Five ways to reach college students this semester

I originally wrote this post for Gazette Media & Marketing’s blog. 

The academic year is quickly approaching, and soon communities will be filled with new, temporary residents — college students.

The arrival of students for a new year gives small businesses and organizations the opportunity to market their products and services to a whole new generation. But, what’s the best way to reach them?

1. Make your campaign relevant.

What makes your product or service important to a college student? How can your business help a student through their stay in their new town? Think about what makes students tick and what products they’re excited about, and tailor your marketing efforts appropriately.

2. Reach them with video.

Videos are consumed online at a faster rate than ever before. According to a Forbes article, sites like YouTube and Netflix are extremely popular for students who stream video instead of paying for cable. Reach students with video in two ways: With content that draws them in, with subjects they’re truly interested in; and with advertising campaigns on popular networks.

3. Talk to them.

Visit campus. Hand out flyers. Let students know where your business is. Give them free samples — because let’s be honest, college students thrive on free stuff.

4. Hire student ambassadors.

Word-of-mouth marketing isn’t dead, and college students can be heavily influenced by their peers. By hiring brand ambassadors, young people can connect with prospective customers in a way that your employees may not be able to. Have these ambassadors post on social media, be present at campus fairs and activities and spread the word about your business.

5. Keep your social media updated.

More often than not, the current college-aged generation is visiting one of your social media accounts before they’re visiting your website. Make sure that you’re posting often, and posting interesting and engaging content.

Ready to take the next step in marketing to students? Get a hold of the Gazette Media & Marketing team at info@gazettemediamarketing.com or (724) 465-5555 ext. 285. 

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Three tried-and-true Instagram tactics

I originally wrote this post for Gazette Media & Marketing’s blog. 

With 400 million active users, there’s no doubt that Instagram plays a huge role in any brand’s marketing strategy.

Instagram is useful in reaching a target demographic that’s been hard to connect with thus far for a lot of brands: Teens and young adults.

According to this post by Hootsuite, Instagram is considered the most important social network by more American teens (at 32 percent) than any other network.

At Gazette Media & Marketing, we’ve tried a number of different tactics on Instagram. Here are the three that we think are most important:

Consistent branding.

This may sound like a no-brainer, but often brands get on Instagram and post images just to post them. When you’re posting, think “how is this image relevant to my consumer?” Make sure your captions thoroughly explain why this image is important to the users you’re trying to reach.

And, keep a consistent tagline when possible. For example, The Indiana Gazette closes out Instagram posts with a years-old tagline, “In print daily, online always.”

Develop a hashtag campaign

Instagram engagement is driven hugely by hashtags. Research by Hootsuite says that posts with at least one hashtag average 12.6 percent more engagement.

On Recreation News’ Instagram account, we used the magazine’s tagline, #LivePlayDo, as an opportunity to solicit photos from users across the Mid-Atlantic. In just the few months that we’ve measured the campaign, it’s received over 1,000 photo submissions from adventurers everywhere.

Tip: Keep your hashtag short and sweet – it’ll be easier for users to remember that way.

Tag post locations

A small but mighty tweak to your strategy, research shows that posts with location tags have up to 79 percent more engagement on the social network.

How do you add a location? Make sure your smartphone’s location settings are active, and then the “Add Location” button on your post should work.

Posting later? No need to worry. Search the location you took the photo from by name.

Social media pet peeves: A list

Patience: That’s one of the traits I told students at Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s PRSSA meeting on Tuesday that social media managers need to have. As a social media manager, you’re going to see an abundance of complaints and sometimes an abundance of stupidity – and you can’t let it get to you.

But, there are a few things that erk me. Here they are:

Over-quoting tweets

Brands, news outlets and other accounts spend a lot of time crafting messages. While some tweets open themselves to commentary, it’s more helpful to a brand for you to just retweet it in the form it was meant to be in.

Automated thank-you tweets

Bot-generated tweets like “My best retweets this week came from … ” are incredibly aggravating. If you’re actually glad somebody shared your content, thank them as a human being.

When brands post links to retail items that DON’T actually go to the item

Now, I’m not actually in the market for an engagement ring (#foreveralone), but A GIRL CAN DREAM. Case and point, this engagement ring is my actual dream … but if you click on the link it’s nowhere to be found on the Brilliant Earth website.

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Post Hijackers

As part of my reporter duties, I spend a lot of time asking different groups around the community to weigh in on particular topics that I’m writing about. Sometimes, you’re just trying to write a nice, happy story, and people end up hijacking your post and turning it in to a complaint-fest.

1

I asked Twitter what their own peeves were:

Using Pinterest to boost traffic

Content marketing: You spend hours on Facebook, and just about the same amount of time on Twitter. And you’re still not seeing the results you want.

pinterest-793051_640Adding one more social network may seem like it’ll just add to the workload, but if you’re going to add one, let it be Pinterest.

Pinterest is known for it’s Mommy Blogs, travel ideas, recipes and more, but it’s known to content marketers as one of the number one ways to boost traffic to your website and foster community engagement.

What makes a good pin?

Detailed and optimized descriptions. Pins with accurate descriptions will get noticed more during searches.

Optimized images. Check out these tips from HelloSociety:

  •  Vertically oriented images are ALWAYS preferred.
  • The perfect pin size? Aim for 730 x 1200 pixels.
  • Keep the image size under 2MB.
  • Brighter images with natural light are ideal.

Accurate links. Don’t send a user to a general website page – send them to the content they’re looking for exactly.

Use ads. Pinterest’s promoted pins feature was launched earlier this year, and is proof that putting a few dollars a week in to your marketing campaign can drastically increase results. Read more about Promoted Pins here.

Do you have any tips to add for getting more traffic from Pinterest? Comment below!

The stock photo site I can’t live without

Open my Hootsuite account, and you’ll find that I’m managing more social accounts than one person probably should. A few newspapers, a magazine, a job-search site and a marketing company are just a few of the online communities I’m trying to keep track of.

weimaraner-143753_640Let’s face it, social media managers: Sometimes, it’s really hard to find photos for our content.

Until Pixabay.

The creative director at Gazette Media & Marketing introduced me to Pixabay earlier this year and saved my life. It’s got tons of free, high-quality stock photos that work well in almost any project.

All pictures are released under Creative Commons CC0 as public domain.

Here are just a few examples of projects I’ve used Pixabay for:

Facebook Ads
Social media campaigns
Travel magazine content
Content for TheJobConnexion.com
C
ontest art