PepsiCo's Innovative Campaign Engages Students on LinkedIn

February 26, 2015

It’s no surprise that students and recent graduates are the fastest growing and most engaged demographic on LinkedIn. And, this makes them an incredibly desirable audience for talent acquisition teams. But, let’s face it, engaging with students at scale isn’t as easy as pie.

Today’s students are hyper-connected and exposed to thousands of brand messages every day. Because of this, successful talent acquisition teams are increasingly turning to new marketing strategies to break through the noise.

PepsiCo, long viewed as a marketing leader, is one of the companies that's leading the charge. Recently, the company's talent acquisition team partnered with marketing and leveraged LinkedIn to launch a student contest called Meeting of the Minds. This innovative initiative offers students a chance to win a summer internship at the company’s Content Studio in New York City, as well as a face-to-face meeting with PepsiCo CMO, Frank Cooper III.

To enter the contest, students upload a short video pitching their ideas for linking a PepsiCo brand to an up-and-coming musician. Students are encouraged to be creative with their submissions: “Play it straight, or have some fun. Just make sure you find the best, most interesting way to bring your idea to life,” says Cooper.

How PepsiCo is reaching students at a massive scale

The program is engaging students near and far thanks to PepsiCo's promotional efforts, including a Showcase Page as the hub for Meeting of the Minds content on LinkedIn, various media solutions to drive submissions, and a custom microsite built with LinkedIn APIs. This multi-pronged approach is getting PepsiCo’s contest in front of students in an innovative way, wherever they are: across desktop, mobile, and tablets.

Chris Hoyt, Director of Global Talent Engagement & Marketing, explains: "Given our vision and objective, it just made sense to partner with LinkedIn. Meeting of the Minds gives creative students a chance to win an experience that will help them, regardless of where their career path may take them in the future. Any student with a video camera and interest in communications, marketing or creating and delivering video content should give this challenge some serious consideration.”

This true collaboration between PepsiCo’s marketing and talent acquisition teams is a best-in-class example of how companies can leverage internal, cross-functional partners to innovate. If your talent acquisition team and marketing team aren't meeting and communicating regularly, it's time to start. It may just spark your next big idea to engage talent.

Tips for engaging your student audience on LinkedIn

You don’t have to be PepsiCo to make concepts like this a reality. Whether your company is large or small, you can start by incorporating the following tips to build you talent brand with students on LinkedIn:

  1. Believe in content marketing. For talent acquisition, that means spreading your talent brand message through original or curated content. This includes video, photos, blog posts, testimonials, thought leadership and advice, etc. Make sure that your content is delivering actual value to your audience by asking yourself the question: "whats in it for the students? How is this information useful for them and no just promoting us?"
  2. Use a conversational and approachable tone. The fastest way to lose students’ attention is to sound stuffy and impersonal. Show your company's personality and write how you would talk. Don't be afraid to include some humor and fun if that's characteristic of your company culture.
  3. Make sure you're on mobile. If you’re not on mobile, you don’t exist. Students are 15% more likely to view LinkedIn on a mobile device. So, consider sponsoring your company status updates to reach students on phones and tablets.
  4. Pull in your peers from marketing, even if it’s just over lunch to talk strategy. Their ears will perk up when talent acquisition starts asking for advice on building a talent brand and you'll get some useful advice.

We’ve written quite a bit about both talent branding and student engagement strategies on LinkedIn, and Meeting of the Minds leverages almost every best practice we’ve shared. Check out our recently published eBook, Student Recruitment 2.0, for more case studies and best practices.

*Image from

Student Recruiting Ebook