Danielle N. Coley
Technology has completely transformed the way prospects discover and engage with universities. From the availability of online courses, to the reliability of pertinent program information, college campuses are expected to provide students with timely and informative updates at the students’ convenience.
These adjustment in technology can, and will, require higher ed marketers to change their communication outreach approach. That said, having a dedicated social media strategy can help marketers control the format, timing and structure in which students or prospects receive relevant information — especially in consideration of projected annual enrollment numbers.
In fact, the National Center for Education Statistics conducted a study tracking undergraduate college student enrollment growth from 1970-2025, and projects enrollment to reach as high as 19,756,000 students by 2025 in the U.S. alone.
The sheer volume of people that will require outreach will demand new ways to reach them out … and it’s not as daunting as one may think. With just a few strategic techniques, any higher ed social marketer can optimize the way they reach their prospects.
1). When In Doubt, Schedule It Out!
One primary mistake that content marketers make is disseminating information “on the fly.” While most social platforms encourage users to push out media as quickly as possible, creating a schedule for your posts can help with consistency and general content planning. Many platforms also have “schedule for a later date” features, which allows marketers to build approved content to be pushed on certain days, as opposed to jumping in the platform day by day.
2). Pick Your (Platform) Poison
Just as there are different cuisines for everyone’s palate, there are different social platforms that suit different audiences. The Next Web (TNW), a technology research website, noted that despite Facebook’s median user age being under 30, more elderly people are joining the platform giant (currently at an estimated 17 million users age 45 and older). Twitter, on the other hand, primarily serves the younger demographic — with 37% of its estimated 330 million users in the 18-29 demographic age group. That said, its important to tailor your messaging to your respective demographic and understand the content capabilities and limitations of each platform.
3). Listen Up … The Tweets Are Talking!
So, you have your content approved and scheduled, and you know what platforms you want to use … now what? The last thing you want to do is leave valued interactions on the table. Social listening tools like TweetDeck and AgoraPulse can equip social marketers with the ability to screen for and respond to page mentions, post likes, comments, and post shares across multiple accounts. They also allow you to assign posts to other administrators within the account for later follow up and schedule posts as you would do in the platform itself.
4). Give Me A Boost
The beauty of social media is that it’s virtually free to use. But what happens when a simple post is not enough? How do you reach people who aren’t following your page, but fit your prospect criteria? Simple: you “boost” your posts! Putting a small budget behind your posts can extend your social reach beyond your page’s universe, and increase overall post engagement, all at a relatively small cost. It also keeps your posts front-of-mind for those who follow but may not have seen it initially.
5). Follow The Leader
All the aforementioned efforts can create a holistic approach to social marketing; however, without an audience to speak to in the first place, those efforts become moot. Just as you should dedicate small budgets to boosting specific posts, it’s important to grow your audience through dedicated Follower or Page Like Campaigns. Facebook in particular allows marketers to create audiences just as you would with paid advertising but pushes them as Sponsored Campaigns targeted directly at potential prospects with the goal of encouraging them to like your page.
This list is certainly not exhaustive — but by implementing these techniques, marketers can create a social plan that grows and engages their student audiences without breaking the bank!
Still unsure about how or what to do to start your own Social Media plan? We are more than happy to help you get started. Reach out to our Marketing Director, Johnna Weary, at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.