It isn’t easy hosting a college event. You normally are competing with numerous other on-campus activities and you have to work around the various commitments students have if you want a big turn out. In addition to those two things, it can just be hard to get anyone excited enough to actually commit to attending a college event.
The good news is, there are a few brilliant strategies out there that can help you draw massive crowds. Check out a few of the tactics we’ve picked up from our years of booking college entertainment.
Social, Social, Social!
With 90% of young adults using social media, there is no way around it. If you are marketing to college students, you need to use every social media platform you can to spread awareness of your event. Take promotional pictures, send out Snapchat and Facebook Live videos, tweet daily about the event, do whatever it takes. Keeping students involved on social networks will contribute to more students knowing about your event and more students remembering it when the day comes.
Note: When we say EVERY we don’t mean every. Find out where your target audience “hangs out” and attack those social platforms
Get teachers and students involved
Teachers: Teachers have been known to give out extra credit and course points in exchange for students attending community and campus events. In fact, many General Education Humanities courses REQUIRE students to attend a number of cultural events. If you can get into contact with the right faculty members, you may be able to drive students to your event. When it comes down to writing a paper or going to some random “thing” on campus, students will choose the random thing every time. You just have to make sure that your event is that random thing.
Students: If students aren’t involved in your event at all, try to find a way to incorporate them. It doesn’t matter if they are doing something as significant as managing the school’s social promotion for your event or something as small as setting up chairs before the event; if students are involved word will spread. Have the involved students share what they are working on and re-share event information. One Snapchat or Instagram post from the right student could boost awareness of your event by astronomical proportions.
Hire an entertainer they’ll know
If you have the budget for it, you can’t go wrong with a celebrity entertainer. Celebrities have the potential to draw huge crowds just because people know their names. If you don’t have room in your budget for a big name entertainer, though, there are other ways to put an entertainer your audience will know in front of them.
1. Get someone who is “hot” with your audience. With a little research, you may be able to find an entertainer that is famous to your crowd, but not famous anywhere else.
2. Help your audience know your entertainer. By posting videos of your entertainer on social media and spreading their name around word-of-mouth, you may be able to generate enough buzz that students research your entertainer for themselves. They could become fans before your event and decide to come.
If you can give something away for free, do it.
If you want to entice a college student, you have to think like one. College students see themselves as incredibly broke (the average college student graduates with approximately $37,172 of debt). They will do almost anything if you offer them something for FREE, especially if that something is food.
If you can manage it, provide a free or cheap meal with or before your event. Students will be coming out of the woodwork to snag a slice of pizza or a freshly grilled hot dog. It is a lot easier to keep a crowd than to generate one out of thin air.
Make it beneficial to bring friends
College students travel in packs. They don’t like going anywhere alone and if they can help it, they never will. What has a tendency to happen with college events is this: One student is genuinely interested in attending the event so he goes to a couple of his friends and asks if they’d like to join. Friend 1 doesn’t have five dollars (the price of the event) and Friend 2 “has better things to do.” Our original student ends up not going to the event because he has no one to go with, which leaves you with one less event attendee.
If you want to get more students to your event, offer a deal to groups of students. (ex. groups of four get $2 off their tickets). In doing this, you will be providing students who have the desire to attend your event with more incentive to get their friends to go with them. You will also be giving students who don’t want to pay for the event an opportunity to pay less.
College students aren’t all that hard to understand once you know their motivators. Using food, grades, and friends, you should be able to pack your venue.