Foreword Online

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Social Media Celebration Series:Wichita State University Bookstore Partners with their Students for Success

Posted by admin on 6/29/11 11:00 PM
Topics: video, buyback, social media, facebook, college store stories, Marketing to Students

Today 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, enjoy the last installment of our three-part series of articles focusing on stores that are connecting with their students by using this forum to its fullest!

MBS Foreword Online - Wichita State University Bookstore 2010 Buyback Video With an online following of over 1,000 users, the Wichita State University Bookstore is always looking for ways to keep their social media sites fresh and students engaged. Unlike many other stores, however, they didn’t have a dedicated marketing department. So, to generate new ideas, they assembled their own team.

Including everyone from store employees to students, the team meets weekly to bounce around ideas that fuel their innovative and continually updated marketing campaigns.

“We found that when you put together a group of people with completely different backgrounds you can output some great ideas as a team!” explained Noura Souccane, accounts payable and member of the bookstore marketing group.

It was in these meetings, in fact, that the store came up with a new approach to advertising their buyback through a different medium.

“We wanted to find a way to promote our buyback that was relevant to students,” said Souccane. “Our Buyback Video turned out to be both an attention-grabbing and cost-effective way to get our message out, while also driving traffic to our Facebook Page.”

Rather than relying on outside resources to produce and create the video, however, the store used what they had right in their own store; their students!

“Our student employees participated by acting in the video, and we had a former employee who was finishing her communication degree, film it,” she explained. “She then used the facilities on campus to edit and create the finished product. So, overall, it was very low-cost for us, and she was able to get valuable experience to put on her resume!”

Debuting in 2010, their original video starred Blondie, a WSU student, who stumbles upon Jack Buyback, an amusingly well-spoken pile of talking books in the aisles of the bookstore. Jack guides her through the buyback process and lists off all the reasons that Blondie should sell her books at the Official Buyback of Wichita State University until she’s convinced it’s ‘like, totally the best option.

“We wanted the video to be very tongue-and-cheek and a little bit cheesy,” Souccane added. “I think it ended up being exactly that; students loved it and thought it was hilarious!”

As a sequel to their original masterpiece, their 2011 Buyback Video again featured the two popular characters who relaxed in the sun after finals with all the cash they received after selling books back to the store.

MBS Foreword Online  - Wichita State University Bookstore 2011 Buyback VideoBlondie shows off her buyback cash in the 2011 video. Click the image to view more.

After posting the videos to their YouTube and Facebook pages, the store was excited to see that both videos generated positive feedback campus-wide.

“We immediately received tons of compliments on the video from students and even staff,” Souccane said. “We were one of the first departments to really experiment with social media marketing and others were impressed with the results. One of the professors on campus even used us as an example in his presentation on the topic!”

Looking again for a way to get students involved, the store also recently implemented a Top Model contest.

“We needed photos of our new merchandise for our website, and we knew we wanted to have students model them. But, because we try to integrate social media into each of our marketing campaigns, we decided to position it as a contest on Facebook, “she explained.

Interested students, alumni, and staff were asked to submit an application and their picture to the store for the chance to be the new face of face of their Spring/Summer Fashion Campaign.

Out of 17 applicants, WSU Bookstore then narrowed it down to three male and three female finalists, based on who they thought would be the best representatives for the store.

Using a third-party polling application, they posted the finalists’ pictures to their Facebook Page and let students vote. The Top Girl and Top Guy whose picture received the most “likes” were then crowned the Bookstore’s Top Model.

MBS Foreword Online - Wichita State University Bookstore Top Model Fashion ShootWSU Bookstore Spring/Summer 2011 photo shoot featuring their Top Model winners Jordan & Kimberley along with student staff Chelsea, Chris & Erica.

The two winners received an exclusive Top Model Swag Bag full of Shocker merchandise, a photo shoot modeling the latest Spring/Summer Shocker Gear for the University Bookstore, and of course the celebrity status that comes with becoming the Bookstore’s Top Model!

“The contest was a lot of fun, and students enjoyed participating, which was ultimately our goal,” she said. “We try to get students directly involved in our marketing campaigns as much as possible. They know what’s cool and what’s not, which helps us send better messages; plus, they get great experience too.”

In fact, the store attributes much of the success of their interactive social media campaigns to the involvement of their students, who participate in everything from the brainstorming phase all the way through implementation. Based on her experience, Souccane suggests other stores take advantage of the knowledge their students have to offer, as well.

“Use what you have! We’re at a real advantage in the collegiate retail industry because our target audience is easily accessible. Having students involved in your marketing efforts is truly invaluable. Not only are they in-tune with the group you’re trying to reach, but they can also show you how to use up-and-coming technology, such as social media, because many are learning about it in school!”

As for the future, Wichita State University Bookstore has no plans of slowing down their social media efforts anytime soon.

“It’s become a huge part of everything we do,” she said. “You have to get involved to stay ahead of the curve because that’s where all of our customers are now!”

Happy Social Media Day! For information on how to integrate successful social media promotions into your store’s marketing plan, talk with your MBS representative.

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