Social Giant 9GAG’s Secret for Engaging Gen Z

liliamLaunched in 2008 as a website, Asia’s viral social giant 9GAG now boasts 150M users worldwide and is the most followed entertainment brand across social media (43.5M followers on Instagram, 38M on Facebook and 14.5M on Twitter). But with an open and collaborative platform that draws Gen Z and Millennials together to share, discover and engage with funny and entertaining content, COO Lilian Leong explains, it’s not just about the numbers.


Cynopsis: Why is 9GAG valuable to advertisers?

Leong: There are a lot of online platforms and publishers that boast big audience numbers, but when it comes to engagement it’s a different story altogether. 9GAG’s engaged audience is one of its key differentiators and keys to its success. We recently held a user-generated video contest with a grand prize of $100,000 called Fun-Off, which received nearly 18,000 video submissions. Over the course of the competition, which ran from September to December, we secured 740M views and 44M engagements.

Having an engaged audience opens up creative doors for us to collaborate with brands in new and effective ways. We brought on Pizza Hut and Casetify as brand partners for the contest, which gave those brands a fun and unique way to connect with Gen Z. Both brands exceeded their target numbers by a significant margin.

Cynopsis: What is 9GAG doing to engage Gen Z viewers that is new?

Leong: We never assume we know it all when it comes to Gen Z. We don’t over-engineer our content and don’t force feed them with what we want them to see. 

As is the case with Fun Off, we empower creators to create funny content that’s truly resonant with our targets. We just give a little push and let the content fly. And our marketing partners get to tap into that creativity and connect with that audience.

Cynopsos: What lessons could the U.S. learn from its success?

Leong: While 9GAG is headquartered in Asia, we recently opened up U.S. operations in New York. But we do think that 9GAG is a great example of a platform that embraces the globalization of the internet, which is reflected in our community. We like to call it a “United Nations of Virality.” A platform like Reddit, for example, skews more towards Americans.

I’d also add that 9GAG is truly driven by its audience. When the audience voices an opinion, 9GAG listens. By having a constant feedback loop that informs decisions, 9GAG gives its audience more of what they want, and in turn, they spend more time on 9GAG’s channels.

Cynopsis: How do you explain 9GAG’s success reaching the Gen Z consumer?

Leong: 9GAG is comprised of global citizens who are neither defined nor confined by their respective countries. Through research, we’ve found that Gen Z is more globally-minded than previous generations, and we try to make the site and all 9GAG properties an international forum where anybody can feel comfortable contributing. We’re also giving our audience the freedom to define what’s important to them, so the content you see on 9GAG is predominantly made by Gen Z for Gen Z.

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