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Who Is a Gen-Z-er Watching on Social Media These Days? (Hint, it’s not Pewdiepie)

By Jessica Schimm

in Gen Z

Posted December 11, 2017

Marketing to Gen Z? Here’s where they’re spending their time on social media and influencers one 13-year-old is watching. 

It was Christmas 2005. I was 14 years old and had just gotten my first cellphone. Not the cool Motorola Razr phone, but a silver flip phone.

The coolest thing about having a cell phone back then was being able to have “private” conversations that were not on our family’s landline; god forbid my brother pick up the phone and listen to the embarrassing thing I said to my crush in fifth period.

We also took low-quality images on our phones, which we’d wait to show each other in person - because we didn’t want to get in trouble for the extra $0.10 cents it cost to send a bigger file.

The good ‘ole T9 keyboard also made texting less of a great option, but if you have a crazy desire to actually click the same button 3 times to type a single letter, this app will let you do it. And most importantly, selfies were saved for our digital cameras, not our phones.

I got my first phone at age 14, and I used it primarily to call people. Today gen-z-ers are getting their first phones small computers at age 12, making their habits different from millennials.

Let’s review how their smartphones habits are influencing their lives and purchases.

Marketing to Gen-Zers

The majority of US teens now receive smartphones at age 12, and with them, access to a world of instant entertainment, education and goods.

Considering Generation Z accounts for $44 billion of purchasing power, their habits and content consumption patterns should not be ignored.

If you are marketing to Gen-Zers, make sure you understand a good digital video strategy for smartphones.

A majority of US teens buy digitally, and about half within that majority buy via smartphone. They also use their phones in-store to read product reviews and compare prices,” according to eMarketer.

Think With Google’s report on Generation Z also tells us that teens spend the majority of time on smartphones, beating out laptops, TVs and gaming consoles (previously very popular for earlier generations of teens).

So, what are they doing on their smartphones? Watching digital video.

More specifically, 71% of US teens are watching online video on their smartphones for more than 3 hours a day, according to Think With Google. 

“YouTube, in particular, has emerged as an alternative to children’s TC,” reports The Guardian.

This sounds about right for those who have easy access to the video platform.

So, who are they watching? And do influencers have influence over the desires of Gen Z?  Well. We asked one 13 year old, just in time for the holidays.

Who is a Gen-Z-er Watching on YouTube?

Seth is a 13 year old from New Jersey who likes to play soccer, snowboard, play video games and hang out with his friends. He also loves to watch YouTube.

With parental permission, Seth gave us an inside look at the YouTubers he follows and why he likes them.

And while we were purely interested in the content that was catching his attention, we couldn’t help but notice how many products came up in the video content.

In some videos, products are merely mentioned with no obvious or explicit “selling-agenda”, like, for example, when Tanner Braungardt picks up a new Apple mac computer for his brother. There are no talking points, no focused b-roll on the product, just a seemingly-genuine exchange.

On the heavier-handed end, products are endorsed with full plugs complete with key points, the website link and a discount, with more action to instantly buy than traditional tv could provide.  

On his holiday list? A chromebook, jogger pants and shirts from H&M. Let’s take a look at his favorite YouTubers.

Tanner Braungardt

Tanner is an energetic teen who gained popularity on YouTube through amazing trampolining skills. One of Tanner’s more popular videos is a bean bag prank, where he fills his sister’s room entirely with bean bag balls.

Why Seth loves this channel: “because he videos his everyday life which is really interesting.”

Example of product mention: Gifting his brother a macbook chrome in one video. Not listed as a paid endorsement. 


FunForLouis takes adventures all over the world, and publishes his adventures in seasons and episodes. This is a great channel to tune into when you want to open up your eyes to a different culture.

Why Seth loves this channel: “because he travels around the world and puts it in videos which is very interesting and I love traveling around the world just like he does.”

Example of product mention: FunForLouis has an entire list of his gear in his YouTube video description. Not listed as a paid endorsement. 

Danny Duncan

Danny is crass character who pranks a lot.

Why Seth loves this channel: “because he videos his life and makes it very funny for his audience to enjoy.”

Example of product mention: Honda, gifting a new car to his sister. Not listed as a paid endorsement. 


Kevin Perce has been teaching snowboarding in Whistler for more than 10 years.

Why Seth loves this channel: “because he makes snowboard tutorials and gives ways to improve on it, which has helped me a lot at getting better at snowboarding and he also makes snowboarding edits which are very interesting to watch.”

Example of product mention: Kevin’s top gear picks in his YouTube video description. Not listed as a paid endorsement. 


This channel answers questions related to history, science, geography and economics.

Why Seth loves this channel: “because he makes interesting informational videos on hypothetical situations that many people have thought about, and put them into videos saying what would happen in those scenarios which is very interesting.”

Example of product mention: promotions with Casper.

Thanks Seth for giving us a little insight into who Gen Z is watching on YouTube! If you want to partner with influencers this holiday season, take a look at our list of 85+ social media influencers in different category verticals. 

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