It’s normal to feel flustered when trying to attract more students to your program. How can you connect with students and make them interested in your college or university? What types of programs are most advantageous? Should you be hosting meet-and-greet events to bring students closer to your campus?

There are a number of ways that you can attract more students, but many higher institutions fail to recognize one key area: resources already present in their community. Your students and alumni are very powerful forces, and you can use these relationships to create more effective Internet marketing campaigns.

Think about it. You already have a wealth of information on these groups such as their age, gender and undergraduate study choices. This information is very helpful for marketers, and you don’t have to dig through piles of admissions paperwork to gather data to shape your marketing campaigns.

Look for trends in your current student base, as this will help you better understand future students and create targeted, detailed online marketing campaigns. It’s okay for your college or university to have an ideal candidate for your school. More institutions are taking this same approach and are seeing great success at mapping out programs and resources that fit a particular group of students.

Here are a few practical tips for working with the students you already have to attract new talent!

Share Testimonials from Current Students

Prospective students love to learn from current students. Their word has more merit than what comes from your school’s marketing department. Collect strong testimonials from your students, and make sure they are varied. For example, interview a student from your international program, another from your biology program and another from your adult evening classes.

The testimonials can include quotations from the student alongside their photo, or they can be short clips that include commentary from the faculty and staff. Again, vary up your testimonials and post them on your landing pages, website and social media profiles. Update them each year so that new students are getting fresh, current testimonials that pertain to your current environment.

Report Alumni Highlights

Your alumni are an important group, and they shouldn’t be overlooked. Not only have they attended your program, but also they have had triumph with it. Someone who has successfully graduated from your school speaks a different volume from a current student who has yet to achieve this.

Think of your alumni as a group of students that represents the ROI of your school. College is a major investment, and many students take on huge loans and sacrifices to put themselves through these four-plus years. By pointing out the return on investment that students can expect to see, it makes the selection process a bit easier.

Boost Social Media Campaigns

Social media campaigns have huge potential because the information you share can be spread to a large, targeted audience. Better yet, just about anything interesting about your college or university can be creatively shared. Examples include student profiles, alumni news and video testimonials. When these posts are backed by quality images and social posts, they drive engagement in terms of likes, shares and comments.

The best way to boost your social media campaigns is by having a strong online presence. The interaction will naturally come. Keep your social profiles updated and alive with photos, video clips, links to your blog, information about the school and community and fun facts and tips. You will slowly build a loyal following that will start with current and former students. This is a simple and inexpensive way to build a reputation and start planting the seed early.

Enhance Your Application Process

Years ago, it was an official rite of passage for college students to tour a handful of potential schools. Sure, there were probably some on the list that weren’t a real possibility, but kids did it anyway. There was just something special about being able to tour the campus, see the students, meet with the faculty and inspect the dorm halls and campus food. In fact, students have always been taught to look at the campus and imagine themselves being there. Does it feel right?

These initial steps of the college application process are quickly changing thanks to the Internet. Some even think that this will be the last generation to feel that touring American colleges is essential. More families are opting for virtual info sessions and interviews that are free and done from the convenience of their home. This is far more practical and cheaper than driving or flying somewhere. Plus, students who are intimidated by the college application process will find the online method to be more enjoyable.

As you build out your online services, make room for current students to share their perspectives. You might want to offer some type of mentoring or meet-and-greet program between new and current students on Google Hangouts. Or, you can have prospective students meet with a few of your staff members or counselors. You can also stream videos from current students enjoying campus life, as well as testimonials, campus tours and alumni achievements. The goal is to bring your campus to the people who can’t come and see it.

We hope that this has given you some inspiration as to how you can attract more student interest. By using the people who are already in your college’s community, you’re making smart use of your budget and maximizing the potential that key groups of people have. Plus, no one knows better about your school and the experiences it can provide than current and former students. If you can find ways for incoming students to relate to these individuals, you’re breaking down the barrier and facilitating genuine interest and engagement.