #fypシ #grwm #style #capcut #capcut #veeze #atl#rob49 ♬ Not a Drill – Veeze


Get Ready With Me (GRWM) videos are when creators walk you through their preparation routine for an event or outing, such as a skincare routine or an outfit selection.


Is your brand producing any of this type of content or partnering with influencers to do so? If not, we’ll dive deeper into strategies later in this blog! 


3. Loyalty Programs


Gen Z is loyal to brands that offer innovative loyalty programs. Why? Because they’re aware of their finances. 


Older Gen Zers lived through the 2008 and COVID-19 recession. Throughout 2023, nearly three out of four (73%) of Gen Zers say they’ve changed their spending habits due to increased prices. 


Because of their fiscal responsibility, at least three in four Gen Zers have joined at least one loyalty program, and 28% said they joined more loyalty programs for special offers and discounts. 


4. Brands That Value Sustainability


Gen Z also values sustainability, as many are concerned about climate change. According to a Pew Research study, 67% of U.S. Gen Zers believe “climate should be a top priority to ensure a sustainable planet for future generations.”


Because of their eco-consciousness and concern with climate change, 54% of Gen Z will pay 10% more for sustainable products. Notably, 75% of Gen Z believe sustainability outweighs brand name when making a purchase decision.


Consequently, brands that champion sustainability in their local social efforts are increasingly winning the favor of this conscientious generation.


How Instagram and TikTok are Making Their Platforms More Local


Social media companies are taking notice of Gen Z’s social media practices and are updating their platforms accordingly. 


Today, social platforms aren’t just places to search; they’re places to discover. With their sophisticated quick-search functionalities, they’re beginning to function like hybrid search engines and digital storefronts.


Instagram’s Local Social Updates


In July 2022, Instagram released a Maps feature where, according to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, “You can now discover popular local businesses near you and filter by category.” 


You can discover a new place by tapping location tags in posts or stories and can save individual places or local businesses within the app.


Screenshot of Instagram Maps showing different businesses overlaid on a sunset color background.

Courtesy of Search Engine Journal


Additionally, Instagram confirmed in February 2024 that it’s testing a new “Friend Map” feature similar to Snapchat’s Snap Map, where you can enable your friends to see where you are and where you’ve been.


There’s even speculation that Instagram’s map might eventually include business listings and allow local businesses to reach out to Instagram users.


An example of what Instagram's friend map looks like

Courtesy Alessandro Paluzzi / Social Media Today


TikTok’s Local Social Updates


As for TikTok, the social media conglomerate added and tested a “Nearby” feature in April 2023. As it sounds, the Nearby feature sits next to your “Following” and “For You” feeds, allowing you to discover content posted in locations closest to users. However, it’s unclear whether TikTok will roll this feature out more widely. 


@vidiq.tiktok How are you gonna use the Nearby feature? Have you tried it? @benleavitt#tiktoknearby #tiktoknews2022#contentcreatornews#ideasforcontent ♬ original sound – YouTube & TikTok Hacks


Clearly, Gen Z uses social media differently, and social media companies are responding to them! Next, onto how your multi-location business should respond!


Local Social Strategies That Speak to Gen Z


With Gen Z using primarily TikTok and Instagram to discover and research brands, below are five social media avenues that resonate with Gen Z effectively and can help you attract this younger demographic.


1. Optimize for Local Discovery


You must optimize your local social presence to appear in front of local Gen Zers. Just as you provide search engines and Google Maps with details about your local business for local SEO, sharing similar information on social media platforms is equally important.


While Instagram and TikTok don’t make it as easy as Facebook to create and connect local brand accounts to your corporate page, it’s still worth considering.


For instance, if you’re seeing success on your brand’s corporate TikTok account, you can begin to create local accounts for the business locations. 


As you’re building these local social profiles:

  • Ensure social media accounts are easily identifiable by including the location’s name; ideally, it will match what’s on your local listings or local pages.



  • Include specific keywords in your posts. For example, a Mexican restaurant can create a video on how to make al pastor tacos and should use “al pastor tacos” or “al pastor tacos in San Diego” in the post’s title.


By tagging your location in your posts and stories, you’re putting your business on the social media map. These base-level tactics can help your accounts appear when local social media users search for nearby companies.


2. Use Local Hashtags


Local hashtags are your best friends for enhancing local visibility on Instagram and TikTok. They function as beacons, drawing in users looking for local content.


Including hashtags with your neighborhood, city, and state can help reach local audiences. You can also research popular local hashtags in your area and incorporate them into your posts. 


This strategy boosts your visibility and helps you tap into the local conversations around you.


3. Collaborate With Local Influencers


Influencers with a strong local following can be excellent ambassadors for your brand. The authenticity of these influencers resonates well with Gen Z, who value genuine recommendations over overt advertisements. Thirty-three percent of U.S. Gen Zers have purchased a product from an influencer-founded brand in 2023.


Collaborations can range from sponsored posts, hosting events, or posting a video review. Remember, Gen Z also values and prioritizes online and authentic video reviews. So, you can have these influencers do honest product reviews or get ready with me (GRWM) videos using your products.


@vuoriclothing For All-American gymnast Livvy Dunne, finding bliss lies in simplicity away from the spotlight— leaning on stillness in nature and the comfort of close connection with loved ones. “Everyone gets overwhelmed, so being able to have something that brings you to that moment of happiness and that moment of peace and bliss, is essential.” – @Olivia Dunne ♬ original sound – Vuori Clothing


These partnerships lend credibility and broaden your reach within the local community. We also recommend selecting influencers who align with your brand values and have demonstrated engagement with their followers. 


4. Highlighting Local Events and Culture


Another great way to gain Gen Z’s trust is to become a go-to source for local culture by highlighting events, relevant news, and local traditions on your Instagram and TikTok accounts.


You can share behind-the-scenes content, feature local artists or personalities, or provide guides to local attractions. You can also discuss your and other businesses’ sustainability measurements, which we know Gen Z prioritizes.


This approach is more authentic. While it doesn’t overtly advertise your business, it does enrich your content and brand by strengthening your position as an integral part of the local community.


Engaging with the culture and vibe of your locality creates a sense of belonging among your audience, making your brand a recognized and cherished part of the local landscape.


5. Engage With Local Audiences Through Comments and DMs


Our CBI research found that 82% of consumers post comments or questions in social profiles for businesses. However, only about half (48%) are satisfied with the business’s response.


Engagement is a two-way street. Actively responding to comments, direct messages (DMs), and even engaging with other local accounts demonstrates that your business is attentive and invested in local customers and the community.


This level of interaction helps build a loyal following and positively impacts your account’s visibility through the platforms’ algorithms.


Additionally, interactive features like polls, questions in stories, or live sessions can further amplify engagement and give your audience a direct voice in your content.


Download The Localized Social Content Guide for more local social strategies and tactics!


Green, black, and white download button for SOCi’s Localized Social Content Guide Description: Green, black, and white download button for SOCi’s Localized Social Content Guide


Manage Local Social with SOCi’s CoMarketing Cloud


As you can see, a lot goes into a local social strategy targeted at Gen Z. SOCi’s CoMarketing Cloud is here to help! Our CoMarketing Cloud — powered by SOCi Genius, our AI automation layer — is the marketing platform for multi-location enterprises.


We created Genius Social for local social management. It’s an AI layer on top of our social product, SOCi Social. Genius Social enables you to plan, post, analyze, and engage with audiences at each location’s account across all major social media networks. 


Genius Social pulls data from multiple online sources to recommend and help produce the most engaging content for your target audiences, including Gen Z. Genius Social also ensures that every post and interaction is on-brand, data-driven, and in lockstep with the swiftly changing social media and consumer landscape.


A GIF highlighting SOCi's Genius Social product


Genius Social streamlines posting, monitors feedback, and offers insights for a dynamic content strategy, making it your go-to for Gen Z-focused local social marketing and beyond.


Request a demo today to learn more about Genius Social and our CoMarketing Cloud!



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Chi Whitley

Chi Whitley is a content marketer who specializes in local SEO. He’s passionate about helping multi-location businesses grow their brands and online presence in the ever-changing world of localized marketing.

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