You’ve got a friend in us
By Jackie Grisdale
As we start to reach the end of our influencer blog series, it’s time to talk about one of the biggest influencer groups - peers and friends. While you may have the impression Gen Z are buried in their phones, friends always have and always will have a huge impact on a young person. Cast your mind back to your school days, remember how you discussed and shared in great detail various thoughts, feelings and decisions? While times have changed, it is still the same, technology just adds a different dimension. So, from classmates to best friends and distant social media connections to close family members, everybody has an impact.
In fact, in some research (Kids Insight) we have seen, they are more trusted advisors than teachers. Yet, neither teachers nor friends are as powerful as the opinions of our parents, but more on that next time.
Where and how do friends and peers come into the influencer mix?
Social media, with its instant connectivity is the go-to first choice for Gen Z when they want to search and discover. In fact, Gen Z are spending an average of 3 hours a day on social media, with YouTube (27.6%) and Instagram (19.6%) being named as the favourites amongst 16-18-year olds. However, this is a sceptical generation, savvy to marketing tactics and with a heightened awareness of fake news, so we’re seeing a reduced trust in social media with 30.4% of 16-18-year olds stating their top concern relating to the internet being their privacy, followed by hacking (29.2%).
Social media is still a top choice and Gen Z are using it to talk to friends as well as discover content. WhatsApp and Snapchat are staples in their day to day activities with over half of 16-18-year olds stating they use them, with Snapchat nudging ahead of WhatsApp on the popularity front with 26.1% stating it was their favourite.
Unsurprisingly, YouTube and Instagram are the most used social media channels amongst 16-18-year olds this year. And with the popularity of YouTube and Instagram rising comes a different type of influencer to add to the mix - social media influencers. A growing breed of media star and a lucrative career choice for some, can they play a part when it comes to questions about further study or careers? They can indeed! But it is important to choose your influencer wisely, considering their following size, engagement rates and their alignment with your brand and values. In fact, we recently ran a campaign for Solent University, with top influencer UnJaded.
Jade gave her followers the chance to get involved in an open day at Solent. From choosing where to go on campus to what talks to go to, they influenced her every decision and got an authentic insight into what life was like at Solent University. Generating 37K views on her Instagram stories and YouTube videos and 15.6K engagements, it was a great success. Why? Well to her followers, UnJaded is a familiar face, in fact similar to a friend.
So social is an important channel when it comes to friends and peers, but what else?
Review sites. We have them for hotels, restaurants, products we buy online and other services, so why not for employers? RateMyApprenticeship, RateMyPlacement, Glassdoor and The Student Room all give real life reviews from previous candidates and employees. What better way to get an honest review? Gen Z trust their network and peers because it’s easier to relate to. Yet, while this generation are looking for guidance and advice, their independence is important to them. They want to follow their own individual route to success, so they will gather information from a wide range of sources, all the ones we have discussed through this blog series in fact, then make their decision.
Our top tip to take away
Don’t discount the role of friends and peers when it comes to influencing a young person’s view abut a career or educational route. By connecting with your target audience at the right time, on the right platforms with the right kind of authentic, shareable content you can support students and their friends though their decision-making journey.
Next up in the series comes the biggest and last group of influencers. Parents and family members. So, until next time, if you would like strategic level support on working with schools, colleges and universities to meet the future talent needs of your business, get in touch to see how we can help.