There are some key ways to make social media work harder for your brand amongst a student audience, reveals Blackbridge Communications’ Ben Fox.
In our recent ISE webinar, Ben Nunn and I explored and uncovered the current social media landscape; the ever-growing choice of platforms, who’s using them, what for, and how they feel about the content they’re served.
We focused on student trends, looking at the social media appetite and behaviour of 16-24 year olds. A group who, on average, are the most active on social media platforms, and spend more time on them than any other age group – over a third of the total time they spend online, in fact.
Despite the meteoric success of more recent arrivals like TikTok and BeReal, we know that Instagram and WhatsApp are still their favourite channels.
And that, of all the age groups, while they may be least likely to use them as a source of news, they’re most likely to use them for researching different brands – including potential employers.
This is all relevant and revealing information about this audience. But for those of us looking to use social as a means of connecting with graduates and school-leavers, market insights like these only tell half the story. There are various other trends we need to consider.
Social media trend #1
There is growing cynicism among young people about the content that dominates these platforms.
Most have had enough of self-styled ‘influencers’ and disingenuous marketing, and are keen to see a shift towards something more ‘real’ – content that speaks to who they are and the lives they lead.
You can read more about the importance of authenticity in our blog on how Covid changed apprentice talent attraction.
Social media trend #2
There is a rise in ‘algorithmic anxiety’ – a fear shared by many young people that online recommendations are chipping away at their individuality.
As a direct result of this, ‘discovery-friendly’ content – the kind that users search for and find themselves, rather than have fed to them – is becoming ever more popular.
Social media trend #3
A third trend is perhaps best illustrated by TikTok’s description of itself as an ‘entertainment platform’ rather than a social network.
Although users enjoy scrolling through the content shared by others on these channels, they don’t necessarily see them as hubs for conversation or places to engage with brands. Instead, they see TikTok as a place to digest and enjoy content on their own terms.
What does this mean for employer branding and social media?
All of this serves to complicate the business of marketing on social, which is already seen as something of dark art. Even for those in PR, advertising and other related disciplines, keeping up with the latest trends in social media can seem like a full-time job in itself.
We find that brands that take a more common sense, yet in-depth approach to social media, are able to cut through the complexity and focus on the platforms and content that will reach the people they want, in the most effective way.
Here are some crucial points to remember when developing your social media strategy to attract students:
Make a plan
Before you start any social media activity, consider what you’re trying to achieve and why.
Remember, social media done well should be a long-term strategy, not a last-minute quick fix.
Always think ‘audience first’ and plan your social content around their wants and needs, rather than your own.
Keep it real
Your messaging should feel natural and true to your brand. Don’t try to mimic the students you’re hoping to attract.
Consider which platforms are best for what you want to achieve. Don’t just open a channel for the sake of it.
Focus on supporting your audience with something useful. If you can help them in some way, they’ll be far more likely to engage with your brand.
Carry out frequent social reporting and analysis. See what works and use that to shape your future content.
Mix it up
Integrate social media into your marketing mix. Social results are better when they’re not siloed.
Always consider the full breadth of social media. Opening a new channel is not the only option.
Ask an expert
Seek advice from people like Blackbridge on how highly targeted paid social could enhance your activity. ‘Spray and pray’ is never a good strategy.
Hopefully these tips will help you on your way. If you want to talk more about social media and early talent, our door is always open. email@example.com.
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