It’s no secret we’re pretty crazy about our students. Whether they work on our teams or we meet them on campus, we hold a firm belief that students at the University of Oklahoma are some of the greatest. And the busiest! As any communications professional will tell you, reaching students today is no easy feat. They have so much on their plates and are active on several social media platforms, which means they are inundated with messages from multiple sources. It’s incredibly difficult to stand out and make your message heard, even when you’re sharing interesting content.
We should maybe preface this by saying we do lots of fun thing in IT. Of course! But sometimes we have to talk about the basics: email accounts, security, printing, etc. While these topics might appeal to some, they don’t always make it high enough in the mix to reach our students. This, we’ve learned, is when it’s time to get out of the way and let them talk to each other.
This concept isn’t new, and in fact it’s become the norm in our culture. Curious about a new restaurant in town? You ask your friends or read reviews on Yelp. We see this happening every day both online and in person, and as higher ed professionals we must look for new ways to embrace it if we hope to stay relevant.
So here’s what we did to bring this concept to our latest rollout. When it came time to let students know we were migrating their email to Office 365, we sent them a few messages and created some social media posts. The usual. But then we thought, “Wouldn’t it be better for them to tell each other what’s great about this?” We waited until cooler weather arrived and set up shop on the South Oval. Armed with hot chocolate, apple cider, t-shirts, and handouts, we introduced ourselves to students and asked them to complete the sentence, “My favorite thing about Office 365 is…”
Some of them hadn’t used it yet. Some of them were using it and really liked it. Some of them were just super excited about hot apple cider on a chilly day. But overall their responses were extremely positive, and they lit up at the idea that we wanted to hear from them and wanted to post their photos online. These images and their words became our marketing campaign.
One of our favorite responses was from the student above who wrote, “I like that it’s 360 degrees plus like, 5 degrees. Word.” And that, we discovered, was the trick. Just let them use their own language. We posted his picture and captioned it online exactly as he wrote it. The result? Increased engagement, and it came from our students for our students. Let them do the talking.