Should teachers use social media to connect with their students? Of course they should! K-12 teachers find Facebook groups really useful when they need to share information with parents and get feedback from them.
But there’s one aspect of social media that not all educators and institutions figured out: marketing. Social media marketing is essential for brands and individuals alike.
Higher education social media marketing, in particular, can attract some of the best students towards the institution you represent. There’s immense competition between universities. They all want to present themselves as schools offering the best value for a student’s money. We’re talking about thousands of dollars per student, per year. To attract that money, a university has to promote itself.
High-school seniors have an important decision to make: what college will they attend? This is a life-changing move. The school they choose sets the direction for their future, so they don’t take the decision lightly.
First, they will check the official websites of various schools. They will look for information on the programs, tuition fees, living expenses, campus lifestyle, extracurricular opportunities, and more. They will also search for information on online forums, such as Reddit and Quora.
They will ask about the professors at different schools. If a professor has reputation of assigning impossible term paper topics, that factor may influence their decision. It seems ridiculous, but any piece of information the students get is important at this stage. If the college is known for challenging academic assignments, it means that the student would have to get reliable assignment help. That imposes additional expenses.
But online forums are not the only place where students will search for information.
This is when social media gets into the picture.
It’s safe to say that almost all high-school seniors use social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest… you name the platform, they are already using it. The details they find there may have a major impact on the choice of a college they make.
The marketing team of a college has a specific goal: to attract as many applicants as possible. That makes the institution more competitive and boosts its reputation. Plus, more applicants = more great students to accept.
Campaigning on social media is not the same thing as random daily posting. The college needs better Instagram, Facebook and Twitter marketing that shows how important education is in the first place. The social media pages should inspire students to learn. The team should inform its audience about the successful careers of its alumni.
When high-school seniors see the facts, they will see where education can lead them. They will understand that this is the college that could take them there.
Why don’t you start a private Facebook group for all high-school seniors interested to attend the college? They can join the conversation. They can ask questions and get into discussions. Someone from the student advising office should join the group, too. This is the person who will deliver official information.
This is a great way to develop direct communication with students interested to apply. The student advisor will share hints on how they can write a successful application. They can help with the choice of program and anything else the potential applicants need.
Each university has a vibe, attracting students with specific interests. MIT, for example, targets highly creative individuals with will to experiment. They want students focused on research and innovation. That’s what the MIT Campaign for a Better World is focused on.
Vancouver Island University has a more relaxed vibe. It still offers challenging students, but the campaign is focused on reminding applicants that higher education is not only about studying. If you check the university’s Instagram page, you’ll notice that the team tries to attract students who love the outdoors. They want physically active, health-focused applicants to be interested in the school.
Someone from the marketing team should get a good camera and start catching moments from the daily life on campus. Students talking to each other, hanging out in the buffet, having a picnic on the freshly mowed grass, studying in the library… you want to show their life at its best. But these photos shouldn’t be staged.
You can even create a hashtag for the institutions, so the students can contribute with their own content. When they love their university, they are ready to share impressions around. That’s the best marketing you could possibly get.
MIT has few Instagram profiles. One of them is MIT Student Life – a page that showcases the life of students on campus. This profile often features stories from classes, events, meals, and everything else related to student life. It gives you the sense of what it would be like to be part of this community.
Instagram stories are cool because they look natural. When compared to an edited photo, they convey a more realistic experience.
The use of social media in higher education is setting new standards in the way colleges promote themselves. Marketing has always been an essential aspect of their work. They want to attract more students and they need the most talented high-school seniors to be among the applicants. Social media platforms provide tons of space for engagement.