Marketing an Event to College Students: What You Need to Know
If it’s been a while since you’ve been on campus, don’t feel bad about being out of touch with the college scene.
Social media and changing trends have made marketing to the 18-22 subset a whole new ball game.
The good news: it’s easier than ever to reach your target market. Let’s take a look at some things you need to know if getting college kids to your event is vital for its success.
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1. Know your niche of students
To hit your target market with your marketing campaign, you need to first know who they are. Think about your event and the crowd it’s likely to attract.
Of course, the goal is to get as many people as possible interested in your event, but knowing who will likely be interested is the first step in figuring out how to ramp up the RSVP list.
2. Find where your target market hangs out
Once you know who you want to attract to your event, figure out where they hang out or locations that have heavy foot traffic.
You’ll want to find out where they spend time physically on campus and hit those areas with advertising, but you’ll also need to find out where they hang out online to really make your event heard.
3. Engage and get social online
You need to meet students where they’re at, and that means using Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok to get the message out. Even if your brand new to some of these platforms, they’re fairly self-explanatory.
Set aside an hour or two to explore and see what kind of content is popular - this can give you some good ideas for getting your word out to your target market.
4. Reel them in and be engaging
Once you know who you want to attract and how you’re going to attract them, it’s time to take some action steps to help them make moves toward attending your event.
- Respond on your social media channels (both to direct messages and comments)
- Engage with people who follow you
- Ask questions that get people to comment on your posts
Tag students, artists and other talent that are in your event
Social media is a great way to spark conversation and get people interested in what you’re doing.
Ideas that work for students
If your goal is to boost student engagement in your event, one of the best things you can do is offer something for free.
No matter how much has changed over the years, college kids are still broke, and will often show up in droves to get something for nothing.
Some ideas that typically boost engagement:
- Free dinner that’s something other than the standard pizza or sandwiches - a taco, nacho, or grilled cheese bar can be a huge hit if you can swing it.
- Valuable swag for actual contributions - you want college students to actually participate in your event, not just show up for the free stuff and leave. Creating a competition in which students can win varying degrees of gift cards from sponsors is a great way to get them invested in what you’re offering.
Provide awesome backdrops and props for selfies and snaps - make this a heavy part of your advertising to get students to make your event a priority.
Above all, be authentic. College students can smell 'fakeness' from a mile away, and they want you to be who you are.
Create an awesome event, be real with them about the purpose, and don’t be afraid to joke about how you’re luring them in - they’ll appreciate your candor and be more likely to show you their realness as well.
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