I reached out to Christina Miles from Rutgers University, which had an incredibly successful virtual fair, to see if she would be open to sharing some the secrets to her success. She was kind enough to offer some words of wisdom, and here is an outline of her planning and execution:
BEFORE THE EVENT: Promotion
- WEBSITE: I made an event page on our website, as well as on our “getInvolved” student platform. It was also added to our Rutgers main events calendar.
- SOCIAL MEDIA: Because I submitted the event to the main Rutgers site, it was shared on the University’s main social channels. When sharing on our own social media channels, I tagged our campus partners so they would share on their channels as well. I also did a paid Facebook/Instagram ad for further reach.
- EMAIL: I sent out an email to all of our student lists in advance of the event.
- VIDEOS: I made a couple of promo videos that were shared on the event page and social media in advance of the fair. One video was a screen walk-through of the platform so students knew how to navigate the fair (recorded through Zoom). The other featured short messages from our partners inviting students to come see them on the day.
- NEW STUDENT TARGETING: Rutgers New Student Orientation does something called the “Scarlet Knight Challenge” where they feature a number of welcome events for students to attend and earn “points”. Our study abroad fair is always part of the challenge, which helps us attract new students.
GAINING STUDENT INTEREST
- INCENTIVES: We raffled two $1,000 study abroad scholarships. Any student who registered and attended the fair was entered into the raffle.
DAY OF THE EVENT: Tips on Day of the Fair
- REMINDER EMAIL/SOCIAL: Something that I think really helped was scheduling a reminder email to go out about a half hour before the event started. I also posted on social that whole day leading up to the start of the fair, and even during.
- SUPPORT ROOM: We had various Zoom rooms happening for students to interact with staff and program representatives during the live fair time. I also was posted in a Zoom “support room” for any students or staff who were having technical difficulties or had any questions about the platform itself.
NOTED TIP: When to Register
- One thing to note is that I actually didn’t share the Luna Fair page link until the day of the fair. All of our marketing linked to our event page on our own site. That page had language saying “The link to attend the fair will be posted here by 1:00 p.m. on September 29.” My main reason for this was that I wanted to be able to clearly capture how many students attended on the actual day, rather than registering and seeing the page in the weeks prior but not actually being present for the live fair. Hence why those last minute email/social reminders were so crucial.(EDITORS NOTE: This is a unique approach to keep the registration closed until the day of the fair, and Rutgers had great results. I would love to run an experiment on doing it this way, versus having open registration prior to the fair; it would be difficult to do a split test on this to find two identical universities, but nevertheless, I would like to see this tested out. I would hypothesize that this approach would be the best way to get the most interest on the single day, thus getting the most interaction with Partners, but having the registration open the whole time would potentially get more total registrations, but less on the actual fair day.)