We know you're serious about helping your Gen Z athletes prepare for the pros, their career, and whatever comes next. There's no shortage of passion, and we know you bend over backwards to bring athlete outcomes within reach.
Much of your career services content, alumni engagement programming, and athlete outcomes curriculum is 🛑simply not getting through🛑 to your Gen Z athletes and young alumni.
And that really sucks. Because maybe you've tried everything to resonate with them. Or at least it feels that way.
We hope this email is the blast of motivational caffeine you need to keep going. Yes, truly engaging people who see the world completely differently than you do is really hard.
But it's also extremely important...
The success of your athletic department... and let's face it, your job... relies on effectively engaging Gen Z and Millennials so you can lead them to positive outcomes. Here's why.
Can you afford NOT to engage an entire decade of athletic department grads? At what point do these career-building, highly-influential movers and shakers become worth engaging? Chances are, by the time you've decided to be "relevant" to them, they've decided that you never were. Worse yet, there's no telling how their current engagement style will impact the style of their 30s, 40s, and beyond.
In other words, ignoring a whole decade of grads now can create an engagement crisis later.
Disengaged student athletes become (or already have become) disgruntled or disillusioned young alumni. Without engaging student athletes in ways meaningful to them, relationships with the department suffer. As the fabric of a department erodes (and confidence in the department with it) and you're less able to serve athletes, athlete outcomes suffer. As hot-button athlete outcomes suffer (including career), your effectiveness as a leader is called into question. You're branded as "out of touch" and the decades of experience that have always been assets for you suddenly become evidence that it's time to leave.
Unfortunately this trajectory plays out each year for dozens of admins.
Conversely, there are ways for a department to secure its relevance and dramatically boost chances of meaningful engagement. And engaged athletes turn into engaged and motivated young professionals, ready to give back. Not to mention a dramatically better experience while in college—better retention, performance, culture, and career outcomes. Engaged alumni create a self-repeating culture of giving back, helping you to fulfill your department's mission. Engaged alumni turn into lifelong fans, eager donors, TV-network-subscribers😉, and advocates for your work.
Not because we're innately better at engaging with Gen Z and Millennials. It's not that.
Rather, it's because we relentlessly fight to understand what these athletes and young alumni are drawn to and why.
One of the biggest trends we’ve identified is the rise (and takeover) of social video communities. Here's what we're talking about:
👉In the last 5 years, the internet is for videos. By 2022, 82% of all consumer internet traffic will be for videos. That’s 15x times higher than it was in just 2017.
👉Social video platforms are exploding in popularity—including TikTok, Instagram Stories/Reels, Facebook’s Lasso, Snapchat, and YouTube Shorts. Of the top apps downloaded worldwide, the Top 3 across app stores all heavily rely on social video.
👉And it's not just TikTok that's exploding around social video.
In case you're wondering, 45-minute recordings of Zoom broadcasts on your YouTube channel aren't the future...📹
For Gen Z and Millennials, effective video is a dialogue, not just a monologue. By this, I mean that effective video is the first step in a conversation, which can be propelled forward by user comments and other reactions.
Take the options in the TikTok interface. When you watch a video, you can advance the conversation by:
Videos are made on TikTok with the full expectation of interaction. Indeed, that's how TikTok's algorithm decides which videos go viral. Videos that effectively start conversations are rewarded.
FWIW/Shameless plug 👉 That's why we designed the Grafted interface the way we did. Every video is designed to be the start of a conversation— the speaker is looking directly at the user, inviting them to engage.
Complaining about Gen Z's 8-second attention span is soooo 2020. Make better content that draws them in and they'll consume it!
Often this is just a question of having the right prompt to limit the scope of a video. Think of TikTok challenges and all the copycat videos of Ocean Spray guy. The same goes for Instagram Reels and YouTube's #shorts.
The task of an effective video for Gen Z and Millennials is:
1️⃣ To make a compelling promise (the simple prompt sounds interesting)
2️⃣ To deliver on that promise. Nothing else is needed.
FWIW/Shameless plug 👉 We drive engagement for Grafted partners by creating focused prompts that can be answered quickly. We ask questions that be answered in 2-3 minutes, which makes it easy to keep videos short. And when users watch a succinct video and see how easy it is to make one, they're more likely to try it themselves.
Check out some of the actual career video prompts on Grafted for someone in the field of criminology:
Ask better questions ➡ Get better answers ➡ Make better videos 💥
Smartphone users spend an insane 94% of their time in portrait mode (vertical). That means that any interruption of that orientation (especially for Gen Z) is an inconvenience. Which is already a strike against your video before they watch it.
Again, think back to the apps that Gen Zers and Millennials are using. TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat are all vertical video platforms. If our outcome is to seamlessly fit career/life skills/athlete outcome programming into their smartphone routines, we should mirror the most-used apps.
Like @joinGrafted 😉
But our vertical interface has another benefit. Because our users spend their lives in vertical mode, it's not an inconvenience to record videos on our app. No studio, no special preparation, no tripod, no special lighting needed. The point is truly the content, not the production. As a result, people who ARE NOT video posters on other platforms become active users on Grafted apps.
At first blush, it might sound like we're suggesting your athlete outcome programming can compete with TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat.
It cannot. 😿
We're not trying to make your career content competitive with TikTok; we're trying to make it compatible. We're not to edge out addictively awesome and brilliantly-engineered social video apps. Instead, as your athletes decide that it's time to think about career, they should be able to learn and explore in a way that is compatible with their video consumption habits. Give them a platform that looks and feels like TikTok but is loaded with relevant career content.
After all, "Gen Z's superpower is self-directed learning through video formats. And if you're willing to speak their language, you can tap into their superpower."
And as they discover relevant content in an environment that is aesthetically pleasing, well designed, and technologically up-to-par, they'll be more likely to keep exploring. To keep connecting with people who can help. To keep reaching out to you.
Again, engaged student-athletes turn into engaged and empowered young alumni. And if you seriously want to engage these athletes now and into the future, you have to make your tech compatible with how they use tech. Because tech, in many ways, is their lives.
The value you can offer to your student-athletes is too great to be lumped together with stuff they don't like, don't watch, and don't engage with.
• This article is a deep dive on why TikTok works as well as it does, breaking down every aspect of the TikTok interface and user experience. Fascinating stuff...
• Eye-opening piece on the giving habits of Millennials. This article's about cultural organizations like museums, but the analysis about Millennial values is 👌
• Video's not the only arena where engagement leaves room for improvement... did you catch our email about email?