If you’re a higher-ed marketer you’re probably used to the ongoing competition for quality applicants, and now you’re also competing for their attention online. After all, to reach your audience you have to meet them where they are, right? Here are the top social media networks higher education marketers should use to communicate and engage with students throughout their journey from prospect to alumni.
LinkedIn may seem like nothing more than a place to jump-start your job search, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. It can be a great place to reach alumni and prospective students, especially prospective graduate students. With company and university pages now merged into one streamlined presence, making LinkedIn part of your University’s social media strategy just got a little easier. People who list themselves as a student or alumni in their profile are automatically subscribed to your updates, so make sure you’re posting content at least a couple times a week to keep them engaged. As a living, breathing online resume for your prospective students, LinkedIn has some of the most effective paid targeting features you’ll find on social. Consider experimenting with these to expand your reach even further.
Nowadays institutions are almost expected to have a Facebook page as much as they’re expected to have a website. If you don’t have a presence here, students will notice and may even penalize you for it during their college search. Facebook can be a great place to reach a diverse and widespread audience including parents, students, and alumni. Add paid social to your content mix to grow your following and support your organic efforts, post updates on a consistent basis, and experiment with Facebook LIVE, and 360 video tours of campus.
Twitter is the place to share shorter (140-characters), more frequent updates with a wide range of people across your key audiences from students to faculty to external stakeholders. But beware of becoming an RSS feed of updates. People connect with people more than they connect with brands so remember to sound human. Consider leveraging a trusted group of students and admissions representatives to act as “online tour guides,” use branded university and event hashtags (graduation, accepted students day, etc.) to help spark conversations and live tweet large events to share insights in real-time.
A platform that has focused on the power of visual content since it’s inception, the Facebook-owned Instagram can be a great way to showcase a “slice of life” on campus and tell your student story. Carry over those hashtags we talked about using on Twitter. Invite students to participate by tagging their photos using a designated hashtag and reward them for their efforts. Include reposted student photos into your content mix and host contests to incentivize them to capture even more images of daily campus life and events like open houses and graduation.
This one’s a little trickier to track, but don’t let that scare you away! Undergraduate and prospective students are actively using Snapchat. In fact, 45% of all Snapchat users in the US are between 18 and 24. Most Universities have a “Campus Story” where students can submit their photos to be featured in a real-time stream of life on campus. Make the most of yours! Participate yourself or invite students to add snaps during campus events. Develop campus-specific or school-specific geofilters (location stickers students and visitors can place on their snaps) or allow student ambassadors to “takeover” for a day and share a look into a typical day on campus.
Whatever Comes Next!
The social media landscape is changing and evolving every day and you can bet that prospective students, especially undergrads will be on the forefront of that change. Don’t discount something just because it’s new and different, but don’t jump on the social bandwagon every time a new trend emerges either.
Put some thought into it and really consider how a new presence would fit into your overall social media marketing strategy. Questions? Ask us: email@example.com