How Do We Best Use Social Media to Reach GenZers?

I’m a sit-down-and-let’s-talk-over-tea-in-my-living-room kind of person. I don’t have social media on my phone, and I often shut off my cell on Saturdays and on vacation. I don’t have perfect relationship with technology (far from it), but as my students are trying to figure out healthy rhythms with their devices, I’m often trying to figure out how to “tithe my time” to social media. Because I believe it matters. If we want students to show up at our events, and if we want to best use technology to reach them, we need to use and understand the platforms they’re on.

A recent New York Times Article on The iGen Shift quotes Corey Tressler, associate director of learning at programs at Ohio State University, who says that when it comes to students’ phones and devices, “It’s not really technology to them.” Social media is the air they breathe; they haven’t known a different way, “digital natives” as they are. So, how do we – as those who work with students – cut through the thick fog of the posts they scroll and offer a breath of fresh air? How do we best use social media to reach GenZers?

My cards are on the table. I may not be the most qualified voice on how to best use social media to reach GenZers, but this question came up in the Living Training Course, and I’d love to share some things I’m learning as well as hear what’s working for you.

As I was preparing to launch After College Transition, I learned from people like Jeff Walker, Pat Flynn and Donald Miller – these guys teach marketing principles, but their practices can be applied to the human experience in any sector, including the next generation of college students (iGens or GenZers). Here are a few things I’ve been thinking about.

Start a conversation. No one enjoys the noise of “Come to my thing!” but people often want to share what’s on their mind, especially if it’s related to a topic they care about. I had a team member who took on the lion’s share of social media posting for our events, and he often created posts that asked questions, invited a vote, or started a conversation. Let’s say we’re planning to host a workshop about preparing for that first job out of college. Instead of repeat posts about the details of the event, we could start with a question like, “What’s the worst job you’ve ever worked and why?” Or, we can post a short quiz, invite people to fill it out on social media, and then share the results. Inviting top 5 lists are also a fun way to start a conversation.

Deliver real value. If people are going to spend time and money on something we’re offering, they need to know we’re going to deliver value. We can use social media to deliver pieces of value in advance of the event, such as an article or PDF related to event we’re trying to market. A short video would be even better. In many ways, the online world is shifting from blog to vlog, and GenZers prefer interactive video to static print.* We can work to create to a crumb trail of value that leads students to right to the event we hope they’ll attend.

Share a story. We are wired for story. We don’t need to share an epic, but we can and should share short testimonies of changed lives. Stories inspire and also offer social proof. If we’re promoting an event and want our students to show up, let’s encourage them with stories of others who have gone before them. On our live video call last night, one participant talked about sharing part of a story…and then wrapping it up later. Cliff-hangers are a great way to keep people engaged. If you’re just getting started, make sure you capture stories from your current students. And some videos too!

According to the article, GenZers respond to specialized apps and highly customized options; however, they’re also interested in the person behind the social media posts. They want people who are real. Human. Authentic. We should use social media to engage our students, but let’s never stop there. The number one reason students show up at anything we have to offer is because a real person they trust invited them to be there. Social media can’t replace personal invites.

I’m curious, what’s worked for you or what’s failed? Leave a comment below about how you’re using social media to engage GenZers and what you’re learning.

*The iGen Shift, New York Times, August 5, 2018.

Live Training Course!

If you viewed the last video, then you know I have something super exciting I want to share with you! 

It’s a special, limited-time opportunity that I can’t wait to tell you about: a live training course for practitioners (student affairs professionals, college ministers and church leaders) who want to equip students to thrive after college. 

Are you ready to take your efforts to the next level? Check out this page and act quickly. The course begins next week! There are only a limited number of seats and this offer is only good until this Friday at 11:59pm ET. 

The Importance of Place and Space in Preparing Students for Life After College

In this video I share a little bit about how the Life After College program got started at Hope College. One of the key things we talked about as it was getting off the ground was the importance of space and place.

At the end of the video I mention a special, limited-time opportunity I have for you. It’s rolling out super soon, so keep your eyes on your inbox! If you don’t already receive updates, you can subscribe here to be sure you don’t miss it.



PS Don’t forget to leave a comment below the video about one thing that stood out to you or one question you have – I want to hear from you!

5 “Must-Have” Features of the Best Interventions to Equip Students for Life After College

I’m excited to share the second video in this series!

If you’re wondering where to start or what to works towards, this next video covers 5 “must have” features we should include in any intervention to equip students for life after college.

I also touch on the question of “Who is responsible for our college seniors?” I’m curious what you think about that question as well as what feature(s) you might be implementing or planning to work towards.

Leave a comment below the video and let me know!


Why Equipping Students for Life After College Matters & How You Can Help

This is the first of series of videos for those who are serious about equipping students for life after college. In this video I get personal – see if you notice it before the reveal. 🙂 I also share why this matters – how intervening in the lives of students during the college years makes a difference in their transition…and beyond. Last, you’ll see one tip and one activity that you can use right away with students.

Happy Epiphany! & Tips for Transitional Times

I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and that you continue to celebrate as we remember today the Magi who traveled miles to visit the new born King.

As students also travel miles to return for classes (today or in the coming weeks), they too many be looking to encounter the Savior. As great as breaks may be for some students, they can also be rough for others.

I often think of semester breaks as a preview or pilot of what life after college might look like. These breaks are like mini transitions for students. Instead of just asking “how was break?” and moving on after a one word answer, we have the opportunity to help students truly self-reflect on their time.

Some students will have wonderful support over break to encourage them while others have the opposite. It’s during break that students often find out what sharing their faith looks like when they may not have the social momentum of a campus outreach to spur them on. Or they may discover that their bible becomes a coaster when a mentor isn’t holding them accountable to read it.

I remember processing with a student who had an “awful” (her words) break last year. She went home for a week and it was a “disaster.” She struggled with her relationship with her parents. She slipped into old sin patters, and her faith (which seemed so strong when surrounded by her peers at college) felt paper thin.

We need to help students process these mini transitions because they are often previews to bigger ones.

Here are some tips for transitional times (click below), which might be especially helpful as you think about students who just graduated last month. Now is the perfect time to drop a quick line or text to see how they are doing.

May this Epiphany inspire encounters with the King for you and your students,


PS Keep your eye on your inbox in the next week or so. I’m rolling out something super exciting you won’t want miss!

AfterCollege_Tips for Transitional Times

Special Video Message from Erica

Those who approach transitions (vs. avoid them) are more likely to thrive within them.

Here’s a special video message you don’t want to miss!

Your comments and feedback help me create customized content. Thank you for filling out the survey. If you haven’t, it’s not too late.

I want to hear from you! Please leave a comment below about one way you’re planning to approach the new year — something you plan to do next semester to start or continue to equip students to thrive after college.

Life After College is Weird

When conducting my research and talking with dozens of post-grads about life after college, the most common word they used to describe the experience was “weird.” It’s not like anything they’ve experienced prior to this time. It’s not like it stays weird until we’re 30, but until we find our new normal, life after college can be…well…weird. Apparently The New York Times agrees.  Here’s a recent spread entitled, Life After College is Weird. If you’ve used the word “weird” to describe your post-college experience, you’re not alone!

What’s the Hardest Part of Transitions?

One of the most difficult parts of any transition is the “in-between” time — that fallow, middle space in which the former thing has ended but the new thing has not yet arrived. This photograph of a fallow Pennsylvania field was taken by my friend, Howie Shultz. He titled it, Waiting for Spring. During transitional times, we wait. Even though the calendar says it’s September right now, it can feel like Winter in our hearts if we’re going through a significant transition. Empty. Fallow. Cold. Confusing.

Last month, Ann Voskamp featured a guest blog post by author Grace Cho who reflects on a recent transition in her life and what she learned from that fallow, wilderness time. Be encouraged. As surely as Spring comes each year in Pennsylvania, new things will come in our own lives.