Top 3 Marketing Tactics to Reach College Students Today

By Sarah Richardson and Katie Bell

These days college students seem to have less time than ever on their hands so it’s more challenging than ever to reach them effectively and not blow the budget. Keep reading to learn about the top social media platforms, how to run effective promotions and all about campus ambassadors. These are the most effective marketing tactics for brands who want to reach college students.

Use Instagram & Snapchat – not Facebook

88% of 18-29-year olds use at least one social media platform. Students check social media several times a day when taking study breaks, in-between class, when they wake up, and when they go to bed. 80% of 18-24-year olds are using Facebook today however, studies show that 44% of those users have deleted the Facebook app within the last year. The influence of Facebook among college students seems to be declining while social media like Snapchat and Instagram are on the rise. YouTube has also become highly influential among 18-24-year olds with 94% of the age group saying they use the website. Snapchat is used by 78% of the young age group because students are using this platform to communicate with friends, keep in touch, and see what other people are doing. Instagram is used by 71% of 18-24-year olds because students want pictures and graphics to glance at rather than having to read a post. Because of this, Instagram and Snapchat are much more popular for this young age group even compared those in their late 20s.

Run Promotions

College students are constantly on the hunt for a good deal or free sample. To catch the audience’s attention, have a discount or buy one get one free promotion to incentivize the customer. Using a promotion will make it seem like there isn’t as much of a loss or risk in buying the product or service. You can also host events around campus with giveaways to help your brand awareness.

Hire Campus Ambassadors

Campus Ambassadors can be a good way to advertise to the college crowd because students are willing to trust other students. Having brand ambassadors on campus can cause more awareness of the brand and bring it to students’ attention in a subtle way that doesn’t seem like in your face advertising. It also gives the brand a chance to have a social movement on campus. Brand ambassadors can change the view students have on a brand by making them want to wear brand merchandise or attend events for the brand. This will also cause more brand awareness by getting other students outside of your ambassadors to help promote the brand.

A great example of a brand that has made a big impact on college campuses is Bumble. They sponsor events, give out free merchandise, and have social media contests. This has brought a huge awareness of the app because even if students don’t use Bumble, they more than likely know what it is. Often, you will see students with a Bumble sticker, wearing a t-shirt, or posting a picture in a Bumble hat. Bumble will host events like a bar tab downtown where they have their brand logo and merchandise displayed for everyone there to take pictures with and post on social media.


Even when it seems hard to catch college student’s attention in their busy lives and the changing ways of advertising, there are still easy ways you can make an impact among the young group. You must think differently, catch the eye, and be relevant. College students will be receptive of your message if you catch them in the right way. Finding new and creative ways to reach students is important, but there are also classic advertising techniques that still work just as effectively so finding a balance between the two is important.


Steel brings together data, technology, creative and influence to deliver spectacular growth for brands that are marketing to the American family. Working side-by-side with client marketing teams and in-house agencies, Steel extends your leverage by contributing strategy, creativity, bandwidth and best practices. For healthcare, education, government and CPG clients especially, Steel’s full service, integrated agency capabilities and knowledge of marketing automation makes ideas possible and execution practical. Call Steel with your marketing challenges, and if we are not the right fit, we will point you in the right direction.

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