Know your audience. Sage advice for every college admissions marketing professional, but there’s a lot to know when marketing to Generation Z (those born after 1995 and before 2011).
Though this group is just hitting the workforce, in two years, Gen Z is expected to account for 40% of all consumers, per Fast Company. Right now, of course, they’re hitting college campuses. And there are right and wrong ways to engage these digital natives.
Sure, it’s where your parents, alumni and faculty and staff are, but your prospective students don’t go anywhere near it, except perhaps to use Facebook Messenger. Gen Z’s digital footprint is huge, but Facebook isn’t where they’re “stepping.” Use Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube to connect with Gen Z and share information about your program, mission and culture.
The “heartstrings” admissions viewbooks of the past still have a place with Gen Z (as part of the swag bag at a campus tour), but they want their messages on social and mobile first. Create your marketing plan around social and mobile with short, direct messages and a variety of content (videos, photos, podcast, etc.). Use printed collateral as supplemental content.
Be a YouTube sensation.
It’s the second largest search engine in the world. And it’s where Gen Z spends the greatest amount of their time. What kind of YouTube content can you create for Gen Z?
- Episodic videos following different students?
- A few first-year lectures for them to see what it’s like in a classroom?
- A series of tongue-in-cheek “college-life hack” videos hosted by your students focused on #adulting?
- Who are your high-profile alumni who would host live stream videos of their work, etc.? It’s a great way to show outcomes.
For further inspiration, 90 percent of users say that product videos are helpful in the decision process. And this is a generation that was raised making decisions very quickly from information they accessed online. But if your video is long, they will quickly move along to a shorter video.
This generation is tech savvy and advertising savvy. Keep your messages short and get to the point quickly – no fluff needed. Keep content focused on what they will experience at your college and what the outcome will be for them. Remember that Gen Z (and their parents) are very interested in – and worried about – what job they will get after graduation. How is your message oriented on their career success?
Note that I didn’t say “short and sweet” on purpose. “Sweet” doesn’t sell with Gen Z. Authenticity is key for this generation for whom online reviews carry heavy weight. Make sure the authenticity of your message and images is woven throughout various platforms and publications.
Text, don’t email.
Email is so Gen X. Yes, they will need to use email when they get to college, but texting is a great way to reach them before they get to college. And they don’t use voicemail.
A new generation requires a new way of thinking about marketing. And don’t forget to tap your campus experts – the Gen Z’ers who are your tour guides and admissions ambassadors. Host a pizza night to pick their brains about what appeals to them and how they like to be marketed to. After, all, they are a group of people who are 60 million strong in the U.S. (more than Millennials by one million), so you need to have a plan.