Marketing to students

Marketing a career fair to your audience and maximising student participation

Written By Victoria Note (Super Administrator)

Updated at September 2nd, 2021


1. Introduction

Congratulations on scheduling your career event! You are one step closer to connecting students with potential employers - locally and abroad.

This guide is designed to assist you in attracting students and recent graduates to attend your career fair. We have gathered a cross-channel plan which, if followed, will increase the amount of students and university alumni that will be aware of your event and, ultimately, participate.

We have designed this guide to be fully customisable to your organisation: each marketing effort is optional, and you can pick and choose channels, content types, and even frequency! Available channels and resources, as well as the size of your event, will help you determine which efforts to prioritise - always consider which channels are more likely to reach students and recent graduates.

We encourage you to reach out to relevant student organisations and faculty members - they may offer insight into available channels (such as student-run social media groups and profiles) that you may not be aware are at your disposal.



 2. Content Breakdown

In this section, we will break down the different channels we recommend you use when trying to encourage student participation for your next career fair. Each channel will attract students in its own unique way - the more diversified your efforts are, the higher the chance of increased student signups!

Our experience with career fairs shows us that approx. 40 % of attendees register on the day before and day of the event. So do not feel discouraged if your efforts are not showing immediate results!

As a rule of thumb, we recommend marketing efforts commence about three weeks prior to the day of your career event. However, some channels (such as student-accessible university calendars) are exceptions.

A day to keep in mind is the day that company stalls go live - this day is significant and will depend on the deadline you set for your participating companies. Usually, we recommend you to set this deadline between 10 and 7 days before the career fair.

In the Content Overview and Content Calendar, the pieces of content on this topic are marked with “SL” (Stalls Live).

 



 2.1. Channel 1 - Email Marketing

Your career fair portal is equipped with an email service - and we encourage you to use it actively! This email service allows you to reach candidates that have already created a user profile on your University Career Portal - and these profiles are the core target group for your career fair.

Emailing students, graduates, and other potential attendees with information on the event is highly effective. We recommend that you begin your email marketing campaign approximately 21 days before the day of the career event. In our experience, you should send on average 3-4 emails to students and graduates in order to maximise event signup.

The suggested dates are based on the results of an average of our marketing experiences - but yours may vary! Therefore, we encourage you to investigate whether other days (and even specific times) will be more effective for your target group. If your first email falls the day after a truly good open-rate day, feel free to adjust the schedule accordingly.

 


 2.2. Channel 2 - Intranet/Calendar

If your University has an Intranet, virtual bulletin board or student calendar at your disposal, we encourage you to implement it in your VCF promotion strategy.

As soon as your event is planned and online on your events platform, enter it into the virtual calendar available to students. This calendar entry is mostly informative and its goal is to ensure students reserve that day and time slot in their own calendars. Remember to periodically update it!

Share the news with faculty members as well. It is an opportunity to encourage lecturers and professors to pass on the news of the career fair to students.

Commence your internal marketing efforts through the Intranet/Calendar as soon as the event is planned. Depending on how you use the bulletin board, you can use it several times as a reminder as illustrated below.


 



2.3. Channel 3 - Social Media

If your University has an Intranet, virtual bulletin board or student calendar at your disposal, we encourage you to implement it in your VCF promotion strategy.

Social media is a very effective way to reach your students - especially when it comes to spreading information on an event. But not all universities have unlimited resources for content production and publication.

Therefore, we recommend that you prioritise the channels which will be most effective instead of attempting to hit the nail on each and every channel.

When choosing your social media platforms, it is important to consider several things:

1. On which channel your university is most active. Your students will already know where to head for updates and information.

2. Which social media profiles experience the most reach. Your communications department will easily locate the most effective social media channels in your portfolio. These are the ones you should place highest on your list.

3. Your resources in terms of content production. Content production can be time-consuming, therefore we always recommend prioritising the channels where you will get the most bang (reach and interaction) for your effort.

Once you have selected your main social media channels (2-3 should be plenty), you can explore our recommendations for each given channel on the following pages.


2.3.1. Facebook Page

Most universities have a Facebook page at their disposal - and it is an extremely effective tool to spread information to students, especially on upcoming events.

The frequency of updates regarding the event will depend on the normal posting schedule of your university’s page: try to make it fit seamlessly into the existing content. We encourage you to post updates on attending companies, informative posts (i.e. by sharing the Event through your page), or best practices.





2.3.2. Facebook Event

As soon as your career fair has been scheduled, the date and time set, create a Facebook Event from your university’s Facebook Page. Events are a great way to spread the word. You will be able to share it to your Facebook Page as often as desired, and even share it in relevant student- or faculty-run Facebook groups (more information in the next section).

This event will include links to the fair portal, where students will be able to sign up. It is important to keep the event updated, so that any new information or changes to the program are clearly indicated. Remember to tend to any student inquiries happening in the discussion section of the Facebook Event.

You can also use a Facebook Event to share updates of participating companies, planned webinars, and live events, etc. In the Content Calendar, you will see "FB Event"-entries dotted throughout the timeline. Feel free to tailor the frequency of the entries to your needs!




2.3.3. Facebook Group

Most universities experience a surplus of student-run Facebook pages. These pages vary in theme - it could be an academic group under a specific institute, job search-related, or even a social networking group.

As mentioned in the introduction, we encourage you to investigate which groups would be relevant to your event - and contact the administrators of said groups in order to share your career fair. Most students are thrilled to participate in career fairs and connect with potential employers!

You can share the event and information to several relevant groups - but make sure they are relevant and large enough - especially if you are creating content specifically for a given group.

The table below shows an example of content for one given group - repeat the steps for each Facebook Group relevant to your event. If you find it excessively time-consuming, encourage the students themselves to share the event and invite co-students.




2.3.4. Instagram Feed

Instagram is a wonderful branding tool, and used in more abstract and visual contexts than Facebook. If your university has an active Instagram account and a relevant following, it is a great way to reach those who are not necessarily also active on Facebook.

Another positive aspect of Instagram is the use of hashtags - you are more likely to reach new audiences if you are using relevant tags. Remember to create a hashtag unique to the event, encourage its use and use it in all posts relating to the career fair.

As always, consider your university’s existing Instagram strategy, and attempt to seamlessly introduce the content related to your career fair. Consider using Instagram to share more varied material - for example a video, various images, company messages among others.




2.3.5. Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories is an amazing way to share information, best practices, and especially the experience of preparing for and participating in a career fair.

For this channel, we encourage you to select a variety of content that works well on Instagram Stories - such as images, videos and interactive content (polls, FAQs etc.) and share it in relation to your career fair. Instagram Stories is more resource-demanding than traditional feed posts, but users are much more engaged than when scrolling through their feed.

In the Content Calendar you will see the different types of content placed throughout, and we encourage you to add or deduct as much as needed.

If your Instagram account allows for it (has enough followers), remember to include swipe-up links in your Stories - and always include your established event hashtag.




2.3.6. Twitter

Twitter is a great tool to generate interest and spread information in short format. Likewise, it is very useful when seeking interaction and sharing real-time information.

We recommend that you use your chosen hashtag on Twitter in every relevant tweet. That way, attendees will know to click on it if they are seeking more information, and they will know to use it when sharing content on their experience.

The following table, like the Instagram Stories one, varies from previous ones. It is divided in types of content instead of specific pieces of content. In the Content Calendar you will see examples of the content dotted across the timeframe.





2.3.7. LinkedIn Page

Many students, and especially university alumni, follow their university on LinkedIn. The platform is ideal as a channel to reach potential career fair attendees. It is a more professional setting and, as applicable to each media, we encourage you to look into your university’s communication strategy on LinkedIn.

From your LinkedIn page, you will be able to share the Event (see below), information on attending companies, etc. We encourage you to tag participating companies and key speakers presenting, and even use the platform as a forum for attendee questions.




2.3.8. LinkedIn Event

As soon as the event is planned and you have a date and time, create a LinkedIn event with all information. Similarly to a Facebook event, LinkedIn events are a great platform to gather all relevant information and updates. Oftentimes, the longer a LinkedIn event runs, the more interactive people will be, and the higher the chance that relevant candidates will participate.

We encourage you to use the “conversation” section of your event actively - for example you can tag and share information every time a company signs up, and as soon as stands go live or live presentations are scheduled. That way, the event becomes a great resource for information, and attendees’ interest will spike whenever you post an update.




2.4. Channel 4 - Physical Marketing

Many students spend several hours a day at their university. This means that physical marketing - flyers, posters and even stands - continue to be effective means of marketing at these locations when compared to other industries.

Print material

If your university has the ressources, we would encourage you to create posters and flyers with the event information, and share it periodically in key locations in the weeks prior to the event day. It is a great way to either have a first touch point with potential attendees, and remind them to register and participate.

Spreading the word

Besides encouraging all staff to communicate the event to their students, consider appointing student ambassadors who will do so as well. Word-of-mouth is a fireproof way to ensure the success of your career fair!




3. Event Countdown - Content Calendar

This section is to illustrate how a marketing plan for your career fair could look. At Graduateland, we recommend that you activate all available channels and stakeholders in order to ensure a successful event. But we, of course, encourage you to only use channels already in use - no need to search land and sea for the password of a dusty Twitter account that hasn’t been active since 2014.

3.1. How to use this calendar?

Think of the calendar as a countdown to your event. Every piece of content described in the previous sections is represented on the calendar. Go to any given day (T-x days means there is x days until the career event), and you will see which pieces of content you are meant to post that day.