The culmination of a thousand academic journeys is to be realized. Are you ready to make this year’s spring commencement the marketing success it could be?
The academic calendar marches on, mercilessly sometimes. It was just winter break — and spring commencement is just around the corner!
To make commencement the marketing asset that it should be in building your school’s brand and reaching more prospective students, you’ll have to start preparations now.
Events Are Assets
When you’re involved in the preparation and organization of any event, it’s hard to see it as an asset. Honestly, it can feel like a burden because of the enormous pressure and stress packed into one moment in the year.
But if you think about why there’s so much pressure on these events for you and your team, you’ll see why events like spring commencement are a critical marketing asset.
Events are a marketing asset because so many people will experience your education brand firsthand.
Not every event on your campus is like this. But events like spring commencement are a pressure cooker where the ingredients of student relations, donor relations, alumni relations, and marketing all come together.
These separate teams have to come together to create a “wow” experience for your guests.
You need people to walk away from commencement thinking not only of little Susanne’s future, but also of that great school that she graduated from.
And this is what makes spring commencement pure, education-marketing gold.
In-Person Access to Your Audiences
It is one of the few events of the year where almost all of your marketing audiences are in the same place at the same time.
Graduating students and current students will be there. Their young Gen Zsiblings will be there. Their parents will be there. Their grandparents will be there. In some cases, you might have members of the general public or local churches there.
All of these audience segments you’re working hard to reach all year long… in one place!
Now, that doesn’t mean that you can go to each of them and gather feedback or marketing insights (that you can do in other ways). They’re on your campus for a very specific reason — to watch someone they love graduate.
But you can take advantage of their presence to leverage the event as the marketing asset it really is.
Social media hashtags are an exceptional tool for helping your audience find and participate in the conversation.
If you don’t already have established hashtags for your education marketing strategy and events, take time to think through short tags you can use to label the event. Between now and the spring commencement ceremony, begin raising awareness of the event hashtag by including it in all printed materials, school announcements, and video ads for graduation.
Verbally encourage your graduating students to use the hashtag when posting about graduation. Tell them to spread the word about it so that their friends and family will use it as well when they interact on social media.
Bonus Tip #1: Include the hashtag in your corporate email signatures and in the commencement program.
Bonus Tip #2: Download our FREE ebook, “#HASHTAGS: YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA SECRET WEAPON”.
Rich Content Creation
Events are some of the most opportune times to get your camera out and create new pieces of rich content. Spring commencement especially is full of light, colors, smiles, and faces that can be used across your branded materials, website, and blog throughout the year.
Bonus Tip: Don’t forget to create video assets from the event!
Besides shooting your own professional content, consider creating a selfie frame where graduates and their families can take pictures and post on Facebook, or better yet, on Instagram. This will help you to brand all of the inevitable social photos that will be happening all over the school grounds.
Another spinoff of this idea is to have a photobooth or temporary studio that offers students and families school-branded props for their family photos.
Bonus Tip: Include your event hashtag on the frame!
Spring commencement is the perfect time to go live with Facebook Live or Instagram Live. You can choose to post content to your Facebook Stories or Instagram Stories. Don’t overcomplicate this if you don’t have the time or resources to devote to it. A mobile phone should do perfectly in most cases.
Bonus Tip: Have students or faculty “host” the live stream. They can comment on what the audience is seeing live and interview people at the event like Mario Lopez on the red carpet.
Before spring commencement hits, find stories among your graduating class that you would like to feature in video, blog, or print format. You can then post these on your social media feeds to build awareness of the event and get people talking about it.
For example, feature a story on one of your veteran students who is about to graduate and post it to social media before graduation.
Bonus Tip: Keep these stories and post them on other marketing channels throughout the year, or in future marketing campaigns.
Go Deeper with Commencement Speakers
Most commencement speakers have a good amount of influence and standing, whether in the local community or on a much greater scale. And many of them would be happy to show their followers what they’re doing for your school and what they’re saying to the next generation.
You can send them video content they can post about your school on their social media channels, have them record a greeting to your students that they can post, or send them a recording of their speech that they can post or share on their platforms.
Bonus Tip: Assign hashtags that your speaker and students can use!
Turn the Burden into a Benefit
Don’t let the busy, stressful work of spring commencement get in the way of creating these powerful marketing tools for your school. With just a little thought beforehand, you can ensure that you’ll have content assets for your upcoming marketing campaigns for months to come.
Need help creating or implementing your school’s marketing strategy? Contact us today!
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Originally published at www.caylor-solutions.com on March 25, 2019.