Whether you’re new to higher education content marketing or are a veteran, you know it comes with a lot of pressure. After all, your work needs to showcase your school and successfully speak to and engage those involved at every level. What you may not know is that mixing in a little funny could be your answer. Here’s how humor can help higher education content marketers make the grade.
Know Your Audience
The idea of knowing your audience may seem like an obvious point, but it’s not. It’s actually quite a big deal. Sure, your content speaks to students at your college or university. But that’s only part of it. On the whole, you also have those students’ parents, potential students, faculty, staff, and board of directors.
Part of your content strategy involves knowing who you’re addressing. If you’re producing content for the university website, a press release about accomplishments of students, faculty, or the school, itself, you’re speaking to the public, at large. That includes journalists who may want to use your content as a springboard for media coverage. Bearing that in mind, this is the time that you’re putting your university’s best foot forward and your message needs to reflect that. So it’s best to keep humor out of it.
Fortunately, there are ideal times when your main audience members are the college students. That’s when it’s the right time to make strategic use of humor. A great example is when you’re producing internal newsletters for students, as well as faculty and staff. Another is promotional content you use to generate that audience’s interest in an upcoming campus event.
Watch That Tone
When the appropriate situation to use humor does present itself, make sure you’re striking the right tone. Let’s get back to the internal college newsletter. Here you can address your audience with a more fun, relaxed tone while letting them know about those previously mentioned accomplishments.
For example, in an article announcing the drama department’s most successful performance season in school history your lead sentence could say, “Mad props to the Drama Department for breaking box-office records this performance season.” Maintaining that tone through the rest of the body is enough to give readers a grin.
But it doesn’t end there. Be consistent with your fun, relaxed tone in the publication’s other announcements, too. It’s your secret weapon for keeping your collegiate audience engaged. Sure, your board of directors are also on the newsletter email list, but your main audience is those 18 to 20-somethings going to class and their teachers. They’re putting a lot into education, and your newsletter could be a bright spot of the week they look forward to. (And it helps that those pulling the strings know you can effectively speak to your main audience.)
But wait, there’s more. That same tone, or a reasonable facsimile, can also help you in content you produce publicizing upcoming campus events. You’re trying to get students psyched about what’s going on, right? Whether it’s an email or social media campaign, you can do that with a fun tone and a little humor. But don’t go off the deep end and get sales pitchy. Just take the relaxed, fun tone you use in newsletters and tweak it for the occasion.
Make a Connection
Another way to incorporate humor in your higher-education content marketing strategy is making a connection with the college students your internal content mainly addresses. Yep, once again, I’m talking about your weekly newsletters. A good way to do that is with current pop culture references.
Say you’re publicizing a finals-week game night in the student commons building. Your headline could say, “Ready, Player One.” If you’ve been living in a cave and don’t know what this is, it’s the title of the New York Times best-selling young adult novel by Ernest Cline, which Stephen Spielberg turned into a film that hit theaters this past spring. Anyway, this headline effectively connects with the audience in a tongue-in-cheek way that also makes them at the very least crack a smile before reading on.
Now there’s no need for overkill. Using too many could make your content cringe-worthy. But when the opportunity presents itself, a judiciously placed pop culture reference can be the ideal tool for connecting with your higher-ed audience.
With a little creativity and wise use of humor, your higher education content marketing efforts will make the grade. After all, when you engage your audience, they feel involved. When they feel involved, faculty and staff perform at their best and students are more likely to finish their education at your school. Plus, these engaged, involved, and motivated folks brag about your school, which keeps more students coming. And isn’t that the goal?
Cathy H has years of well-rounded experience in the writing field. Since transitioning from the newspaper industry, she has written countless pieces for clients that include content for blogs/articles, website landing pages, apps, press releases, and email newsletters. While her versatility enables Cathy to adapt her tone to the need, her favorite projects are those that add a dash of fun.