Working with social media in a Higher Education environment can be challenging. There are many stakeholders that need attention – from Alumni, Students, Faculty & Staff to Prospective Students -- or those currently in high school thinking about which college or university in which they should apply. Having a well-planned social marketing strategy and a savvy social media team can help you reach each group effectively. Today, let’s talk about reaching that last group: Prospective Students.
Where do High School students go when they’re using social media? The obvious answer is Facebook, but an increasing number of high school students are also using Twitter and Instagram. Both social networks offer short, quick messages and photos, which get content delivered quickly because it’s all about instant satisfaction, right? Does your institution use Twitter and Instagram? If not, you should start today.
The University of New Hampshire has an official Twitter and Instagram account. We also have 'UNHStudents' on Twitter and Instagram, managed by student interns helping to broadcast messages geared toward the student body. They also listen, reply, favorite, and like tweets and photos when UNH is mentioned appropriately. This is one way to reach the 16 to 18 year old demographic who could be considering your higher education institution.
Start searching Twitter and Instagram for your college. Do you see any buzz? You can help spread that buzz, but more importantly, you can help spread your school's message, making it resonate with the targeted audience. Start replying to tweets and photos that are all about visiting, applying, and touring your campus. Engage with those mentioning your school and start a conversation. Ask questions via Twitter, or comment and like the photos of campus they’re sharing on Instagram.
Does your school have an official hashtag for Twitter or Instagram? Start using it in your tweets and incorporating it with your Instagram photos. Create a new hashtag for each graduating year and use it when replying--we didn’t tell our followers to use #UNH16 or #UNH17, we just started adding it to our tweets and Instagram shots -- it didn’t take long to catch on!
Your social media team should also re-tweet and congratulate those that share their college acceptance on Twitter or Instagram. They may have been accepted, but did they enroll? It’s just another way to show that your institution cares and wants to bring the students on board officially.
Need help keeping tracking and managing your replies? Set up search columns in TweetDeck, Sprout Social, Hootsuite, or another Social Media Management system and start communicating with prospective students right now... The only thing you’ll regret is not doing it sooner.