Public relations and marketing within the education sector rely on cultivating and managing relationships with prospective and current students and alumni. The use of social media campaigns has become an essential tool to help universities recruit students and manage these complex relationships.
Here are some social media campaigns by universities that helped them stand out from the rest:

People talking on steps at University campus

1. Leeds Beckett University: 100 days to go Freshers Countdown

Our friendly local, Leeds Beckett University, recognised that they could provide more information from the point of offer accepted to enrolment. The initial stages of university life; moving in, knowing where to eat and shop, making friends, are perceived as a stressful stage for Freshers.
The University decided to launch the “100 days to go Freshers Countdown” campaign where they provided advice to new students on unique activities they could do on each of the 100 consecutive days leading up to Fresher’s Week.
Not only did they provide new applicants with valuable tips and reassuring messages, but they were also able to promote their own platforms and services to local and international students acquiring quite a global reach.
Leeds Beckett University’s campaign built the University a good reputation as the campaign exhibited the main objective of any university which is to put students’ needs first and had accounted for 9,785 new page views.

A group of students sat together recording a podcast

2. University of Salford: “Match made in Salford”

Clearing can be a stressful time for students. The University of Salford seized this opportunity and sought to alleviate the stress by taking inspiration from Tinder, the hugley popular dating app that allows users to search for would-be partners in their immediate vicinity and put a twist to it to cater it to help students find “the course of their dreams”.
The app suggested courses to users based on their grades, interest life and subject area.
Users were able to swipe left or right when the course appeared, which enabled them to narrow down their choices and resulted in them in discovering the right course to give them the best chance of a great start at a career.
The University of Salford did not only win awards for this creative campaign, but they were able to increase their website engagement by over 250% and gained an increase in offers through clearing by 28% with registrations for 2015 increased by 13%.
Watch the video here.

3. University of Salford: #Salfie Campaign

The #Salfie Campaign was based around Polaroid-style frames hanging around the university campus. Heart templates were even included in the student welcome packs to make participation easy. Salford students were encouraged to take a selfie with the frames and post it on their social media platforms using the hashtag #Salfie where they would automatically be entered in a contest for best photo. The campaign expanded the university’s brand and boosted awareness with their engagement with students.

4. University of Sheffield: #WeAreInternational campaign

The #WeAreInternational campaign aimed to highlight the crucial value of international students to the UK. Students were encouraged to spot the #WeAreInternational posters and banners across the campus and post their pictures on social media where it would be added to a collage that would visually represent the breadth of the university’s international diverse community.
Since the EU Referendum and feelings of xenophobia rising in both the media and political sphere, the campaign gained good coverage in social media about the University of Sheffield embracing inclusivity and diversity.
In a survey conducted by the QS Enrolment Solutions, 67,000 prospective international students- 28,020 of who were considering studying in the UK- 82 per cent said that the #WeAreInternational positively influenced their perceptions of studying in the UK.

5. Loughborough University: #LboroughOpenDay Snapchat Geofilters

Loughborough University decided to use Geofilters on Snapchat during its Open Day. This campaign was very effective as it allowed students to put an overlay design of Loughborough university on their snap and upload it onto the University’s snap story along with the hashtag #LboroughOpenDay for anyone to view.
The use of snapchat filter allowed Loughborough university to encourage current and prospective students to share their experiences and insights into different aspects of campus life in a fun and efficient way. This way the students themselves, collectively created the content that were shared widely online, targeting the exact audience.

6. University of Hull: #MyPlasticPledge

In order of World Oceans Day, a time when individuals around the world come together to foster a better future for our oceans, the University of Hull seized the opportunity to launch the #MyPlasticPledge campaign where they asked students to pledge their efforts in reducing the amount of plastic wastage in a video.
Students, staff, graduates, business and research partners, along with members of the public can pledge to say no to using plastic straws and cups and instead use other alternatives such as reusable coffee cups and metal straws. They were also invited to share their pledge using the hashtag, #MyPlasticPledge in order to get others on board. The campaign video was successful in spreading awareness to helping the environment that the University no longer sells plastic bottles in its Art Café, located in Middleton Hall.

7. Anglia Ruskin University: Plan ARU campaign

The Plan ARU campaign was created to give reassurance to those students who choose to change their plans through clearing. The campaign aimed to demystify the clearing process and position to Anglia Ruskin University as a first-choice option for prospective students. The video generated over 4,500 enquiries from students in the clearing stage.
Anglia Ruskin University – Plan ARU from The Progress Film Company on Vimeo.
Universities and colleges should be working harder than ever to create well planned social media campaigns to help build a solid and reputable name. But most importantly Universities should be looking to acquire prospective students through better and clever brand awareness campaigns that get the students engaged. To find out more about how we’ve helped Universities use social media strategy and other companies in the education sector create innovative campaigns visit our page dedicated to education.

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About Sinead Morrissey