Social media is an important marketing tool for any organization, but that may not be truer for any organization than it is for colleges.
With the last of the millennial generation trickling out of the college system, today’s prospective students are part of Generation Z — often dubbed “iGen” for their familiarity with digital technology.
And since these students are part of the first generation to truly grow up with social media, no college can hope to win them over without using that very medium. But how do you do that? How can you successfully manage social media marketing for colleges?
While social media marketing can cover a lot of territory, below we’ve laid out 10 tips for improving the way you use it to reach your target audience.
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1. Use multiple platforms
For your college social media strategy to be successful, you’ll want to start off on the right foot by creating accounts on multiple platforms. Don’t set up a Twitter account and let that be your sole social media presence.
You don’t necessarily have to create accounts for every social media platform on the face of the planet — particularly if you don’t have the time or resources to manage them all — but you should use at least a few of them if you can.
Here are a few of the best social media platforms to take advantage of:
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2. Create separate accounts
On top of using multiple platforms, you might also benefit from having multiple accounts on each of those platforms. That doesn’t mean you should create duplicate accounts, though. Rather, consider creating separate accounts for separate organizations and departments.
If your college is exceptionally small, this may not be necessary. But for larger colleges, you most likely have a variety of groups and departments, from your music department to your football team.
Those entities are fairly distinct, so it doesn’t always make the most sense for them to share an account. People who want to keep up with your football team may not care about what your symphonic winds ensemble is performing this weekend. Consider separate accounts for each.
3. Show off your campus
One of the defining features of a college is its campus. Campus is where students will spend a significant amount of their time during the next two, four, or even eight years, so they’ll naturally want to attend a college whose campus is pleasant.
That means a good marketing tactic is to show off the best parts of your own campus, and social media for colleges is a great place to do that. Feature campus photos in your posts whenever you can to present a positive view of your school.
4. Interact with users
Social media in higher education requires interacting with your followers to help them get familiar with your college. Students expect a personalized experience when they attend your college, and you can’t convey that from behind generic ads and campus photos.
When you get a chance to interact with your followers, don’t pass it by. Whether it be responding to a comment or answering a question, there are plenty of ways you can engage with your audience and let them feel heard.
5. Promote events
Another great way to use social media marketing for colleges is to promote events on your campus. Whether it be a basketball game, a speaking event, or a concert, social media is an excellent tool for getting the word out.
Sometimes this could involve simply posting graphics advertising the event. Other times, though, it could entail offering special deals on tickets or encouraging users to post photos of themselves at the event.
6. Use student guides
While prospective students will listen to administrators about your college, it can be hard for those administrators to accurately convey what the student experience is like there. You know who’s better at conveying it, though? Actual students.
You can use your social media platform to post videos or promote events where select students act as guides to various aspects of student life at your college. It provides prospective students with a first-hand account of what it’s like to be a student on your campus.
7. Connect with alumni
Bringing in prospective students is the main goal of your marketing, but they aren’t the only people that matter. Your alumni want to feel a connection to their alma mater, and you should welcome that. Even from a purely financial standpoint, alumni are often valuable donors.
To that end, use social media as a way to connect with your former students. Keep them updated on what’s going on with their old organizations and professors, and maybe even feature stories about where some of them are now.
8. Share testimonials
Following in line with the previous two points, testimonials are yet another great use of social media for colleges. You can talk up your college all day long, but prospective students will likely take your opinion with a grain of salt.
But when former and current students alike are talking about how much they love attending your school, that sends a much stronger message. If you can get several of your students and alumni to submit statements or videos recommending your college, they’ll make great posts to share on your social media.
9. Post campus alerts
Despite your best efforts to prevent them, emergencies sometimes happen on campus. It can be anything from hazardous weather to road closures to fires.
Whatever it is, you’ll occasionally need to inform all your students quickly and efficiently of the danger. And what better tool for doing that than social media?
Given how much time most of your students probably spend on social media, having an account dedicated to sending out alerts is a highly efficient way to get the word out.
10. Harness user-generated content
Social media in higher education can be a lot of work. Sometimes you just need to sit back and take a break from creating new content — but that doesn’t mean your marketing has to stop!
One of the best marketing strategies you can use is to simply harness the power of user-generated content. Sometimes this will happen naturally — if you see a student post something with a lot of school spirit, you can simply repost it.
Other times, you can generate fresh user content on your own by simply encouraging students to use a specific hashtag to promote an event.
Optimize your college social media strategy with WebFX
Still having trouble figuring out the intricacies of social media marketing for colleges? WebFX can help you get it all sorted.
With over 500 client testimonials, we have all the expertise and commitment to boost your social media campaign to new heights. We can set up your accounts, manage your social media ad campaigns, create scheduled posts, and so much more.
We won’t just give your account a once-over and call it a day, either — we’ll stick with you for the long haul to keep everything constantly up-to-date and optimized for maximum lead generation.
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