May 23, 2022

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Social Media Dos and Don’ts to Enroll in Higher Education Success

Social media is the buzzword of the marketing industry; it’s the essential solution to all marketing problems. It is cheap, quick and almost saturated in certain age groups.

However, social marketing is more than just setting up a Facebook account. It involves the science and art of communicating your message through this online environment. Your social authority is key to your ability to influence the opinions of potential students, current students, alumni, and others in this online community. Effective social media marketing campaigns are dependent on trust that the market places in your messenger.

It should not be surprising. This trust process is what we use as admissions professionals when we visit high school, talk to college counselors, and host alumni-sponsored events. These differences can be explained by the type of trusted source and the delivery channel. Social media is delivered via the internet (via a social networking site), and trusted sources are students and peers rather than adults.

This playbook will show colleges how to leverage their existing resources in order to create a social media marketing strategy. We’ll also provide guidance on the “don’ts and do’s” to ensure that your message gets heard while also strengthening your brand identity.

Why do you care?

Why should college admissions officers be concerned about social media? Because prospects care, a lot!

A recent EDUCAUSE study[1] found that social media usage has almost reached saturation with 95 percent of college students aged 18-19 using social media sites on a regular basis. Facebook is still the most popular social media site with over 80 percent of 18-24-year-olds visiting it multiple times per day. These students use social media in almost every aspect of their lives. Today’s students use social media to stay connected with one another and the rest of the world. It is where students focus their attention and where they look for information about colleges.

These trends are having an impact on college admissions as high school students are more likely to use social media instead of a college website when searching for schools. College searches today are conducted on websites such as collegeprowler.com and Facebook, with enhancements like Campus Buddy. Mash-up websites with titles such as “Ten ways social media can be used to choose a college”[2] have replaced the college section in the local bookstore.

A recent survey by Noel Levitz[3] found that 74% of high school seniors who are planning to go to college said they believe colleges should be present on social media. These students revealed that 81 percent of them rely on online information about colleges to help them in their college search.

College marketers are failing to adapt to this shift in social media content despite their obvious success. This study revealed that only 26 per cent of four-year private institutions used social media in their marketing efforts.

Marketing must reach its target audience in order to make a difference. You must meet your prospects in person to be heard. Because it is their turf, social media is the future and foundation of college marketing and recruitment. Your ultimate goal is to get your messages noticed by the market and then passed on by trusted sources. Your message should go viral. “Going viral” is when an image, video, or link spreads quickly through a population. This can be done by being shared frequently with many people. Social media makes it easy to share.

Let’s now look at some background.

3 Parts Of Social Media

Since the inception of the Internet, people have relied on online communities for trusted, peer-based information. It all started with dial-up systems in the 1970s. Remember “moderators?”? It evolved into web-based communities that included “collaborative filtering”, websites in the 1980s and 1990s. While the technology and tools available to facilitate online conversations has changed, the fundamental process remains the same. Its effectiveness and ability shape opinion are still due to the credibility of those who serve as online key opinions leaders (KOLs).

Now, fast forward to today.

Online communities have grown to be a vibrant ecosystem with millions and billions of followers, blogs, and tweets. Facebook has more than 700 million users. More than half of these people log in every day. This has transformed an Internet niche that was once dominated by obscure hobbyists into a marketing dream: a large audience of consumers that can easily be reached at very low costs and in almost real-time.

Social media is an online conversation that involves a group of people who have a common interest. It is managed by a “reputable source”. Remember that a “reputable source” on Facebook could be a college freshman of 17 years old! Admissions officers need to understand the three components of social media in order to capitalize on this bustling world.

These three components, besides the expertise of teenagers, determine whether a social media outlet can impact the market or influence the opinions of its users.

More than Just Facebook

While Facebook is the most widely used social media site, it doesn’t mean that all social media marketing efforts should be centered there. However, admissions offices should have a Facebook page. Your Facebook page is where prospects go after are already interested in your services (probably once they have applied). Students will most likely become daily visitors once they are accepted.

A Facebook page is not designed to be used as a recruiting tool. It’s best used once admission offers have been sent.

This playbook, however is more focused on social media marketing as a way to build your brand identity and your prospect pool. We’ll be focusing on high school juniors just beginning to think about college. Facebook is great for keeping friends – but how can you find new ones.

4 Steps to Making New Friends

Think like a high school junior to make new friends on social networks. Students today are more actively seeking information. Remember, today’s students:

To stay connected with friends, use their social media networks
Search engines can be used to locate relevant blogs, mashups, and other useful websites
Visit college websites. You can also find college content on social media sites like YouTube, Facebook and YouTube.
You want the inside scoop? Get it now!

The second step is to conduct some research.

Before you attempt to enter into any social media friendship or conversation, take a look at the buzz surrounding your institution. It can be time-consuming and tedious, but it is worth it. This will give you a lot of insight into how your school is perceived and portrayed. As you progress through the process, you will likely come across misperceptions or falsehoods.