The game is changing again. Just when you got used to marketing to millennials, a new generation is entering the fray. Generation Z has arrived, and you're one of the first brands that will be clamoring for their attentions as they enter adulthood.
So what should a college or university do to appeal to this latest group of incoming college-age students?
Does your campus have a penchant for helping out others on a global scale? More than a quarter of Gen-Z 16- to 19-year-olds volunteer with a charity or nonprofit of choice regularly. If you have student clubs and organizations that volunteer and help out people in need overseas and abroad, that's a story you should be telling in your marketing. This generation perhaps more than any before it is hyper-aware of social-consciousness and values it greatly.
With Gen-Z-ers you're dealing with a whole new social game. While millennials at one point were perhaps content to live primarily on Facebook (that's changed significantly as well), Generation Z is far more interested in a variety of social channel use. This means your university marketing team needs to kick off Instagram and Snapchat strategies pronto.This generation tends to be the taste-maker for what's up and coming in social media. As far as new platforms go, though, nothing has taken particular hold of late, so take time to make full use of your existing channels. Live video is currently king, so start streaming on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. And start brewing some 360-degree videos for Facebook (campus tours work great for this), as VR is going to be standard operating procedure soon.
One of the biggest calling cards of this youngest generation is that they are fans of self-promotion - whether it's a selfie-ridden Instagram account or social media feeds peppered with their personal thoughts on entertainment, politics and memes. That's why your marketing should put faces front and center. Emphasize personal relationships in your messaging, perhaps even going so far as choosing a student or faculty member to act as a "spokesperson" for your college or university for the year. (This is the generation of the YouTube celebrity, after all.)
Your college or university has messaging standards. Nearly all of them do. But when it comes to Generation Z, you'd be better off at least making some modifications (or throwing it out the window all together in some cases). Particularly in social media, but also across most distribution methods, marketing to Gen-Z means truncating your messaging and de-formalizing it. This generation's attention span is limited and spread thin across an unprecedented number of competing distractions. Don't fear emojis and picture-based communication, and make sure you're providing quick-hit, snackable content in addition to (not necessarily in place of) long-form informational content.