The fall semester is usually big for brands: freshman orientation hype, the return of tailgating and college football kickoff. 2020 is different as big back-to-school energy is more subdued than usual. While few brands are present on-campus, we think campus is the place to be for maximum impact. Whether you decide to show up on-campus or just digitally supporting students in their current challenges, you need to show up this year in a big way. These kids will remember who was there for them in 2020 for years to come. Here are just some ways to positively impact students’ lives this fall:
Bring students together safely. The overt separation from each other, fastidious hygiene protocols and so much virtualization can lead to a new kind of isolation fatigue. Figuring out compelling and engaging ways to bring students together in both the real and virtual world can have a meaningful impact on mental health, and the overall quality of student life.
Geofencing and digital scavenging that blends real-world campus elements with augmented reality content can surprise and delight students and bring them together in new ways. Brands should reward curiosity while displaying their ingenuity and distinct brand personality. Use an established app or digital tool for the best results.
Virtual ephemeral experiences can bring together students from around the world for a key moment, as they engage with uniquely interactive content in-game or on a digital platform. Steer clear of gimmicky gaming challenges and stick to virtual experiences that speak to your brand ethos, the school’s unique culture, or a timely experience.
Get involved and keep it human. Consider investing in a field marketing program involving student ambassadors on and off-campus to build real relationships and stay top-of-mind in an over-saturated messaging environment. The right field team can distinguish your brand as an empathetic ally and powerful resource to beat the doldrums of isolated college life during a pandemic.
Supporting activism on and off campus will let students know what your brand stands for. While it used to be a great strategy to “stay out of politics” or “not make waves,” today’s college students want to see brands show up for important issues and causes. This can include simple things like sponsoring local organizations or more direct participation, like having your field team show up to a campaign function.
Remember, real human connections and actual conversations stand out in a world of aggressive sales-driven approaches. Get in touch to find out more about connecting with college students and building brand equity on-campuses during what will undoubtedly be an unprecedented school year.