The following is a guest piece by AJ Pulvirenti, a senior strategist at Movers+Shakers. Opinions are the author’s own. 

Festival season has begun and it is a cultural moment that brands should pay attention to  and I don’t mean just the music trends. Whether the crowd is raving out in the fields of nature or feeling the beach vibes in Miami, marketers have an opportunity to engage with Gen Z in a meaningful way, in particular on social media where they can win this generation’s loyalty. So, what content does Gen Z want to see from brands beyond the festival grounds on social media? Let’s dive in.

Join the pre-festival hype

Share inspiration

The time leading up to festivals is the perfect opportunity for brands to position themselves as a go-to resource for festival-goers seeking guidance and inspiration. For example, sharing outfits that are perfect for Coachella, makeup you “have” to wear to Austin City Limits, nails you can match with any festival outfit or easy hairstyles that will last through the hot, sunny days. By establishing themselves as an authority in the space, brands can deepen the connection with their audience and encourage ongoing engagement.

FOMO-friendly content

As brands seek to connect with Gen Z during festival season, it’s essential to engage with not only those attending these events but also those experiencing FOMO (the fear of missing out) from afar. By bringing the festival atmosphere directly to screens, brands can help alleviate FOMO and help Gen Z feel like they’re still a part of the action.

Stay up-to-date

If there’s one way to grab Gen Z’s attention amidst festival season, it’s to be up-to-date on what exciting moments are happening throughout the event and react accordingly.

For instance, when an artist brings out a surprise guest or if there’s chatter around unexpected celebrity moments, take what people are already talking about and find a clever, entertaining way to join the active conversations. One example is when BMW shared a short video ahead of Frank Ocean’s Coachella set, featuring an orange BMW E30 M3, the exact car that appears on the cover of his breakout mixtape “Nostalgia, Ultra.” A lot of brands also jump on the Coachella lineup poster when it drops, and use the format and design to make a similar lineup of something they’re known for with consumers.

Prioritize self-expression

Self-expression is a fundamental value for Gen Z, and festivals are a place where they can be their authentic self without judgment, and connect with other like-minded people.

There are a lot of niche subcommunities around festival culture, like #ravegirls and #girlypops. Calling someone “girly pop,” especially, is a term of admiration, and an easy way for a brand to say, “I see you.”

When a brand taps into festival-goers’ unique identities and calls out what they love about them (i.e. the vibes, the outfit, etc.), they feel heard and appreciated, just as they would by hearing it from a friend.

In conclusion, Gen Z’s expectations from brands during festival season revolve around joining the conversation early, staying up-to-date throughout the events and tapping into Gen Z’s love for self-expression. By understanding and catering to their expectations, brands can effectively engage with them and create meaningful connections that extend beyond the festival grounds.

How will your brand activate during festival season?

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