7 Tips to Engage College Students

picture-11Are your messages reaching college students or are they being tossed away quicker than class notes after a final? Today’s college students and recent graduates, including those from online colleges [ad] have been using services like livejournal, myspace and facebook for a very long time and have developed a talent for sniffing out worth while messages from the noise that floods their mailboxes and social websites.  If done right however, word spreads through college campuses like a cold in a dorm building.  If you have something valuable to provide and you don’t want it to get lost in the noise,  here are some things to tips and things to keep in mind when attempting to engage college students…

  1. If you’re direct emailing off of a research based database…stop.  If students want to be emailed about something, they’ll sign up for it.  Even if you have something valuable, the minute they see a “pitch” in the subject line, they’ll delete it.
  2. Students join groups that their friends are already involved in.  Facebook groups are a great example of this.  In your feed, you are told when your friends join a group or become a fan of something.  They don’t want to feel like they’re missing out on something that their friends are involved in.
  3. Organize your job board.  I can’t tell you how many students, including myself, are searching online for job opportunities.  The problem is, 99% of the jobs they find are for more experienced professionals.  If you want to drive college traffic to your blog or site with a job board, make a clear section that is specific to entry level jobs.
  4. Add a little wit to your twit. Whether you’re reaching through blogging, twitter, or other social networks, keep your content witty and fresh.  College students spend 5 days a week reading boring, bland material.  If you make your content fun to read, they’ll appreciate it.
  5. Brevity is king. Think about how willing you would be to read a long email or blog post after reading 10 chapters of Freud, or sitting through an hour long exam. Time is valuable in college, so take up as little of it as possible and you will be well received.
  6. Sponsor student reps. College campuses are extremely viral environments.  If you don’t know someone, you probably know someone that does.  Create that facebook group then sponsor a couple students to represent you on campus. As I said in #2, students are attracted to groups that their friends are already in, so hire their friends!  A familiar, friendly face can get students to listen to your message. The only companies I have seen on my campus have been red bull and skoal (says a lot about us huh?) so there is a lot of opportunity to embrace a practically untouched marketing method.
  7. Collaborate with clubs and organizations. This is a great way to reach out to college students that can be relatively inexpensive as they receive funding from their school.  Contact the marketing club or any college business organization and give them an opportunity to collaborate with you. Clubs are always hosting events that you can sponsor.  Or you can really collaborate.  Give them some merchandise, have them create a marketing campaign for your company and test it out in their own college campus.  They will appreciate having the opportunity to do something real with an actual company instead of dealing with hypothetical situations.  (I’m trying to find opportunities like this for the Geneseo Marketing Club)

There are so many ways to reach college students.  If you do it right, the viral power of a college campus can pay dividends.  Not only will it spread through campus, but to all those college students’ friends from back home with the help of facebook and other social media platforms.

If any companies are interested in collaborating with the Geneseo Marketing Association Club (GMAC) email me at dspinks5@gmail.com

2008: A Revolutionary Year for Media and Communications

revolutionNot too long ago, Jacob Morgan tweeted the question “If you could choose one word to describe 2008, what would it be?” to which I replied “Revolutionary“.

Need proof you say? Very well.  All the responses can be found here.

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While 2008 could probably be considered revolutionary for a number of reasons, my response is in reference to media and communications.  The traditional methods of communications and marketing are changing in ways that are unfamiliar, making many uncomfortable, and some just refuse to embrace it. On the other end, there are the revolutionaries who strongly believe in the value of social media and are exploring new ideas to lead the way into a new age of communication.

Businesses struggling due to the economic downturn had to either suffer great losses, or embrace new ideas, grow, and survive. Many have found their answer in Twitter, the micro-blogging service that is becoming more popular by the day.  Others businesses like Nike created their own social networks, finding success by communicating with users in an entirely new way.

Within the last few months we’ve seen other highly publicized examples of the social media revolution.

  • The Israeli government set a precedent bypassing traditional media and connecting directly to real people on twitter and youtube to discuss the events in Gaza. See Story
  • President Elect Barack Obama communicated with the American people throughout his campaign through social media on his website and on Twitter , helping him win the election to become the first U.S. African American President.
  • During the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, anyone with an internet connection became a reporter, allowing concerned friends and family members to find answers quickly. A simple search for #mumbai on Twitter Search provided you with constantly updated news, images and information coming from everywhere in the world.  On the darker side of the use of social media in the events in Mumbai, we also saw the use of new technologies by the terrorists, who used google maps and other web tools to coordinate the attacks. See Story

It’s an exciting time that I feel very fortunate to be a part of.  What innovations and applications to social media will 2009 bring?  How far will the revolution go?  Will you be a revolutionary?

-David Spinks

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