Chances are, your institution probably has a Facebook page or a Twitter feed. It may even have an Instagram or Snapchat account. Your school’s social media activity has undoubtedly increased over the past few years, but are you making an offline impact with your online presence?
Today’s Generation Z students are turning to social media more than ever before. Nearly 67% of high schoolers use Facebook to search for colleges and nearly 50% use Twitter and Instagram. If your school isn’t leveraging its social power to the best of its ability, it could be missing out on a growing number of prospects. Meanwhile, over half of colleges use social media for alumni fundraising and are raising thousands through social crowdfunding campaigns.
Mastering social media means more than setting up accounts and sending out witty tweets. With social media, there’s a wealth of information and opportunity available. You just have to make the most of it.
Get Students Involved
We’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: get current students involved in your social media campaigns. Prospective students tend to find current students’ voices more realistic and trustworthy. Have them write blog posts, share tweets, and take Instagram photos. Allow your students to be “experience surrogates” for prospects. They’re sure to lend a creative, authentic, and relatable voice to your campus and show prospects what a real “day in the life” looks like.
Getting students involved with social media will also help with fundraising. Alumni want to see that their donations are making a difference. Give students the opportunity to use their own voice to tell the alumni how they can help.
Improve Social Listening
We’ve written a lot about the importance of listening when it comes to customer experience; however, listening is important on social media too. “Social listening” helps you predict a viral trend before it really takes off. It helps you find active social media audiences and discover their interests.
It’s really important to keep an eye on active social conversations. What topics are interesting to Generation Z? What trends do you see? Do any of these topics or trends influence the academic programs you may offer? The athletics or social activities your school has? Do they impact the way you’ll market to prospects? Decrease the steep costs of focus groups and surveys and master social listening instead.
Find the Right Channels
Your school should have multiple social media channels. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Instagram are the most used by colleges and universities. Settle for profiles that reflect your school’s brand and tone.
No matter which social media account you use, it’s important that you focus on more visual content, instead of written content. Nearly half of colleges and universities use primarily photos and videos in their social media. Consider Snapchat, Instagram, and YouTube. Even Facebook and Twitter allow photo sharing. Visual content is more engaging and easier to consume than textual content. It also gives prospects a sneak peek of your campus.
Keep the Conversation Going
Social media may seem like something isolated to your campus’s marketing and communications office. However, if you really want to leverage your social media power, it’s important to coordinate social media efforts across campus, from the admissions office to the advancement office.
There has to be communication between social media teams and other campus offices. Has someone in the marketing office noticed a tweet from a prospective student? The marketing office should forward that student’s name to admissions so admissions counselors can engage that student and perhaps even get him or her to apply. Likewise, has an alum left a comment on a Facebook page about a memory on campus? Have the social media team forward that alum to advancement as a potential donor.
Just because a conversation starts online doesn’t mean it should stop online. A tweet or a post or a share can turn into an active alum or prospect. It’s important for your school to keep the conversation going.