Of all the environments positioned to experience a digital transformation, today’s college campus has to lead the way. Whether you’re on the campus of a major university, community college, private institution or technical institute, today’s students, faculty, staff and visitors are bringing with them the latest devices and set of tech savvy skills. They know the information they want, how they want to receive it and with whom they want to share it. The question is how are you going to deliver, manage and provide access to that information? A campus digital signage network is a great way to augment a communication strategy in an environment that brings all the facets of daily life into a single tight knit community that is often times as large as a town or small city.
New students or visitors can benefit from wayfinding applications to greet, welcome and provide directions. Signage can be used to display timely, relevant messaging regarding campus events while also promoting a safe, informed community. The stadiums and arenas can become a more immersive experience for players and spectators, the common areas or student unions can publish news and announcements, and food service areas can deploy digital menu boards.
There is seemingly no end to the potential digital signage applications for higher education. With all these applications, however, comes ownership. Who is going to take the lead? How do you standardize your digital signage program? Below are a few best practices for those tasked with implementing and investing in a digital signage network.
Develop a Strategic Plan
What is your campus strategy for digital signage? Is it general messaging to your many diverse itinerant audiences? Is it a targeted marketing message to an individual college or department within the university? Do you want to honor certain individuals or a group of donors? Start off with a specific type of deployment, maybe one or two digital signs, and get that initial experience under your belt before you try to grow too fast.
Know Your Audience Your audience is an itinerant audience the vast majority of the time. Are they students? Are they faculty? Are they staff? Are they a building visitor? They intercept your message, maybe multiple times a day or in the week, and only consume that message for a few seconds (usually 4-8 seconds) as they move from Point A to Point B in your building. Make your content grab their attention. Short and concise messages are critical to raise awareness of an event or where they can get more information. Let the design of the content (or 10-20 second video) tell the story and let it drive them to a destination to get more information.
Know Your Message
Identify who will create your content or how you will access content. You will be surprised that there is a lot of content available to you within your own college or department from other content designers who are doing design projects already. The message is the goal. Often information that is being designed for your own websites, campus news, campus calendar of events can become content that reinforces the overall campus or college message. As they create their own design elements for other projects, they can often repurpose those elements for your digital signage.
Keep Those Messages Tidy
Unless your digital sign is a Wall of Honor or Donor Recognition Wall, your audience is going to be itinerant. They will not camp out in front of a screen like it is a television show. Design the message to be consumed in about 4-8 seconds as they pass by. If the content message is well designed, they will see it and absorb it. You have raised their awareness to the message. Make sure there is a call to action in that message.
Identify the Stakeholders
Target decision makers. These select decision makers will quickly see the high value of having a concise and targeted message pushed to the people they value most in their communication efforts., and they will become repeat customers for more digital signage in the future. The best people to buy in will be college Deans, department heads and office managers. They have lots of information they want to disseminate to their students, their faculty and staff.
Develop a Reliable Vendor Relationship
When it comes to the time to research and purchase software to run your network, hardware, mounting solutions and displays, find a vendor you can trust. A quality vendor will listen to what your digital signage deployment needs are, will offer reasonable solutions, work within your project budgets and be there for you at every step. Try to work with the same vendor once you are satisfied with their performance. Explain your expectations to them and they will serve you well for years to come. When the next project comes up you will know who you can confidently call to make things happen on time and on budget.
Campus Digital Signage Summary
College campus are sprawling, vast spaces with many buildings and departments, serving thousands of people on a daily basis. Incorporating a campus digital signage strategy is one way to deliver personalized and updated information to students, faculty, staff and visitors. Click here to learn more.