The high-level benefits of digital signage on higher education campuses are simple and powerful: digital messages get noticed, and digital messages are remembered. If you think about the alternatives, these benefits become rather easy to appreciate:
- Email messages get lost in the clutter of over-filled mailboxes. There’s no assurance students or faculty will read your message promptly, if at all. Furthermore, email use among younger people is on the decline.
- Print media — paper handouts and paper signage in particular — may be effective to some extent, but convey staleness in the institutional brand, a significant negative for attracting new students. Paper communication also raises sustainability issues, which are close to the hearts of students and faculty.
- Social media communication frequently suffers from one of two extremes: either there is not enough engagement on a school’s social channels to assure communication reaches the entire audience, or there is so much chatter that, like email, important messages get lost in the shuffle.
- Text messaging has the advantage of being popular among young students, but raises issues of privacy; many people continue to be cautious and selective about granting texting permission. In addition, text messaging is ill-suited to longer and/or complex communication.
Digital signage has a number of benefits that overcome many of these communication challenges. Consider:
- Digital messaging is a maximally versatile medium, suitable for short messages, long messages, informative messages and entertaining messages. This enables institutions to consolidate messaging rather than try to channel different types of communication through what is deemed the most effective medium. Consolidation also increases audience awareness and attention, since people have one place to look for messages rather than several.
- Digital messaging, when executed with the proper digital signage equipment, content marketing software and creative content techniques, delivers high-impact visual messages. The value of visual messaging in today’s educational environment cannot be overstated. The proliferation of mobile phones and digital entertainment has created a generation(s) of people for whom imagery and video are the preferred modes of communication.
- Digital messaging reaches — and more importantly, interests — a captive audience. When students are in the library, they will see strategically placed screens that display a scrolling list of upcoming campus events, sports scores or emergency notices. When parents or new students are in the commons area, they can use an interactive screen for wayfinding; that is, getting from where they are to wherever they want to go.
- Digital messaging doesn’t consume natural resources as does paper communication, creating a more sustainable profile for the campus. In addition, digital messaging saves labor on printing and taking down/putting up posters.
- Digital messaging is efficient to customize, control and manage. Campus administrators can create and broadcast messages from a single location or multiple locations as they choose, and can be customized for each particular screen location. For example, in a language arts building, campus announcements could be displayed in every language being taught, but in the cafeteria, only in the two or three most widely used languages.
Being so versatile, digital signage on college and university campuses run the gamut. Among the most common:
- Advertising — Digital signage in campus bookstores and athletic stadiums promotes book and ticket sales.
- Alumni relations — Welcoming for alumni events, listing donors and spotlighting distinguished alumni.
- Campus announcements — News, upcoming events, class schedules and schedule changes, closing notices, etc.
- Important information — Digital signage is invaluable in announcing weather alerts, safety communication and other important notices.
- Wayfinding — Static signage and interactive kiosks are easy to find, easy to use, and easy to customize.
In all of these ways, digital signage fosters a positive, engaging environment for students, prospective students, alumni, faculty and administration. For campuses that have put off the installation of digital signage, there is some good news: over the last few years, technology has advanced significantly. Today’s digital systems offer an unprecedentedly wide range of hardware and software, making it possible for virtually any campus to find an affordable and highly effective system.
Steve Chang is Senior Vice-President of Strategy and Solutions at RMG Networks. Steve oversees the strategic direction and expansion of RMG’s intelligent visual.