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Editor's Blog: 12 things we learnt at this week’s Engaging Youth Conference

13th October 2017

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This week The National Student attended the Engaging Youth Conference at Bounce in Farringdon, Central London, to discuss everything from student brand loyalty to why mental health is such an important issue amongst young people.   

During the day we played ping pong, ate pizza, got insights from brands including Matches Fashion, Cosmopolitan and Arsenal Football Club, and fielded questions with our very own student panel – made up of The National Student’s wonderful writers, editors and interns.

Here’s some of what we learnt...

1. Video can directly drive conversions

In fact, for Arsenal FC, videos have the highest conversions of any media - according to Anne-Lise Johnsen Robb, who heads up the club’s youth marketing team.

This is backed up by some serious stats: according to Facebook, 70% of all mobile content will be video by 2020.

It’s food for thought for stretched media organisations, where using video as a solution can sometimes seem too labour-intensive to be viable.  

2. Some of the best #Inspo can be found abroad

Other countries can provide huge inspiration for social media campaigns, according to Charlotte Zelders, a marketing manager at global giant PepsiCo – and with 250 million daily views on Instagram stories, this is where we should be spending our time.  

3. When your brand is dying, mix it up

“Our aim was to inspire them to play with hair colour the way they do with make-up...” – Mastak Pal Kaur, Senior Product Manager, L’Oreal

When L’Oreal realised women were increasingly embracing their natural hair colour, it could’ve been the end for the iconic brand.

Instead, they looked at their audience – “diverse, trend-setting, selfie-ready, Gen Z millennials”, according to International Marketing Manager Marcela Moreira – and asked a question: how can we change our offering to give them something they DO still want?

The answer? One day in, one day out hair colour in shades including peach, turquoise and violet, marketed in the run up to festival season.

The result? Increased sales, and the retention of L’Oreal’s status as a number one beauty brand for young women.

4. Cosmo is smashing it on Snapchat...

Lauren Smith, Social Media Manager at Cosmo, let us peek behind the glossy veneer to see how the brand has innovated and retained its audience since its beginnings as a print magazine.

On Snapchat Discover, the fashion and beauty bible has found yet another platform for its young, female, digital-savvy audience – and this result is an impressive one million unique users per day.  

5. ...and the content offered might not be what you think

In fact, the typical Cosmo reader is quite likely to read long-form content on Snapchat. Who’d have thought it...?

Needless to say, games are a big pull for interaction alongside the more serious stuff.

6. Instagram doesn’t always have to be #goals

According to Lauren, Cosmo doesn’t find success in filling its Instagram feed with aspirational content – in fact, interaction is best when what’s shared is within reach of the average reader.

It’s something that was backed up by our youth panel, who said that celebrities as influencers are often seen as out of reach, meaning they’re less likely to engage with the brand if celebs are utilised in campaigns.

The message? Keep your content within reach of those that it’s aimed at.

Oh and it still needs to be aesthetically pleasing, of course.

7. Students are not here for your newsletter spam

The National Student’s Music Editor Lucy, a 20-year-old Fashion Communication student at Liverpool John Moores University, is loyal to ASOS but has no problem with signing up to multiple brand newsletters purely for the immediate discount – and ditching them when the reward is gone.

BigChoice Group intern Emily agrees: “I’ve got a separate Gmail purely for promotional discounts,” she says. And she’s not sorry.

8. Facebook is being deleted at break-neck speed

During our youth panel, student Gemma revealed that, to many of her friends, Facebook is dead – and that some have deleted the app altogether. Instead, students’ time is spent on Instagram and Snapchat.

Despite this, at The National Student it’s still our main traffic driver – which suggests that, in terms of the often long-form content that’s our bread and butter, it still has no rival.

9. Twitter is increasingly used for show

With many students, especially those studying creative subjects that require an element of self promotion or marketing, using Twitter as a tool for study, an increasing number are finding the need to separate their academic and private life – even within the same social channel. 

If you’re reading a student’s Twitter feed and it seems professional, it’s likely that they’re got another - maybe private, maybe more difficult to find – lurking elsewhere, where they’re free to say what they really think without fear of professional repercussion.

10. Podcasts are increasingly en vogue

For many young people, listening to podcasts – even comedy ones – is seen as a more productive way to spend commuting, walking or gym time than listening to music.

This could be an easy win for brands who are looking to diversify the way that they reach highly engaged young people. After all, if you’re plugged into a podcast it’s highly likely that the voices behind it will have your full attention.

11. Brands really, really need to stop believing a pushy sales technique will show results

Of course, the savvy brands stopped believing this years ago – but at The National Student we still see a scary amount of marketing managers who want to push conversions without offering any real value to the consumer.

As Matches Fashion’s Head of Social & Daily Content Hannah Fillis told us, “Stop trying to focus just on your brand – think about what it can represent.”

Because of course customers don’t just come for the product - they come for the lifestyle, and they want to know how the brand can influence and enrich other parts of their life before they make a decision, whether it’s buying a pair of shoes or signing up for a magazine subscription or booking a flight abroad.

Just telling students – or anyone – that your shoes/magazine/flight is the best option is not going to win their trust.

Here are some better ways to engage.

12. Young people are awesome

Ok, we already knew this one. But our youth panel just confirmed it, don’t you think?

Want to learn more about The National Student? Give us a shout here.

Get more insights from The National Student’s youth panel – on subjects including peer marketing and how brands need to embrace altruism – here.

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