If you ask any university programmer what their biggest struggle is I can guarantee one of the first things out of their mouths will be “event attendance”. No matter how you slice it, getting students to show up to campus events is hard.
It’s not necessarily their fault. Usually they’re broke, busy, and under a lot of stress. But on the other hand you and your team work hard all year to carefully plan and execute these performances and activities… you’d like to see some turnout!
Here are some ways to up your attendance and get more students to show up to your campus event:
Advertise Your Event Online
Let’s face it. Student center walls are covered in posters. Bright colours, bold lettering –it doesn’t matter what you do, when there’s that much competition your flier is just going to blend in. Do the earth a favor, save some trees, and use your school’s social media accounts. Odds are students are staring down at their phones more than the colourful mayhem of an activities cork board.
Presence.io has a few great ways to use technology to boost student engagement, check them out here: http://www.presence.io/blog/top-8-ways-to-engage-students/
Now I know you’re sitting there thinking “Duh. This still doesn’t increase turnout.” And you’re right. You need to make your ad stand out.
Use Your Students in a Promo Video
So your tweet or Facebook post doesn’t just blend in with the rest, give your campus some juicy content. Have your students make a promotional video. Get the Student Association President, club members, your campus’s most influential student leaders to come together and film something. Preferably funny, maybe even a little embarrassing. Incorporate wigs, mascots, skits –anything that will make viewers laugh and want to share with other students on campus.
Okay… so now hopefully you’ve made your event stand out, but that still doesn’t mean people will come. You need to entice them.
Give Them Food… With a Condition
College students don’t eat ramen every night by choice. No matter what kind of event you’re hosting… a speaker, a workshop, a band, if there is free food I can guarantee students will come. They’re hungry. All the time. And broke. All the time. BUT you don’t want them to just show up take food and go. Add a condition. Whether that be they have to sign into a room, it’s only offered on the way OUT of the event, whatever, just make sure that you’re not wasting your budget on people who aren’t staying.
Create an Instagram Moment
Ever heard the phrase “do it for the insta”? How many insta pictures have you seen of people posing between two giant angel wings that have been graffitied onto a brick wall in some hip, urban area of a major city?
A bunch. This generation is drawn to events or places that give them an opportunity to create a memorable moment or post for social media. So give them that. Whether you have a full blown event, a booth or pop up exhibit, give students something to post.
Maybe you make a poster, set up your booth by a local mural or create an interactive poster. Get a cut-out of a celebrity, cut out the face and invite student to take a picture posing with their face above the body of their fav celeb.
Now they’re intrigued. They might show up, so let’s make that as easy as possible.
Sell Tickets Online
As silly as it sounds, if a student has to leave their room, walk to a student union building, go to a meeting room or an information desk, talk to a stranger, then possibly have to pay with cash… they probably won’t buy a ticket. Let’s face facts. Most of us shop online, from the comfort of our own homes, and almost none of us carry cash anymore. Eliminate these simple obstacles and students are already more likely to show up.
Here’s an awesome blog post with 11 free event management softwares that you can use for your campus event! http://blog.capterra.com/free-event-management-software/
Give Group Discounts
We’ve all seen groups of girls walking in giant herds to the bathroom or six guys huddled around the same machine at the gym, it all points to the same fact: college students like to do things together. Not only does giving group discounts push students to bring as many of their friends to an event as possible, it kickstarts the FOMO for those who aren’t going.
Eventbrite has a great list of tips and tricks to get students to attend events here: https://www.eventbrite.com/blog/academy/5-tips-to-improve-student-engagement/ and #1 on their list is FOMO.
Getting people to care can be hard. We get it. We’re going to work on providing even more blogs, resources and posts like this one to help you combat this tough problem.
Stay tuned Disruptters!