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Matt DiteljanApr 5, 2020 1:09:31 PM4 min read

The Best Tactics To Get Your Brand Message To High School Students


- 7 min read - 

As the generation born in 1995 or later, Gen-Z is well on its way to becoming a powerful consumer segment, and is a vital demographic for higher education institutions. While the focus of postsecondary marketing continues to grow and target audiences beyond high schools, such as mature students and those looking to expand their qualifications, the increasing influence and  buying-power[1] of Gen-Z coupled with their unique expectations makes them a focal point for marketers.

A common issue among postsecondary recruitment professionals is an inability to effectively reach Gen-Z. With shifts in marketing platforms and communication channels taking place at an unparalleled pace, the needs and interests of Gen-Z are unique from previous generations and require the utmost attention to detail and awareness.

The ‘How’

Unlike prior generations, Gen-Zs were born into a digital era meaning they have been able to access and process information at a much faster rate, consequently holding higher expectations out of technology and the companies using it. In fact, 44% of Gen Z check their social media feeds hourly[2].

According to a 2019 survey Glacier conducted with 1,700 high school students, students recall viewing postsecondary ads via social media more than any other marketing channel.

Image source: 2019 Gen Z Media Report – The State of Postsecondary Marketing to High School Students

While incorporating social media campaigns is imperative in reaching Gen-Z, schools must remember that each platform serves a different purpose and reaches a different audience. Glacier’s Gen Z Media report determined that platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, prevalent among Millennials, paled in comparison to Instagram (95% of students use), YouTube (90%), and Snapchat (87%) among Gen-Zs.

Image Source: 2019 Gen Z Media Report – The State of Postsecondary Marketing to High School Students

Reaching Gen-Z where they are is a great way to start the conversation and build awareness as 49% of high schoolers use social media and online forums to research higher education, but driving traffic to your primary platform is still a necessity. 82% of high school students use Institutional websites to research postsecondary options, making it the most popular channel among university and college prospects. The methods used to research institutions shift based on the grade but reinforce how key your website is.

Image Source: 2019 Gen Z Media Report – The State of Postsecondary Marketing to High School Students

Gen Zs are also the first generation raised in the smartphone era and, according to GlobalWebIndex[3], spend an average of almost 3.5 hours daily on their mobile devices, making them the first generation to spend more time on their mobile devices than all other devices combined. With a majority of the content they consume coming from their smartphones, platforms must be designed with mobile capability in mind. 

Understanding and incorporating the correct marketing channels into your strategy is vital, but the unique characteristics and aforementioned expectations of Gen Z add another challenge: ensuring your message is something they will pay attention to.

The ‘What’

Once you understand how to reach them, it’s time to focus on the tactics that will grab their attention. With an overabundance of information and distractions flooding the digital world, an effective campaign must successfully identify the relatable characteristics of Gen Z. How can you ensure your message isn’t lost in the noise?

Give the people more of what they want! No generation has been more accepting of personalized experiences than Gen-Z. Personalization has often been thought of as ‘creepy’ or ‘intrusive’, but  38% of Gen-Zs prefer personalization based on their interests and habits[4], compared to just 21% of millennials.  Being born into a digital era has instilled more trust in technologies such as artificial intelligence and opened the door for institutions to get more feedback and information from Gen-Zs in exchange for more tailored experiences.

Interactive experiences have also become an expectation. Gen Zs want their voice heard and expect innovative campaigns that present that opportunity. Interaction and engagement is a great way to grab a person’s attention and differentiate yourself from all the competing content. Polls allow users to express themselves while choosing the content they want, a defining characteristic of Gen Z, and offer marketers a chance to collect feedback. User-generated content provides an opportunity for institutions to promote their brand organically, while encouraging creativity, inclusion and empowerment. According to venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, user-generated content can receive up to 6.9 times more engagement[5].

To learn more on how today’s high school students interact with key media and postsecondary marketing initiatives download our Gen Z Media Report.

We collected insights from 1,700 high school students on their media preferences for higher ed advertising. Access Report.