7 Steps to Contagious Content
EACE contribution by Michelle López-Mullins Public Relations & Marketing Coordinator at the University Career Center & The President’s Promise at the University of Maryland, College Park
Follower count is nice, but it shouldn’t be the meat and potatoes of your social media regimen. The gateway to social clout, student engagement, and “going viral” comes down to your content’s potential. Summer is an ideal time to brainstorm ways to upgrade your content from flat to infectious. Here are seven steps to get you there.
- Understand the competition.
Every time a student has a career-related question, you’re competing with Google. Do you supply your students with content that they can’t get elsewhere, faster? Consider what sets your students and area apart. Often, what sets your students apart are your students. Which brings us to number two:
- Consider the power of testimonials.
Social clout is a huge factor—and filter—for information collection for Millennial and Generation Z (a Millennial’s younger siblings) students. This applies to everyone, really, but for the first time we have the chance to shout as loud as the organizations vying to influence us. Make use of this! Collect student testimonials and adapt them into your print and digital marketing campaigns. You are gaining social clout by using faces your students are more likely to know, about services and experiences specific to your campus. Students trust familiar faces over stock photos.
- Tailgate success.
You don’t always need to come up with a successful campaign from scratch. Borrowing from tried and true viral campaigns can associate your brand with something students are seeing much more often than they may see your material alone. This type of association can give you free, recurring marketing each time something triggers the association. It can also give you ideas if you are struggling with design concepts or clever slogans.
- Your product is not your brand.
Although you might be “selling” students on the idea of using a résumé wizard or mock interview website, you don’t need to limit yourself to your products when it comes to marketing yourself. During finals, creating a small campaign where you wish them luck on exams can prove even more effective than a poster about a product or service they aren’t even thinking about at the moment. Your brand should be one that associates you with positive outcomes, not just available products. Ideas, not objects.
- Social media lets you try new things without a big budget.
Try tweaking the tones and delivery of your marketing. Watch your metrics and pay attention to what gets student attention. Let student engagement tell you how to best present your content. Try asking questions, inviting satisfied students to supply or post photos from their internship, being humorous, posting industry updates, etc. See what makes students take the bait and see how you can adapt other content to that formula.
- Don’t be discouraged.
Viral content is often unintentional. You’re also (I’m assuming here) not trying to go viral across the nation, just across your campus. Your numbers might not be as overwhelming as some for the latest trending tags of Twitter, but the ripples might have a proportionally large effect because of the smaller pool you’re fishing in. A positive of continuously focusing on creating engaging, entertaining content for students is you are always supplying new content. This constant influence will make you a constant in the lives of your students and inflate your brand presence anyway.
- Have fun with it!
Don’t nip your own creativity in the bud by worrying if “this piece” will get enough likes or retweets. You’re always one free pizza away from getting a room full of students together to help hone your next campaign. Take a few chances and don’t be afraid to give up the suit, tie and handshake for something you wouldn’t mind reposting on your own wall. Don’t be afraid to move outside the box and your next campaign, viral or not, will begin to build your momentum for the entire year.
Michelle Lopez-Mullins is paid to push the envelope and sweat creativity as the PR & Marketing Coordinator at the University Career Center & The President’s Promise at the University of Maryland, College Park. Her responsibilities include Center branding, marketing, public relations, graphic design, videography, and social media. Michelle graduated from the University of Maryland in 2012 with a B.A. in Psychology. Connect with her via LinkedIn.