Nov 04

Engaging Your Students in the Attention Economy

The attention economy focuses on how a business captures and holds potential customers’ attention long enough to get a message across to them. In your case, you’re trying to get students to engage with your office so they can find full-time jobs after graduation. You already know how valuable career services departments are to college students, but how do you relay that information to your audience?

Engaging students in the attention economy offers several challenges for your career services department. Discover effective ways to reach your clientele so you capture their attention and put them in touch with viable job opportunities using inbound methods and content.

Personalized Messages

Generic email blasts or social media posts no longer work. Those types of messages end up in the Trash folder or completely glossed over in a vast sea of social media messages. Engaging students means you have to personalize  messages to them. For that to happen, you need to get their personal information through an online Contact Us portal, career services app or even paper forms.

Incentivize this data. Give each student a token for providing contact information to career services. Incentives can be anything from custom-printed trinkets to free food. Students love free food, especially when they’re on a budget. In exchange for information, give away coupons for a free treat at the college’s cafe or local restaurant. Consider hosting free doughnut or pizza giveaways at the career center. Once you get people in the door and gather their contact information, engaging students  becomes easier.

Optimized Content

Optimize your content to each student using the contact information you have on hand. To borrow from sales terminology, this is where you turn leads into prospects while engaging students. Some students may give an email address or a mobile number. Use these avenues to distribute surveys, promote career discovery apps and encourage social media participation. To optimize and personalize your career services content, you need to know how students receive the content they like, as well as what kind of content they enjoy. Knowing the types of media students use and what content they consume forms the basis of your content creation, be it long-form blog posts on websites or 30-second videos on Facebook Live. 

Start creating content after you narrow your scope to particular content channels. The key in this step is to find something worth sending to a student. For example, if you have a biology major interested in doing field work, consider sending the student the latest cool video about what it’s like to track wild animals, collect data from a mountaintop or travel to Antarctica on a research vessel. Engaging students at this stage lets them know you understand their interests. Next, share your department’s culture with repeated messages that work.

Multiple Avenues for Your Content

More than 80 percent of students use Facebook as their social network of choice. This is a vital resource you must tap into if you’re going to succeed in reaching students. Facebook offers numerous ways to individualize content to students, from personal messages and small advertisements to creating relevant posts and 30-second Facebook Live videos. Cater your career services messages to specific students through as many channels as possible to capture and keep their attention.

Text messages are also important compared to emails for a very specific reason, it takes very little effort for someone to send a spammy email to the Trash folder. On the other hand, a student almost always looks at a text message to determine if the message is important.

You can still automate parts of this process, but you need to personalize messages to college students as you share your department’s culture with them. Tools help you create social media posts and messages. You may have 10 students that have an interest in working for a national retailer’s sales department following graduation. If so, you can create the same basic messaging for all 10 students while just changing the name on the message or altering a few words.

The same goes for text messages. Reach the masses through texting through automation tools that let you change the name and the phone number while keeping the same basic text. Those same 10 sales majors can engage with the same basic text message so long as you modify it slightly to fit each person’s individual interests.

When you develop content, ask yourself how to portray your department’s culture to students. Do you want to come across as fun, hip and with it, or would you rather display a more serious tone with a bit of fun on the side? Whatever your culture, keep it consistent with your department’s message.

Tying It All Together

Tie these concepts together by keeping track of what students respond to versus what they don’t. When you maintain data on each method of engaging students, you see trends that let you alter your messaging in the future. While your data collection can’t account for each student’s individual tastes, schedules or attitudes, the more information you collect, the better chance you have of success when engaging students in the attention economy through inbound recruiting.

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