This Thursday, June 30, is Social Media Day, a worldwide celebration of the revolution of instant, real-time media. In honor of social media and its influence on the collegiate retail industry, we bring you a three-part series of articles focusing on stores that are connecting with their students by using this forum to its fullest.
Celebrating their 100th anniversary this year, Weber State University Bookstore created a creative social media campaign to spark excitement about their monumental achievement. Each month, the store implements a new interactive activity on their Facebook Page to engage students and reward them for participating.
“We thought this would be a great opportunity to enhance our presence on Facebook and inform our students about what we have to offer,” said Amber Robson, WSU Bookstore marketing manager. “It’s really helped to keep our social media sites going during the summer months because we continually change things up.”
To kick off the campaign, the store, wrote, recorded, and produced their own rap music video, ‘Remember the Name (100 Years),' which was posted to their YouTube and Facebook Page. Showing off their employees' talent, the video followed three students throughout the Weber State University Bookstore as they rhymed their way through all of the store’s products and services from buyback to technology.
Each week, students could answer different trivia questions about the music video for the chance to win prizes. For instance, whoever could correctly identify what book was held up in the video and where it was located could choose between Skull-Candy headphones, a WSU hat, hooded sweatshirt, or even a $20 gift card. All who participated, however, were entered into a raffle for the chance to win a $100 drawing at the end of the month, encouraging their involvement.
Last month, the store switched things up by using yet another type of media in their comical Caption Contest.
“We searched through the database at our campus library to find old photographs taken around campus,” explained Tim Sessions, WSU Bookstore social media and digital marketing coordinator. “Then, we prompted students to fill in a caption for a different picture each week. The one that made us laugh the most was chosen as a winner.”
With as many as 18 comments on some pictures, the Caption Contest was a success at generating huge amounts of participation. Better yet, it let students’ true creativity shine and added some humor to the staff’s day, as well!
This month, the store is once again integrating their innovative ideas into social media with a Mystery Photo Contest! Posting pictures of in-store products from unusual angles, the store asks students to identify what the product is and where it’s located. Following the same format, the first to comment with a correct response wins their choice of designated prizes.
“Every time a student comes to pick up their prize, they always thank me for what we’re doing on our Page and are excited to see what our next promotion will be,” said Sessions, who devotes much of his day to monitoring and interacting on the site. “I think we’ve really reached our goal of making our social media more entertaining and informative.”
Because of the store’s dedication, Robson believes social media has become an extremely effective marketing strategy.
“It’s really become the best communication tool we can use as a University to reach students because they’re on it so often,” she explained. “Their generation has grown up accustomed to an immediate response and, with social media, we’re able to provide that to them. It’s an easy, low-cost and direct way to send our messages.”
Most importantly, however, social media encourages active participants who engage directly with the store, something previous marketing tactics were unable to offer WSU students.
“It’s much easier for us to track and understand exactly who is participating to help us better target our messages and future campaigns,” said Robson. “We’re able to see what works, and what doesn’t by looking at the analytics. It’s definitely rewarding to pull Facebook’s Insight reports every day and see that our efforts are really paying off."
For instance, the store hosted a competitive egg toss event during Freshmen Orientation and provided students who attended with a marketing piece that had a link to their Facebook Page on the back. Targeted to a group of about 400, this one message generated 51 “Likes” in just an hour, clearly demonstrating the effectiveness of this particular promotion!
Despite their obvious success in the social media arena, Weber State University Bookstore has no plans to slow down anytime soon!
In fact, they’ve already created another well-produced video, "Campus Stores Message to Parents of Future WSU Students," featuring testimonials from students, faculty, and staff. Offering an array of perspectives, the video highlights several reasons why incoming students should buy and sell textbooks and course materials at their campus bookstore.
“We’re always looking for new ideas and ways to generate further conversation with the students,” added Sessions.
For information on how to integrate successful social media promotions into your store’s marketing plan, talk with your MBS representative.