Case LAB University of Applied Sciences
LAB University of Applied Sciences began operating in November 2019 and was created when Lahti University of Applied Sciences and Saimaa University of Applied Sciences in Lappeenranta merged. Before the merger took place, LAB wanted to better understand its target group of young people about to apply for further studies in order to plan its student recruitment. In particular, LAB wanted to know which factors affect the choice of place of study and what sort of worries and hopes young people have about studying. LAB wanted to discuss the selected themes with young people in ways and through channels that are typical for the target group. A-lehdet was chosen as the work partner thanks to its solid target group skills.
Generation Z requires companies and brands to communicate and interact in a new way. Discussions with young people must take place through social media channels that they visit daily. Therefore, we decided to focus on the target group of young people applying for further studies by using a playful and community-centred research method. We created an Instagram community, Yhteishaku 2020, which we used to increase LAB’s understanding of the target group through innovative and interactive content concepts.
Instagram was chosen as the campaign channel, because it is one of the most popular social media channels amongst young people and provides great tools for creating interactive content. Instagram was an easy place to approach the choice of place of study in a manner suitable for Generation Z: visually, with humour and in bite-sized bits of content.
Young people live amidst a constant flow of content, which is why brands should invest in content that is genuinely useful to the target group. In the Yhteishaku 2020 community, a better understanding about the target group was gained through means that also benefitted the participants: the community provided them with support in and relevant content for choosing a place of study.
The idea was to have roughly 100 young people, about to apply for further studies in spring 2020, join the Yhteishaku 2020 community. The community members were recruited by utilising young people’s media Demi’s different brand channels, such as Demi.fi, Instagram and Snapchat. We created a content plan for the group, providing the participants with interesting content about choosing a place of study. Through the selected themes, LAB received interesting information about the factors that influence the choice of study place.
The group functioned actively for six weeks, and the themes discussed included hopes about future careers, criteria for choosing a place of study, applying for studies and the selection of study programmes at LAB University of Applied Sciences. Every week, various interactive content types, such as quizzes, the game of likes and the Q&A tools, were utilised on Instagram. The content was created by a young people’s target group expert from A-lehdet and staff members from LAB, who were trained to use these Instagram tools.
The Yhteishaku 2020 group attracted attention in the target group immediately. In just over a week, more than 100 young people about to apply for further studies in spring 2020 expressed their interest in joining the community. The group members were extremely active. The Instagram Stories published three times a week reached nearly 90% of the user account’s followers and its activation tools received close to 6,000 responses in six weeks. The group produced valuable information about young people’s motives when selecting a place of study and about their hopes and worries. LAB used this information to develop its student marketing to meet the needs of this demanding target group.
‘It is important to us that our communications and marketing are effective and successful. Therefore, we want to be able to explain the reasons behind our decisions. Guessing is not good enough, and instead we are investigating what sort of information and which marketing channels are relevant to our target group,’ says Brand and Communications Director Liisa Kuvaja from LUT University and LAB University of Applied Sciences.
Feedback on the community’s usefulness was gathered from the Yhteishaku 2020 participants. Most of them felt that the community was useful and important. The respondents also thought that the community made LAB sound like an interesting and worthwhile option.
Team Head of Business Unit (Youth Media) Anni Lintula, Social Media Strategist Essi Rundgren, Producer Roosa Oksanen, Key Account Manager Outi Huhtanen-Kuusela from A-lehdet.