Campaigns & Elections

How to Digitally Engage Gen Z Voters

Jen Lambert

April 19th, 2023

engage gen z voters

Gen Zers turned out to the polls in historic numbers to support liberal candidate Janet Protasiewicz for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, a pivotal election that will secure abortion and voting rights in the state —and we couldn’t be prouder to have worked on this campaign.

More elections are just around the corner as the nation’s eyes are already turning toward 2024, and the stakes are even higher. Millennial and Gen Z voters will comprise almost half of the 2024 electorate. Don’t take their ideological leanings for granted, either. Despite voting overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates, only 30% of Gen Zers affiliate with the Democratic party. It’s essential to start engaging these independent-minded young voters sooner rather than later. 

Here are some effective strategies to engage Gen Z on digital platforms for the 2024 election:

Meet them where they are

Generation Zers are digital natives—the first generation born into the information age. A common criticism of Gen Zers is that “they’re always on their phones,” but organizations can use this to their advantage! SMS programs could engage young voters who might check their texts but not their email inboxes, and social media posts can reach Gen Zers who never tune into cable news. 

Only 25% of Gen Zers get their news from local or cable news. Gen Zers naturally gravitate toward social media for their news and political information and always look for new platforms to explore. BeReal, Reddit, Discord and Twitch are popular platforms among Gen Zers that are often unexplored by political organizations. Think through how an AMA (Ask Me Anything) with your organization’s director on Reddit or a Discord channel for supporters could fit into your mobilization strategy. 

TikTok and Pinterest are two other platforms that Gen Z frequents, but they both prohibit paid political content (including influencer partnerships). You can still use these platforms for organic social content. 

Create authentic and inclusive content

Gen Zers aren’t interested in simple value statements. They engage with organizations with honest, authentic voices that diverge from the run-of-the-mill political messaging. Conduct regular social listening to determine what Gen Zers are talking about online, which new phrases they’re using and how they engage with political content. Fit these learnings into your messaging strategy, but don’t use more than two to three slang words in a post. 

Gen Z is the most diverse generation in American history. They want to see themselves and their peers represented in the content they consume. When engaging young voters, make it a point to use inclusive language and visuals in your creative, like how our digital strategists created social content in Spanish for United We Dream Action and the Trust Respect Access coalition.

Speak their language

Gen Zers have their finger on the pulse and want organizations to participate in viral moments. Identify Gen Zers who talk about your issue area online, and monitor what content they engage with or post on their accounts. While conducting social listening, watch for trending audios, filters, meme formats and topics. You can take any viral moment and turn it into content for your organization. When Taylor Swift’s Eras tour is trending, why not make a post about “Voting Plans As Taylor Swift Eras”? Vote-by-mail is definitely Fearless, by the way. 

Don’t be afraid to give Gen Zers the microphone, too. Senator Ed Markey’s re-election campaign in 2020 and Senator John Fetterman’s 2022 campaign not only spoke directly to young voters, but the campaigns also encouraged them to organize their peers online. The campaigns often took user-generated memes and turned them into viral social posts.

Partner with influencers 

Influencer content is more trusted by Gen Zers than traditional paid media tactics. Many young creators have large social followings and want to use them to make a positive impact. You can leverage influencer marketing to partner with trusted voices who can help you reach new audiences. Invite influencers to the table for an IRL discussion, do a collaborative Instagram post, host a Facebook Live or hand them the keys for a social media takeover. 

But do your research first. Ask yourself: Are these influencers reaching voters aged 18-27? Do they use their platform responsibly? Have they posted about political issues before, and how did those posts perform? Do their values and beliefs align with the organization’s mission? Additionally, remember to be cognizant of platform restrictions on political content when engaging with influencers. 

For an example of a successful influencer partnership, check out one of the TikToks from our influencer campaign for Abortion On Our Own Terms. 

Our team’s lived experience, combined with BerlinRosen’s track record of winning the hearts and minds of Gen Zers on critical issues, positions us to help clients meaningfully engage with internal and external youth audiences. From sending the first Gen Zer to Congress to helping secure Janet Protasiewicz’s spot on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, we have secured impactful victories for young people. 

We’re here to help. Send us a message, and let’s get started.