A college student’s perspective and tips on where companies should focus on social media.
So you want to market to college students? That’s great! It all starts with being on the right platforms. For example, it’s not likely you’ll find a bunch of young adults spending their free time on LinkedIn, though they might be using it to find an internship. Instead, they are more likely to stalk their ex’s Instagram or take a selfie on Snapchat. Even though there are some platforms that may be great for business, it is important to realize you might have to add a couple of new platforms to reach this demographic.
While I am a believer in the concept that Facebook has declined, and is not as “cool” as it once was, it doesn’t take away from the fact that Facebook still has 95% of students captured* because it is such a social media standard. However, college students are rarely actively posting and creating content on Facebook, and instead have turned their creative attention to apps like Snapchat and Instagram.
Instagram is a photo sharing platform, which gives companies the chance to show their consumers a different side of their brand through showing, not telling. About 60% of users are under the age of 35, and they are producing user-generated content, often regarding companies, according to Sheerid.com.
There are mainly two types of companies on Instagram. One who posts to push their products, and one who posts to push community and culture. For example, Patagonia never posts about their products or tries to sell anything, for that matter. Instead, they post about people, their stories, and the Patagonia culture. Apple Music, on the other hand, focuses more on the updates and what they have to offer to their consumers. These are two very different approaches to how companies can use their social media, but both of them can be effective in different ways. It often comes down to what messages you are trying to get across.
Beware: If you do decide to take Apple’s approach (product promotion), just be careful of the fact that if users think they are looking at just another advertisement, they will not hesitate to unfollow you.**
After selecting your platform(s), the next step is being aesthetically appealing.
There is a checklist of items that nearly any college student will look for on a social media profile. For example, here are a few things I look for when checking out a company’s Instagram.
- High quality photos
- Modern graphics or typography
- Consistent posting
If a company’s Instagram page is filled with interesting photos, modern graphics and a nice variety of posts, it doesn’t matter if I am interested in the product or subject. The company becomes more attractive, because I know they will contribute high quality and interesting posts to my feed.
One of the most popular social media techniques is showing consumers what happens behind the scenes. Showing followers the human side of a company can be very compelling and can create loyalty for your brand. Snapchat does a great job at showing a relaxed view of companies, which is especially effective in reaching high school and college-age students.
Along with showing people a different side of a business, Snapchat can also be the perfect place to provide loyal followers with exclusive deals and coupons.
58% of college students said they would be likely to purchase a brand's product or service if they received a coupon on Snapchat. At this point, Snapchat has tremendous strength with college-age consumers, capturing 77% of college students. If this is your target market, you had better be utilizing Snapchat; otherwise you are missing out.***
Twitter most definitely has its place in the social media realm, as no other platform has mastered live sharing and repostin, as well as Twitter. However, Twitter’s audience no longer thrives on such a young audience. Though a large number of 18-25 year olds still contribute to Twitter, that is no longer considered its main focus.***
Social media is a unique place where nearly any target market can be reached. Though some platforms have different strengths than others, the first step is getting out there and contributing to the conversation, no matter who listens.
Ask Intern Steven a question about marketing to college students in the comments!
***Shontell, Alyson. "77% Of Surveyed College Kids Use Snapchat Every Day." Business Insider, 2014. http://www.businessinsider.com/how-college-kids-use-snapchat-2014-2