The first of their generation was born in 1997, the year that Google.com was registered as a domain name, IBM’s Deep Blue supercomputer made history for beating a reigning world chess champion, and everyone who was anyone had a Palm Pilot. Gen Zers are the fastest-growing group of educators in our schools today. These new teachers grew up with smartphones, the internet, and social media.
Today Gen Zers may mostly be classroom teachers, but it won’t be long before they are curriculum leaders, technology directors, principals, and superintendents. A recent report from WeAreTeachers says that Gen Zers care about things like the climate, diversity, mental health, and financial security. And when it comes to education, they think students are more than a test score.
Gen Zers have lived their entire lives immersed in digital advertising. They are experts at identifying—and ignoring—common marketing tactics. To build a connection with them for your company, products, and services, it is important to develop an understanding of who they are, how they think, and how they communicate.
Here are five tips for reaching this next generation of education leaders:
- Put values first. Gen Z cares about who your company is and what you are about so show them in your marketing campaigns, content, and social media. They’ll want to know that even before they are introduced to your products and services.
- Create engaging, interactive content—and keep it brief! This is a generation that has never had to have a question go unanswered—they rely on Google. They turn to YouTube to learn how to do household repairs and get their entertainment from TikTok and Netflix. They want information and entertainment and they don’t want to have to wade through a lot of irrelevant information to get it.
- Don’t go straight for the sell! Remember Gen Z is the content creating generation. Provide value in your content—information that will help them do their jobs as teachers. First establish your brand credibility and then ask them to engage with you. They’ll tune out if you go straight for the sell.
- Be nimble when it comes to social networks. For Gen X and Millennials and yes, Boomers, as well, social media was a relatively new way of communicating and so everyone gravitated to the same networks—Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and now, TikTok. While most Gen Xers and Millennials are on Facebook, only 36 percent of Gen Z uses the platform at least once a week.1 Sixty percent of TikTok users are Gen Z.2 They use social media regularly but are always looking for new innovative channels where they can connect and create community so it is important to stay on top of trends.
- Add Gen Z representation to your marketing mix. If you have openings on an advisory board, consider adding some Gen Z educators. Or form a new advisory board of just Gen Z teachers to get their perspectives on what is happening in their schools, what matters to them, and how best to communicate. Be sure they are represented when you do focus groups or other market research. Also, add Gen Z marketing pros to your team—they’ll bring fresh ideas and insights for reaching their peers.