Summer semester on a college campus is a wondrous thing. The parking spots are abundant, the crosswalks are manageable, and the lines at the local coffee shop aren’t ridiculous. Commencement has come and gone and the start of the fall semester is just far enough away that it still feels like you have somewhat of a summer left.
Now that the Fourth of July has passed, however, it might be time to take a second look at that Post-It® list on the corner of your desk. The one that becomes buried by the “This Needs to Get Done Yesterday” projects that usually fall on your desk during the academic year. I’m talking about the “I’ll Do It Over the Summer” list.
When I worked in communication and marketing on a college campus, I always found myself creating this list and watching it grow throughout the year. It ranged from researching social media aggregator platforms to archiving photos. Some of the tasks were simple and took no time, while others were ideas that I wanted to take time to develop during a “slower” period (slower might not be the best term…let’s go with less hectic).
Here are a five items that should be on every marketer’s summer list, in no particular order:
1. Collect and Analyze Google Analytics Data
Data can inform about every decision you need to make for the upcoming academic year. Instead of attacking Google Analytics from a broad perspective (pageviews and bounce rates for your entire site), try to think of the numbers from a goal-setting perspective. How many clicks did we get on a certain call-to-action? Are visitors engaging with a specific type of content? Summer is a great time to make sure your Google Analytics account is set up to collect data properly, while also doing a high-level review to set some goals for the upcoming year.
2. Start/Finish a Research Project
Higher education marketers sometimes forget to collect data from the easiest subjects on campus: current students. While campus might not be bursting at the seams with students during the summer, small class sizes or group meetings provide great opportunities for focus groups. You can ask students a wide range of questions, from admissions (did your first year measure up with the expectations provided in our recruitment materials?) to communication channel preference (how did you learn about events on campus and what was the most effective way to reach you?). Simply talking with a group of students on your campus can spark ideas for the fall.
3. Plan One Campaign for 2018
You can make this as simple or as complicated as possible. Brainstorm a social media campaign for the first week of class to welcome new students to campus. Put together a finals week scavenger hunt with prizes to provide some stress relief. Work with your athletics department to do something integrated around homecoming. Get other departments across campus involved and see what can happen.
4. Organize Your Photo Library
Visual content across all of your available channels needs to be readily available. It’s important to have a photo library built out in a way that you and your colleagues can find those stunning photos as quickly as possible when needed. Summer is also the perfect time to start highlighting dates on the academic calendar that will provide excellent opportunities to collect photos. Remember, food and weather are always hits on social media, so find a way to make that work on your campus.
Don’t try to get everything accomplished during the summer. The traditional academic year is a grind, so make sure to take advantage of any down time you might have. Check the things off your list that you feel are important and keep that Post-It® handy. Some items might transfer to the summer of 2018 list, and that’s okay. Enjoy the rest of July and get ready to wait 20 minutes for a cup of coffee again.