University student audience analysis

University students. Who are they?

This blog is a portion of a larger communication plan written for PREL238. It focuses on the analysis of a university audience. Writing this analysis made me feel like I was a psychology student again. Certainly not a bad thing. I have linked the sources that are publicly available, and included a source list at the bottom of the page.

Insight into target audience

In this communication plan, we will be targeting the university student public. The rationale for this decision comes from the organization that we are representing being a student association. The Student Association MacEwan University (SAMU) represents the student body of MacEwan University (MU). MU currently has 18,483 students enrolled in part-time and full-time programs. 38% of these students are male, and 61.8% are female. The average age of a student is 24 years old (source).

We can segment the student population further with data from MacEwan’s 2018 report on new students, which shows the following demographic information (p.1):
Minority group: 25.8%
Indigenous students: 8.0%
Disability: 32.8%
Has dependents: 16.6%
International resident: 4.5%

The same report shows the following age range for first-year students (p.1):
<18: 10.1%
18-20: 61.7%
21-23: 11.8%
24-26: 5.4%
27-29: 2.7%
30+: 8.3%

The previously noted report provides us with information about where first-year students in 2018 saw MacEwan University advertisements. The three largest sources of advertisements were social media (58.9%), internet advertisements (35.5%), and billboards (30.5%) (p.2). This information informs our belief that using social media and online communication methods will be sufficient for communicating with our public.

The same report also asked first-year students the most important sources of information they used when deciding to attend MacEwan University. The three most important sources for students in 2018 were friends or family members (30.5%), the MacEwan website (24.7), and Open house (8.8%) (p.2). This information can be useful to determine what sources of information students find to be trustworthy. Seeing the MacEwan website in the top 3 provides validation to our group’s belief that a centralized website will be an effective way to communicate to students about SAMU’s covid19 programming.

SAMU’s 2019/2020 annual report indicated that its website had 245,682 views with 59,007 total users (9% and 6% increase from the previous fiscal year) and earned 826 new followers on Facebook and 710 on Instagram. Within the first three months of creating a newsletter, they received 1900 subscriptions (p.17). SAMU’s 2019/2020 annual report indicated that its website had 245,682 views with 59,007 total users (9% and 6% increase from the previous fiscal year) and earned 826 new followers on Facebook and 710 on Instagram. Within the first three months of creating a newsletter, they received 1900 subscriptions (p.17).

Lets talk demographics

With an average age of 24 years old, our target public falls at the crossroad of two generations, millennial’s and generation Z (Pew, On the cusp of adulthood and facing an uncertain future). Pew Research indicates that Generation Z is more racially and ethnically diverse than any previous generation and on track to be the most well-educated generation yet. They are digital natives who cannot remember the world before smartphones. They are progressive and pro-government. On average, both millennial’s and generation Z are more likely to be left-leaning on the political spectrum. Generation Z is more open to ideas about gender identity than any other generation. 35% of surveyed generation Z persons know someone who uses gender-neutral pronouns compared to 25% of millennial’s, with about 6/10 generation Z believing that official forms should include more options than male or female for gender, compared to ½ of millennial’s.

Seemiller & Grace (2016) indicated that generation Z “spends 41% of their time outside the classroom on a computer, phone, or mobile device. Their social media use involves more than just connecting with friends: staying up-to-date on the news, researching topics of interest and general lifestyle improvements such as fitness and nutrition, fashion, or general entertainment” (p.66). Additional context for why generation Z uses so much social media, “… the internet and social media provide so many different tools that can make communication, connection, sharing, and entertainment easier… Generation Z students are using different social media and mass communication platforms to fulfill different needs” (p.73).

Fietkiewicz et al. (2016) conducted a study examining the online behaviour of different generational cohorts. One area that they discussed was the use of specific social media platforms amongst generations. This study showed that generation Z’s use of Facebook is below the mean average (-0.106), along with Twitter (-0.165) and 9gag (-0.166). Their use of Instagram is above the mean (0.325), along with YouTube (0.051), and YouNow (0.015) (p.3823). This information could be used to inform our decision about what type of social media to utilize for social media campaigns.

A sample persona

Our target student’s persona is a 24-year-old non-binary mixed-race individual who receives information about their University from online sources such as websites, Instagram, and word of mouth. They are more likely to use social media, which incorporates video into its platform. This persona looks to their government for guidance and leans left on the political spectrum.

While you’re here

Do you have thoughts or feedback on this analysis? Feel free to comment or reach out! Lets chat.

Work Cited

Facts and figures – MacEwan University. (n.d). MacEwan University. Retrieved October 30, 2020, from

Fietkiewicz, K. J., Lins, E., Baran, K., & Stock, W. G., Inter-Generational Comparison of Social Media Use: Investigating the Online Behaviour of Different Generational Cohorts.  Conference: Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. DO: 10.1109/HICSS.2016.477. Retrieved from

Macewan University. (2018). New Student Experience Survey.

On the Cusp of Adulthood and Facing an Uncertain Future: What We Know About Gen Z So Far. (n.d). Pew Research Center: Social & Demographic Trends. Retrieved October 30, 2020, from

Seemiller, C., & Grace, M. (2016). Generation z goes to college. ProQuest Ebook Central

Student Association MacEwan University. (2020). 2019-2020 Annual Report.

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