You know you want to bring your brand to college campuses but you don’t know where to start. Research is key—especially when it comes to selecting the right college campuses for your campus rep programs. Smaller universities will garner different reach than larger universities, and social campuses are likely to be more receptive to certain brands than hyper academic campuses. Consider the five following tips to ensure that your campus rep programs successfully increase awareness and engagement with your brand.

Exposure to key markets for your brand

The college campuses involved should be strategically located near key markets and audiences. Campus rep programs influence shopping behavior and can greatly increase in-store foot traffic for product-focused brands or trial for service-focused brands. Having a nearby store in a well-known location, ideally less than 10 miles away from campus, will ensure that students can easily walk, drive, or take advantage of public transportation to further engage with your brand.

If your brand is digitally oriented with a focus on trial or e-comm sales, campus reps can also strategize tactics to influence their peers on campus to shop online. Further, campaigns that are digitally focused can be easily scaled, as your brand can greatly expand the number of college campuses taken into consideration.

Geographic region

Location is key when considering not only the campus’ proximity to key markets, but also the potential influence a campus’ geographic region can have on the relevance and need for your product or service. For example, a swimwear brand may be better received by students attending southern campuses like the University of Miami, rather than northern campuses like Syracuse University. Similarly, an urban campus such as NYU may be more receptive to a high profile fashion brand than a rural campus like the University of Idaho.

School size

Ideal campus reps will embody your brand persona and be enthusiastic about your brand’s mission. Universities with a larger population size will allow you to recruit a larger number of potential campus reps, while smaller universities will oftentimes allow you to select from a more niche group of students. Whether the school is small or large, you’ll want to identify precise selection criteria to ensure that your campus reps are outgoing influencers and passionate about extending the reach of your brand.

School size is important to keep in mind when considering the potential reach of your campus rep programs. Universities with larger population sizes will allow campus reps to easily and more efficiently target a large number of students. However, if strategic, selecting colleges with smaller populations can increase the chances that you engage students with a pre-developed interest in your field of service.

School culture

School spirit, academic rigor, and sports culture all influence which campuses should be involved in your campus rep programs. Students on social campuses tend to prioritize leading balanced collegiate lives and enjoy attending sporting events, parties, and school-specific festivities. For this reason, social and lifestyle brands may be more inclined to have a presence on these campuses.

Students attending hyper academic institutions, on the other hand, tend to prioritize their studies and may be more inclined to take advantage of practical services and study tools.

Number and quality of organizations present on campus

College students tend to be highly involved in on-campus organizations. While there are typically hundreds of active clubs on college campuses, it’s most important to have a presence in organizations that are relevant to your brand. For example, retail brands will want to establish a presence on college campuses with a high number of on-campus fashion organizations (e.g. Retail Studies Organization, etc.), as students within these clubs will more than likely have a pre-developed interest in your brand or field. You’ll also want to consider whether a university has other active large organizations such as Dance Marathon, PRSSA (Public Relations Society of America), or AMA (American Marketing Association), as these clubs tends to have large numbers of students involved.

Presidents, Social Chairs, and PR Chairs of these organizations can easily spread brand-related information to many students at once and directly influence brand sentiment and perception. For this reason, you’ll want to consider these students first to serve as your campus reps, or for your campus reps to reach out to them for a potential partnership.

Your program’s reach can be further amplified (and more efficient) on campuses that offer a plethora of Greek organizations, as sororities and fraternities tend to have between 50-250 students involved. Leaders of these organizations have major connections, which can gain you access to impactful partnerships, popular venues on campus, and well-attended events.

Now that you’re equipped with school selection criteria, you’ll want to begin researching the college campuses that fit the mold. While strategy is involved, it’s also a game of trial and error. Start small, and your campus rep programs are bound to expand and achieve profitable results!

Want more? Check out these blogs:

How can YMC help?

If you’re looking to engage students on campus, we’re here to help. At YMC, we’ve been connecting brands 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!

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.

Want more? Check out these blogs:

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!