Reaching College Students 101

Posted on Oct 1, 2012 · 4 min read

As much as we love stats and metrics, sometimes it’s necessary to take a step back from our calculators and survey results and think about what all those facts and figures actually mean. All that crunchy data isn’t worth much if you can’t suck the juice out of it and translate the numbers into meaningful, actionable steps.

For example, maybe you’re fascinated by the fact that 83% of college students say social media is the best way to reach them. But assuming that your company already has a Facebook page and a Twitter account, what do you do with that fascinating tidbit of information? Maybe you’ve read our previous blog posts and infographics that reported that 55% of students suggest you advertise your company discount on your website and you’re willing to take their advice, but how do you ensure that college students are looking at your website in the first place?

We hear ya, and we’ve called in the big guns. We’ve wracked the brains of some of the greatest masterminds we know, and we shook loose these pearls of wisdom that are going to help you turn those intriguing stats we keep flinging at you into a to-do list for reaching college students.

First up, Kelli Matthews, a social media marketing expert and instructor at the University of Oregon (GO DUCKS!), has a tip on how to succeed at social media:

Be genuine.

“As tastemakers, college students drive social media trends–they create the rules and define the ever extending landscape of new tools and channels. If a company doesn’t have a robust, genuine social media strategy, they will not successfully reach college students.”

That seems pretty easy, doesn’t it? If you need help being genuine, refer back to our white paper on how to reach college students, College Students Vs. Student Discounts, It Doesn’t Have to be This Hard. We suggest you pay close attention to page 6.

Green Eggs and Mushrooms by Dr. MigamotoNext in the queue is the co-founder of TeeFury, Jason Gutierrez. If you haven’t heard of TeeFury, try not to feel too bad. It’s hard to keep up with what the kids are into these days, especially when they’re into daily design trends that sell out within 48 hours of their initial launch. It’s tough getting old, isn’t it? Luckily Jason has some email marketing advice even us old buzzards can make sense of.

Keep it fresh.

“With college-age customers, it’s important to stay fresh and to stay top-of-mind.  We do that most effectively by using Constant Contact to send regular emails featuring our new designs. Our strategy is to make sure our emails are fresh and interesting so people see our emails as more ‘news’ than selling them something.”

Next, we got in touch with Joel Bartlett, Director of Marketing Innovations at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Now whether you love PETA or hate PETA is kind of beside the point. The point here is that hundreds of thousands of high-school and college age students visit peta2.com, PETA’s youth-focused website every week. Uh-huh, we said “week”. Now listen up while Joel shares a nugget of wisdom about how to get college students to your website.

Peta2.com: I am not a nugget.Content is key.

“Whether talking about delicious vegan food or how leather and wool are just as cruel as fur, PETA makes sure all of its online content is emotionally evocative. Just like you’ll repeat a good joke, we believe that the stronger we can make someone feel, the more likely they will ‘like,’ ‘comment on,’ or ‘share’ our content.”

If you need help kick-starting your content generation, you might want to start with blogging.

Last, but certainly not least, we turned to a couple of experts on how to reach students where they study, skip classes, and hopefully, learn a thing or two- on campus. The industry veterans behind thinkEDU,  Janet Drumm and Allan Fischler, know everything there is to know about on-campus marketing. Direct from them to you:

ThinkEdu lightbulbReach influencers.

“thinkEDU’s on-campus marketing involves reaching out to many different groups on campuses. We work with Directors of IT to include a link to thinkedu.com on their student technology pages, faculty to spread the word to their students, and use campus reps that actively post specials and bundles on their Facebook and Twitter pages.”

So there you have it. Now all you have to do is take a long hard look at your content to make sure it’s genuine, fresh, and evocative, and make sure you’re delivering it to the right people.

Angela Modzelewski by Angela Modzelewski