Are you intimidated by hashtags, likes and follows? The world of social media can be overwhelming at times, especially when you’re trying to appeal to a younger crowd that knows what’s in and what’s not. If you use the wrong language in a post or launch a silly hashtag campaign, your audience isn’t going to be very forgiving.

One campaign can take your brand from good to great, but it can also work in reverse. So how can you make sure that the work you’re doing on social media is effective and relevant?

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to connect with your college-age audience and win them over – even if you don’t know all there is to know about snaps and tweets and filters.

Let’s look at a few ways that you can use social media to recruit students to your higher institution.

Be highly visual by sharing photos and other digital content.

Instagram is one of the top three most popular social media apps for college-age students. Seventy-seven percent of college students use Snapchat at least once a day. What do these social networks have in common? They are highly visual.

Though Facebook and Twitter have made a lot of visual-friendly updates to their platforms, they started off favoring short blocks of text, more formally known as “posts” and “tweets.” Social media networks like Instagram and Snapchat are built on the premise of being visually attractive and easy to consume, with text being a second priority.

It’s clear that college students love visual platforms. They want to be able to skim over content in a single glance while also being entertained. Images, short videos, memes and quotes are the way to their hearts, so make sure that your higher institution is posting this fascinating content to your social media channels.

Develop branded hashtag campaigns to increase engagement.

Sharing photos from your college or university will only do you some favors. You should also be using images to increase engagement and recruit more prospects. The easiest way to do this is by creating a branded hashtag and then asking people to upload their photos using the hashtag.

Colleges and universities do this all the time to get people engaged and connected, such as on the first day of school or a homecoming football game. Create your own branded campaigns that drive specific engagement (i.e., open houses, campus tours, scholarship winners, financial aid meetings).

Fortunately, there should be no shortage of images that you can post. Your school is booming with visual opportunities whether it’s photos of students, faculty, campus grounds, dorm rooms, lecture halls, cafeterias, extracurricular activities, theater plays, sports games and volunteer work in the community. These photos give prospects a glance into what life is like at your school and how they might fit into it.

Create groups on social media so prospects can connect with others.

Most of the major social networks allow users to form “groups” or “lists” that bring people together based on a common interest or discussion topic. Facebook probably has the best group feature, in our humble opinion. Start by creating a group, adding the appropriate images and adding people based on who might be a good fit.

There are many ways to use Facebook groups. Many college students look for fun things to do around campus, especially if they can’t get home on the weekends. A Facebook group managed by your higher institution might suggest safe activities that are going on around campus. Or, you might have a group that offers study tips and access to tutors on campus.

Facebook groups can also help on the recruitment side of things. You can create groups for prospects who are interested in certain programs, scholarship opportunities or financial aid packages. You may also create groups for prospects who will graduate in 2021, for example. The goal is to connect people that share a common interest and build up a conversation around it. As you learn more about the people in your groups, you can create content that helps guide them on their enrollment journey.

Be ubiquitous on the social channels of your choice.

It’s not easy to be everywhere on social media because there are tons of social networks, and college prospects have their favorites. How can you effectively reach prospects on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr and more? Is it even possible?

The reality is that you can’t be everywhere at once, and that is OK. Your goal is to find the channels that your college audience is most likely to be on and build out your presence on these networks specifically.

Share valuable, helpful content that aligns with the enrollment journey. Be available to answer questions and respond to concerns or feedback. When prospects see that you are listening and interested in what they have to say, they won’t be afraid to reach out to you.

Even though nurturing prospects with content is a great way to keep them engaged, it can get difficult to increase traffic to your social media pages, especially when it’s not enrollment time. To keep bringing in more interest, follow students on social media and offer incentives for engagement.

Ideas of the things you can offer include discounts on books, free meal vouchers and reduced tickets to campus events. When prospects see that you have an active, vibrant community on social media, they will want to be a part of it. Think of it as a domino effect.


Using social media for recruiting students is an excellent strategy that you should be utilizing to its fullest potential. Don’t let the various platforms and lingo scare you away. As long as you are honest about what your school can offer, and you spend time each day engaging with your audience, you will see that you can use social media just as well as the pros.