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Columbia Business Monthly

How to Build an Authentic Brand on Social Media That Attracts Gen Z

Apr 01, 2024 10:24AM ● By Kamber Parker Bowden

DICTIONARY: Authentic, adjective: not false or imitation, true to one’s own personality, spirit or character, worthy of acceptance or belief as conforming to or based on fact.

REAL WORLD: Authentic, all-powerful social media buzzword and 2023’s Word of the Year: You know it when you see it.

If you have ever sat through a marketing or social media brainstorming session in the past five years, you have heard the word “authentic” more than 1,000 times. Simultaneously, companies have spent the past few years searching for ways to be more authentic online. In a digital, post-pandemic world, it is critical to remember that others in your industry are catching on. If you don’t pick up the pace, you could fall behind in the race for talent. 

If you are ready to dive into painting a clearer picture of your workplace on social media, keep these tools in mind: Young professionals want to see behind the scenes, the culture, who the people are behind the brand, and they want to learn from the brand. You should not always be selling to your social media audience because that is the “old social media.” The new social media is about authentically connecting with your audience and developing a digital relationship

Another reason authenticity on social media is so important. Consider this stat: Young professionals are going straight to a brand’s social media pages instead of their website 70 percent of the time.  What really attracts young talent sometimes is the ability to look at a company’s social media pages to feel out a company’s culture, how they will feel there, and how they will fit in. That’s why it’s important for brands to be active, present, and most importantly genuine, on their social pages.

The next generation can instantly tell when a company is extremely sales-y or fake. In the words of Jason Dorsey at the Center of Generational Kinetics, “Gen Z wants to both buy from and work for brands that they trust.” 

Gen Z is also the most diverse generation in U.S. history, so they are looking for that inclusivity in brands. Not incorporating this level of authentic language and representation in your digital brand could hurt it in the near future given what we have shared above.

One caveat to remember is that being authentic online on your social media channels means actually being authentic offline. In other words, don’t try to paint a different picture to attract talent if that’s not the reality of your brand or company. When we work with clients, we immediately begin with a survey to both young and experienced professionals at your office to understand if what we recommend (i.e., culture, “day in the life” videos, and more) is accurate.

I should stress that this does not mean you should ignore your website. A digital presence is comprehensive. Your website is your foundation, and it should be strong, but your social media should be just as strong – as the main pull and reflection of your workplace culture – and that is a powerful tool.  

Kamber Parker Bowden is the founder of TheYoPro Know, which promotes success in the workplace by being a bridge between ambitious young professionals and progressive businesses who want to recruit, engage, and retain them. Learn more at