Getting anyone to talk about your brand on social media channels, let alone the intrepid student, is no easy feat. In general, people take to real-time online platforms like Twitter and Facebook to either moan at a brand about how they didn’t receive their unicorn in the post or to share some overly gushy compliment about how much they love their products (leaving you wondering how much they paid that person to say that).
From our 18 years in the industry, we’ve found that students are very conscientious, seek quality & value and feel that brands are hugely important. They’re at a key time in their lives when brands can make a real impression and generate long-term loyalty that’s invaluable once they’ve moved into the workforce. The relationships students create with brands at this stage can also have a huge impact on their future purchasing decisions.
So, we answer the holy grail of all questions; how do brands generate positive conversations and engage students with their social activity? Unfortunately there is no one-size-fits-all answer, but these top five tips should certainly get you on your way – the rest is up to your fans!
1. Have fun!
Between all the lectures and studying, students generally have the most fun. We can vouch for that 😉 So this fun needs to be consistently provided to them in all aspects of their day, be that when they frequent their student union or when they communicate with a brand on social media.
Holding competitions, launching games or sharing the odd picture of a shocking face-swap can help brands to create a hub for fun that will not only get students talking about them, but keep them coming back for more! This is something that we instill in nearly all our marketing campaigns and we’ve found that by engaging students in this way, brands are creating more meaningful and solid relationships.
2. Don’t assume
So, you’ve decided you’re going to create a targeted student campaign. You know students, right? Aged 18-24, love to go out all the time drinking and partying, dress in joggers and hoodies, eat pasta and pesto every day and do no work. Don’t even get us started on the sleeping all day. You’ve failed before you’ve even started.
Yes, while some may live this lifestyle, the reality is it’s probably a really small percentage. If you make assumptions about your target audience that turn out to be totally untrue, you’re risking your campaign flopping. You need to profile and target your audience properly, not just their behaviour.
3. Don’t just take, give back
Now, we know we’ve said it’s important for brands to have fun with students on social media, but there’s got to be a balance. It’s all well and good offering your audience the chance to win festival tickets or play a game, but by giving something back of genuine value you can take your relationship to the next level.
Offering useful insight or chances to gain work experience will also be seen as a good reason to follow or engage with a brand on social media.
4. Mobile first!
Believe it or not, millennials are now the biggest demographic. In 2015, they overtook baby boomers as a segment and there are now 80 million of them around the world. But don’t be overwhelmed; this actually creates a huge opportunity for brands! It means that the largest demographic, which happens to host a big chunk of your target market, are in your hands. And which channels are they most likely to be using? Social media, of course. And how will they be accessing these channels? Well, their mobiles or tablets!
Make sure that your content, apps, website, (actually, anything you do), are optimised for mobile, and that’s not just because of Google. Launching a Facebook app page when you want to engage users via mobile just won’t work because they only work on desktop. Creating a really visual microsite with tonnes of high quality pictures that takes ages to load on mobile won’t drum up link equity. Be sure to consider how content works across all devices and channels before you launch your campaign.
5. Always, always be transparent
Because if you’re not, you will get found out, and it will be game over…seriously! Students are a savvy bunch and will see through the nonsense; they’re also not shy to call you out on it either and with instant, public platforms it’s never been easier to name and shame. So although social media can be seen as a blessing, it’s also a place ripe for trolling and hating. Being open, honest and even owning up to your mistake (rather than trying to hide or talk your way out of it) is the best way to ensure that you’re not going to get a backlash of angry tweets.
If you would like to find out more about how we can help you create a solid social media strategy and content plan to reach students get in touch!