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Master the 4 R’s of Social Media & Increase Gen Z Market Share

For higher ed marketers, Generation Z is an important demographic: It is predicted that this group will attend and graduate from college in greater numbers than any generation before them, including millennials. And because this demographic has never spent a day without being digitally connected, it’s no surprise that colleges and universities have embraced social media marketing as a primary way to engage with this group.

“Gen-Zers are clearly engaged with social media and it’s time for marketers to learn how to reach them,” writes Josh Perlstein in an article in Adweek. “They fragment and focus their social media time – they share certain types of content on particular social channels. All of this is done in quick touches, or micro-interactions, that might last only a few seconds. They’re also frequent, with some Gen-Zers checking their social media accounts as often as 100 times per day.”

While there is no question that Generation Z can be reached on social media platforms, marketing higher ed to Gen Z starts with understanding how this demographic uses social media and then communicating with them in the right way.

Here’s what you need to know about the four R’s of social media marketing that can help you increase Gen Z market share:


When exploring where they will live, learn and grow during their college yeats, Gen-Zers are using the same methodology as they would to explore where their favorite band is playing or where their friends are hanging out – social media. They want to know if they will fit in at your institution and are attracted to messages that showcase people who reflect their lives. Showcase your school’s personality by publishing photos and telling stories about real Gen-Zers at your school. And if you can involve other Gen-Zers in producing those images and stories, all the better.


Gen Z is highly vested in socially responsible behavior. They have a deep passion for the greater good and want to make a difference. They also expect your brand to do the same. To effectively market higher ed to this audience, make sure your school’s social media marketing strategy includes messages and visuals about how your students and your institution are helping solve social problems like unemployment, prejudice and racism.


Know your social channels. Gen Z uses different channels for different reasons. Snapchat is the preferred channel for real-life moments and relationship building. They get their news on Twitter and insight on YouTube. That means that using the same social media marketing strategy over all channels will not work. Content and ads that you publish on these channels must be different – and they must offer opportunity for cool and unique interaction.


No doubt about it, this is a difficult generation to engage, simply because they switch regularly between multiple social channels. By keeping your social media marketing content fresh, short and to-the-point (think snackable content) you can gain some serious market traction with this audience. And remember, Gen-Zers are collaborative and want to engage in conversations. Ask them to share their insights, their questions and your content.

In Conclusion

Want to grab the attention of Gen-Zers? Your best bet is to diversify your social media marketing within the social channels these digital darlings prefer. Marketing higher ed to Gen Z means you must tailor messaging to the channel and the audience. And connect the dots for them around how your institution can help them meet their educational and career goals while aligning with their values and aspirations.

Does mastering the four R’s of social media seem daunting? Have no fear – we can help!

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