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Keeping it Social: How Loyola University Chicago Integrated Social Media into Every Aspect of a Key Marketing Campaign

This month we are pleased to feature Melissa Niksic, Marketing Communications Specialist at Loyola University Chicago, as a guest blogger.  Melissa is a long-time client of Rider Dickerson, and we affectionately call her a “friend of the program”!  Melissa was a featured presenter at our inaugural printForum conference in 2011, and we lean on her for her social media expertise.  Melissa’s role at Loyola has evolved over time, and today she oversees all of Loyola’s enrollment social media marketing and video marketing efforts.  Melissa also handles select print and direct mail projects, and fully understands how print and the digital world can work wonderfully together. We love working with clients like Loyola who understand that it’s not a question of which channel to use.  Rather, it’s a matter of how to make them work together synergistically to create maximum impact with your marketing message and to reach your target audience effectively.

Keeping it Social: How Loyola University Chicago Integrated Social Media into Every Aspect of a Key Marketing Campaign

By: Melissa Niksic
Marketing Communications Specialist, Loyola University Chicago

Imagine that you’re a high school senior trying to decide where to attend college next year. Most of us probably remember being inundated with college viewbooks in the mail when we were applying to schools (sadly, I am probably showing my age here). Things have changed dramatically, and while print materials are still a huge part of the enrollment marketing equation, today’s students are also bombarded with e-mail messages, Web sites, mobile communications, and of course social media. Multiple channels give universities an advantage because there are now more ways than ever to connect with students. However, with multiple schools competing for each student’s attention (and tuition dollars), how do you make your campaign stand out? That’s the question we asked ourselves when we revamped our Loyola Weekend campaign in January 2012.

Loyola Weekend is our largest yield event of the year. All admitted undergraduate students are invited to campus for what is basically a glorified open house. Statistics show that the majority of students who attend Loyola Weekend ultimately enroll at Loyola, so we knew that we needed to make this campaign special. In addition to giving the entire look of the campaign a design overhaul to match our new undergraduate branding, we decided that it was essential to bring social media to the forefront of the campaign—the entire campaign.

Loyola has had enormous success using social media as a recruitment tool, particularly via our class pages on Facebook (“Class of 2016,” etc.). We wanted to capitalize on that success and generate even more student engagement through social media to create buzz around Loyola Weekend. We also recognized that our target audience strongly valued social media as a method of connecting with the Loyola community. Therefore, we made sure to incorporate social media into every single communication that went out to students regarding the event. Some examples:

  • We collaborated with Rider Dickerson to create a dynamic personalized print invitation to Loyola Weekend. Each invite included a link to the registration Web site, along with a QR code. When scanned with a smartphone, the QR code directed students to a mobile landing page featuring a teaser video about Loyola Weekend, as well as a mobile registration form.
  • The Web site we created for Loyola Weekend also featured an energetic video designed to get students excited about the event. The site included personalization features specific to each student, making the experience more targeted to each individual user. Every page on the site also included links to videos, blogs, and Loyola’s various social media channels.
  • Every Loyola Weekend e-mail communication encouraged students to connect with Loyola and with each other via social media. Many e-mails also featured our Loyola blogs and videos very prominently (and many of those blogs and videos contained messages specific to Loyola Weekend).
  • During the event itself, we organized several contests using social media that allowed students to win prizes by engaging with the university through various social channels. We also live-tweeted during the event, and let students know that candid photos taken of them on campus would be available for them to view and download on our Facebook and Flickr channels.

I’ve worked on the Loyola Weekend campaign for several years, and the latest campaign was definitely the most time-consuming. There were so many different aspects to the campaign, all of which were somehow tied to social media. So what were the end results? Ultimately, we had the largest Loyola Weekend turnout in history. Additionally, we saw huge spikes in our social media activity, and shortly after the Loyola Weekend event, our “Class of 2016” Facebook page greatly surpassed class pages from previous years in terms of number of “likes” and overall user activity.

As we gear up to launch a new Loyola Weekend campaign in January 2013, we will build off of the successes we had this past year and incorporate new ways of bringing social media to the forefront. If you have any questions about Loyola or about this campaign, please feel free to contact me at or @melissaniksic.