CIE: Attracting Followers by Asking, “What’s in it for them?”

As the epicenter of all things entrepreneurship at the university, the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) needed to increase its touchpoints with students on social media. The CIE offers numerous programs to support the entrepreneurial endeavors of students, so it was imperative that we kept them informed of the many opportunities to get involved. Primary and secondary research showed that the college-aged demographic spent the most hours on Instagram per day than on any other social networking service. The CIE, however, had a low following on Instagram at the time despite posting regularly. The challenge: How might we attract the student demographic to the CIE Instagram to ensure that they are aware of the different opportunities in entrepreneurship available to them?

After testing different content and researching the content of competitors, I came to the conclusion that the CIE needed to implement more content that added significant value to the college-aged audience. We needed to slow down a bit with the purely promotional content and become a more desirable account to follow.

That’s how the #SLOStartUpLife campaign all began. Being an entrepreneur in San Luis Obispo is different than being one anywhere else, and that’s what I wanted to highlight with this campaign. From surf spots and good eats to weekend getaways and budget-friendly activities, we published content each week that not only spoke to students, but showcased all of the things that make entrepreneurship in San Luis Obispo so unique.

After launching the blog and Instagram post series, the results were overwhelmingly positive. Over the span of only a few months, our engagement on posts doubled and our follower count quadrupled. The CIE Instagram page was now a place where students could gather inspiration and learn more about the town they call home, all while, at times subtle, learn about the CIE’s mission.
Although this was initially developed as an Instagram strategy, the blog series was shared on Facebook and LinkedIn as well. The results on every platform were overwhelmingly positive. Over the course of the campaign, likes on Facebook increased by 20 percent and LinkedIn followers by nearly 80 percent.

Video Content example: What could you do in 90 seconds?

Mustang News: Telling Stories Vertically

Instagram is huge among Gen Z’ers. According to the Pew Research Center, it is starting to leave Facebook and even the Millennial favorite, Snapchat, in the dust. This is why I decided to make Instagram a priority when fleshing out Mustang News’ social media strategy for the 2018/19 academic year.

After even more research, I found that the most viewed Instagram Story of all time was posted by a brand. Basically, using Instagram Stories  is really working for brands. This discovery prompted me to dedicate an entire position on my team to Instagram, primarily focusing on Instagram Stories.

If I’m going to be totally honest, our first experiment with Instagram Stories kind of flopped--but hey, you never know until you try. It flopped because we were simply posting click-baity headlines to try to drive traffic to our website. As it turns out, people on Instagram don’t really want to leave unless they have a really good reason to.

This rocky start didn’t discourage us.

I realized that my original goal for the Instagram Stories was conversions to the website, which was not going so well, but that we were getting a lot of impressions and other types of engagements on them. Lightbulb moment: what if we shifted our goals, stopped trying to get our audience to the website and let them stay right where they were by telling them a complete story on Instagram. We could meet the audience where they are by reworking our content to compliment the vertical, casual format of Instagram Stories.

Ultimate game changer.

By telling stories natively on Instagram Stories, complete with polls and other engagement opportunities, user generated content and leveraging Instagram TV (IGTV), we were able to get hundreds of new eyeballs on our publication’s content and even open up a new revenue stream for our organization. As a news organization, advertisers are really the only way we make any money. When our Instagram Stories started growing in popularity, advertisers wanted to get in on the action and started paying for posts.

All in all, Instagram Stories have become a pivotal way for us to deliver news to the student body of Cal Poly, regardless of a shaky start and all thanks to a little adaptability.

Mustang News: Getting out of a Rut using IG Stories

Even with our killer new Instagram Story strategy, Mustang News Instagram Story viewership began to plateau. As it turns out, reaching new audience members is more challenging on Instagram than on Facebook or Twitter because of one thing Instagram lacks: the share button. People were loving our new content and consuming it regularly, but because (a.) Instagram makes it kind of hard to share content, and (b.) we never included any kind of call to action or incentive to share our content, our content was reaching new audiences at snail speed.

We needed some fun, less “news-y” viral content in our lives.

The great thing about having college students that all attend the same university as your most prevalent target audience is that they all operate on a very similar schedule. This allowed us to create timely, hyper-relatable that, you guessed it, got shared, shared, and shared some more. Our finals week emoji challenge even got shared in the feeds of students on the East Coast, as they were having their finals at the same time (nothing like shared trauma to unite people, am I right?).

We started brainstorming, developing and ultimately posting this engagement-centric content on a weekly basis. Followers could expect a horoscope or emoji challenge one week, trivia the next, and even a giveaway every now and then. This high-engagement, entertainment-centric content gave us a boost of momentum every time it was published, as it allowed our content to reach new audience members. The new audience members came for the fun stuff, but stayed for the important news stuff.

Mustang News: Covering Special Events and Optimizing Content across Platforms

Election years are always a big deal for our news team at Mustang News. The 2018 midterm election was no different. Our midterm election 2018 social media coverage was a three pronged campaign designed to educate the Cal Poly community on the election, inspire election participation and drive engagement to Mustang News social platforms. We used the hashtag “#MNVotes” to brand this campaign across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We tailored and adjusted our content across each platform for maximize impact. The first prong was devoted to driving voter registration among students. The second prong was devoted to educating students about the election, primarily how measures, propositions and candidates would affect them. The third prong was live coverage of election night results.

  • Voter Registration Prong

  • Election Education Prong

    • Facebook

    • Twitter

    • Instagram

      • Mayoral Debate student reactions on Instagram Story: Our audience on Instagram is overwhelmingly students, so we asked students watching the debate what they thought about the candidates’ performances to share the student perspective.

      • Proposition breakdowns on Instagram Story: We created Instagram versions of each proposition breakdown graphic due to the fact that Instagram serves as the best channel for us to reach students. This was an effective way of educating students in an environment they feel comfortable in.

      • Mayoral Debate Instagram Post: We posted on our Instagram page in order to drive traffic to the debate recap article with the goal of educating students who could not watch live of the important issues discussed.

  • Live Election Night Coverage Prong

    • Facebook

      • Election Night Facebook Live: We streamed the election night broadcast coverage on our Facebook page to maximize our audience.

      • Results explained in a native album: We created an album on Facebook where we posted graphics explaining the results of each proposition as they came in. This kept information organized and accessible.

    • Twitter

Live highlights from the Facebook Live: We cut portions of the live broadcast in real time to post on the Twitter page. This empowered us to take important or entertaining highlights of the broadcast and share them with audience members who could not watch live or do not follow us on Facebook (or even people who didn’t have the attention span to watch the more traditional-style broadcast)

Mustang News: Why I Still Like Facebook

While it may not be as *trendy* as it once was, Facebook proved to remain an important touch point for Mustang News. While our audience regularly viewed our Instagram Stories, we were able to constantly reach new audience members by creating viral content on Facebook and strategically placing content.

Explainer videos are an important way for Mustang News to combat the Facebook algorithm and ensure our content is prioritized in our audience’s feeds. These short, visually stimulating videos receive high volumes or views and shares. They also included text motion graphics so that audiences could fully consume the story without having to listen to the sound. These videos cater to the needs of students by breaking stories down to their essential elements, serving as stand-alone stories and ultimately saving time. Our top performing explainer video of the year received 34,989 views, 199 shares,double our average reactions and more than 12,000 referrals to the Mustang News website. Furthermore, 12 percent of viewers watched the video from beginning to end, proving that our content is suiting the attention spans of our audience.

According to our Facebook strategy, where content is placed is just as important as how it is crafted. Our team sought out to find where different communities of students, faculty, alumni and student supporters aggregate into Facebook pages. Once we identified key Facebook pages and groups, we strategically shared applicable Mustang News social media content directly within those communities. By directly bringing these communities the stories they are interested in rather than hoping they would find our content on their own, we sparked high levels of conversation and other engagement surrounding our content. Consequently, referrals to the Mustang News website were positively affected by these efforts as well.

CIE: A/B Testing on Facebook Ad Manager

FireShot Capture 27 - Ads Manager - Manage Ad_ - https___www.facebook.com_adsmanager_manage_ads_edit.png

What combines intensive primary and secondary research with a creative strategic execution? That would be A/B testing on Facebook Ad Manager, one of my favorite social strategies to date.

One of my favorite paid ad campaigns was for the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE). A large coworking space available to rent out is one of the most important revenue streams at the CIE. It is more than $200 per month to rent desk space in the coworking space. We needed more signups, so that’s where I came in.

Rather than using creatives that looked straight out of a newspaper ad stating pricing, square footage and other tangible qualities, I used creatives and copy that highlighted the less tangible benefits to coworking with the CIE. I created the tagline, “Do what you love. Love where you do it.” and directed two videos featuring our cowokers explaining why they love their job and how coworking with the CIE helps them accomplish that job. Since this was an A/B test, we tested one video featuring a woman coworker and one featuring a male coworker against each other with the same geographic and demographic targeting.

With a budget of only $150 for the entire test, I ran the ad for four days. Within the four days, our cost per click averaged $1.06 and we saw 15 new applicants (worth $200 per applicant per month). Given each new applicant passes the vetting process and follows through for only one month, although many often rent long term, this campaign received a return on investment of $2,850. Needless to say, we were pretty happy with those stats.

Social Media Strategy for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Reaching an Inaccessible Market on Social Media

In my capstone social media strategy class, my two teammates and I were confronted by Playmates Toys, Inc. to develop a social media strategy for their line of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures, costumes and accessories. The catch? There are a boatload of restrictions and laws that make it very difficult to market to children online. Plus, preschoolers aren’t really on social media. In the course of ten weeks, my team and I conducted primary and secondary research and ultimately developed a handful of integrated strategies to push past the many barriers and engage not only preschoolers on social media, but their parents, too.

Check out the pitch deck we presented to the TMNT marketing team to see how we leveraged different social media platforms, influencers and improved web flow to reach new audiences on social media:

Social Media Strategy for PBS: In-Depth Customer Development

In an upper division business marketing class for my integrated marketing communications minor, my three teammates and I were confronted by the Central Valley PBS station with the challenge of connecting younger student demographic to their online and on-air content. As this was first and foremost a market research and customer development class, my team and I conducted intensive primary and secondary research into this target audience and ultimately presented Central Valley PBS with an Instagram engagement strategy.

View our final proposal here: