Student Employees Can Ignite a Campus-Wide Passion for Rec and Wellness

From group exercise instructors to personal trainers, from sports officials to lifeguards, and everyone in between, it’s no secret that students who work in campus recreation are passionate about what they do. And the great news is that their enthusiasm is contagious! Thanks to social media, it’s easier than ever for student staff to share their love for all things campus rec and inspire their own social circles to get involved in your school’s programs.

When you collaborate with student employees on this intentional approach, you do more than build awareness about your facilities and programs; you create trusted brand ambassadors. A brand ambassador is someone who thinks so highly of a brand, product, or service that they willingly recommend it to others on your behalf. Achieving this kind of sincere devotion from customers is the holy grail of any marketing strategy.

Brand ambassadors are effective because they tap into a psychological phenomenon called social proof, which affirms that people are especially influenced by the actions of others.

While authors, including Robert Cialdini in his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, have explored the phenomenon in-depth, here’s a quick look at how to apply some of the basic tactics to leverage your student staff’s influence to grow your facilities and programs:

  1. Have the conversation. At your next staff meeting, remind your student employees that you’re in this together! Reinforce how important their voices are to everyone’s success. Then, encourage them to use their own channels to educate their peers about rec center activities they enjoy or participate in themselves.
  2. Emphasize the potential impact. It’s a misconception that to have influence on social media, you need to have thousands of followers. In truth, you only have to inspire one person to make a difference! This can be as easy as motivating a classmate to attend her first yoga class or to fill the extra spot on the flag football team.
  3. Take the pressure off. Thankfully, students don’t need to be experienced content creators to generate buzz on social media. They can start conversations simply by documenting small, everyday moments. For example, a sports official can post a quick clip from a tournament, or a group exercise instructor can share a playlist. Each touchpoint increases awareness.
  4. Teach them about personal branding. Every piece of content your staff publishes contributes to their own personal brands. Posting frequently and consistently can establish credibility and open doors within the campus recreation field and beyond.
  5. Have fun! Students who work at your recreation center are the ones who love it most. Their role as brand ambassadors should always stem from the authentic appreciation they have from their own experiences. This way, the content they share and the influence they impart is 100% genuine.

With a little encouragement, your student employees are the perfect partners to help market your centers, boost facility utilization, and increase program participation. And since they tend to affiliate with many organizations and groups, they’re sure to inspire future fitness lovers, intramural sports champions, outdoor adventurers, or cycling class regulars. Their willingness to share their experiences will create ripples across your department and have the potential to positively impact everyone!

Brianne Fleming began working in campus recreation as the marketing lead at the UCF Recreation and Wellness Center. She is currently a marketing instructor at the University of Florida and a brand consultant. Her blog highlights marketing lessons found in pop culture; follow along at

This article was published with permission from our partners at NIRSA — Leaders in Collegiate in Recreation. Read the original here.


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