The Yes for PSU campaign was motivated by a need to increase funding to better support its students and solve some major problems at the university. For example, at PSU, one in three students drops out due to the cost of tuition, there are extremely high student to advisor ratios (547:1) and over the past 20 years, the state has decreased its funding for PSU from covering 80% of the university’s expenses to just 20%, largely shifting the financial burden onto students. The measure aimed to provide scholarships for qualifying Metro-area students, add student advisors and attract quality professors. The measure proposed a tiny tax, 0.1% of local Metro-area businesses’ payroll, in order to cover these costs.
For this phase of the campaign, the objective was to raise awareness and expose as many targeted people as possible to the issue. We chose to use LinkedIn because of the platform’s user base. LinkedIn’s professional and academic network is unmatched and allowed us to target invested audiences and people who would be directly affected by this ballot measure (PSU students, employees and “group” members). Individuals in these audiences were more likely to be interested in the campaign and also support it – plus they were positioned within a platform with a strong “network effect” to increase the reach and impact of the campaigns message through 3rd party validators and influencers within their own networks.
To build our audiences, we utilized LinkedIn’s ability to target users that are PSU students, alumni, or employees, as well as users that belonged to certain PSU groups. This allowed us to expose individuals with an invested interest in PSU to our ads and the issue.
We created three separate campaigns using “Sponsored Updates” on LinkedIn:
- PSU students
- PSU employees
- PSU related groups such (as the official PSU Alumni Association group).
The one downside to LinkedIn’s targeting was our inability to target more specific geographic locations other than the Designated Market Area (DMA). We would have preferred to target on a more granular geographic level, including specific zips in the Portland Metro area that would have potentially voted on the measure.
The ad we promoted was a short pre-roll video that was meant to introduce the Portland-Metro community to the campaign and the issue and present basic facts.
Using LinkedIn to reach our target audience produced very successful results. Our ads had a click through rate of 1.53% (the average CTR for Sponsored Updates on LinkedIn is 0.30%). This much higher than average CTR can be attributed to the engaging quality of the video ad as well as our high quality targeting. In addition, video is an under-utilized advertising medium on LinkedIn. Since we are one of the very few using video, our ad really stuck out for people in their news feeds.
We also saw higher than average numbers of positive Social Engagement on the video (likes, comments, page follows) at a rate of 2.05%. Because of our target audiences’ direct ties to PSU, professionally or academically, our content fit in really well with what they were already seeing in their news feeds, driving positive engagement.
This campaign was a perfect match for a platform like LinkedIn, largely due to the types of audience segmenting available on LinkedIn. We recommend using LinkedIn for local university related campaigns because of its ability to target alumni groups and students. We also suggest that LinkedIn adjust its geographic targeting to incorporate more specific options like zip code entry.