Digitally-oriented Millennial students grew up in a world of technology.
They’re used to seeing ads on websites, ads on their phones, and ads peppered throughout the multimedia content they consume. So naturally, they’re good at tuning out “visual spam” which can include a campus digital signage network. While campus announcements are certainly more relevant than online ads, if campuses don’t approach their display and distribution correctly, their Millennial students will tune them out.
The biggest challenge with announcements is that they’re usually not powerful messages. Really, it’s just factual information. Therefore, it’s up to campuses to understand how they can leverage digital signage strategies to make their announcements compelling for Millennial viewers.
Of course, this process isn’t easy. Campuses often get tripped up and make the same mistakes over and over:
1. Thinking video will solve every problem
To be fair, video is part of the solution, but it’s not a simple answer.
For video announcements – any announcement for that matter – to work, there should be standards for what to communicate e.g. will it affect 80% of the audience, is it relevant to the current season/time/event, etc. The announcement should lead with WHY so that people want to know the WHAT. Answer the question of why the announcement matters to the audience, and then give them a clear call to action for how they can respond.
Visuals should be a central part of the announcements to improve message retention. Your announcements should be showing, not telling. Single announcement videos should tell a complete story in no longer than 30 seconds.
2. Providing too much information
While the method campuses use to share announcements is an important factor, the bigger issue is creating information overload
While it’s true that digital signage is a highly engaging way to get a message seen (a popular survey recorded that 65% of the respondents said digital signage catches their attention), if the message is not presented in a compelling way, Millennials will tune it out as fast as they tune out the ads on their phones.
Sharing announcements on digital signage is a tightrope walk between offering viewers necessary details and overloading them with brain-burning waterfalls of information.
Campuses should craft announcements carefully with this balancing act in mind. Millennial students have a preference for easily digestible, relevant information, which is why 64% of Millennials use clutter reducing ad-block software to support their online experiences.
Campuses must create standards of quality for their announcements and share only those that are relevant.
3. Not providing a clear call to action
Many campuses take mistake number two to heart and swing too far in the opposite way. They fail to make it clear to viewers how they can find out more information.
This is the other side of our tightrope walk and another mistake that must be avoided. If campuses want Millennials to engage with their announcements beyond a cursory glance, calls-to-action (CTA) must be clear.
Success with a clear CTA depends on what type of information the campus includes in the announcement. Are the announcements informing students about an event? Do they need to sign up for something? Where do they go to get more information?
In announcements on digital signage, point users to a communication hub where they can find out more about the announcement details. So, this might be a help desk, booth, phone number, website, or university department where they can speak to a representative.
4. Leading with the features instead of the benefits
Like any other form of advertising, campuses need to approach announcement displays with the needs of their viewers in mind. What’s in it for them? Why should they bother paying attention to the announcement?
Announcements of digital signage should have a clear value proposition relevant to the student audience. If members of the target market have to ask: “Why are they telling me this?” The value proposition isn’t clear. If the majority of the market asks this question, the announcement lacks relevance.
It’s well known that consumers of all ages get annoyed by irrelevant content (74% of consumers admit to frustration when websites try to pull this on them) and announcements on digital signage are no exception.
Instead of providing the announcement details (such as event location or even what the event is) up front, lead with more compelling statements that explain the value of attending. In sales, this is known as the “hook.” When viewers are brought on the hook by compelling questions or a promise of value, they’ll be more receptive to the rest of the information on offer.
5. Sticking with one format
Treating digital signage like a glorified billboard is where many digital signage users stumble. Digital signage is a diverse way of providing information that should include a broad range of multimedia formats.
Campuses must diversify their messaging if they hope to reach Millennial eyes. Naturally, digital signage is the perfect medium to gain the attention of a generation that has their noses buried in smartphones and tablets – and 87% of Millennials use two to three of these tech devices per day – but just displaying messages on signs isn’t enough. Campuses must use a variety of formats to engage with Millennials. These can include video, photos, informational templates, and compelling narratives within these frameworks.
6. Neglecting social media integration
Millennials are the heaviest social media users. Facebook alone boasted a market penetration of 88% of 18-29 year olds in 2016. If campuses are interested in generating buzz for their announcements outside of the digital signage network, they need to include a social media component.
This generally includes hashtags users can follow, scannable QR codes that viewers can snap with their smartphones, or even just links to relevant Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages. Digital signage is great for engagement in the moment. But, if campuses want to build momentum outside of the screen, social media integration is a must.
7. Failing to bring these concepts together
To get the most out of campus announcements delivered through digital signage, all of the above concepts need to be brought together at once.
Here’s an example of this in action. Try creating a display video telling the story of the announcement. Craft a narrative that features actual students talking and guiding viewers through the benefits of the event in question.
When a key soundbite appears in the video, overlay a small social media hashtag in the corner of the screen with the keyword phrase. After the video finishes, use a digital signage informational template to post relevant information for whoever may be watching. This strategy combines social integration, storytelling, and multimedia formats into one compelling medium that can be displayed in less than 30 seconds.
Succeeding with Announcements on Digital Signage
Like other forms of advertising, announcements delivered through digital signage need to engage, entertain, and stick in the minds of viewers.
Campuses should be wary of the above mistakes and do what they can to craft compelling announcement advertisements that their Millennial audiences will retain. It’s not easy to compete for the limited attention of student audiences. But, with the above strategies in mind, campuses will gain an edge in the fight to make their voices heard.