Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Using Social Media to Increase Engagement in Higher Education

Know your audience: It’s the key to every successful marketing effort.  In the higher education  market, when a campaign is aimed at students, there is one essential link that connects with them above all others: Their cell phones.

A recent study from Baylor University found that female college students spend an average of 10 hours a day on their cell phones, while male students spend nearly eight hours. Most of that time is spent texting, followed by emailing, and checking social media feeds (in that order).

That data helped to formulate a targeted marketing solution for my client: a private university with 10,000 students. The university was looking for a new way to connect with students on campus, to foster a greater sense of school pride, tradition and community involvement.

We proposed an outreach program using social media as the main marketing channel to build those connections. And here’s why:
--It’s immediate. Social media campaigns centered around campus events, activities and performances spark interest and reaction in real time
--It’s transcendent. Social media feeds are effective in creating buzz before and after an event; and are shared with friends/family/community for a broader reach
--It’s engaging. These campaigns generate excitement about campus events that connect people as part of a shared experience—whether students are participants, are following an event feed, or are merely reacting to or sharing a post
--It’s personal. Students want to hear from other students—using students as the voice of the campaign creates a more compelling connection than does the message delivered by a third party

While our campus campaign is still in the planning stages, we do know that the most successful campaigns are those that start with strong, targeted messaging, and that use multiple channels to connect with the audience. When you consider that college students most often have their cell phones in hand, social media and email marketing are two fail-proof ways to make those connections. I’ll be sure to share the campaign results upon conclusion.

Which is the best channel for marketers to connect with you? Consider that question as you craft your next campaign.

Best of luck,

Tom Backus

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