BY ELLEN ULLMAN
Higher ed leaders: You have the opportunity to be at the forefront. Most companies are focused on millennials, but they should pay attention to Generation Z (Gen Z).
Gen Z, the oldest of whom are 23, are accustomed to scrolling, clicking, and monitoring social media for their news and to help them make decisions. When competing to earn the attention of these prospective students, you’ll need to execute strategies that set you apart from the crowd across social channels. Lynn Morton, strategy director at digital marketing agency R2i, specializes in working with higher education marketing teams. eCampus News talked with Morton about how to best target Gen Z.
Fact: Gen Z is a true digital generation.
“Gen Z has grown up in a post-9/11 world with unlimited digital access,” says Morton. “Recent data shows that they have an 8-second attention span, which is 3 seconds less than previous generations.”
What this means for higher ed: Because this generation is so digitally involved, you have to think mobile first: phones and TVs—not laptops and desktops. If the actions you want them to take aren’t easily accessible on mobile, they will leave. Everything from filling out forms to registering for classes needs to be quick and easy. Break larger tasks down into bite-size chunks and don’t deliver all the information at once.
Fact: Gen Z is the most socially conscious generation yet.
Gen Z cares a lot about inclusion, diversity, and individuality. “It’s important to them to be who they are and not deny it. They are redefining what normal is; they understand it’s a patchwork quilt rather than a single piece of fabric,” says Morton.
What this means for higher ed: You have to break out of the mold to market to them. Don’t use the same stock photo as everyone else. Be more inclusive and understand that the norm isn’t what it used to be. They are savvy about marketing and look up to social influencers—even though they know they are getting paid for what they do.
Fact: Gen Z is entrepreneurial.
Gen Z is fascinated with the “cool product,” and they value authenticity and transparency. They want to own their own business and be in it for long haul.
What this means for higher ed: Colleges ask for a lot of information, and this generation is well-aware of data leaks and cybersecurity threats. Offer them a sense of security in their communications and in what they share; be transparent about their interactions with your school.
4 quick takeaways
1. Mobile first. Do not make them go to their desktop to do anything.
2. Be concise. Content needs to quick, catchy, and with a clear message. A great example is The Truth Campaign, which does a fantastic job of capturing Gen Z.
3. Feed their spirit. Give them new and innovative classes and programs that redefine normal. That is very important to them.
4. Tap into their individuality. Show them that they can start clubs, design their own programs, and bring their socially conscious attitudes into their fields of study.