Trying to capture the attention of target audiences and consumers is becoming exceptionally challenging with the rate of technological and digital growth. Social media isn’t the answer for every digital marketing conundrum; but if adapted and structured strategically, you might be able to persuade your consumer audience to stay and engage a while.
With social media being a fairly new marketing medium and rapidly changing and growing, schools are evolving their admissions campaigns and to involve innovative social media marketing components.
Universities and Social Media
In a recent University of Massachusetts study, almost 100% of universities are actively using social media and more than 49% of colleges and universities have written and enforced social media policies.
This contrasts sharply with corporate America where 62% of Fortune 500 companies have an active Twitter account and 58% have an active Facebook page. In comparison to these large corporations, universities are leading the way in developing and establishing solid social media strategies as part of their overall marketing efforts.
Social Media Marketing Added to the Recruiting Tool box
According to Article3 and Mark Schaefer at Businesses Grow, one in three universities say social media is a much more efficient method to reach their target audiences. 92% of U.S. admission officers agree that social media is worth every penny of the investment and that the most effective tools for recruiting undergraduates are Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Social media’s low-cost and high efficiency are perfect for programs dealing with numerous budget cuts and pressures, which many educational institutions are faced with in today’s economic climate.
Social media and digital marketing efforts can also be easily monitored and tracked using analytics, which allows marketers to easily calculate broad ranges of statistics and demonstrate ROI in a way they cannot with television or print ads. This allows admissions to not only determine their reach and impressions, but also get better insights into their key demographic and how to better market to them.
Why Are Target Audiences Responding?
The generation now researching and choosing a university has grown up in the digital age, meaning any university’s key demographic is spending a lot of their time online.
In addition, college visits, especially in the current economic climate, are becoming more expensive and students are becoming more reliant platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogs to get a better feel for a university and find answers to all their questions.
Universities That are Doing it Right
University of Notre Dame
The University of Notre Dame is an example of a school getting it right. The Fighting Irish have a solid, established social media presence. On the site, you’ll find a social media directory that provides you with Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, Pinterest boards and YouTube channels for the University, its academic departments, admissions and athletics.
Although the University’s social media is separated by departments, the main @NotreDame account tweets, retweets and responds several times a day using a friendly and welcoming tone without sacrificing professionalism/dignified reputation.
Notre Dame makes sure to post at least once a day to Facebook. Post subject matter runs the gamut from news relating to athletics, to the school band, to incoming freshman or to standings in national college polls. A majority of the posts garner at least 100+ likes, shares and comments from their audiences on Facebook.
This indicates schools often receive higher engagement rates than most major brands. A study by AdMap revealed that less than 0.5% of Facebook fans actually engage with the brands they’re fans of; and Notre Dame averages 0.68% engagement from their fans.
Notre Dame also puts a great deal of effort into customizing its YouTube channel and adding informational and engaging videos about different academic departments, campus events, faith and service, and many more. This gives prospective or incoming students engaging and useful videos to watch about the campus and campus life.
Playlists on the channel include campus tours, department profiles, student profiles and athletic spotlights – giving their audience a virtual and in-depth look at the campus and life at Notre Dame.
Johns Hopkins University
Johns Hopkins University’s (JHU) social media strategy is similar to Notre Dame’s. They too have a social media directory, departmental Twitter accounts, Facebook pages and YouTube channels – with the exception that they have a Facebook embed on their social media directory page that gives site visitors a peek at the University’s posts.
Interactive student blogs that feature blog posts, profiles, forums, tweets, pictures and videos done by students also sets JHU apart from the pack. New posts are published every day and tweets are posted in real-time through an embedded feed on the blog.
Letting current students speak directly with prospective students has been a long proven effective strategy in recruitment – and now schools like JHU are taking this concept, digitizing it and applying it to their digital marketing strategies.
New York University: Stern School of Business
New York University’s (NYU) Stern School of Business is another example of a school doing it right – but in a different way. Although its social media strategy is similar to Notre Dame and JHU, Stern took an extra step to differentiate itself by showcasing their social media. Rather than presenting its audience with lists of social media accounts, hashtags and sites, Stern is using a Postano to bring the social experience back to their own website.
Creating an interactive and engaging experience, Stern has Twitter feeds and hashtags, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube aggregated and embedded within their Social@Stern page on their website.
The beauty of Stern’s social media is that it’s almost entirely student and faculty generated content that gives the college of business a genuine persona and online presence. In addition, Stern encourages their audience to participate in the live conversation through social media sharing buttons, creating a call to action.
>>Find out how to make a Postano for your school’s social media here.