Skip to content
The Glacier TeamSep 5, 2023 3:30:08 PM5 min read

Social Media Strategies Summit: Tips to Engage with Gen Z

The Glacier team is honored to be included as a featured speaker at the upcoming Social Media Strategies Summit for Higher Education, happening virtually this October 23-25. At the summit, John Reid, Glacier's President, will explore the latest trends and insights on advertizing to Gen Z, a highly influential and digitally-savvy group. He'll delve into the unique characteristics of this demographic, including their values, behaviors, and preferences regarding digital platforms.

We interviewed John to get a sneak peek of his presentation about the opportunities in Gen Z advertizing for colleges and universities!


John, is there a main channel that you see as having the most success in reaching Gen Z?

Gen Z is a demographic that we refer to as the digital natives. This is because they grew up in an age where technology always ruled the world. Gen Z has been on the Internet from a young age, so the best way to engage with them is through social media. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to which social media platform your institute should be on. Channels like Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat have the one key piece that Gen Z loves—short-form video content! We know Gen Z prefers bite-sized, visual content, but it’s also important to diversify your approach and try out different platforms like YouTube, where Gen Z spends a good amount of time.


How can you craft content that resonates with Gen Z in a fast-moving digital landscape?

There are a few strategies you can use to create content that leaves an impact. We know that Gen Z loves that messy-real type of content that Millennials are not used to — do not call us old-fashioned! It is important to understand that we grew up with the Internet, but Gen Z grew up on it. Gen Z doesn’t want that polished professional content but wants to see some messy-realness that is all the rage! Messy-real content has authenticity and relatability that Gen Z loves. This type of content does well in terms of share-ability too, as they send it around to their friends, share it on their stories, or download it. You can even create interactive content like polls, quizzes, or challenges to try something a little bit more engaging.


How can educational institutions effectively showcase their values and authenticity to resonate with Gen Z's socially conscious mindset?

As an institution, it can be tricky to show your authenticity and transparency. Higher education marketers struggle with this one at times because, on the one hand, you want to follow your brand guidelines and appear professional and established. On the other hand, you also want to humanize your brand and show a real experience. So how do you do both? You can share your core values and mission by highlighting real stories from students, faculty, and alumni. When you put faces behind the positive environment at your institution, you build a genuine connection with Gen Z.


Do numbers and stats tell a story about youth marketing trends?

It is really important to keep track of metrics, because how else can you tell what’s working and what isn’t? This is why we analyze key numbers like click-through rates, social media shares, and engagement rates. We can also look at data to understand the values and behaviors of a Gen Z student. Every year, we put together a Media Report of student habits and beliefs that you can download from our website. We cover the A to the Z when it comes to figuring out what the younger generation cares about. After all, it’s important to truly know your audience before you advertize to them, especially with the evolving online landscape.


What are some new channels that have been taking off lately?

We know social media isn’t going anywhere; it’s so ingrained in our daily lives and culture that it’s something we can always count on. There are, however, some new channels that we’ve been seeing grow in success. One of these is gaming placements. We know that 87% of Gen Z say they game on at least a weekly basis, which is why institutions are starting to put their ads where Gen Z games. ConnectedTV is another place that’s growing in popularity with advertizers. Because these ads are on streaming platforms, targeted video ads can get in front of Gen Z and cater to their preference for on-demand content. Both of these channels provide unique opportunities to engage with Gen Z in their natural environment.


In an era dominated by digital communication, how can higher education marketers create meaningful offline experiences that capture Gen Z's attention?

The question here is how do you get beyond the screen and create a real-life experience when Gen Z finally comes to you after seeing your ad placements. The strategy that comes into play is bridging the gap between the digital and physical worlds. Your institution probably already does this at open houses you host, but take it a step further. Host interactive workshops, networking events, and more campus tours. Take advantage of social sharing! I recommend you look into the success of the #HashtagChallenge. You can create your own hashtag to encourage photo posting—after all, Gen Z really loves social media!


What can people learn from your presentation?

We’ll take you through case studies and best practices by examining successful campaigns that have effectively targeted Gen Z audiences on popular social media channels like TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube. Our goal is to provide you with an understanding of how to engage and connect with this key demographic, including tips on creating authentic, relatable, and visually compelling content that resonates with Gen Z. We’ll also give you a couple of tips on how you can use the cool new slang so you’re not “cheugy” and teach you how to “get lit” with Glacier!