A Unified Approach to Communicating with Multiple Generations of Students

How Schools Can Connect with Students of All Ages

From continuing education programs targeting those a few years into their careers to MBAs marketed to graduating college seniors, effective education marketing must be able to reach people of all ages. But communicating across generations can prove difficult without a roadmap to what kind of content each age group prefers.

To better understand each generation’s content consumption habits, a study by BuzzStream and Fractl surveyed over 1,200 people across the baby boomer, generation X and millennial age groups. Each person was asked about their preferences for consuming content from format and length to time spent reading. The following spells out findings that may be helpful to education marketers.

Content Types and Length

We’re not so different after all. All three generations ranked images, blogs, comments and eBooks at the top of their preferred content types. The least preferred content types—SlideShares, flipbooks, white papers and webinars—were also consistent across generations. As far as length goes, all generations ranked 300-word articles as the ideal length to enjoy reading.

Amount of Content Consumed

It’s official—baby boomers consume the most content out of the three surveyed generations. With over 25 percent of this group devouring 20 or more hours of content each week, baby boomers lead the pack in terms of amount of time spent reading, listening or watching content. Millennials and gen Xers are neck and neck for the runner up spot with about 22 percent of each group consuming five to ten hours of content each week.

On another note, over 30 percent of the responders reported getting their content fix from 8 p.m. to midnight. However, Baby boomers were found to consume most content in the morning with around 40 percent of the group online from 5 a.m. to noon.

Social Media Platforms

When it comes to sharing content, Facebook takes the win with over 60 percent of each generation favoring it for content sharing. Showcasing just how powerful Facebook is, the second-place platform, YouTube, was selected by less than 15 percent of responders across generations.

Insights for Multi-Generational Education Marketing

While the above findings are not enough to formulate a comprehensive multi-generational education marketing strategy, they provide some highly valuable insights. Whether your college is trying to boost baby boomer enrollment in non-degree courses or reach the gen X parents of your high school’s incoming freshmen, it’s all about tailoring your delivery to match your audience’s preferences.


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