Greek life is on the rise in the United States with membership increasing by 45% over the past decade, according to the North-American Interfraternity Conference, the organization that governs all active chapters nationwide. In order for brands to successfully infiltrate this group, they must focus on three key areas: developing authentic points of contact within the organization, finding unique ways to relate their brand to the group, and providing personalized touch points tailored towards their audience.

Develop Authentic Points of Contact

The Greek community on campus acts as a network. It takes a large 50,000 student body population, and condenses it into a tight knit community of 100-300 students. Because Greek life communities are tight knit, trends spread quickly by key micro influencers within the organization. The best way for brands to infiltrate these communities is to hire someone on the inside—campus reps.

Campus reps are the most effective and authentic way to infiltrate Greek life. Authenticity continues to be very important to students within the collegiate market, due to the magnitude of brands promoting their products within the space. The first step to identifying strong influencers in Greek life, which begins with the recruitment process. While developing the campus rep criteria, brands should look for students who are not only in sororities or fraternities, but who are also leaders within their respective organizations. Greek life leaders not only have authority over their peers, but also have on-campus connections such as on-campus location booking privileges and admin permissions on collegiate Facebook pages.

In addition to hiring campus reps who are leaders in their own Greek organizations, brands should identify leaders in governing Greek councils to help extend the reach of their brand. The two most influential governing councils to keep an eye out for are the Interfraternity Council as well as the National Panhellenic Council, the two organizations that govern all major fraternities and sororities in North America. They are able to infiltrate not just their own organization, but any Greek organization on-campus, making them incredibly valuable in terms of extending the reach of your brand on-campus. The campus rep will be allowed to attend typically closed chapter meetings and will have access to the executive board of all chapters for event announcements.

Ultimately, hiring campus reps in Greek organizations allows for trusted infiltration into Greek life on-campus. Because these individuals are trusted by their peers, students are more receptive to hearing what they have to say about new brands and products. Through hiring a micro influencer within the organizing, your brand can ensure that your message and products are being positively received on-campus.

Campus reps in Greek life

Relate Your Brand Personality to the Group

Now that your brand is ready to hire campus reps within Greek life, it’s important to confirm that your brand personality fits the personality of the Greek life community. Every organization is different on every campus. This also plays into school selection. Selecting schools within in your brand’s key market is the perfect starting point for ensuring that your brand will resonate on campus. After you pull together your initial school list, you will be able to determine if the school is actually a good fit during the recruitment process. Conduct interviews to vet the campus reps—you’ll be able to gather more information about not only the personality of the campus as whole, but also the personality of each various Greek organization. Once you gather this information, determine which schools and which organizations you want, and then make your hires!

Personalized Touchpoints

After you’ve hired your campus reps, programming is next. In order to truly infiltrate Greek life, brands must provide personalized touch points to promote engagement and interaction with the community. A great way to authentically integrate your brand into Greek life is to frame your promotions around key Greek moments. For example, fraternity and sorority formals are a staple in Greek life. If your brand sells formal attire, makeup, and/or hair products, formals and semi-formals are a great time to execute on-campus tactics. Campus reps can host events such as makeovers, fashion shows, or tabling events to promote your brand’s products or services before this key moment.

Outside of promoting your brand in conjunction to key Greek life moments, it’s important to make your brand’s promotions personal. A great example of personalizing your brand promotions is through surprise product drop-offs. Asking campus reps to coordinate a surprise at a sorority/fraternity that is not their own helps expand your reach. In feedback received from similar events, students felt appreciated and were more likely to shop the brand after the surprise.

Through developing authentic points of contact with campus reps in Greek life, relating your brand to the organization members, and providing personalized touch points that encourage interaction and engagement, your brand can ensure that it will successfully infiltrate Greek life.

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How can YMC help?

You know you want your brand on campus but aren’t sure how to get started—what next? Finding the right partner is key to your success. 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 about college marketing today!

As buzzworthy as the word “influencer” has become, influencer marketing is nothing new. Celebrities have long served as poster children for the influencer model. But with the rise of social media, it’s now possible for an average person to become an influencer. Instead of being discovered by a talent scout or moving to NYC or LA, social media has democratized who gets to be famous and serve as an influencer. All you really need nowadays is an Instagram handle and iPhone Portrait Mode.

Over the past several years, there has been a rise in influencers (AKA Instagram celebrities with millions of followers and a perfectly curated online persona), replacing the long standing reliance on celebrities for endorsements and marketing campaigns. We are beginning to see another shift that is set to rock the the evolving industry.

Bigger Isn’t Always Better

Instagram celebrities are becoming increasingly expensive and are often personally disconnected from their audiences, causing brands to question ROI and look for alternate avenues to maximize it. As authenticity dictates what breaks through the social media marketing clutter, brands are turning to the support and clout of micro influencers to not only help further their marketing endeavours, but also to help build a brand story, raise awareness, and connect with consumers in an engaging, relevant way.

Unlike “Instagram celebrities,” who may have millions of followers, micro influencers typically reach an extremely targeted group of followers. While they tend to have fewer followers than Instagram celebrities (anywhere from 1,000 – 100,000 followers), they normally enjoy a higher level of engagement, likely because they are perceived as being more relatable. Since they’re able to create and cultivate a kind of relationship that isn’t likely for individuals with millions of followers, they’re 4x more likely to get a comment on a post.

The Student Sweet Spot

Student micro influencer sips tea

The student demographic is where micro influencers flourish because students are particularly interconnected and social. As a group of digital natives, Millennials and Gen-Z are used to sharing their lives on social media. They’re constantly creating their own content and building their following while managing to make it to class and pass exams.

And long gone are the days of the “broke” student stereotype. In fact, college students spent $523 billion dollars in 2015, 39% of which was discretionary spending (food, entertainment, clothes, transportation). Research shows that students are more than willing to spend their money on the brands they love and are looking to their friends for honest recommendations. Brands would be wise to embrace the “less is more approach,” and fully lean into the power of student micro influencers.

Higher Engagement

Students tend to have higher engagement rates than celebrities due to their ability to be more interactive, responsive, and build stronger relationships with their followers. They aren’t strangers—they’re your sorority sister, your lab partner, your class president. According to a HelloSociety study, these campaigns can deliver a 60% higher engagement rate than the average campaign powered by a celebrity or Instagram celebrity.

While celebrities definitely have a larger reach (potential number of people who could see the content organically), the demographic makeup of their followers can result in a lost message, as many people may not care about that they are trying to promote or it may not be relevant to their lives.

Authenticity

84% of Millennials don’t trust traditional advertising and Gen-Z places the most trust on messages from their peers. These demographics have refined B.S. meters that allow them to spot when promotions are solely based on a contract. When students feel like they are being sold to or that the content doesn’t directly relate to them, their built-in adblock is activated.

Instead of a brand reaching out to desired customers directly, brands can use student micro influencers to accomplish this task in a more natural way as a peer. They can give more authentic endorsements because they like a product, not because of a contract or compensation (although typically both are involved). When it comes to celebrity accounts with millions of followers, no one actually believes that they are a real fan of the product…they’re just trying to get paid.

To incorporating this level of authenticity and accessibility, it’s important to do your research. Recruiting and selecting student micro influencers on college campuses can be tricky business. It doesn’t matter how much strategy and thought went into the campaign—if you select the wrong students, it can be detrimental. Showcase students who reflect the lives of the target consumer and you’ll connect your brand to that target consumer in a meaningful way.

Content Creation & Ownership Rights

Millennials and Gen-Z respond best to content that looks like them, so there’s no better way than going straight to the source for content. Student micro influencers are content generators for a brand. Student content can outperform celebrity content while maintaining authenticity (and it comes with a smaller price tag).

Brands can also repurpose student content to generate additional revenue from a campaign. Repurposed content increases the value you get from your campaign, and has been proven to drive further sales. Depending on the contract, your brand may be able to secure unlimited, royalty-free rights to content, instead of having to pay usage fees.

Offline Conversion/Word-of-Mouth

Student micro influencers have a unique power to take their online conversations offline and power them through word-of-mouth, striking up conversations with their networks on campus (hello thousands of college students) and directly influencing their networks face-to-face/peer-to-peer. According to a Nielsen study, 92% of consumers value referrals from friends or family members.

Cost

According to HelloSociety, micro influencers are 6.7x more efficient per engagement than influencers with larger followings. You can generate the same (or larger reach) by assembling a team of student micro influencers on varying campuses for a fraction of the cost, while adding a more diverse, yet still targeted audience.

While celebrities and mega-influencers hone their monetization strategies to make their social media presence a sustainable business with well-developed pricing structures, the average college student will be more than happy with free product or services and a small stipend.

Want more? Check out these blogs:

How can YMC help?

Want to recruit student micro influencers for your brand? Finding the right partner is key to your success. 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!

 

Word of mouth marketing campaigns are an engaging way to develop brand loyalty, trust, and conversation among potential customers. Below are four tips to kickstart your campaign and ensure that your efforts will positively shift customer perception and increase awareness of your brand.

Start with your employees 

Happy employees are oftentimes your most accessible brand advocates, and therefore a reliable and valuable resource to utilize when starting your word of mouth marketing efforts. These individuals know your brand best and can inform potential customers about your products and services both digitally and in person. Further, employees can easily and thoroughly answer questions their network may have about your brand, which can increase chances of trial, purchase, or conversion.

Create a structured system to educate employees on their advocacy options and watch buzz around your brand increase efficiently and cost-effectively.

Offer an incentive

People (employees included) are more likely to take an action or share something about your brand if they receive some sort of value in return. It’s all about mutually beneficial relationships! Examples of popular action-inspiring incentives include cash, discounts on future purchases, exclusive access to upgrades or new products, gift cards, and promotional items.

Referral programs are another well-known incentive embedded into word of mouth campaigns, as they offer customers a reward when they share positive information about your brand. Airbnb is an example of a company that implemented a structured referral program to incentivize customers to spread their positive sentiments towards the brand. One of their past models encouraged existing customers to invite friends to join Airbnb by giving both the sender and the recipient a $25 travel credit when the user completed their first trip. As a result, Airbnb gained 300% more bookings and sign-ups than before the referral program was implemented. Further, their company found that the customers they gained through referral programs booked more reservations, became hosts more often, and referred more users.

With the right strategy, an incentive can help you not only reach new customers, but loyal ones, as well.

Build a close knit community

Social media is another great tool. Strong, engaging content tends to reach customers outside of your follower base through retweets, tags, shares, or reposts, which can spark curiosity, create additional brand awareness, and inspire conversation. Nike’s Twitter support account, @NikeSupport, is a great example of a brand that has successfully used their platform to make it easy for customers to engage. By consistently answering customers questions in a timely fashion, the brand’s social media platform has become a portal for building customer trust.

Engaging with platforms that host online consumer reviews such as Amazon or Yelp, or building your own, is another great way to converse with customers. 62% of consumers search online for reviews and information before purchasing a product. Further, it has been suggested that 88% of people trust online reviews written by consumers as much as recommendations from personal contacts.

Business reviews and strategic social communication can both work in tandem to help shape and bolster a company’s online reputation. By meeting customers where they are, brands can not only join the conversation, but also, listen and learn about their customers and their needs, as well.

Connect with micro influencers

Micro influencers, oftentimes doubling as student brand ambassadors, are individuals with a strong following and power to influence the beliefs and behaviors of potential customers within your key demographic. These individuals will ideally serve as the face and voice of your brand among their networks, making your products and services more accessible, relevant, and appealing.

When selected carefully, these individuals can also work to authentically support existing marketing efforts by creating on-brand social content, sharing reviews of your product offerings or services, and providing exclusive discounts to interested consumers. Research shows that 40% of people say they’ve purchased an item online after seeing it used by an influencer on Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube, which shows just how impactful and rewarding their presence can be. Work to establish expectations with these influencers and equip them with the tools to represent your brand, and you’re bound to gain the eyes and ears of an impressionable new audience.

In summary, whether your leveraging employees, micro influencers, or customers, you’ll want to make sure that you’re providing them with something valuable in exchange for their time. Once you’ve created a word of mouth marketing strategy to attract new customers and keep your brand advocates happy, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is for your word of mouth marketing campaign to grow to new and unforeseen heights.

Want more? Check out these blogs:

How can YMC help?

Want to launch a word of mouth marketing campaign with your brand but aren’t sure how to get started? Finding the right partner is key to your success. 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!