How to Talk to College Students via Social Media

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Keep your friends close and your customers closer:


Let’s face the reality of college life. Social activities tend to revolve around social media.  In one way or another, at least some part of day-to-day mingling will touch the internet.  Whether it’s talking to friends about meeting up around campus to do homework or posting the pictures from that big event this past weekend, college students probably find themselves logging on to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. somewhat frequently.  So is it at all surprising that brands have invaded their newsfeeds in an attempt to gain a foothold in the college demographic?  And more importantly, do they mind it?  The simple answer for the majority would be “no,” at least if the brand does it right.  When their favorite brands make the effort to build a long-term relationship with them, they take notice!  The greatest brands have been known for delivering consistently great social experiences, and not surprisingly, they’re the brands college kids think of first when they’re in the market for something new.

Everyone has seen the not-so-great social tactics of faceless brands, who listen out for the right conversations, only engaging with the right audiences in order to measure the outcomes.  This allows us to appreciate the great experiences, the ones that acknowledge us as human beings and recognize us as more than just dollar signs. iMediaconnection offers four ways to best engage customers on social media:

  • Acknowledge and Recognize
  • Help Them to Help Yourself
  • Providing Tangible Value
  • Surprise and Delight

Discover, the company who seems to target the college demographic for credit cards, has shown an outstanding commitment to customer service.  They are a great example of a brand that’s actively listening and responding to each inquiry they receive, as well as taking it a step further to continue the conversation.  Basic human nature makes us crave affection, so when brands show gratitude, we remember that feeling, and it goes a long way!

As a demographic that lives on easy-mac and Ramen noodles, college-aged kids certainly don’t have high or unrealistic expectations.  However, when they buy into your brand, you’ve entered into a pact with them, and you better be there when they need you.  They expect “Youtility,” the idea of helping them instead of just selling to them.   They don’t presume they’ll be dealing with miracle workers when their new toy stops working, they just want to know someone is there to help rectify the situation.  They know their issues can be complicated and may not be solvable in a 140 character tweet, but that first connection goes a long way to show them that the brand they invested in is investing right back!  The help provided today will define the relationship they have with you for the rest of their lives.

College students are pretty impressionable by value.  Whether it’s simply today’s lunch or a fun night out, value dictates their consumer behavior.  When brands offer tangible value, in the form of a rewards card or mobile check-in incentives for example, it makes them want to come back!  Even if their “reward” for loyalty is nothing more than a dollar or two off their total, the little things go a long way.  That surprise bonus during checkout is a memorable experience which keeps them coming back!  As that translates to social media, strive to kindle those small moments of joy for the online community you’re cultivating.  Those online experiences are the perfect opportunities to wow a customer in a situation where they aren’t in need of assistance.  This goes a long way in building stronger loyalty and brand preference.

Remember that the college-aged generation is very distractible and needs constant reminders of how their favorite brands are always there.  Regular and memorable interactions through multiple touch points is the formula for creating a brand-following, especially amongst the 18-24 year-old demographic.  All in all, they need more than just marketers selling to them, they need a smiling face intent on building long-lasting relationships, one experience at a time.

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