One of the easiest and most effective ways to engage with and influence students to attend your University is to be present and active across a variety of social media platforms. In recent years, social media platforms have become a tool heavily leveraged by universities in driving student recruitment.
If you want to appeal to prospective students you have to be active in places where they spend the majority of their time. For this reason, universities have increased their involvement across such networks to gain a dedicated community it can engage with on a one-to-one basis through expressing daily life, advice and further information. Here’s how social media can not only be useful for prospective students but can also help drive recruitment.
Provide students with information they need through social media
Designed to build connections, social media plays an important role in every student’s life and has become one of the most convenient methods to communicate and access information. Your university’s social media channels provide a simple method of contacting the university and receiving a fast response without having to go through the formalities and waiting period an email may result in.
Students turn to social media for information before they check their email accounts. Social media is a useful tool for addressing student questions and concerns as it allows your university to actively reach out to connect with students through monitoring mentions. Locations and the tagged name of your university being used across social media can be followed to help you to engage with ease and answer any queries. By also searching common phrases such as: ‘applications’, ‘university’ and ‘where to apply’ you may also be able to give guidance to prospective students who may not have previously considered your university but will view you as a reliable and respectable institution.
Share student testimonials from graduates to engage prospective students
Undoubtedly, the most reliable testimony of your university will be from those with experience there. Social media marketing provides a perfect setting to maintain students and alumni engagement — including after graduation. Other testimonials from present students and past alumni which place your university in a positive light will be more honest and trustworthy to others looking to attend. More and more universities are beginning to use social tools as a way to activate word-of-mouth marketing.
Word of mouth is also the ideal way to create campaigns around exciting events, such as sports, concerts, clubs, activities, special speakers and orienteering at your university campus. This documentation from students reflecting on their own experiences will encourage others to get involved and take part, helping you to build a strong student community. Additionally, including alumni testimonials following graduation will help validate your ‘brand’ without creating the atmosphere of being repeatedly sold to – helping to drive more traffic and students to your university.
Create engage content that sparks students interest
Keeping prospective students engaged with your content will be your biggest challenge but remains the most vital aspect in driving recruitment. Universities must use a variety of appropriate content to ensure they appeal to their consumer expectations. Guidelines for individual faculty departments are important for maintaining relationships with students, but it is vital to do so across a number of sectors. You may want to use news content, research, student life and upcoming events as well.
The real trick to engaging with your target audience is to understand exactly which social channels they are active on. With a variety of channels to choose from, research is necessary to understand where and how your audience interacts online. Every platform has its benefits and drawbacks, and acknowledging them will help to determine the appropriate channels for you. Remember, social media is key in displaying your university environment as a desirable institution to attend so ensure you establish appropriate guidelines which should be adhered to across all channels.
Make applications to your university easy via social media
Through utilising social media, prospective students are able to obtain an authentic view of a university which they would be unable to find on official university website. For this reason, universities often rely on personalised hashtags which can be used by students. For instance, at Oxford University, #Oxtweets encourages students to tweet about their daily life and experiences. Swansea University has developed the #SwanseaGrad hashtag that can help prospective students get an exclusive insight into the spirit of graduation. These forms of personalisation can help students to gain the information which encourages them to apply to your university.
Providing prospective students with the information they need through social platforms can, ultimately, help them to make their decision on which university they wish to attend. Including information on subjects that may feel daunting – including inquiries, applications, admissions and enrolment – can help to make applications simpler for prospective students. Keep in mind that social media is often the preferred method of communication between you and your next student cohort. Numerous students would prefer to communicate with you online, and most are more confident with social media than making a phone call.
If you’re looking for some advice and guidance about how you can improve your university’s social media strategy to help meet target audiences and create engaging content – don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.