This guide provides detailed strategies to help financial aid offices create, implement and fine-tune student-centric social media plans.
These days, people rarely choose the telephone. “Snail mail” is going the way of the telegram. Recipe boxes and photo albums and all matter of 20th-century nostalgia are relegated to relics, and today’s expressions of these keepsakes would be unrecognizable to your grandparents (Pinterest? Instawhat?). If someone is snapping a picture, or making an interesting dish, or traveling across the country, it will be only moments until their news is distributed throughout their social circle, across the globe — and receives instant likes.
Social media is how people and businesses connect today. It’s not the way of the future; it’s now. The Pew Research Center reports that 89 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds (your target demographic) use social media. In the 2014 survey of financial aid professionals, a majority reported they are also using social media in their personal lives. But 67 percent of those respondents stated that they were not using social media for purposes of financial education. In other words, to the 89 percent of our target audience seeking to learn, share and promote information on social media, we are, for the most part, strangers.
More than popular and pervasive, social media is many other things to the modern financial literacy program. As a distribution channel, it is cheap — in many cases, free. It requires minimal labor — one small effort can reach thousands. It is fast — sometimes too fast. (Can’t-be-pulled-back fast.) And it is robust — capable of targeting specific, segmented audiences; capable of animation and interactivity; capable of modifications mid-campaign to pivot to a new strategy; capable of features that were expensive or impossible with the traditional mail, television, and in-person marketing strategies of prior decades.
To overlook this medium as a route to more engaging and better-attended financial education initiatives is a wasted opportunity. But with so many different social platforms all serving different purposes, it is difficult to know which media to use to achieve your goals. This guide, advised by the Financial Education Advisory Committee (FEAC) from years of experience marketing to students, will help you determine which platforms are best to reach your audience and to harness the power of social networks, and it will show you exactly how it can be done.