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The Glacier Team Jul 24, 2019 10:30:00 AM 4 min read

Gen Z and Snapchat: How, When, and Why They Use it

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Gen Z and Snapchat: How, When, and Why They Use It

Is it possible that the world’s most popular social media platform for young people is actually underutilized by advertisers? No, actually.

Most advertisers haven’t figured out Snapchat. They just assume it’s not for them- and that’s a good thing!

Recent data points to only about 28% of companies making Snapchat a part of their marketing strategy. This is compared to 86% who advertise on Facebook and 69% who advertise on Instagram.

Only about a quarter of the brands out there see any value in having a presence on Snap. And only about half of them are doing it the right way.

But, you know better. You’re going to use it properly for student recruitment. Here’s how.

Know How Young People Use Snapchat

The old school method of “shotgun” advertising to youth would mean to simply appear where your target audience is looking and put your message there. And you may recycle the same message over and over again, whether you’re buying a Facebook ad or a highway billboard.

This mentality will doom your campaigns to fail on Snapchat before they even begin.

You need to understand how, when and why young people are currently using Snapchat. Adults may look at it as pretty much the same thing as Instagram (with both being close to what Facebook used to be), but this is far from the case.

Snapchat or InstagramSource: ContentCal

Teens chose Snapchat as their favourite social media platform, but they actually use Instagram more on a daily basis.

They’re logging into to these two apps for two very different reasons. If you grew up in the 80s or 90s, think of it as the difference between using a telephone and watching TV.

Snapchat is a phone call. It’s how they connect with their friends to make plans or just chat. They feel safe there and they can be goofy or totally random. It’s not polished or curated because it’s not supposed to be, and there is a lot of comfort in that.

Meanwhile, Instagram is TV. It’s far more polished and curated, but that’s what they came here looking for. Today’s teens come to this app to see things from Taylor Swift or Kendal Jenner, as opposed to their own friends. 

Generation Z is acutely aware that the images and stories they see on Instagram are heavily produced, filtered, and curated. But that’s ok. They logged on to see the glitz and glamour.

Teen on Phone

They will give their own Instagram posts the same level of manicuring and they will regularly prune their own account. Kids are not likely to post a goofy vacation photo here. They are more likely to post a heavily-staged and filtered photo of themselves at sunset, and later laugh that it doesn’t even really look like them.

It’s this high production value expectation that also has today’s youth more forgiving and tolerant for high-production and heavily branded ads on Instagram.

Know How to Combine Snapchat + Student Recruitment

Post-secondary schools and institutions of higher learning can really tap into this when they’re advertising to youth, if they’re aware of the two distinct behaviours and expectations above.

You will want to put your “sizzle reel” on Instagram, and your testimonials on Snapchat.

Snapchat is where teens go for authenticity and realism. Keep this in mind and post your more authentic stories from current/ former students here. The content should feel less like commercials and more like conversations. 

Your audience will, of course, still know that these are ads. But they will be more accepting of them if the ads aren’t overpowering them with production and appear to be coming from a real person. Authenticity is 100% key here.

On the other hand, your higher production videos belong on Instagram and YouTube. Your best approach is to put your big-ticket videos and campus tours on YouTube, because that is where teens will expect to find them. But you can slice that video into small bite-sized snacks and post them to Instagram.

Screen Shot 2019-07-24 at 10.20.08 AM

You can also post these higher production videos on Facebook, because that’s where parents will be looking for them.

You probably don’t log into Facebook and LinkedIn for the same experience. So, don’t expect teens to log into Instagram and Snapchat for the same experience.

Contact us to learn how to tailor your messaging and your experience to each platform to achieve the maximum resonance. Put your highly-produced student recruitment content on Instagram and your more authentic and “real” videos on Snapchat and you will be rewarded!

P.S. Follow us on LinkedIn for tips, tricks, and industry updates.

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