A 'hidden gem' in Northeast Ohio, Kent State University is a place of discovery, opportunity, and community. Prospective students are attracted to Kent State not only for its programming excellence and exceptional value, but for its genuine sense of place and the welcoming and inclusive atmosphere that spans its eight-campus system.
In the fall of 2015, to help drive campus visit registrations and ultimately boost applications, the University partnered with branding agency 160over90 to create an admissions campaign centered on the notion that Kent State is a place where prospective students can feel at home while also being challenged to find their own path and be their best selves.
To meet 17- and 18-year-olds on their own [virtual] turf, agency 160over90 developed a five-stage Instagram campaign, designed to encourage prospective students to build their own experience at Kent State.
An introductory graphic launches the campaign with a broad, bold question, 'How Do You See Yourself?' Then, in true choose-your-own-adventure style, at each subsequent stage participants are asked to select an option that will drive their 'Insta' journey and ultimately inform what kind of Golden Flash they are.
In total, the matrix of options represents 135 Instagram handles. A common hashtag — #SeeYouAtKSU — appears in each post, with a call-to-action to go to VisitKentState.com for more info.
Here's how it works:
First, participants are asked to choose (by tagging) Kent State-specific experiences that most pique their interest. Playing the Wagon Wheel game, or catching a dive-in movie. Traying on the campus lawn, or spray-painting the Rock. Grabbing a late-night snack at Rosie's, or opting for a morning espresso in Florence.
In the next stage, participants can select one of four attributes that best describes them: creator, explorer, builder, or problem solver.
Moving forward through the campaign, participants are presented with 12 iconic Kent State locations, each of which factor into the outcome mapping: University Libraries, Blackstone Launchpad, The Fashion Museum, Dix Stadium, Downtown Kent, the Rec Center, Fork in the Road, The Airport, and various Kent State campuses.
Finally, once an experience, character trait, and location have been picked, Instagrammers are greeted with a composite graphic that represents their journey. Results range from a 'Thrill-Seekin-Paper-Chasin' Early Bird' (indicative of Explorer, Blackstone Launchpad, and Morning Espresso selections) to a 'Creative Lake-Lovin' Night Owl' (Kent State code for Creative, Ashtabula, and Late Night Snack.) Participants are invited to 'See for Yourself' by tapping the link in the bio to VisitKentState.com.
Beyond soliciting "really cool" commentary from prospective students, the 'How Do You See Yourself' Instagram campaign – as one aspect of a larger admissions effort – yielded an 8 percent increase in applications for Fall 2016, as compared to Fall 2015. In the same time period, Kent State admissions rose nearly 20 percent.