Shane Barker

Social Media Marketing for Universities – Should You Use It?

Can universities actually feel the benefits of social media marketing? It seems that most are relying on their past successes and reputation in attracting future students. By doing that, they fail to embrace the power and advantages of social media marketing for universities, both when engaging with their current students, as well as attracting prospective ones.

Higher education is undoubtedly entering into an increasingly digitized environment that is changing the way both educators and students view education. Sites such as Coursera and Udemy are threatening the traditional models of receiving education. These online platforms engage with students using mostly social media marketing tools and technology. This way, they are earning their trust and building meaningful relationships with students all over the world.

On the other hand, modern social media applications have exploded on the market and are used by a variety of actors. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others are becoming significant drivers of traffic to the websites of higher-education institutions, and students value the impression they get by visiting a university website or social media profile.

According to a 2011 International E-Expectations Report, one fifth of surveyed students said that they wouldn’t consider a higher education institution due to an adverse experience on that university’s website.

Stay In touch with students

Sure, students want a world-class education, but they also wish to locate a new habitat that will be their home for years to come. With the power of social media, you can allow students to connect with you and stay in touch 24/7, and make them feel like they will always have your support and feel safe communicating with you.

Moreover, students will exchange photos, videos, and other media products using you social media pages, enabling prospective students to comprehend the value you are offering to them in return for their trust and loyalty.

Marketing your University by Blogging

Blogging both enables you to market the benefits of enrolling at your university and additionally puts you in the position to curate student content and allow students to express their opinions and views on various topics. Blogging and hashtags are the two most popular methods with which you could achieve the abovementioned goals.

You can publish your students’ works, and help them boost their resumes and acquire practical, real-world writing and working experience. Finally, an added benefit from the traffic you receive on your website is the increase of your SEO rankings.

Connect with users via hashtags

Some websites rely on the use of hashtags, which are a popular method for easily connecting with users and starting conversations on various topics. Of all the social media platforms, Twitter and Instagram are the two most popular platforms in terms of using hashtags. Other websites you could use with hashtags are Tumblr, Foursquare, and Flickr.

Using these platforms, you can share and post photos with your mobile, tablet or PC devices, and cross-link across different platforms, amplifying the message you want to send across within seconds. Students can then like or comment on those posts, sharing the message within their social networks, thus helping you reach a broader audience.

Nurture your relationship with Alumni students

University social media is not only important in developing a great relationship with students during their studies at your university, but also after their graduation. Social media plays a critical role in helping you connect with alumni and increase your university’s recognition.

Through social media, alumni can share their career achievements, promotions and more, and reconnect with other alumni, increasing your university’s exposure by reaching a broad audience. If you aim to build stronger relationships with alumni, you should check out LinkedIn, which is a useful social media platform for achieving this particular goal.

Present your University in a unique manner

Incorporating social media tools into your broader marketing and communication programs can make your university unique, enabling you to focus on conversations and strategies that can be employed successfully in any sector. Telling your story, and sharing it is the thing that separates you from the flock. While the story changes to suit a particular university or a company, telling the story in the first place remains the most important step you can take.

In the midst of a social media revolution, universities must not lag behind the latest trends in digital marketing, and should utilize the tools they have at their disposal to market the advantages that students will get by studying at their campus. So, how do you use social media marketing for your university in a way that ensures that you reach and connect with a broader audience?

Provide answers to crucial questions

Prior to using social media, you should provide answers to the following questions:

Set goals

In order to achieve the desired effect, you must define your objectives:

By setting clear and achievable goals, you will be in a position to evaluate whether your efforts to use social media have been successful and gain valuable insights into the best ways of improving your education practice.

Choose a platform that suits your goals

You do not need to be present on all social media platforms out there. Strive towards quality over quantity and select the social media platform that best suits your strategy and defined goals.

YouTube or Vimeo channels are more suitable if you plan on posting a lot of videos from your campus or testimonials from your students, in comparison with other social media platforms. The best way to achieve success is to combine the platforms that complement each other, thus reaching the different audiences that are present on those platforms.