If you’re going after the graduate market, a well-developed social media campaign is a must. According to the Office for National Statistics, a massive 96% of 16-24 year-olds in the UK used social networking sites in 2017, compared to only 68% of those aged between 45 and 54, and less than 30% of over 65s used some kind of social media.
Unfortunately, although absolutely necessary, marketing to students on social media isn’t totally straightforward. Young people are prone to move from platform to platform in a bid to be a part of ‘the next big thing’, and they can be pretty unforgiving of low-quality content that they don’t want to see. To make sure your marketing efforts don’t go to waste, heed the following advice:
While it’s certainly worth spending time and money on Facebook and Twitter campaigns, since these platforms remain popular with all ages, it’s also worth branching out to those sites dominated by student users in particular. That means investing in platforms like Instagram and Snapchat. According to a recent Pew Research Centre report, nearly 60% of Instagram users are aged between 18 and 29, and around half of the users visit the site at least once per day. By contrast, only 36% of Twitters users are of the same age, and just over 40% of Twitter users visit the site at least once per day. Likewise, Snapchat is used largely by those under 35 and is estimated to reach over 40% of all 18-34 year-olds in the US every day.
With a hashtag, you can create a social media database of photos, reviews, and news for prospective customers to look over and discover what your business is all about. Ultimately, of course, you want to get students to use the hashtag themselves, contributing their own images and stories and in this way spreading the word of your business to their friends.
In order to get students to use your hashtag, you need to choose your hashtag wisely. Students won’t want to use a hashtag that’s trying too hard. A company hashtag that’s trying to be cool is like a parent trying to be cool. Just keep it simple.
You might also want to think about incentivising students to use your hashtag by giving away vouchers to those who share their experiences with you online. Students really are short on money, and more often than not will jump at the chance to make some savings.
No one wants to read through chunky blocks of text – students do enough of this for their courses. The best way to grab a student’s attention is therefore through visuals, especially photography and videos. Of course, not just any photo or video will do. Your content needs to be designed with your audience in mind.
Students particularly appreciate humour and irony, as attested to by the rise of ‘meme culture’ in recent years. So, it’s a good idea to share something funny and relatable which speaks to the experiences students actually have. For example, if you’re a takeaway service in a university town, you could post an image or short clip of someone stressing out, with the caption ‘That feeling when you still have washing up to do’. Then encourage them to order from you instead of facing that pile of dirty dishes.
Interaction is key. If someone tweets at you or posts on your Facebook page, make sure you respond. More than that, make sure you respond in a human way. Students don’t want to interact with a faceless business, but with a down-to-earth business owner who offers them a personal service.
It’s also a good idea to try and follow students on each of your social media platforms. While many students won’t follow your business of their own accord without some kind of incentive, they might happily follow you back if you make the first move. Moreover, by following students, you’re able to engage in very specific advertising. Say you’re an ice cream store and you see a student is anxious about their upcoming exam. You can wish them the best of luck and offer them a free ice cream to get them through their revision. Chances are you’ll have found a loyal customer who will spread the word of your generosity.
As with any marketing campaign, feedback is crucial. Whenever you have the opportunity, ask students what attracted them to your business, how other students generally perceive your business, and what they would like to see kept the same and done differently. If you follow the advice of the very people you’re marketing to, you can’t go too far wrong.
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