Looking to bolster relevance with college students?
We got just the thing.
In this article:
1. Meet students where they are online
College students, usually aged 16-19, fit firmly into the Gen-Z bucket and if there’s one thing we all know about Gen Z is that they love video content. So, you’ll likely find them on Instagram, Snapchat and most notably, TikTok.
These channels might be unfamiliar to brands who practise more traditional marketing methods, but if you really want to bolster relevance with Gen Z, then these are the platforms you need to divert your attention to. Our case study with the Association of Chartered Accountants (ACCA), the leading international accounting body, is a great example of a formal, established brand successfully marketing to college students.
With the help of Fanbytes’ influencer marketing methods, ACCA were able to gain Gen-Z approval with millions of views on TikTok and Snapchat – something they would struggle to do on networks with older audiences. What’s more, they were able to drive engaged traffic to their landing page and help change stubborn stereotypes of accountancy from “boring, elitist & dull” to “exciting, relevant & impactful” after receiving hundreds of positive comments on social media.
2. Position yourself as the solution to a problem
Gen-Z students’ preference for short-form video is no secret, with their attention spans lasting around 8 seconds. No wonder TikTok is such a hit with their generation. But just creating short, easy-to-watch videos is only the beginning of the process. They also demand authenticity, innovation and entertainment. If you can find unique ways to entertain users whilst still being able to promote your product or service you will be a cut above the rest.
This is where our Fanbytes-made ‘advertainment’ approach comes in. Gen Z strongly dislike intrusive advertising; they want to be entertained, and fully experience a brand, not be hit with an ad whose sole purpose comes across as to exclusively sell. This is why brands marketing to college students need to adopt an entertainment first and product second mentality.
This is also to ensure that sponsored content comes across organic and blends in with the rest of the content on the platform. You want to arrive on the app almost like you are holding up an “I come in peace” sign.
For TikTok and Snapchat, this means using original content that is funny, or presents a solution to a problem. Our experience introducing a website that helps students compare textbook prices so that they can buy or rent books cheap to Gen-Z proves that organic content pays off. By positioning the website as a #collegehack, we achieved a 40% increased traffic to their site, with over 1.2M views on campaign videos.
Be mindful college students know when they’re being marketed to. Successful campaigns show students your brand adds value to their lives.
3. Partner with relatable voices when marketing to college students
College students need to feel like your brand understands them completely. So, even if you don’t know it all, you can always partner with people that do and that they can relate to. This is why partnering with influencers is essential. They are native to the platform you are trying to dominate and know their fan-base like the back of their hands.
There is only one problem. How do you find the right influencers who ‘fit’ your brand voice and identity?
Using our award-winning influencer network, we are able to find the most engaged influencers in any niche to fit your brand. We did the same thing for a graduate recruitment app. After identifying Snapchat influencers who were recent graduates and had the right target fan-base, the app was able to cement itself as the go-to recruitment agency for this market. This is a great example of marketing to college students works best when the audience can relate to people featured in the campaign.
4. Join the conversation by staying culturally relevant
The last thing brands want is to sound dated or out of touch. Using culturally relevant elements like popular songs or memes keeps campaign content interesting and increases the average watch-time of your content.
This is why our work with the graduate app capitalized on “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” memes to add cultural context and relevance. This strategy keeps content topical, but also allows brands to capitalize on trending hashtags for increased engagement.
5. Use interactive elements and encourage participation
Gen-Z views social media as a two-way conversation – they’re all about interaction and participation. To engage college students, think about including interactive elements like an AR lens or filter. Take a look at the filters we’ve developed for traditional brand ACCA for inspiration. Encourage participation, for example by getting college students to share their own videos of their experience with your product.
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So, to wrap up. When marketing to college students, use the online channels they’re using. Position yourself as a solution to a problem, or show off your product in a funny, interesting video. Partner with influencers who are relatable to college students, ideally those who are in college themselves. Give your campaign context, with timely cultural references, and encourage participation by using interactive elements.
If you’re looking to bring your brand to a Gen-Z audience, get in touch with us!