What engages a youth audience? Ask them for yourselves!

What engages a youth audience? Ask them for yourselves!

Social media guru, Editor of The Native, Podcast presenter and frontman of Kenilworth’s best heavy metal band, Dave Musson, has charmed Natives event attendees since 2016 with his stories of social media fails and fantastic use of gifs.

Of course, no Annual Summit of Digital Innovation in Education would be complete without a session from everyone’s favourite speaker – but this year he’ll bringing something very special to the stage… a panel of real students, in the flesh, for you to grill, in a special LIVE edition of The Native Podcast.

We caught up with Dave ahead of the summit to find out a bit more about his session, so you can start lining up your questions.

Hey Dave, must feel weird being on the receiving end of an interview since you spend your days grilling other people on The Native. Who has been your favourite interviewee so far?

Ha! Yes, it’s certainly different giving the answers instead of asking the questions! And what a first question too – immediately wanting me to sort through my array of wonderful interview subjects and pick one out as being better than the rest, thereby making one friend and losing loads more. 

I know this sounds incredibly cliched, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every interview and guest post we’ve ran on The Native so far – they’re all winners. However, if you’re forcing me to at least try and choose, I will say that The Native Podcast has given me the most pleasure so far. Again, every episode has been great, but the ones that I would probably tell a newcomer to the show to check out first would be either my conversation with cultural anthropologist Rob Scotland about how to work with influencers or my chat with Periscope celebrity Amrit Singh about what it’s like being a big name in the livestreaming world.

Oh, and not forgetting my interview with Matt Nelson, the man behind We Rate Dogs – that one was h*cking great, 15/10, would listen to again.

As the editor of a content hub aimed at student brands, you must get all the goss from the marketing movers and shakers in the education sector… whatchya got for us?

Now, that would be telling! Instead of spreading gossip, how about I hit you with a cold, hard fact? The education sector is full of brilliant marketers doing brilliant stuff that is quietly building a brilliant community that shares ideas and supports each other; they’re creative, inspirational and all kinds of awesome…it’s my job to shout about as many of them as I can on The Native!

What do you think is the stand out digital innovation for education marketers to embrace this year?

Call me naive, or old-fashioned, or just plain dull, but I’m less bothered about seeing institutions playing with new tools than I am about them creating really great content that their audiences will love and that will add value to their day. It’s something I spoke about in my ASDIE session last year and it still holds true – especially as more and more of the online world is controlled by algorithms. Those algorithms are designed to serve content that is relevant, interesting and entertaining, so that’s the blueprint marketers should be following in their content plans.

Aside from that, I believe there is huge opportunity for the education sector to really get its teeth into the world of podcasting. Audio continues to to grow with the rise of smart speakers, better car connectivity and a load of people wanting something to great to listen to on their commute so they block out the world and forget that they’re on the way to work again. Universities in particular have so much great content at their fingertips they could be all be incredible podcasters, but very few have taken the leap. Just look at how the University of Liverpool approaches the medium – it’s marvellous.

What’s the best campaign you’ve seen from a youth brand recently?

I’m a big fan of Adidas’ approach to dark social through their Tango Squad – an actual squad of talented young footballers around the world who get access to swag, events and loads of other cool stuff that they then tell their mates about on Messenger, WhatsApp and the like. A really clever way of getting into a space that is difficult to get into and a cracking way of building brand loyalty.

What about from an institution?

That’s easy to answer; I LOVED the work Oxford Brookes did on social media last A-level results day. They made a personalised welcome video for every single student that tweeted they were heading to Brookes. Such a simple idea, but very hard work and really well executed. I was lucky enough to get one of the brains behind it to write a case study for The Native, it’s well worth a read.

What’s the worst campaign targeting the youth audience you’ve seen recently?

Can we talk about avocados? Or, more importantly, can we just let avocados be fruit? Thanks to the media’s obsession with the fact that some young people are quite partial to an avocado we’ve now reached the point where we have to suffer brands forcing them on us. No, ASDA, you really don’t need to sell avocados that are ‘perfect for proposals’ while the less said about Virgin Trains’ *hilarious* idea to offer cheaper tickets for young people travelling with an avocado, the better. How about just reducing your prices and making them less confusing?

In your opinion, what are the top three holy grail tactics to engage millennials/gen z?

Be authentic – young people’s filter is highly tuned.

Be responsive – if you’re on social media and you’re not prepared to respond to incoming messages, and respond quickly, then you shouldn’t bother. Social media for customer service is a huge thing and will soon become something people simply expect from brands and organisations – if they don’t already.

Have a conscience – guess what? Young people actually care about what your brand does, what it stands for and how it behaves. If your brand fails to have ethics, they’ll vote with their feet and go elsewhere. However, if you’re genuinely good people, you’ll earn fans for life.

What common mistake do you see with brands trying, and failing, to resonate with the youth audience?

Not doing all those things from the last question and generally being this gif:


Also, avocados.

So, tell us more about your session at #ASDIE18 – your very exciting LIVE episode of The Native Podcast.

Well, it’s going to be great I can tell you that. I’ll be working in conjunction with colleagues at Student Hut to pick a panel of current students from around the UK. Why are we doing this? So they can answer the questions of me and, more importantly, everyone else in the room!

We’ll have roving mics for anyone who wants to ask their question there and then, and, if you’re a bit shy, you’ll be able to pose questions on Twitter during the event. Not only that, if you’re really shy, you can submit your questions in advance (via this form), and I’ll pick out a few to ask during the session.

What kind of questions should we ask?

Whatever you like! You might want to know what social networks the panel are using – or, more interestingly, which ones they’re leaving behind. You might want insight into which brands and celebs are really capturing the panel’s attention and imagination or, more practically, you might want to know what you can do, as University communicators, to actually cut through and do something that resonates.

And, even better, you can really focus on what’s being said and not worry about taking notes as we’ll be recording the whole thing and putting it out as a special, live, episode of The Native Podcast the Monday after ASDIE. Perfect!

Most importantly, will there be gifs?

Well, not sure how to break this you…the session won’t have any slides so, erm, no, there won’t be any gifs. However, I’m sure I’ll be tweeting the odd gif or two during the event itself!

Finally, if you could only pick one:

Snapchat or insta-stories? Instagram – much as I hate how they just copied Snapchat’s idea, you have to admit they’ve done it better and their app is so much easier to use.

Content to entertain or inform? A blend of both

Podcast or video? Podcast, obvs – I’ve often been told I have a face for radio.

Got a burning question for Dave and his army of students? Tickets for #ASDIE18 are selling fast so if you want to be there, order yours now!