You’re all out there in Social Media land, right? How effective are your efforts? A good social media presence like any other marketing and recruitment activity requires a good strategy, strong and consistent execution, and an iterative process of analysis and improvement. Here are just a few tips to make sure you’re getting the most out of your social media presence.
Strategy, Goals, and Measurement – The biggest mistake admissions offices make is to build a social media presence just for the sake of having one. That’s not to say that not having one is any longer acceptable, but just like everything else you do it’s important to have a good strategy, clear goals and objectives, and an iterative measurement and tweaking process. Here are some considerations for your strategy. Prospective students tend to interact with colleges through social media more passively at the early stages; so an admissions Facebook page is a great way to connect, build brand, and learn about your prospect pool. At later stages, once students have narrowed their search and been accepted to a few schools, they will interact more intimately. So a more private setting like a Facebook group becomes extremely effective. In a future posting we’ll discuss some more specific strategies for leveraging Facebook in your recruitment efforts. The important thing for now is to consider with every step what you want to accomplish and how you’ll determine whether or not you were successful.
Leverage the Information – The biggest mistake schools are making in their social media use is not taking advantage of the tremendous amount of information that students are making available to them. We’ve all read for the past number of years about whether colleges have time to “check a student’s Facebook account” to see if they’ve posted anything incriminating that could affect their admissions. We’re well beyond those days. To use social media effectively you should be connecting with your students and building meaningful ongoing conversations. Follow them on Twitter and Instagram, friend them on Facebook. They have control over what they share with you and we shouldn’t assume it will be things that will cause you to rescind their admission. Instead, it should improve the level of engagement. For example, a check-in call with an admitted student in the spring can go from, “I just wanted to invite you to our open house for admitted students” to “I noticed that you really love theater and our theater department is putting on a spectacular production following our open house for admitted students. I’d like to invite you to attend both events on campus!”
Make Your Posts Relevant – How many of you were told growing up, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”? Well the social media mantra (at least for marketers and recruiters) should be, “If you don’t have don’t have anything relevant to say, don’t say anything at all!” Posting just to stay in your prospects’ faces is ill advised. The brand you’ll build is at best one of babble and irrelevance, and at worst one of narcissism. And on that last note, listen as much as you post. As an institution there are a number of things that you might be very proud of and that make sense to share with your alumni and others that engage with your school. But consider the age and interests of your prospects before blasting every event, lecture, and award out to the entire group. Instead of individual posts, consider posting a newsletter or blog link every so often to get that information out there and keep your more regular posts as directly relevant as possible to your audience.
Make Your Content Interesting and Engaging – Most of you probably don’t sent text based emails with no graphics or branding elements. And most of you probably don’t just throw pictures into your emails with no thought. You shouldn’t do that in social media land either. Make sure your profiles are well branded with professional and compelling photography. And make sure photos are the correct size and resolution; otherwise the brand you present will be one that is sloppy and lacks savvy. For your posts, use photos, videos, animations, and infographics to tell your story as much as you can. You have a lot of competition to get your audience’s attention so step up your game and make your posts eye-catching and engaging.
Following these tips will improve your social media presence quickly. So get out there and get social! And don’t hesitate to comment or contact us with your thoughts.
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