Skip To Main Content
How to Incorporate Gen Z Students in Your School's Social Media Strategy
Lanitta Collier

It’s clear that social media is a second home for Generation Z students — 94 percent are using social platforms, with 71 percent watching more than three hours of online video daily. With well over a billion of these 10-25 year-olds using social media as an integral part of their lives, the majority of your school or district’s population is made up of like-minded “digital natives” that:  

  • Prioritize creativity in their downtime 
  • Shop on social media
  • Aspire to work with cutting-edge technology
  • Want a job that will impact the world

And what better space for your tech-savvy Gen Z students to showcase these skill sets than on your school’s social media channels? They’re already leading the way and redefining the purpose and use of social media. Bringing Gen Z’ers on board with your school’s social media strategy can give you a chance to honor their experiences and have a better understanding of the content that matters to them.

How to engage Gen Z students and get them involved with your social media

Before we jump into how you can incorporate your Gen Z’ers into your school’s strategy, let’s start with a couple of practical ideas to start collaborating with your students and get them involved:

  1. Create a student-run social media team, and divide tasks among the students to research, collect, shoot, and edit content.
     
  2. If you don’t have the capacity to start a team, as a school communicator, you could always reach out to students in different organizations/teams to streamline the tasks mentioned above. Here are a couple of examples:
  • If you have a media class or a graphic design or videography club, encourage those students to brainstorm ideas to transform your social media presence, or keep you updated on the latest trends.
     
  • If you have sports managers or active students in your student sections at athletic events, encourage them to film content on their phones.
     
  • When you’re collecting student highlights or profiles for your website, record clips of them for social media or ask them to record a “Day In My Life.”
     
  • Encourage your teachers in relevant subjects to reach out if an exciting project is coming so you can grab the content.
     
  • Ask your drama club and/or music department for their ideas, and ask their permission to record behind the scenes during practices.


Free Download: the Complete Social Media Calendar for Schools

Making use of the social platforms where Gen Z’ers are active

At the core of creating a social media strategy, it’s imperative to understand what platforms your school has the capacity for — and what platforms you should prioritize — when you’re creating content and incorporating your students in that process. Even though your students practically live online compared to Boomers, Gen X’ers, and Millennials, you should focus on where they already prioritize their time.

TikTok and Instagram

At the end of 2021, a quarter of TikTok’s user base was 10-19 year-olds. And, it goes without saying that my generation (1997 here) dominates the TikTok space, with 60 percent of the platform’s users being around my age or younger — the majority being teenagers. Many Gen Z’ers see TikTok as a way to showcase their own creativity or collaborate with their peers. In fact, 47 percent of Gen Z’ers create original content and 60 percent of them participate in trends with someone else. 

On the other hand, 62 percent of Gen Z use Instagram on a daily basis. Despite Instagram losing its relevance among the younger half of Gen Z with 25 percent of American teens claiming the platform as their primary go-to, 73 percent of American teens say that’s where they find all of their up-to-date information from their favorite brands.  

If there’s anyone who is going to know how to authentically connect, cultivate community, and create engaging content on this platform, it’s going to be the majority of your student population. 

Here are a couple of ways you can enlist the help of students to effectively showcase their school on both of these visually engaging platforms:

1. Optimize your social media SEO

According to Google’s own data, almost 40 percent of Gen Z turn to TikTok and Instagram over Google Search to conduct their research on goods, services, and interests — a notable difference from previous generations. For example, when you take a look at the search term “international school” on Instagram and TikTok vs. Google, there is a clear difference in user experience. Check out the comparisons:

mockup of seo comparisons

As it shows, both Instagram and TikTok showcase genuine, visual, user-generated content in their search results. And, more often than not, that creates a sense of trust and authenticity on a Gen Z consumer’s end. Both platforms provide answers to questions you would typically ask someone in your personal circle. However, Google offers definitions, nearby schools, and other factual information that does not offer the same entertaining, authentic experience as social media channels.

Keep this search behavior in mind when you’re crafting the copy of your hashtags, videos, and captions. If you have students who are willing to get involved, they can help with this process by creating a list of keywords for you to utilize in your content according to what interests them the most about your school.

Bonus: In addition to creating a more inclusive user experience, adding captions increases impressions by more than 55 percent on TikTok alone. Be sure to turn on captions to improve your social media SEO and student engagement!

2. Research trending audio

Another way to boost your school’s engagement on both of these platforms is by using trending audio and sounds. A video with solid SEO coupled with audio that is steadily climbing in usage is a recipe for visibility. Reach out to your students and ask them to submit sounds on the apps they would like to hear on your school’s TikToks and Reels like the two below!

TikTok audio

3. Create User-Generated Content

Authenticity is the name of the game for Gen Z and that spills over into how they create and digest content. Let them have some fun with it! Encourage your students to take the reins and create content that’s entertaining, authentic, and gives prospective students a sneak peek into your school’s culture. A great way to get started is to take a trend and make it your own — take a commonly used trend, like these schools have below and repurpose it with your own school’s aesthetic.

McCallie Pose Challenge

McCallie School uploaded a TikTok using the recently trending “Pose Challenge” to showcase their students’ graphic design skills in a fresh and relevant way.

Choate Winter Wonderland

Choate Rosemary Hall kicked off the winter season by showcasing some incredible shots of their campus as their very own “Winter Wonderland.” Utilizing a popular trend/sound combo, often used on Instagram and TikTok for travel vloggers, is a great way to show off a beautiful view! This could’ve been easily shot and edited by a student casually going across campus from their smartphone. 

YouTube

As a visual platform that was started during my generation (by Gen X’ers), YouTube’s popularity is pretty evident amongst Gen Z’ers. Over 60 percent of Gen Z hops on there at least once a day to watch videos, and 95 percent of 13-17 year-olds use YouTube as their most common go-to platform. Here are a few ways you can incorporate Gen Z into your school or district’s YouTube channel:

1. Student spotlights

If you’re already planning to spotlight your students on your website, work a video into your plans for YouTube and repurpose it for your other social channels. Take an example from Benilde St. Margaret School, which recorded a student answering a few questions about what it’s like going to the school.

Red Knight YouTube video

2. Athletic team promos

Whether you’re highlighting a sports event or showcasing actual student-athletes,  a promo for an athletic team is a good way to involve your students while adding some excitement to a new sports season. Sidney Schools highlighted its baseball team and asked players questions about what to expect in the upcoming season, who has the best hair, etc.

Sidney Schools YouTube

What about Facebook and Twitter?

The majority of Gen Z’ers just aren’t that into Facebook and Twitter. According to Pew Research, the usage of Facebook has declined tremendously in the past decade from 71 percent in the mid-2010s to 32 percent in 2022. The percentage of teenage Twitter users has declined from 33 percent to 23 percent in the same time period as well.

You can still ask students to create content for both of these platforms, however, given the data, they’re more likely to be involved with the visually-appealing platforms like TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram.

Key takeaway

Chances are, the majority of your school’s population is made up of “digital natives” that use social media as a second home. Involving them in your school or district’s social media strategy will give them a chance to showcase the life of your school in a fresh, fun, and authentic way.

New call-to-action


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Lanitta Collier Headshot

In her position as Social Media Manager, Lanitta assists with demand generation efforts across all social media channels, email, and website communications. With almost 5 years of experience in content creation, digital marketing, and social media management, Lanitta enjoys working with clients to create, produce, and strategize. She holds and maintains a number of certifications from Google, Hubspot, and SEMRush.


Explore More Recent Blogs

Subscribe to the Finalsite Blog

Love what you're reading? Join the 10k school marketers who get the newest best practices delivered to their inbox each week.

Request a FREE
website report card

Want feedback on your school or district's site? Get a free website report card, generated by an in-house website expert, sent right to your inbox.