The Illinois Professional Land Surveyors Association is a nonprofit organization representing the interests of the surveying profession in Illinois. Its mission includes the advancement of the land surveying profession by promoting high standards of practice and conduct, by upholding the Illinois Land Surveyors Act and by supporting and encouraging members through continuing education, professional association, and the use of current technology.
IPLSA is seeking to reduce the diminishing number of land surveyors. A key solution is attracting youth to a career in land surveying. IPLSA wanted to identify effective methods for reaching middle school and high school students to let them know about land surveying careers. Since preteens and pre-college teenagers are not IPLSA’s traditional audience, the organization pursued recommendations from .orgSource about the best way to reach their target.
“.orgSource deeply understands the environment in which associations work and is known for its innovative approach to solving problems,” says Kim Robinson, executive director of IPLSA. “When planning campaigns like this one, it really helps to have a partner who gets it.”
In the winter of 2016-2017, .orgSource developed and implemented a social media strategy with three unified campaigns to achieve IPLSA’s goals of raising youth awareness and interest in land surveying as a career and influencing their decision to enroll in academic programs for professional land surveyors.
The campaigns focused primarily on Illinois students from middle school through high school. They also targeted IPLSA members as well with the goal of having them post videos and graphics from the campaigns on their personal social media accounts and share them with other parents, teachers and schools. Illinois educators—middle and high school teachers and school counselors—were another audience with the goal of having them share the videos with students to expose them to this career option.
“A Field of Dreams” Campaign
This campaign featured video interviews with four IPLSA member surveyors representing all the specialties of the field. These videos were the first to populate the new IPLSA YouTube channel, giving people a reason to go, and also was promoted on all other social media channels. The surveyors explain why they chose the field, how they use technology, how their work benefits communities and why others should choose the field. In addition to “meeting the surveyors,” the video provides information about how to get started in this career—courses to take in high school and college, types of summer jobs to secure, IPLSA online resources, and IPLSA’s free virtual career fair where students can connect with surveyors and educators.
“Shows & Surveyors” campaign
Several famous movies feature land surveyors portrayed by A-list actors (Brad Pitt and Harrison Ford). Videos and graphics were created with clips and images from Seven Years in Tibet and Raiders of the Lost Ark. The campaign answered two critical questions: “What is land surveying?” and “Is a career in land surveying right for me?” It also included calls to action to register for the virtual career fair and to follow IPLSA on social media.
“Legendary Land Surveyors” campaign
Three of America’s Founding Fathers are among notable land surveyors. Videos and graphics were created featuring Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln and their involvement in land surveying. The videos and graphics created interest by positioning historical figures and modern technology in the same campaign.
At the time of these campaigns, Snapchat and YouTube were very popular among youth. IPLSA also used Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to reach and engage allied organizations—4-H, the Illinois Geographic Information Systems, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts—whose social media efforts reach the same audience targeted by IPLSA. (Watch the YouTube videos and check out the campaigns’ graphics on IPLSA’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter channels.)
Increasing interest in land surveying careers is a long-term process requiring cultivation of youth beginning in middle school. While the social media campaigns can be measured by short-term goals related to the development of relevant content and activity on various platforms, the long-term objective is to increase enrollment in land surveying academic programs. IPLSA gained new and more followers or subscribers on all channels, and it will continue to evaluate the campaigns’ impact on enrollment in land surveying academic programs.
“We were very satisfied with the creativity around the video messaging,” Robinson says. “It was great for our members who engaged in the project. The members were delighted with the outcome and we are continuing to use the videos in a variety of ways. They’re engaging for those currently involved in the profession, and they do a great job of telling the story of land surveying to those who might become involved in the profession in the future.”