Learn the impact higher education influencers can have on your higher ed marketing strategy.
Back-to-school season is upon us and for higher-ed marketers that means peak recruitment is underway. Application deadlines are looming and soon students will be waiting in anticipation of those decision letters. But before that happens they have to like your institution enough to click that submit button.
This takes time, research, and conversations with trusted sources (online and off). Remember those student personas you developed? This is where knowing who influences their decisions comes in handy. And no we’re not talking about the Kardashians. Some of the best micro-influencers for your university can be found right on the quad. After all, these are the people who are able to give an authentic glimpse into life on campus.
As Part #2 of our 4-part Back-to-School series for higher ed marketers, we’ve outlined some of the top higher education influencers to have on your team this season.
One of the best groups of higher education influencers to work with? Your current students. After all, who knows what’s it like to be a student at your university better than they do? Plus, more often than not they’re already active on the same platforms as your prospects.
Peer-to-peer interactions can often be seen as more trustworthy than communications from a brand (yes, even in higher-ed). Encourage students to participate in the conversation around your school and consider recruiting a group of “student ambassadors” to serve as online tour guides and share their authentic stories through blogs, social media, email and more. Why did they choose your college or university over others they considered? What’s their day-to-day like? What activities are they involved in outside the classroom? Give them the keys to the social media kingdom (with guidelines of course) and invite them to take over your Instagram or Snapchat presence for the day and build relationships with prospects through their own social properties.
Put a face on the department reviewing those applications. Whether it’s undergrad or graduate prospects you’re after, your admissions team can offer applicants key insights on what it really takes to get in. Make sure they’re readily accessible to prospects who may have questions and consider hosting live chats on Twitter, or using live video and Ask Me Anything’s (or AMAs as the kids would say) so folks can chat and get answers to any burning questions they may have about your school.
Whether prospective students know them personally or not, your alumni can be another valuable source in your search for higher education influencers. These folks are a great source of information for many prospective students who may be considering your institution. What comes after graduation? And how did your institution help them get there? From alumni profiles to testimonials about the impact education has had on their careers, hearing about and from these folks can help prospective students glimpse the possibilities that lie ahead. Share their success stories digitally on your blog, through email, webinars, and across your social media platforms. Invite key alumni to connect in person through alumni interviews and networking opportunities so students have an idea of who they can be with your institution’s help.
Faculty research and achievements can be a key differentiator for students. Maybe a prospective English undergrad looks up to an author who teaches at your institution. Or a future MBA student dreams of being the professor who heads up a Fortune 500 company. University faculty who are notable in their respective fields aren’t just an asset to your institution after students enroll, they serve as on-campus influencers before students make that big decision. When prospective students know and admire your faculty, your recruitment efforts triumph. Ask faculty members to host webinars and workshops targeting prospects. And create content that highlights the achievements of professors to share across your digital presence.
No matter which student personas your higher education institution is seeking, working with higher education influencers will be helpful in telling your school’s story. Now that you know who they are, and where to find them start having conversations with them and see how you can work together to help guide prospective students along the journey to application.
Have you had success working with higher education influencers? Tell us about it in the comments.
Kaitlyn is the Manager, Social Media at RDW and an all-weather beach enthusiast. When she’s not creating integrated social media strategies or launching campaigns, you can find her traveling and looking for the best local eats, hopefully at the same time.