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Universities need to find new ways to attract the Digital Native Generation

Professor Vince Mitchell addresses the changing landscape of marketing in Higher Education

It would be too costly, too invasive and too prone to accusations of predatory marketing behaviour for universities to target 10-15 year olds. But that's not a problem, because they don't have to. They simply have to be interesting enough for them to come to you.

Most universities target group is the Millennials, Generation Y or the Net Generation (1980-2000), who demand increased levels of control, participation, community interaction and are impatient. Modern university marketing needs to see beyond this to develop a more savvy way of engaging students before they are engaged with Universities. This means using social media to engage Generation Z (2001-present).

Estimates suggest that 82% of 10-15 year olds have used social networks. 75% use Facebook,(50% claim to use it every day), while Twitter is used by 34% of young people, (rising to 53% amongst girls aged 14-15).

Even at aged 11, many bright children are thinking about university and are able to explore the internet to find which one interests them. As generators and disseminators of knowledge, universities are in a prime position to populate the web with interesting information and intellectual challenges which would attract these young people.

Social media is the most natural mechanism for universities to engage with these audiences as they are universal, largely free, democratised, and already set up to build up relationships and communities over longer periods of time.

The logic dictates, that having interested the 11 year old, when that 11 year old reaches 18, they already have a relationship with the university that sparked their interest and therefore there is an increased chance the student will choose them.

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