Brands interested in reaching Millennials and Gen-Zs shouldn’t rely on the trappings of traditional marketing. With this demographic, peer-to-peer is king. Simply put, peer-driven, word-of-mouth interactions have become the most effective method of moving the needle for brands on college campuses and online. What’s the best way to do this? Campus rep programs.
By recruiting a team of micro influencers who are genuinely passionate about your brand and training them to be campus reps, you’ll have legions of true believers who are ready to talk to their friends about your brand on campus. These campus rep programs pay for themselves by reaching new consumers, driving awareness, and increasing sales. In addition, brands are consistently seeing added ROI through an uptick in followers and engagement on their owned social channels, as well as spikes in user-generated content.
Below are three reasons why campus rep programs may be the best use of your marketing budget.
1. Reach New Consumers
Despite the small number of campus reps needed to maintain a presence on campus, their diligent work pays off in a big way. Through on-campus events during the school year, campus rep teams are able to directly interact with approximately 15% of the student population, while exposing 20-30% of the student population to the brand’s messaging. To put that in perspective, let’s take your average state school with about 30,000 undergraduate students. Campus rep teams usually interact with—and we’re talking face-to-face communication—about 4,500 students, while exposing over 7,500 students to the brand.
Those aren’t just numbers. Those are college students who are open to new products and services and are willing to engage. The key is having your brand introduced by an authentic, trusted source—their peer. By choosing your campus reps wisely, well-connected, passionate college students will be representing your brand, allowing you to tap into their vast networks.
Soap & Glory is a great example. After years of success building itself into a dominant beauty and personal care brand in the UK, Soap & Glory wanted to establish a strong presence in the US. Their team of “fearlessly female” campus reps increased brand awareness, encouraged product trial, and supported major national retailers Walgreens, Target, and Ulta. Their presence on campus was so impactful that they became local celebrities, with students spotting them on campus and enthusiastically identifying them as “the Soap & Glory girls.” Their celebrity status consistently secured them lines of 50+ students at each event.
2. Drive Awareness
In addition to exposing new consumers to your brand through on-campus events, activations allow students to interact with your brand in unexpected ways, building familiarity and trust. Once this relationship has been established, students are more willing to allow you access to their personal information (name, email, school year, etc.), which leads to higher open and click-through rates on your digital marketing efforts.
Students who have opted-in to a brand’s digital and social channels not only become customers, but also brand advocates, sharing what they love on their personal social channels and through word-of-mouth. This snowball effect creates exponential reach, which often extends beyond the borders of one campus as students are connected to family members, high school friends (who are now spread out nationally), and new friends made through internships, jobs, volunteerism, and study abroad programs.
3. Leverage Program-Generated Content
In a typical campus rep program, campus reps are happily sharing branded messaging on their social channels, often competing with each other to post the best shot. These campus reps are micro influencers on their respective campus, having amassed large followings and influence. Combine their social media activity with content created by students during brand events, and the brand’s reach skyrockets.
The #ExpressU campus rep program is a great example. A network of hand-selected influential campus reps generated buzz around EXPRESS by executing on-campus events and creating original and unique social content. With events ranging from free yoga classes and juice bars to pool parties, the brand has enjoyed impressive results:
- 30M+ total program impressions generated across all physical, digital, and social channels with zero paid media
- 12.3K+ social content pieces created by campus reps utilizing #ExpressU
- 60+ pieces of program-generated social content leveraged on EXPRESS-owned channels, which received higher engagement than non-collegiate content
- Campus reps contributed multiple long-form articles to the brand’s blog
- EXPRESS utilized campus rep content to launch Instagram Stories, which generated over 27,000 views and higher engagement than non-collegiate stories
Additionally, because campus reps are students, they are able to reserve space in the most coveted and high-traffic interaction points on and around campus. Whether your brand belongs in the student rec center, quad, cafeteria, dorms, Greek houses, or on the intramural fields, campus reps are able to cultivate authentic conversations and interactions in areas of campus that are relevant to their lifestyles, allowing students to naturally experience your brand.
When you couple the authentic interactions during on-campus events with the relevant social media content created by a program, you get authentic experiences that changes a brand’s perception from “seems cool” to “can’t imagine life without it.”
WANT MORE? CHECK OUT THESE BLOGS
- 5 Things to Look for When Recruiting a Campus Rep
- Why Your Brand Should Invest in College Marketing
- 6 Tips for Hiring a College Marketing Agency
HOW CAN YMC HELP?
Looking to launch a campus rep program for your brand? Finding the right partner is key to your success (and ROI). Here at YMC, we’ve been helping brands connect with 15- to 29-year-old consumers for two decades—we’d be happy to share our wealth of knowledge with you. Contact us today!