For college students, the four years on campus are about much more than just taking some classes. They’re about engaging with each other and the campus community, which means attending and participating in college events that match their interests. These initiatives are not just for college students, either. Any college campus thrives with an active scene of well-attended events, which can play a core role in driving student engagement and retention. To get there, you must be strategic about engaging your campus community with the right campus event promotion ideas.

As you plan your upcoming events, use these campus event promotion ideas to get started. From online to offline opportunities and all the way to a more strategic approach for planning your next event, these tips can help you build the engagement you need to hype up your university events to potential attendees.

The Importance of Effective Event Promotion on Campus

Make no mistake: effective campus event promotion is a core engagement driver. Even the best event ideas matter little if you can’t find effective ways to share information about them that prompts your students to attend. We could even make the argument that without effective event marketing, your student life will suffer.

On the other hand, greater attendance and engagement can have a massive positive influence on your entire campus operation. Research consistently shows that engagement and retention share a direct correlation. In fact, one study showed that college students who attended co-curricular events were 54% more likely to persist to the next academic year than their non-engaged peers. Retaining your students also means higher graduation rates and, ultimately, more tuition revenue for your school.

Finding and implementing the right campus event promotion ideas also allows you to become more strategic. Whether your goal is fundraising, ticket sales, or just student engagement, considering all your options to share important event details allows you to build a more comprehensive plan that maximizes your chances of attendance over time.

Finally, don’t underestimate the impact of successful event promotion on your prospective students. Especially when leveraging public channels, you can build the impression of a lively and engaged student body that high school students will be glad to join.

Promoting Your Campus Event Digitally

No campus event promotion ideas are successful in isolation. Instead, you’ll want to take a multi-channel approach that takes advantage of each option’s unique advantages.

Leverage social media, email, and your website where you can. Be sure to optimize event posts on your website to share basic event information and create informational landing page hubs for your other promotional materials to link to.

Social Media Event Posts and Pages

Given Gen Z’s proclivity to (and proliferation on) social media, no guide on campus event promotion ideas can be complete without your college’s social media channels playing a prominent role. Social media outlets like Instagram and TikTok can be massive in getting your audience engaged and paying attention.

Exactly how you use the channel, of course, depends on the type of events you’re trying to promote. School-wide events like Commencement or Homecoming matter to all of your target audience and should be promoted extensively on all of your social media outlets. Here, a Facebook Event (though no longer always relevant to current students) may be effective. More student-focused events may be more relevant for Instagram Stories or other in-the-moment opportunities.

Also, think about the strategic use of hashtags. Especially for larger events, prominently including hashtags in your promotional materials can encourage others to do the same, building a word-of-mouth promotion that amplifies your message.

Email Marketing

Social media may have passed email as your students’ preferred method of communication. But email marketing can still be an effective piece of the campus event promotional puzzle.

Use it for events that may require more extensive information than a simple social media post could get across, like listing the employers who might be attending a career fair. Consider building email templates that make it easy to consistently promote your events. Create a more standardized approach. This ensures your audience will always know when a message in their inbox may be relevant to one of their interests.

Localist Events Software

Successful event management almost necessarily means creating a central event page that includes all relevant details, from location and time to contact information and the reasons your audience should attend. Instead of simply creating custom event websites for every iteration, standardize and centralize the process through Localist.

Localist can pull all campus events into a centralized calendar while still branding it to match your institution and making it easy for multiple people to add information. This simplifies your event planning. It also ensures that every event you plan has a central hub all other outreach can easily link to.

Promoting Your Campus Event Through Non-Digital Channels

Most guides about campus event promotion ideas tend toward online tactics. But in a residential campus community, non-digital channels can be just as effective in getting your students aware of and interested in the events you’re planning.

From posters and teasers to promotional swag, the right tactics here can make all the difference in building that awareness. Each brings unique advantages that may make them effective tactics to maximize student engagement and event attendance.

Interactive Posters With QR Codes

No matter the campus, you will always find posters that promote and tease campus events. Bulletin boards in residence halls, especially, can effectively get your students’ attention while they’re not busy with their academic work or walking between classes.

Of course, you don’t need to go fully non-digital—even with your posters. Include a QR code that links directly to your web page. In addition to building that online connection, this also allows you to get more creative with your posters without cramming all of that same information onto limited printable space.

Pop-Ups and Teasers

Beyond simply using bulletin boards, more extended teasers can also be helpful—especially when they come in the form of pop-ups. In spaces where students like to gather, like your dining hall, sandwich boards or tables that promote the event can go a long way toward gently interrupting your students’ day to tell them about an important upcoming event.

Promotional Swag and Leaflets

Not all campus event promotion ideas have to be straightforward. For example, you can consider taking the time and budget to create physical hand-outs that excite students, especially about larger events.

These giveaways can come in a wide range of forms. At their simplest, they might be fliers or infographics similar to your posters. But you can also get more specific, using giveaways like t-shirts that potential event attendees can actually use. Especially if you’re also using pop-up tables to promote your event, you’ll give your students a great reason to stop and learn more.

Tips for Making a Bigger Community Impact

College student groups getting involved in campus event promotion ideas

So far, our campus event promotion ideas have focused on channels you can control on your own. But that’s not your only opportunity to maximize engagement and attendance. Partnerships across campus and with your students can make a massive impact in making an event successful.

Partner With Clubs and Organizations to Cross-Promote

When it comes to hosting campus events, student organizations may be your best partner.

Gen Z values authenticity more than any other before them, and hearing about an event from their peers rather than campus administrators can make a massive difference. Building these connections can be powerful, especially for events directly connected to those student orgs, like an alumni book reading sponsored by the English club.

Consider Co-Hosting the Event

Beyond simply partnering on the promotional aspect, you can work with campus partners on a deeper level. Consider co-hosting the event with student organizations or academic departments to build authenticity and make the event itself more successful. You’ll give up some level of control over the event itself. But you’ll gain input and resources from the planners who are closest to your student audience in return.

Partner With Local Businesses and Sponsors

Your partnerships can even stretch beyond campus. Especially for larger events, sponsorships and partnerships with local businesses can help you expand the scope of the event and even get attendees beyond campus. For example, we’ve seen colleges and universities host Women’s Markets, inviting female-owned businesses to campus to sell their goods and services during Women’s History Month.

Encourage Participants to Generate User-Generated Content (UGC) Before and After the Event

The final one of our campus event promotion ideas leans deeper into the authenticity component. Through hashtags and targeted partnerships with student organizations, encourage participants to post their own unique and personalized content specifically about the event. Visuals, testimonials, and quotes can all motivate others to join the same event this time or in the future. You can even go as far as letting your own students submit to online calendar listings. This helps create a more grassroots approach to your campus happenings.

Post-Event Retrospective: What Worked and What Did We Learn?

To borrow a popular soccer saying, “After the event is before the event.”

In other words, the end of one event is your perfect opportunity to start planning for the next one. Use it as an opportunity to evaluate what worked and what didn’t, asking questions like:

  • Did this event achieve its intended goal?
  • Did we attract enough attendees and the right attendees?
  • Which promotional tactics worked, and which did not?
  • Can we do anything to improve the messaging in the future?

The more quantitative and specific you can be, the better. Track your answers to find improvement opportunities for the next event. Also, evaluate larger trends to improve attendance at college events as a whole.

Engage Your Students and Promote Successful Events With Localist Events

In the past few years, colleges and universities have increasingly reported struggling to drive attendance at their campus events. That becomes an issue, especially considering how important event attendance is to student engagement and retention. The right strategies and tactics to promote your event can go a long way toward building that engagement.

Some of these tactics are non-digital, while others revolve around finding the right partners for your event. But ultimately, you need a baseline—which is where Localist Events comes in.

Organize your university events on Localist. Then, you’ll be able to create an integrated master calendar that can serve as a hub your students can always reference. Posting and managing your posts is straightforward, leading to more engaged campus audiences. Ready to get started? Request a demo today.