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5 College Student Marketing Trends to Know in 2022

By collegemktgrp | February 1, 2022 | Brands/Advertisers

Any marketer worth their salt knows it: the college student demographic isn’t one your brand can afford to ignore.

Thanks to college students’ love for spending cash (pocketed from part-time jobs and parents), they’re a popular demographic for national brands.

And college students aren’t just buying a narrow niche of school-related stuff. From notebooks and calculators to clothes, video games and snacks, any brand selling what college students are routinely buying needs to capture and keep the attention of this demographic.

This level of competition drives innovation, making the challenge of reaching college students an ever-changing contest.

When it comes to ROI, staying on top of current college marketing trends is integral to getting the biggest bang for your advertising buck.

Digital marketing is key to reaching college students. Most students are bingeing on their favorite shows via online streaming, so targeting them with traditional television ads is a dead-end. And students are spending time on social media in greater numbers than any other age group.

But in 2022, weekly organic posts on Instagram or throwing some SEM cash at Google every once in a while isn’t going to cut it.

The digital landscape changes fast. From the increasing effectiveness of video to more college students getting info from social media “stories” or “reels,” below are 5 higher-education marketing trends you should follow as we head into another year on campus.

1. Video Marketing Continues to Rise

Users watch 5 billion videos on YouTube every day. And on TikTok, over a billion videos are viewed each day. 

4.6 billion of these videos are used to market brands and products. And they work: recent studies show video is more successful at generating leads and boosting conversions than text or images across social platforms.

Whether you’re retargeting students with videos after they visit your site or are serving them videos on your product page, videos are an effective way to market to college students on campus — 40% of people who watch a video take action by sharing or clicking on a link associated with it.

And a lot of those people are college-age students. For example, of the 197 million active users on YouTube in the U.S., 95% of them are aged 18-29. This is who should be at the core of your social media marketing strategy.

Success with using video for the higher education market depends on a lot more than the popularity of the medium. What’s in the video is what really matters.

2. Student-Centered Content is King

Whether it’s an image, blog post, or video, the content within your media is more important than the choice of medium itself.

In 2022, you need to be extra thoughtful with your content. Knowing your audience and student personas is a key part of the process

Creating student-centered content and focusing your efforts on making strong connections with your audience will resonate with this group most. The modern college demographic isn’t interested in “traditional” ads with hard sells

Consistent and high-quality content attracts attention, boosts engagement, and builds trust with the younger generation. You can retain your audience, raise brand awareness, and increase conversions. With so many benefits, it’s no wonder content marketing continues to trend higher — with 80% of companies making content marketing a top priority. 

Aim for your content to speak to college students’ specific pain points by offering to fulfill a specific need. Prove that you can help the viewer of your video solve a problem with your product, and they’ll trust you with their money.

Pro-tip: If you can tap college influencers to appear in your videos as brand ambassadors, you could see increased engagement.

3. Social Media Stories Are Where You Need to Be 

While ranked 7th in terms of social media platforms, TikTok has seen rapid growth since the COVID-19 pandemic. In Q1 of 2020, it set the record for most downloads in a single quarter for a social media app at 315 million installs!

The short-form video app surpassed 1 billion users in September 2021 and is projected to reach 1.5 billion in 2022, surpassing Instagram. This is the platform to target when you consider social media marketing to college students.

Higher ed and brand marketers are drawn to TikTok for its temporal nature and the opportunity for creativity and collaboration with its users. TikTok also allows users to be themselves and share stories with no pressure that what they post will live on the internet forever — or even for longer than a few minutes.

TikTok is also now rolling out their own version of the “stories” feature made popular by Instagram. Just like “stories” these will be available to view for only 24 hours. 

In 2022, your brand’s feed isn’t your bread and butter — it’s a highlights reel that’s perfect for new announcements, product launches, and celebrity endorsements. 

Your story is where you should be posting on a consistent basis. And in apps like TikTok and Instagram, fresh new content keeps your story front and center for your followers.

4. Your Online Presence Needs to Be Mobile-Friendly 

Mobile has become the most efficient way to browse the market and make a purchase, all in one hand. Projections currently show that mobile commerce will account for 44% of all e-commerce by 2024.  

The Pew Research Center reports that 100% of college-age adults have a cellphone, and 96% of those are smartphones. Students use those their phones to access video and social media platforms in huge numbers: 95% of them use YouTube, 69% are on Facebook, 65% on Snapchat, 48% on TikTok, and 40% are on Instagram 

When you drive students to your brand’s site from a social ad or post, they’ll more than likely be visiting your site on their mobile phones. A mobile-friendly website should run fast, automatically format to look good on any browser, be easily navigable on all devices, and be touch-friendly.

5. SEO & SEM Continue to Drive Purchases

The search engine is still a vital conduit to your brand’s online reach. Google is the world’s most popular website and by far the most popular search engine with younger users, with YouTube gaining popularity as a search engine.

Google and other search engines are the starting point for 93% of all experiences online. That’s why search engine optimization and marketing should continue to be a cornerstone of your digital marketing strategy in 2022.

A strong SEO & SEM strategy will help keep your brand visible when college students search relevant keywords.

Pro tip: Did you know you can optimize videos for SEO? Nailing the title, description, tags, and captions can help ensure your videos show up first in search engine results.

Build a Loyal Base with Your Social Media Marketing Strategy

Today’s college students are highly connected and always on the move. 

As you build out your marketing plan ideas for college students, deciphering how to create a loyal and engaged audience must be the end goal. Conversions are integral, but getting this demographic to buy in over and over again is what will bring your brand success. 

Whatever your brand or product, you’ll want to utilize the buyer’s journey to gain lifelong customers. 

Discover how to build a loyal base with your higher education marketing services >

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