Which Social Media Platforms Are Best for Marketing Colleges and Universities?

Christina Diecidue

Senior Content Strategist

As colleges and universities aim to attract the most capable and promising students to their institutes, achieving this goal is becoming increasingly challenging. While competition is stiffening, students are also becoming more discerning. College-bound students today are highly informed, opinionated and focused on the value institutes can add in their career preparation and future success. In fact, students are probably the toughest and most demanding customers!

Against this backdrop, social media platforms have become a key element in marketing campaigns and play an important role in helping educational institutes meet their enrollment targets.

Is Social Media Really That Powerful for Marketing Colleges and Universities?

According to a survey conducted by Zinch (online college and scholarship matching service) and Inigral (education-technology company):

  • Around 72% of incoming high school seniors had researched colleges on social media

  • Almost 70% students said that social media had helped them choose the college to attend

What are the Main Social Media Platforms?

The most popular social media platforms are:

Facebook

  • Over 2.38 billion monthly active users (MAUs) globally, as of March 2019

YouTube

  • 1.9 billion MAUs worldwide, as of September 2018

Instagram

  • 1 billion MAUs, as of March 2019

Twitter

  • 126 million daily users globally, as of February 2019

What are the Social Media Platforms Most Popular Among College-Bound Students?

According to a report by Pew Research Center, the most popular social media platforms among US teens are:

YouTube

Instagram

Snapchat

Facebook

85% of teens use this

72% of teens use this

69% of teens use this

51% of teens use this

What Social Media Platforms are used by Colleges and Universities?

According to a study of the top 100 colleges and universities by The Journal of College Admission, the four leading social media platforms are:

Facebook   +   YouTube   +   Twitter   +   Flickr   =   Enrollments

Like businesses, many colleges and universities include Google+ in their social media campaigns, as this is believed to help Google rankings.

What are some of the Other Social Media Platforms?

  • Tik Tok: iOS and Android media app for creating and sharing short videos – recently gained immense popularity

  • LinkedIn: Employment oriented platform – few high school seniors would be active on this

  • Pinterest: Good for discovery of information - more popular outside the US

  • Telegram: Instant messaging and VoIP – not very popular among students

What are the Best Tips for Social Media Marketing by Colleges and Universities?

Here are some tips for marketing colleges and universities using leading social media platforms:

  • Ensure the social media profiles are complete with images, description and contact details.

  • Showcase your institute, including the facilities, extracurricular activities, events and achievements

  • Don’t miss the human touch. Feature the faculty and their specialty. Highlight achievements by professors and current students.

  • Focus on what potential students are thinking - Try to answer the most common questions students have when selecting a college as well as create posts around what students are interested in.

  • Keep in touch with what’s trending among young people and share posts around these.

  • Involve existing students and get their ideas on how to market your institute.

  • Engage the alumni, through stories of what their lives are like after college.

  • Encourage likes and comments, and don’t forget to respond to them.

What are the Best Practices on Social Media for Marketing Colleges and Universities?

  • Have a plan and set up an editorial calendar

  • Identify clear KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to keep a track of performance

  • Use analytics for informed decision making

  • Post regularly and frequently

  • Respond promptly to comments and questions

  • Interact with other pages that students may be interested in

  • Always respond to negative comments

What Should Colleges and Universities Be Careful About When Using Social Media for Marketing?

  • Avoid automating posts

  • Avoid posts that are too frivolous

  • Do not respond to negative comments in a rude or defensive way

Keep in mind that any comment that is not perceived in a good light can snowball into a huge issue and quickly go viral on social media. So, colleges and universities need to know how to nip such discussions in the bud.

About the Author: Christina Diecidue

Christina Diecidue is the Marketing Project Coordinator at SEMGeeks.  She holds a B.S. in Business Administration, with concentrations in marketing, advertising, and web design from Rider University.  Known to be a meticulous worker, Christina values each client's individual goals and works to meet their digital strategy needs accordingly.  With valuable knowledge in higher education, alumni engagement, and leadership, she provides an array of skills to the SEMGeeks team.  In her free time, Christina can be found binge watching repeats of Friends and spending time with her family.

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