Whether you’re a private institution, state school, community college or technical institute, your highest priorities are education, morale and motivation. Engagement is the key to all of these.
It’s important to foster a sense of community and inclusion on today’s campuses. When students feel more included, they’ll actively participate in activities and become more loyal to, and invested in, their overall academic experience.
Providing easy access to real-time information is one of the best ways to capture students’ attention. Digital signage is becoming ubiquitous on campuses, but putting a screen on the wall and feeding announcements to it doesn’t guarantee your audience will respond. You’ll need to craft compelling communications to engage students. Here are four digital signage tips to help:
1. Use Visual Hooks
If your students don’t look at the screens, you can’t engage them. Showing things they want, and will reference frequently, gets them used to checking your digital signs.
Some of the best visual hooks are the day, date and time. It sounds simple, but when students check your screens to see what time it is, they’ll also see your messages. Current weather, event schedules and news headlines are also popular hooks.
Another visual hook is newness. Make sure you’re updating messages frequently and changing layouts so your screens don’t get boring.
2. Publish Campaigns
A sustained campaign will almost always be more engaging than a one-off message. When you’re planning for events, promotions, or counting down to important dates, start advertising them early and use different message formats to communicate the information in new and creative ways.
You also need to consider where and when you publish your campaigns. You’ll want to analyze traffic patterns and engage students in the right place at the right time. You don’t want to advertise an event for first-year students in the senior lounge, and you don’t want to hit engineering students with a lecture about accounting.
The thing to remember about campaigns is that it’s a long-term strategy. You’ll need to plan your campaign early, and start your messages at least two-weeks before the event or deadline. The more often students are reminded, the more engaged they’ll be.
3. Keep it Simple
Short and sweet is the rule for digital signage. Your students are busy and distracted, so you need to communicate with them as quickly, and with as much impact, as possible.
Good signage starts with understanding good design. Keep text to a minimum in your messages, and use bright colors to draw the eye. Motion and video are also great attention-getters.
And remember, the faster your audience is moving, the less they’ll see. So minimize what’s on screen in hallways or places where people are passing quickly. You can always put more on screen in cafeterias or near elevator banks where students have more time to engage with screens.
4. Give Them Something to Do
You don’t just want your students to see your message, you want them to do something with that information – enroll for classes, attend a lecture, take a survey, watch a podcast or follow you on Twitter. Participation and engagement go hand in hand.
Just like in advertising, you need to include a clear call to action in your messages. Include a URL or a QR code so students have a clear way to get more information about the subject. Ask them to take a photo of the screen for a discount at the bookstore, or include an SMS code so they can text a response to a question on screen.
Clear calls to action also let you measure the success of your communications. If you can measure the number of responses you get, you can adjust and improve your messages and scheduling strategy over time.