Influencer marketing is a promising strategy that allows you to leverage the social currency – the influence – of content creators to boost your brand authority.
But it doesn’t come without risk. And it doesn’t come without a sizable investment of time, money, and effort.
So is it really worth the investment? Are there compelling reasons why you should implement this strategy whenever possible?
There certainly are!
Here are three reasons why you should think about implementing an influencer marketing strategy.
1. Your prospective student has changed how they make decisions.
It has been fascinating to watch how over the last few decades consumers in general have changed how they make purchasing decisions.
Really, it all began with the dawn of the Internet in the 90’s.
Even from those humble beginnings, people were gathering in virtual spaces, like chat rooms, to discuss their feelings and thoughts on thousands of topics.
This Wild West, free-for-all technology connected people from across the planet, virtually making us all neighbors.
So as the conversations began to turn towards the products and services people were consuming, the Internet review was born.
Without a doubt, Internet reviews have revolutionized how people make purchasing decisions.
Before Internet reviews, consumers looked to institutions like corporate brands, government agencies, or media groups to guide them to make the best investment decisions with their hard-earned money.
These were the entities that had access to high-dollar marketing channels like television commercials, billboards, and syndicated publications.
In those days, only colleges and universities with massive marketing budgets could afford to get their messaging out.
Today, that has all changed.
In one of our podcast conversations, we spoke with Lee Wilhite of Biola University about this very issue and how it has affected enrollment marketing.
We have learned over the years how upcoming generations look at corporate brands, university brands, and some of the institutional kinds of messaging out there [has changed].
Especially in the younger generations, they’re looking for more peer input.
[Just look at] our shopping habits. We go to Amazon, and we look at those customer reviews. We’re trying to see more of a first-person kind of assessment of how people are experiencing a product or service.
-Lee Wilhite, VP for Enrollment Marketing, Biola University
Biola University, and many others, have realized that the change in the average consumer’s decision-making process goes all the way to major investments, like higher education.
People trust their neighbors over institutions…
…even virtual ones.
For Biola, this meant investing in an influencer marketing strategy.
When I say “influencer marketing,” please don’t think I mean celebrities, thought leaders, actors, and other sources that people tend to follow on social media.
The kind of influencer you should look to collaborate with in your marketing strategy is an “individual with a larger-than-average following – no exact number, but let’s say 1,000 or more – who still feels relatable to their followers and intentionally endorses products, services, organizations, etc.”
In higher education, these people can be:
- Student Athletes
- Student Government Representatives
- Club Leaders
- Celebrity Alumni
- Popular Faculty or Staff
- Rockstar Administrators
- Venerated Former Administrators
- Local Business Owners (Internship Partners)
Virtually any individual associated with your institution in any way can be an influencer and could be part of your influencer marketing strategy.
In fact, you can use the collective influence of prospective students as a whole in your influencer marketing strategy using peer-to-peer channels like ZeeMee.
To be transparent with you, I don’t receive anything from mentioning ZeeMee, but this app is gaining in popularity among college applicants and enrollment officers.
ZeeMee is a peer-to-peer online community specifically built for college applicants.
The app has a newsfeed where you and social media influencers you’ve recruited can post photos, videos, and other kinds of content about your campus, events, and programs.
It also has a place where applicants can interact with enrollment officers and other applicants as well as functions to help new students make friends or even find compatible roommates.
2. Influencers don’t talk “corporate speak,” they talk like your prospective students.
Because influencers are normal individuals associated with your education brand, they naturally do not talk like insiders.
All of us on the inside of higher education have a certain way of talking about our mission, values, and programs.
There is nothing necessarily wrong with this, but this kind of language doesn’t come across as authentic to prospective students.
Insider talk tends to…
- Use terminology the average person doesn’t understand (jargon)
- Use abbreviations for things people wouldn’t know about (To see this in action, try saying “SEO” around some of your humanities faculty. They probably won’t understand this abbreviation.)
- Paint the institution in the best, most aspirational light, which lacks the realism necessary for the message to feel authentic
- Revolve around the interests of the institution, not the student
That last point is especially important.
Without ever realizing it, our natural tendency is to talk about the things that matter most to us and our institutions rather than the things that matter to the prospective student.
Why should the student enroll?
Well, because we’ve got recruitment goals we’ve got to hit!
We don’t mean to do this, but sometimes it’s inevitable because we are insiders.
Influencer marketing sidesteps this entire problem.
The influencer isn’t an insider and therefore doesn’t use corporate talking points.
Their language is natural, and they tend to focus on what’s important to the prospective student.
3. Influencer marketing allows you to tap into different watering holes.
One of the keys to success in enrollment marketing – or marketing in general – is to get your messaging to your target audience and not always wait until they come to you.
We know in nature that animals tend to go back to the same watering holes for what they need to survive, water.
On nature shows, you can see how crowded these watering holes can get as all the animals are arriving in search of life-giving water.
In the same way, prospective students gather at certain venues, businesses, conventions, social media groups, hashtags, etc.
These are the places they go to daily or weekly to get their news, entertainment, and connection with others.
In other words, these are their watering holes.
With influencer marketing, you can get your messaging to other, more diverse watering holes.
You may have asked yourself before, “How can I get our brand onto all of these platforms all at the same time?”
Unfortunately, you probably can’t.
But with influencer marketing, you can expand your marketing team exponentially and get your messaging to as many watering holes as possible.
So there you have it. Three incredible reasons why you should consider getting your influencer marketing strategy started as soon as possible.
The investment is worth it in the end.
For more help in your enrollment marketing, please contact us today!
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