Influencers driving force for Baylor’s future

Social Media Influencers Brooklyn and Bailey McKnight signed onto a sponsorship deal with Baylor over three years ago. The pair is just one of the avenues the university is using to reach a younger audience. Lariat File Photo.

By Vivian Roach | Staff Writer

Paid partnerships with social media influencers help businesses capture a broader audience. Baylor entered in a partnership with YouTubers Brooklyn and Bailey three years ago, hoping to capture their young audience as the next generation of college students.

Vice President for Marketing and Communications Jason Cook said it isn’t uncommon for student workers to be ambassadors for the school. Students normally will work as tour guides or post pictures of campus on their social media accounts.

But the school’s relationship with Brooklyn and Bailey is different because of the size of their audience — 5.7 million followers on Instagram and 6.9 million YouTube subscribers. They can introduce Baylor to a new audience demographic, with their authentic experience at school here, Cook said.

“Gen Z needs to really see themselves through others. Brooklyn and Bailey as Baylor students provide glimpses into college life each and every week,” Cook said. “It’s the daily experiences and interactions that you just don’t get in a recruitment postcard or college brochure.”

Taylor Beard, social media specialist for Baylor, said Cook did due diligence before the agreement to make sure the YouTubers shared common values of the school.

“He really felt strongly that they were really good, talented girls with heads on their shoulders who care about going to business school and have great values,” Beard said. “He felt like their overall presence overlapped and aligned with Baylor’s.”

Beard said their platform presence continues to coordinate with the school’s mission and values. After all, they can’t tell them how to do their business outside of the paid posts they work on together as part of the partnership, she said.

“They’re true fans of Baylor,” Beard said. “They really love it here. So it’s been a really easy and organic partnership because they’re just honestly sharing their experience and their experience has been really positive.”

As for other partnerships in the future, Beard said there is no one on her radar, but she likes the idea of someone different, like a young male with a strong following.

“As a marketer, I think that influencers are really the current best way to reach young people, there’s just no doubt about it,” she said.

This current best way to reach young people Cook said is still new in higher education. He said Baylor is lucky to have the opportunity to embrace influencer marketing with Brooklyn and Bailey, something other schools are have yet to try.

“We’ve always said here at Baylor that we want to stand out in the sea of sameness,” he said.