Posters and mural share stories through smartphones
By Angela Espinoza, News Editor
Douglas College has taken a step forward in marketing by incorporating Near Field Communications (NFC) for a public social media project. NFC hotspots have been placed inside a number of bus shelter posters and a wall mural located at Vancouver City Centre SkyTrain station, all of which are promoting Douglas graduates and students by telling their stories. Passersby can interact with these hotspots by “tapping” their smart phones, which would then load a video about a specific student for users to view.
“NFC is an emerging technology that’s built into most new smartphones, like Android, Windows Phones, most BlackBerrys and it’s coming in the generation six iPhone,” says Douglas College’s marketing and communications director Dave Taylor. “It’s opened up some new possibilities for us to interact with prospective students and to tell stories about our students, so we thought, ‘Let’s give it a try and see how we can engage with people in a different way.’”
Taylor explained that NFCs work similarly to Bluetooth, able to connect to NFC-enabled phones and share information through radio frequencies.
“We wanted to make sure that we were reaching people who would be most interested in the technology,” says Taylor. The goal of the project is to easily engage prospective students with intriguing stories about Douglas College students. “We’ve put out a limited number of bus shelters largely clustered around high schools, as well as the SkyTrain station mural.
“The locations that we chose were designed to be near some of our prospective students. From our research, most high school students have smartphones, and an increasing number have Android and other devices that can use the NFC technology. We wanted to be able to connect our student stories together, plus people love new technology, so we wanted to give them something new to try.
“The wall mural downtown is large and features three of the student stories, and it’s available to a more diverse audience. There’s lots of foot traffic going by there, people going by on a daily basis and seeing these great images all the time at some point might tweak them to go, ‘You know, I want to find more about this story,’ and all they have to do is hold their phone, so it connects them to hear the whole story of the student. It’s a great way to engage people on the go.”
The students of focus for this NFC project are Douglas graduates Britt MacDuff (performing arts) and Sanjin Ramovic (psychiatric nursing), and current international studies student Anoop Virk.
“They [MacDuff, Ramovic, and Virk] were part of our most recent campaign that we’ve been working on. We want to tell the prospective students about some of the cool things that are going on at Douglas College and some of the great people that are here and what they’re doing. This is a great way to share those stories. So the folks that are a part of that campaign volunteered to do the videos that ended up being connected to the NFC chipboards and the mural.
“The technology enables us to go from one medium, which is a static mural, to a completely different medium, which is an electronic video on their phone, simply by tapping it. So it’s a great way to connect these great visuals of these students to the actual stories that they can tell in their own words.”
Taylor encourages current students and graduates to share their stories so that more enterprising projects can take place in the future. “We’re always looking to tell student stories. We want to share those stories with prospective students. We want to share them with the community because our students have done some really interesting things, we have some amazing people here, and we love sharing those stories.”