It’s clear that social media is now crucial to the success of just about any politician, company, or organisation. Yet, how can a university leverage its social media marketing to increase visibility, improve admissions rates, bring in the best students, and engage its on-campus community?
As further and higher education specialists in social media marketing and content strategy, Prohibition PR has worked with universities throughout the country including: Sheffield Hallam, Northumbria, the University of Leeds, Wakefield College, and the University of Huddersfield, to help optimise their marketing strategies through clever social media and creative content marketing.
But how can you leverage social media and increase your marketing efforts at the same time? Here are some of the most effective ways Prohibition is assisting Universities in using social media and content marketing for student recruitment.
So How Can Social Media Help a University?
Student recruitment has been a consistent issue for higher-education organisations. In recent years, numerous elements have increased this pressure. However, social media can be a powerful tool in promoting your university and presenting its image to prospective students.
Social media can help to promote research and innovation at your institution. Top-tier research universities, like the red bricks, depend on drawing in the finest researchers to accelerate their advancements in innovation. While scholarly journals and guest lecturers do an unbelievable task of reaching audiences, their reach is, by and large, restricted to an individual’s access to and awareness of such materials. Social media enables wider audiences to become much more involved through sharing updates, news and clips of such events – preventing anyone from missing out whilst promoting the university as a prestigious learning establishment.
Setting up an effective communications system through social media can help to make your job easier. Whether you’re on the team that’s supervising all of the university’s efforts or you’re running a single department’s accounts, you require having an effective communications system in place. How do you learn about occasions that are occurring around your campus? In a time of crisis, how will the campus community access the most important information? How do you share that somebody in your department won an award or published a crucial finding? Promoting events via social media will increase awareness and an online presence whilst official statements released by the university will aid in preventing speculation and misinformation flowing onto channels the university cannot manage.
Additionally, some universities are using department-focused social media pages to get the word out about the news for that particular department. Creating audience specific spaces rather than posting everything to one main channel will reduce clutter on your feeds and help to create focussed and easy access to information. Whilst this can work well, you do require tailoring content to suit your student audience as well as making sure you have enough routine material to keep your students engaged.
Universities are Teaching Social Media Courses but not Embracing it Themselves
Social media has become such a vital part of every-day life that universities have begun to implement social media courses across a variety of programs – from communications to marketing through to to business management. While universities are fast to teach the various benefits of social media, they tend to be a bit slower in implementing it into their own marketing system as they have yet to utilise it in a manner that can bring them the social media success comparable to huge brands such as Virgin, Intel, and Nordstrom.
How universities use social media for marketing
One of the core objectives in marketing your university is to create a genuine community and distribute relevant information to your current and prospective students. Social media is a tool being greatly leveraged by universities to produce this interest and attract new applicants. Universities doing this most effectively all have a common style running through their social interactions – a focus on history and tradition are usually key selling points.
You can utilise your institutions social media channels to share your university’s distinct culture and history, and include current students in the production of your story, by motivating trainee produced posts and great interaction. Sharing a culture and a sense of tradition makes students feel included and will motivate them to share your social posts with family and friends in their own social networks, as a proud attendee of your institution – and much of the power in social media exists in sharing great material.
Creating a social media strategy for higher education
Social media has opened new doors for communication through establishing platforms to disseminate news and to improve communications with a wide range of audiences. It has developed to be distributed through social interaction and encourages conversation between users and organisations, offering a channel for the university to interact with their consumers directly. This provide you and your team a huge opportunity.
It is not easy to create a stunning social media presence that communicates genuine professionalism but also actively engages with numerous audience. As a higher education facility, your social media feeds, and content marketing must communicate to present students, potential customers, worried parents, new researchers, reporters, fellow institutions, alumni, and not forgetting the general public.
On the management end, many higher education organisations have a social media team in location that supervises the institutions dominant networks. They might even share control of department accounts. Having a system where multiple users can connect and the very same material can be published to various accounts can be extremely useful for cutting out complexity in communication and approval time.
Which Platforms Can Prove Effective for Higher Education Marketing Teams?
It’s clear that social media plays a large part in people’s lives today in the United Kingdom, and that influence extends to their research for schools and colleges. By nature, higher education social media is hugely complex. But you can manage the turmoil by organising your content distribution carefully. Undoubtedly, you are going to wish to take advantage of any budget you put towards promoting your finest social media posts, so it is necessary to carefully consider which channels deserve investing in most for your own university. Who knows this might even include Snapchat or Tik Tok.
It’s important not to push your engaged audience into one, monstrous social media page. This can be avoided by creating interest-based, page-associated groups. A great example of using social media to connect with student’s administration staff members and current students is by answering killer questions on the interview process via a Google Hangout or through a Facebook Live. Additionally, creating Facebook groups will ensure whatever you post there will get published to all the members of the group. Since communication in groups isn’t throttled by Facebook’s ever-changing algorithm, which used to be called Edge Rank, you can easily get in touch with those you wish to reach.
Choosing how to distribute content across channels can be challenging, but a real-time presence can be extremely powerful. Using Instagram Stories or Snapchat Stories for authentic sharing is an outstanding way of linking to a more youthful audience whilst the capability to react via personal messaging keeps communications much more individual and personalised. Consumers love content that is personalised and students are no different.
Consider integrating higher-impact platforms. YouTube is frequently ignored in social media for universities but why is this? Video material communicates a lot more than a twitter feed and is far more interesting, and a number of the most successful organisations on social media include a video link right at the top of their profile. Video content can reach an audience that is more intently focused on exploring universities, instead of delicately keeping track of a feed. In short, Video offers a window inside your University – so you defintely need to be making the most of it.
Content is still key for marketers in Universities
Universities should offer a range of content to make sure they have covered all of their audience interests. Variety will help make your message stand out and a range of different pages for specific areas of study is an excellent way of constructing relationships with students, but it is essential to do so across a variety of fields. The main social accounts of a college or university will have a fine even mix of department news, student information, alumni engagement, recruitment and of course sports. It will likely have the most followers of any of the other accounts, but this will only work if content is specifically tailored to your necessary audience.
Specialists frequently suggest striking a balance between autonomy and uniqueness with centralised control over messaging through a properly designed comprehensive social media policy. If you don’t have one, please drop us a line as Prohibition can help you develop that. Without any overarching standards about the image the university wants to portray, an institution’s social media presence can appear chaotic and even schizophrenic. Social media can feel time consuming, however when you can create a content calendar and schedule your posts, you maximise the everyday grind of wondering what to publish on your channels.
It is vital to build up momentum around your campaign and, therefore, it is equally important that educational organisations engage with their audience to strengthen their function as serving for their student needs. Clever stunning teasers around big events or countdown tweets can be very effective here. Branded graphics such as 3d images and animated Gifs are fantastic ways to engage trainees as well.
For social media marketing to work for your University, it requires having an audience. How will prospective students and existing professors learn where you are on social media? Make your channels extremely easy to discover through creating a social media directory and resources for anybody to follow and find. If in doubt create a social media newsroom.
Maximising your Universities’ social media presence
Responsiveness is key to a successful social media presence. No one likes to feel disregarded, and trying to exist and remain present on a platform created around constant, busy updates, posts and tweets can feel like a cry in the wilderness.
When a potential student reaches out to engage, getting a prompt reaction can make a huge difference in breaking down the impersonal feel that numerous universities struggle with. It’s typically recommended that a social media cleaning team be designated to deal with questions and other interactions.
Online Influencers, the buzz word of 2018, are those students, professors and alumni who have a substantial following on social media. Attempt to identify these individuals in your schools or faculties and leveraging the power of the influencers by asking them to publish your material on their feeds and social media groups but do so by asking their opinion. Don’t be too prescriptive as this is where many educational campaigns go wrong. You need the influencers to feel like they are part of the campaign – not just a conduit to communication.
This may seem apparent, but it’s important to bear in mind that your institution’s formal image does not translate easily over social media channels. Social media is often utilised for entertainment, and your profile is just one among hundreds in your followers’ feeds. If you want people to tune in to your most important messages, you have to engage them regularly to keep them paying attention. Remember social media is two way – so people expect two-way communication. It’s also important to remember that social media platforms can be selective about what they reveal to which users, making it vital to deliver content which appeals to your audience through keeping it fun and interesting.
Creating Student-Based Accounts
Your in-house social media team can only do so much content creation – we are all time poor. Why not turn over the virtual reins to student ambassadors for takeovers? Student ambassador programs operate much like an influencer marketing program would.
Reach your current and potential students by developing accounts that are for students and by students. Rather than blatantly posting to social media, use present students to inform their stories for you by creating student-based accounts. You can ramp up your influencer marketing strategy by creating social media accounts that are only to be run by trainees.
Why Should Your School Promote Social Media Posts?
Setting Budgets and Run Times for Your Schools Paid Posts
Anyone that manages a social media presence for an educational institution or brand knows that natural reach has been on the decrease for a long time. If you haven’t begun to assign your marketing budget toward paid social media yet, it’s time to start.
Normally speaking, promoted social post options must be well within the budget of a lot of experts handling social media marketing in higher education. If you use paid social in a strategic way you will get a great deal of reach from a relatively little investment. The platform itself will typically recommend an amount to spend over a time period and offer you a quote of just how much visibility to expect. But you can always do better by creating several versions of your adverts and split testing them to find the best one with the most effective return on investment.
The Stars of University Social Media
The future of higher education isn’t always clear, but take our word for it Technology and social media will play an essential function in the way your higher education institution is viewed by others. Today in 2019, the savviest universities are using social media platforms to reach students at every stage of their academic journey: from applications, to enrolment, to graduation. Far beyond simply sharing campus photos or university events (though these practices feature plainly on many university pages), modern-day colleges and universities have learned from other industries about the power of branding and digital marketing, using social media to attract students and keep them engaged throughout the course of their education and beyond.
If you want to improve your college or Universities capability for recruiting prospective students, please call Prohibition PR for a free no obligation quote on how we can help you improve your recruitment rate.