4 Ways Higher Education Can Connect and Engage with Gen Z

4 Ways Higher Education Can Connect and Engage with Gen Z

Forget everything you knew about Millennials; there’s a new generation entering college and how they engage and communicate is completely different than their predecessors. As a result, our digital marketing strategies for higher education need to adjust with them.

Generation Z, born between 1994 and 2009, is the first cohort of people who were born into a digital world. They grew up with constant access to the internet and technology and as a result have a very different view on society and higher education than previous generations.

iStock_000020350082_Large5 takeaways you need to know to understand who Gen Z are:

  • – They have an entrepreneurial spirit
  • – They’re culturally aware and care about the future of our planet
  • – Growing up online, they are the most globally-connected generation
  • – They are less active and obesity is on the rise
  • – Favor anonymous communication such as Snapchat, Yik Yak, Whisper, etc.

Because Gen Z-ers are the first natives in the digital age, the way they interact online and consume media is extremely different from previous generations. This makes them quite the puzzle higher education marketers need solve.

But fear not. We’ve compiled 4 ways your institution can connect and engage with Gen Z:

They really care about the world, so you should too

Gen Z Changing the WorldGen Z had a unique upbringing. Most don’t remember the world pre-9/11, if they were even born, and their childhood took place during one of the worst economic recessions in the country’s history. In addition to national and global events, their education system focused on teamwork in diverse, inclusive classrooms and promoted strong anti-bullying messages.

So what have these unique circumstances produced? A super considerate group of teens.

That’s right, Gen Z is one of the most compassionate generations ever. They believe in working as a team and want to save the world. They’re considerate of their personal and ecological impact and expect a higher education institution that holds the same beliefs.

Convey your philanthropic side in your digital marketing strategy for higher education and show Gen Z you care; that is what resonates with them.

Speak in Images

Gen Z on InstagramThey say a pictures worth a 1,000 words and Gen Z takes that to a whole new level. They speak fluently in images, from emojis to photo and video based social media. Let’s just say Gen Z isn’t typing out their status updates.

In 2014, 25% of 12-17 year olds left Facebook, the social titan we all know. However, in Fall 2014, 76% of the same demographic reported being on Instagram. What’s the major difference between these two platforms? Photos.

If you want to reach Gen Z, you need platforms such as Instagram, Vine and Snapchat to be in your digital marketing strategy for higher education. These guys are not going to be reading the content you put out; you need to connect with them using powerful images, photos and video.

Digitally Optimize

Digitally Optimized DevicesTo be digitally optimized, brand and campaign elements, such as website, video, print ads, copy and images, are all looked at from a digital/cross-channel approach. What this means is that you need to look at all your marketing content and think about how it can be used and repurposed across all channels, from print to outdoor to digital.

This is especially important with Gen Z. The average Gen Z-er multitasks across 5 or more different devices. If your content is only optimized for TV, you’re not going to reach your target. If your content is only made for print ads, you’re still missing them. Just advertising through Instagram? You’re STILL missing most of your audience.

In order to grab Gen Z’s attention with your digital marketing strategy for higher education, you need to spread a wide net when it comes to platforms and need to customize and repurpose content for each individual channel.

Connect with their entrepreneurial nature

Gen Z Entrepreneur Higher EdGen Z is extremely independent. They have learned from the recession that the traditional route does not necessarily guarantee success. However, higher education is more of an option than ever as 1 in 2 are expected to receive a college education.

So how can higher education use this to connect with Gen Z? By communicating your institution can help them reach their entrepreneurial goals. Communicate that you too believe they can change the world and your school will give them the tools to do so, on their own terms.


If you are interested in more information about Gen Z, check out our infographics “Who is Gen Z?” and “Do You Know Where is Gen Z Online?”, as well as our blog posts:


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