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Gen-Z Roundup: April 2022

Matt Lacey

02 May 2022 · 6 min read

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Using Tagger’s Signals Creator Listening Engine, we measured how some of April's trending topics, news events, and more from the past month have been shaped by Gen-Z’ers and what that looks like on social media.

Epic raises $144M to support Ukraine, signaling change for the gaming industry?

As the video games industry exponentially grows in consumers and engagement—becoming one of the top entertainment mediums—the real (non-virtual) world seems to be a growing factor in decision making. Earlier this month, Fortnite developer, Epic Games, teamed up with Xbox (Microsoft) to raise funds supporting Ukrainian war relief. Epic announced that all the money made from March 20th to April 3rd would be donated to and split amongst a handful of humanitarian organizations.

With the additional help of Fortnite releasing a new season, they ultimately made $144M—with $36M reported on the first day. Though many game companies may have donated a fraction of their revenues to charity, we’re finally entering a space where a multibillion-dollar company is willing to refrain from profiting for two weeks. The video game industry is becoming more transparent, likely in response to increased pressure on big companies to do their part in communities locally and worldwide.

Harry Styles breaks Spotify record & headlines Coachella

Harry Styles has been having a trailblazing April! Earlier this month, another tremendous feat was achieved in the contemporary music industry when Harry Styles broke the US Spotify record for the most-streamed song in a single day. With the help of his lead single, “As it Was”, off of his forthcoming album, Harry’s House, Styles was able to dethrone Olivia Rodrigo and “driver's license.” Sitting at 8.6M streams in 24 hours, Styles now holds the most-streamed single-day record for 2022 and all-time. The song was paired with a top trending music video, which is currently at 63M views and counting. To top it all off, he was arguably the most notable headlining act these past two weekends at Coachella. Though headliners included the likes of Billie Eilish, The Weekend, and Swedish House Mafia, Styles held his own and provided two showstopping sets. The first weekend included a guest appearance by legendary country singer-songwriter Shania Twain, in a truly “didn’t see that coming” moment. Their joint performance of ‘Man I Feel Like a Woman’ went viral all over social media and led to engagement boosts for Styles and an influx of mentions for Twain. The second weekend included another surprise guest, none other than the all-empowering pop icon Lizzo. They joined to sing Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Will Survive’ and an ode to One Direction nostalgia, ‘What Makes You Beautiful.’ For an influencer-centric festival like Coachella, it’s only fitting that social metrics shoot up in the wake of a phenomenal performance, hence why Lizzo’s sum of engagements rose by 7M on the day after her performance.

News for Netflix

For Netflix, one of the premier video subscription services and production companies, this past quarter wasn’t too kind, as they reported their first subscriber loss since 2011. With primary blame being placed on the pandemic and mass password sharing, the streaming service’s customer base dropped by 200,000 subscribers. They stated, "In addition to our 222 million paying households, we estimate that Netflix is being shared with over 100 million additional households”. None of this comes as a surprise in the wake of the company raising its monthly prices.

On top of the competition and an already high global household presence, Netflix’s usually high revenue growth has started to slow down. After the quarterly numbers were released, the company’s shares saw a considerable decrease by about 35%—the most significant single-day stock drop in Netflix history, creating a $54 billion loss in market cap—, resulting in a price per share compared to the price at the beginning of 2018. Co-CEO Reed Hastings expressed that the company is exploring a cheaper ad-supported subscription plan in an attempt to alleviate the monetary losses and resurge the subscriber gains. He highlighted, then countered his previous stance, which favored subscriber simplicity and against the complexity of advertising.

Hastings stated, "as much as I’m a fan of that, I’m a bigger fan of consumer choice…That’s something we’re looking at now and figuring out over the next year or two, but think of us as quite open to offering even lower prices with advertising as a consumer choice.” With Netflix now being only one of the many streaming services accessible, there’s a plethora of professional and personal insights and opinions regarding this new ad-supported option. Despite their subscriber loss, the fuss over this situation has grown the service’s following on all social media platforms.

The Return of Kendrick Lamar

Rapper Kendrick Lamar’s next album will be released on May 13th. Entitled Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, this announcement caused a considerable stir in the hip hop enthusiast world, primarily because his last album was released in April 2017—roughly 1,850 days ago, as Twitter will tell you. Complex’s Andre Gee wrote that “Kendrick fans stand next to only Grand Theft Auto die-hards when it comes to prolonged thirst for a new product, as there’s been immense speculation about what he’ll do next.”

Though the wait has been grueling, more people are curious about what this album will be and how it’ll be perceived in this day and age. The global climate, national political state and especially social media were not the same in 2017 as they are now, so wonder is in the atmosphere regarding what’s going to happen next. Lamar has also been announced on multiple bills this summer, including Rolling Loud Miami and Milano Summer Festival, so we can be thankful that his return will be in full force. As one of the most influential artists without a solid social media presence, it’ll be exciting to see what he does this time around when coupled with the right platform.

Algospeak- what is it?

TikTok is known for providing algorithmically aligned videos to your feed. With increased social media usage, the app is doubling down on inappropriate content and misinformation moderation. Little did they know that this would help instill and promote the use of ‘algospeak.’

Not exclusive to, but primarily utilized on TikTok, algospeak is a neo-Aesopian language composed of code words and turns of phrase to avoid getting content removed or down-ranked. Some examples include “ouid” instead of “weed,” “panorama” instead of “pandemic,” “leg booty” instead of “LGBTQ,” and even the corn emoji instead of the word “porn.”

In a corporate attempt to counteract harmful content, these companies and their moderators end up hurting and trivializing creators of marginalized identities. Community manager for Twitch creators Lodane Erisian said, “You have to say ‘saltines’ when you’re literally talking about crackers now” because the platform considers the word “cracker” a slur.

In addition to removing certain emojis, and the fear of using words like “white” or “racist,” there’s not much argument needed to see that the balance between censorship and free speech is a bit more complicated than we thought.

Elon Musk acquires Twitter for $44 billion

Becoming official just a couple of days ago, Twitter Inc. entered a definitive agreement stating that the platform is to be acquired “by an entity wholly owned by Elon Musk.” Word started to spread earlier this month about Musk, Tesla CEO and Twitter’s largest sole stake owner, proposing a $44 billion buyout and privatization of the company to its board of directors. His rationale is best summed up through his own words: “I invested in Twitter as I believe in its potential to be the platform for free speech around the globe, and I believe free speech is a societal imperative for a functioning democracy. However, since making my investment, I now realize the company will neither thrive nor serve this societal imperative in its current form. Twitter needs to be transformed as a private company.” After numerous meetings and negotiations, co-founder Jack Dorsey and the rest of the company’s executives ultimately agreed to Musk’s offer.

However, the letter sent to the board’s chairman outlining the offer also included the note that should his best and final offer be declined, Elon would “reconsider” his shareholder position. In hindsight, it looks like Musk was trying to display his power and influence by twisting Twitter’s arm and forcing their hand. A few days ago, Dorsey tweeted, “In principle, I don’t believe anyone should own or run Twitter. It wants to be a public good at a protocol level, not a company. Solving the problem of it being a company, however, Elon is the singular solution I trust. I trust his mission to extend the light of consciousness.” All eyes fall on the next steps as Musk’s first moves as the owner will prove highly consequential.

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