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Blog - Social media Simplified
Jay ZacharopoulosDec 18, 2019 10:01:27 AM2 min read

Social Media, Simplified

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- 4 min read - 

As the first generation born into a digital era, Gen Zs have been able to access and process information at an unparalleled rate through platforms considered ‘new’ or ‘revolutionary’ to others. Where previous generations witnessed the proliferation of digital communications and had to adapt, Gen Zs have known nothing else and are natives to this technology.

This means they are leading the charge in finding new channels and ways to utilize digital tools while the rest of us try to keep up.  As an app or platform is reaching peak popularity, the interest and engagement of Gen Zs has already shifted to something new and improved, making it difficult to reach them where they are. 

These unpredictable shifts in platform preference coupled with the high demands of such a tech-savvy generation pose a great challenge to institutions looking to grow their brand through social media. Earlier this year, Academica Group and Glacier partnered up to survey 1,700 high school students from 250 high schools about how they interact with post-secondary marketing materials and brands. As you will see, the importance of building a targeted social media strategy cannot be overstated.

Students recall seeing postsecondary ads via social media more than any other channel. Over half of grade 12 students recalled seeing a social media ad or campaign from a postsecondary institution.

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You may read that and think, “Okay great, we’ve got our Facebook and Twitter accounts set up and regularly producing content; we must be reaching our target audience!” If only it were that easy. Simply having a presence on social media is not good enough anymore. Remember, we’re talking about a generation that has always been within an arm’s reach of a smartphone. While our research confirmed that Gen Z spends a significant amount of time on social media platforms, it is imperative to remember that each platforms serves a different purpose and offers a different product.

As shown through our media report, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat are significantly more popular among current high schoolers than the previous ‘kings’, Facebook and Twitter.

Blog-socialmedia simplified 2These findings showcase the importance of visual content when engaging with Gen Z. Platforms where they can instantly share videos and images with friends, without stretching their attention span. The content is short, concise and visually alluring.   

Taking our research one step further, we explored the engagement across platforms within each specific grade, and while the aforementioned channels rated high across all grades, Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit were still very common among Grade 12 students.

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This would indicate these platforms are either on the decline, and will see a drop off in popularity in the near future, or are platforms that students start using at an older age. It’s likely that both these factors are at play and emphasizes the fact that not all social media channels are useful for Gen Z audiences.

 To learn more on how today’s high school students interact with key media and post secondary 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.


  1. 2019 Gen Z Media Report – The State of Postsecondary Marketing to High School Students