Learn strategies to enlist the help of social media for higher education marketing throughout the student journey.
By now you’ve likely heard that social media is a necessary part of the marketing mix. You may have even experienced some ways it has positively impacted your institution. After all, the average university posts to social media at least 8 times per week and has over 25,000 followers. But are you using it to its full capacity? Social media (both paid and organic) is one of the most impactful ways to support the student journey. Higher education prospects are using it throughout every stage in their decision making process.
Content, the Student Journey, and Social Media for Higher Education
At the very beginning of the process, prospective students are putting their best googling to work in order to learn more about your institution. While a quick search for “best engineering colleges” or “top universities in the northeast” might help them find you, you’ll likely need more than your website to help differentiate your institution. That’s where leveraging social media for higher education marketing can make a huge difference. Prospective students use Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat and more to learn all they can about the experience at your school. Studies show that a school’s social media presences are even linked to how students identify with the broader university community. Reviews from other students, commentary on posts, photography of campus, and videos you’ve shared are all things they’ll turn to when they’re evaluating their higher education options.
Once they’ve found you on social, you now have an opportunity to engage them. Creating content specific to each stage of your student journey is a necessary component to this. Utilize the diverse features of each platform to ensure your presence adds value at every turn. For example, Facebook live may be a great place to share answers to FAQs and allow for live commentary. Twitter may be ideal to live tweet elements of an on-campus event. Snapchat may be helpful in providing exclusive content to a smaller, more private network. Social listening and monitoring tools are also a great way to monitor conversation you might have otherwise missed. You’d be surprised how often prospective students are mentioning you without actually @mentioning you. These can be great opportunities for admissions team members to reach out to them directly.
Congratulations. You’ve made it to the consideration set. But how do you push prospective students through to making that final decision? Some of the most important attributes that get applicants to convert are people and the academic environment. Sharing content about faculty and alumni successes are great ways to help support your school’s proficiency in this area. As is the use of student ambassadors and other authentic storytelling. An always important thing to keep in mind is the format of the platforms you’re using. A piece of content from your online newspaper or magazine might be brimming with great information, but it may get overlooked on social. Consider repurposing your longer form media into more digestible content opportunities.
Welcome to ACME U! Thanks to all your social media handiwork, you’ve just admitted a new student. The hard part is over, but the work isn’t done yet. Two of the major contributing factors to student satisfaction are campus experiences and services. Social media can be a major tool to help support these experiences and turn current students into contributing alumni while also supporting your ranking. You can use your social platforms as a way to keep students informed of important deadlines, provide one-on-one feedback through direct messaging, and even provide them with tools to help them study, participate on on-campus events, and other important contributors to satisfaction.
There are many ways to support the student journey through social media strategy. Sharing tailored content that serves to add value is the best foundation to help you reach your goals, attract more applicants, and convert them to students.
Sarah Johnson is the Director of Digital Marketing Services with Incentric. She’s a recreational sports enthusiast and is driven by the opportunity to connect people through truly impactful digital strategies. You’ll know it’s her by her “irresistible” fake British accent and steady stream of quips.