How Social Media Can Help You Bring New Students to Your Campus
Institutions of higher education are always on the lookout for ways to increase student enrollment. This is especially true in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic; as of February 2021, overall college enrollment in the United States was 2.9% lower than the level of the previous spring.
One of the most effective ways colleges and universities have found to boost enrollment is engagement with prospective students (and their families and friends) over social media.
Interestingly, one study conducted in 2017 found that 79.6% of respondents believed that every college should have a social media presence. By 2019, that number had jumped to 86.1%. In addition, the number of respondents who would interact with a school they're interested in over social media increased by almost 20% between 2017 and 2019.
Let's discuss some ways that social media can help you to bring new students to your campus.
Show What Your Campus Life is Like
One of the most significant driving factors behind a prospective college student's decision is his or her idea of what life would be like at a particular institution. "Would I fit into their culture? What programs and activities are available there? Would my enrollment at that institution propel me towards my life goals?"
Higher education organizations can leverage social media to highlight features of both their academic and social life. When presented in an enthusiastic yet tasteful manner, these "snapshots" of life on campus intrigue prospective students and encourage them to consider the school in question.
Target People Based on Demographics
As with any marketing plan, you always want to make sure that you're targeting the right people with your ad creative (or, in this case, your social media marketing). You want your ads to get in front of prospective students and reach their parents, relatives, and friends. If your ads are only being delivered to a low-value, unreceptive audience, then you're wasting your time and marketing dollars.
In addition, make sure that your ads are easy to interpret. Give your audience specific directions to follow and clear CTAs (call-to-actions). Doing so can exert a powerful influence on prospective students, either directly (via ads they see) or indirectly (via ads their parents/relatives/friends watch and then talk about with them).
Offer an Incentive
You can also use your social media campaign to offer prospective students an incentive for filling out an application through the provided link — perhaps a free T-shirt, a coffee mug, or something else. Your incentive doesn't have to be very costly, as long as it helps you to put your best foot forward.
Moreover, you can offer incentives in the form of free assistance for students that enroll in your school. For example, you could offer a free enrollment counseling session for newly signed students to help them choose the best educational path to meet their goals and decide which courses fit into that trajectory.
Advertise Across Multiple Social Media Platforms
Last but not least, it's crucial to advertise across multiple social media platforms. After all, the average college-age student will maintain a presence on several social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.) at the same time. If your messaging misses a prospective student on one platform, then you can still capture his or her attention on another one — as long as you're active on both.
For example, research indicates that Snapchat is often the number #1 driver of new users to school websites and boasts increased engagement rates (and lower bounce rates) than other platforms like Facebook.
Of course, all branding efforts should be cohesive and consistent across different social media platforms. You want all of your ads, whether they're delivered via OTT, social media, or pay-per-click, to lead your consumers to the same destination: your institution's official website — and precisely the enrollment page! When you have a seamless, omnichannel campaign in place, you can expect such a result from your efforts.
Use Social Media to Increase Your Enrollment Rates
It's no secret that more and more people are plugged into social media — including young people that will soon decide which college or university to attend. Forward-thinking schools will take advantage of this trend and continue to bolster their social media presence across multiple platforms. (In fact, it's best to strengthen your institution's online presence, period.)
Suppose you leverage your social media accounts to show prospective students what campus life is like, engage with the right demographics (including parents, relatives, and friends), offer incentives for enrollment, and feed into your omnichannel campaigns. In that case, you'll no doubt see significant gains in your student enrollment rates for years to come.
Never underestimate the impact that social media can have on your target audience. With proper planning and implementation, you'll be able to use social media to bring more new students to your campus.
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