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Social Media to Reach Gen Z

Colleen McCormack
Marketing Specialist

Social Media is important. You’ve known this. A digital presence can make or break you. You know to take your online audiences seriously. But which platforms are worth precious energy and resources, the platforms that your audience spends the most of their time online? If your audience is traditional prospects (16-18 year-olds), you are dealing with Generation Z or Gen Edgers. Learn more about Gen Z here.  Below are the social media platforms you should start with to reach traditional prospects.

Snapchat picture
Example of a Snapchat Geofilter
Snapchat for Gen Z
Example of a Snapchat Geofilter


60% of smartphone users are on Snapchat. Additionally, users aged 25 and younger check snapchat an average of 20 times a day for a total of 30 minutes. ( Despite the large potential payoff, Snapchat marketing tactics are relatively simple and inexpensive.

  • Organic: Include 1-2 new Geofilters, art designed to lay over a Snapchat user’s photo or video, in your annual social media strategy. Community Geofilters are free, pending acceptance from snapchat. However…
    • Anyone can submit Community Geofilters.
    • Follow Snapchat’s submission guidelines when creating Geofilters.
    • Community Geofilters do not allow logos. Except when submitted by authorized officials of colleges and universities.
  • Paid: Create On-Demand Geofilters strategically for large campus events. Especially, the ones that attract prospective students. On-Demand Geofilters vary in price depending on the size of the location, and length of time to be shown.


Instagram is the favorite social platform for 32% of U.S. teens; a larger share than any other. And with over 3 billion likes per day, it has the most engagement of any social platform. (Brandwatch). Utilize high-quality photos on Instagram in both organic and paid posts.

  • Organic: Being a part of Instagram is a necessity for colleges and universities. Prospects will go you your profile to find out what your institution is about. These best practices will help you optimize engagement:
    • Post regularly. That may mean several times a week, or several times a day. But be consistent.
    • Use hashtags! Posts with at least one hashtag see 12.6% more engagement.
    • Follow the hashtags that relate to your brand to get a sense of how your brand is perceived.
  • Paid: Facebook owns Instagram, and therefore, Instagram ads are managed via the Facebook Business platform. Ads are integrated seamlessly into a prospect’s feed, and function like normal posts. You can see reach in real time through likes, comments, and shares of your posts.


Though one of the oldest social platforms (2005), this video sharing site is still popular among many audiences. From funny cats to music videos, YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine (behind Google) in the world. (MushroomNetworks).

  • Organic: Simply posting a video to YouTube will initially only reach a limited number of prospects. But it is still important to have a presence. When potential students look, they expect to find what they need.
  • Paid: Include video production in your marketing budget. Google owns YouTube, so you can easily allocate a portion of your Google spend to YouTube, and the return will go a long way in reaching your targets. Repurpose the videos for Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and more to get the most bang for your buck.

Not Facebook?

Don’t cut out Facebook completely, but utilize your limited resources and time strategically. Facebook is still an excellent platform to reach many of your targets, sometimes including traditional prospects.

Keep your ears and eyes on the ground. Listen to your students and prospects to find out what the next big social platform is so your institution can be on the cutting edge!

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