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Most students don't see your Facebook posts....According to TechCrunch only about 12% of your fans do. Most don't see your Tweets either.... According to Betaworks the average half life of a post in 2012 was FOUR minutes....
And very few ever read your emails ....According to mailer/mailer the average open rate for emails sent in 2012 is about 19%, meaning 81 out of every 100 you send are NEVER read by anyone....
Needless to say students are more reliant on technology than ever before, and live their lives instantly and in real time. Advances in mobile technology over the past few years are helping Program Boards take advantage of new communication methods to engage their students on campus directly via text message in affordable and simple ways. We will explore some ways your school can use mobile technology on your campus to help increase your attendance, communicate with your students about events, get student feedback via polling and surveys and bring your marketing and technology use out of the stone-ages!
The average 18-24 year old student sends and receives over 3,000 texts per month and for most, it is their primary daily communication method. Below are a few ways your Program Board can incorporate text messages as part of your marketing mix on campus!
Starting a text list for your Board
In 2013 this may well be the easiest way to communicate with your students. The software platforms available today such as OnCampusText make running a text list as simple as writing an email. Your students text a keyword (for example SCOPE, SAPB, LSUCAB, URISEC) to a shortcode and they are automatically opted in to your list. You then include info about your list "TEXT COLLEGE to 63566" for example in all of your on-campus event marketing materials (posters, news paper ad's, flyers, radio ad's, etc) for the entire year to drive signup's. Schools have also used "Text-to-win" type givaways or iPads, Kindles, Gift Cards, etc to drive initial sign-ups to the list.
Send Specific Text Messages about Events on Campus
Let's say you have a great comedian performing on campus Wednesday night. Which of these marketing ideas do you think is more effective in 2013? The posters hanging in the student union with the comedian's name and picture, or a text message you send out to the students on your list with a fully clickable YouTube link showing a two minute clip of the comedian's stand-up routine? It's a lot easier for your students to know if someone is funny when they can see them perform. The same concept applies to music for your coffeehouse series. You send a link to listen to music. Movie Trailers for your movie series....again, just send a YouTube link to generate excitement about the film.
Students today are used to this type of one-click marketing, as they get it everywhere else in their lives, so why not take advantage of that as a Program Board? Most students are deciding what to do on Wednesday night an hour or two in advance, so you can now remind them about your events as they are making their plans, rather than hoping they see your poster two weeks before in the Union and remember to come. This instant communication and delivery has helped increase attendance and awareness at events for many different campuses currently using mobile technology.
As long as you don't overload or spam your students and send them only timely, relevant information they will view your text list as a great service to inform them about events. For most schools sending a weekly reminder about that week's events at the same time on the same day every week creates a habit with students, who then look forward to the info on a weekly basis.
Random (and sometimes scary....) Texting Facts
When you want to find out info from your students how does your campus do it? Do you tackle students in the dining hall and beg them to give you answers? Use a paper ballot to try and get feedback? Use online options like SurveyMonkey?
Why not use Mobile Technology to poll students real time via text messages? You type out a question and send it out to students on your list (or they text a keyword to get the question from you - it works either way) and they text back the answers. Sounds easy, right? IT IS!! You get almost instantaneous feedback and results as your students reply to your questions. Most of your students grew up in the "American Idol" generation and they are used to using their cell phones for voting and polling.
You can also use the technology to run voting on "Campus Idol" , "Campus has Talent" or "Battle of the Bands" type events. You can use text-based voting just like your students are used to seeing on TV to run your events. It happens in real time and you can watch votes come in on any computer screen when logged in to an account.
"Text to Win" type promotions have quickly become a favorite way for companies like Coke, McDonalds and Taco Bell to drive brand loyalty and do giveaways with their fans. Your Program Board can now use mobile technology to run similar contests on your campus to drive students to join your text list. Some examples below will show you some of the ways schools have used the technology on their campus.
Best Seats in the House Promotion - Hold a pair of front row tickets to your Spring Concert or other event, or even a meet and greet pass if you can arrange it. Put up signs for people to see as they walk in "TEXT SCOPE to 63566 for the chance to Win Front Row Tix Tonite!!" Right before the show starts the winner gets a text telling them how to get their ticket upgrade, and everyone has been opted in to your text list. Free Stuff - We all know how much students like free stuff. When students text in to join your list at events you can give them something for free. Maybe their autoresponse tells them to show this text for a free cupcake, or T Shirt. You can also include wording like "First 25 people to show text get a free _____" in your promotions for an event to drive people there. Again, students get free stuff, and you get their number opted in to your list....WIN-WIN!
Orientation Events - Work with Orientation leaders to make sure they include your text list marketing in their events. When you have a room filled with 100 Freshman and you tell them to "TEXT SCOPE to 63566" to get weekly texts about campus events all year it is much easier to get them to opt in than trying to chase them all down when they arrive in September.
MOBILE TECHNOLOGY ISN'T GOING AWAY
Cell Phones aren't a fad, and students are not going to start throwing them away tomorrow for something new. In fact almost 99% of your students will have the same cell phone number when they graduate as they did when they first got to campus. Once you have a student opt in to your list, you can communicate and engage with them for all four years!!
It will take time to grow an opt-in list, but by including Mobile and Text Technology as part of your overall marketing mix you can keep your students better informed about events, as well as getting real time feedback from your students helping create a more successful overall presence on campus for your Board and maximizing the impact of your events on campus!
Shawn Radley is President of OnCampusText. To reach him for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at (617) 359-8634.