What is the key to telling stories to different audiences?

Social media is second nature to GenZ, so teaching social media marketing to them has its own set of unique challenges, according to marketing instructor Heidi Rottier.

“Many students come into the class having run social media accounts for student organizations or through internships, so they can draw from that experience,” she said. “I see my job as helping them understand the brand voice of the accounts they will be posting for, and then helping think through the factors that need to be addressed in social media.”

This semester she challenged students to create social posts for two clients with very different audiences: The Foster College of Business and Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI). Students had to engage with their client groups to understand their preferences for receiving information and what would engage them.

For example, the OLLI audience tends to be a bit older and most likely retired, so they typically don’t use a professional platform like LinkedIn or watch TikTok videos.

The students were divided into two groups tag-teaming on content, switching clients and platforms every other week.

Rottier has done this exercise with Foster College since 2018, but this is the first time she’s had her students engage with OLLI.

“We are learning with OLLI to step back, understand the brand, its audience, how they interact with the platform and what their engagement is,” senior marketing major Hannah Hospodar said. “Once we analyze all of that it becomes a bit easier to build content for that crowd.” 

“No matter what audience I'm creating content for, I need to think about what their interests are, how they use the social media platform, why they use it, and the list goes on,” explained senior marketing major Allison Boroski.

“Even when I'm writing for my peers, I need to keep these things in mind because everyone is different. We go to the same university, but my social media habits and interests may not completely align with the group of students’ interests and the organization’s interests.”

As the students learned, posts for Foster College aren’t just for students. For instance, the college gears their Facebook page toward parents, alumni and some students, whereas Instagram is mostly for current and prospective students. Knowing different audience segment viewing habits is key to creating successful posts.

Boroski noted the most important thing is looking at the data to see how old posts performed.

“This, coupled with knowing the audience on each platform, allows you to figure out exactly what they want to see more of, and what they don’t really care about,” she said. “Trying new things mixed in with the things that work allow you to continuously engage people, while also working to find the next thing to excite your audience.”

As for Rottier, she enjoys seeing how the students translate their own aesthetic into their social posts.

“I learn so much from them, especially when it comes to how they use platforms differently than I and my peers use them.”

Emily Potts