The Best Social Media Channels to Increase Attendance at Your Institution

Pete Schauer

Marketing Director

Social media is the place to catch the latest news, chat with friends, learn about local happenings and check your horoscope. It’s become a “one-and-done” channel for everything, with information wrapped in a tailor-made package customized to each user. It’s no surprise that one in four students now uses social media to connect with university staff.

It’s also no surprise that more students are turning to social media to discover the colleges and universities that appeal to them. What is surprising is just how many students are influenced by what they read on social media. One study found that 73 percent of students said that conversations with their peers on social media influenced their decision of where to enroll.

As a higher institution, your top priority is to increase qualified leads. How can you achieve this while leveraging the wonderful tool of social media? Let’s explore the best social media channels to utilize to increase attendance at your institution.

Facebook

Facebook is consistently ranked as one of the top social media sites for college information. Facebook also has a large demographic, so it appeals to a wide range of people. If a parent catches something favorable with your name on it, they’re likely to pass it along to their student.

With all the targeting options on Facebook, you can target a highly specific audience and cut through the noise. In the end, it’s the social channel that you should focus on most and utilize for communications with students, prospects, alumni and parents.

Here are a few tips for making the most of the platform.

  • Spread the smiles. Facebook is becoming more and more visual. Post photos from around your campus: buildings, facilities, students, lectures, community events, etc. Show students what it’s like to be a part of your institution.

  • Share information. One of the main reasons why people use Facebook is to be informed. Take the clutter out of the news and deliver information what’s really important to your audience.

  • Post opportunities. Post various internship opportunities that are available, as well as information for scholarships. As long as you are timely with this info, students will learn to trust you for news first.

  • Give appropriate links. With clickable links, it’s easy for students to visit your website and get to know your institution better. Post links to some of your best content, such as tips for submitting an application or how to make interviews go smoothly.

Twitter

Twitter may not get as much love as Facebook, but it’s still a great tool for reaching out to prospective students. In fact, 32 percent of college students are active on the site, according to research from Pew.

What makes this social channel unique is that you can post multiple times a day without being bothersome, and the conversation is held in real time. This means that the lifespan of your posts is shorter.

Since Twitter posts do have a shortened lifespan, you have to be on your toes about getting noticed. One of the best ways to do this is by using hashtags. When you make a post, use the appropriate hashtags for the conversation and also your own branded hashtag. If you don’t have one, here are tips for creating one.

Instagram

A high number of young adults are on Instagram so it’s certainly a channel worth getting to know. Instagram posting is similar to Facebook, with 3 to 4 posts recommended per week. Of course, if you have a special event going on, feel free to post more. A couple of extra pictures won’t hurt anyone!

To help your content get discovered on Instagram, you need to be strategic. The news feed is algorithm-based, so there is a real-time component to it. Add your branded hashtag to your Instagram photos or other related hashtags. Make sure that all images are vibrant and high in quality. You’re competing with lots of other pictures, after all.

YouTube

YouTube is a great place to share your best videos, which can then be shared on your other social channels. Keep your videos organized using the available playlists. As your video library starts to expand, it will be helpful to break up information based on who is visiting (alumni, prospect) and what type of content they are looking for (alumni news, campus tours).

Keep in mind that some students aren’t comfortable with the application and enrollment process, and watching a video is a great way to reduce these fears. An international student or a student that isn't fluent in English can find a lot of support and guidance in a short video.

LinkedIn

Many higher institutions don’t think of LinkedIn as a channel for communicating with prospects, but it’s more flexible than you realize. While it might not be the first place to connect with younger students, this channel is popular with your alumni and donor audiences, as well as those seeking a master's degree.

As you put together a social media marketing calendar for your institution, make sure that LinkedIn is part of your strategy. Post 3 to 4 times per week and spend a few minutes each day connecting with new people and engaging with others’ posts. LinkedIn has a serious and professional tone, which is why it’s a smart idea to give your school some exposure on this site.

Bottom Line

Social media is an important tool when increasing attendance at your higher institution. Different platforms have different features, so it’s smart to work with each one individually rather than throwing out generic posts to be posted on all sites. Consider your audience, the posts they interact with most and the information they are looking for. The purpose is to engage your audience on a variety of social networks and keep your institution front and center.

 
About the Author: Pete Schauer

Born and raised at the Jersey Shore, Pete Schauer is the Marketing Director at SEMGeeks. He holds a M.A. in Digital Communications from William Paterson University and has 8+ years in the digital space with companies such as Bleacher Report and Social Media Today in addition to SEMGeeks. His background includes creative and professional writing as well as strategic digital marketing communications and management.

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