As great as your content may be, it’s likely that there’s something missing from it that you can’t put your finger on. For most higher education institutions, it’s a firsthand perspective.
If you’re not living in the dorms, attending classes or eating at the cafeteria, the content you provide to prospects is always going to be missing that one thing. Not to mention, you may not know what to write about. You can guess as to what prospective students want to know more of, but do you really know?
Fortunately, there is a solution to these shortcomings. Your current students are one of your greatest assets for inbound marketing content. They have a firsthand perspective and know how to speak to your audience in a genuine and authentic way.
Additionally, your students won’t mind being social or sharing because it’s what they’re used to. Facebook was launched when many of them were around 7 or 8 years old! Sharing their college experience comes natural to them, and the content they create for your audience will immediately look more genuine.
In this post, we are going to discuss four ways that current students on campus can increase enrollment for your higher ed institution. They are your most effective ambassadors, after all.
1. Social Media Involvement
College students are tied to social media. It’s a part of their life and has been for as long as they can remember. When they see something engaging, it’s only natural that they want to share it with friends. So, it’s not a big deal to ask current students to post content to their own profiles. Most will be happy to do so.
If you have branded hashtags or priority hashtags to increase awareness, let students know about them. For example, the University of Wisconsin created the hashtag #studystrong to gain momentum during exam weeks. You can take popular hashtags like #congratsgrads or #firstdayofschool and personalize it with your school name as well.
Students can also participate on your school’s social media accounts by promoting an event or hosting a Q&A. “Day in the Life” campaigns are also best led by students themselves because who else knows about a day in the life but them! Have students create a Facebook album, a Snapchat story or take over your Instagram account for the day to document their experience.
2. Guest Blog Posts
Take a look at your editorial calendar and decide which posts could be delegated out to current students. Reach out to students who are actively involved in these areas. For instance, if it’s a residence hall that has plans for renovation, let a student currently living in the hall write about what they like and dislike about the building.
Or if it’s changes in the psychology department that are being made, ask a psychology major to weigh in. Even if it’s just some personal experience, it’s still fresh material for your content. TV news wouldn’t be nearly as interesting if news anchors weren’t out there interviewing people!
Students are also great for generating new topics. They probably know about some things that are going on on campus that you don’t know about yet. Talk to students about new programs they may be starting up or volunteer opportunities that are impacting the community.
As you being to acquire more posts written by your students, you can create an eBook or Flipboard that prospective students can look through. Peers trust peers, so it’s nice to have an entire section that incoming students will look at as being credible and trustworthy.
3. Email Nurturing
Another way to encourage more participation from your current students is to have them send emails to prospects. Email nurturing campaigns are highly effective at moving prospective students through the funnel and closer toward filling out an application. Sending an email that comes from a current student is a wonderful way to personalize one of your touch points.
Connect with students and ask them to write a short piece that can be included in your email newsletter or sent as a standalone email. The email does not have to come from the student’s personal email, either. Use an email alias to send the emails so that students don’t have to share their email, and you’re able to track the metrics and see who’s interacting with it.
There are dozens of topics that can be covered in an email such as the best study places on campus, the best times to do laundry or the best places to eat. You can also ask students to share a personal story that prospects can connect with, or have students explain why they chose your school.
If prospects are interacting with the content, you can dish out more of it. Be sure to include a call to action at the end, and perhaps a link to your blog where prospective students can learn more or follow students they like.
4. Revolving Content Forum
A final way to increase enrollment numbers is by rotating content on designated spaces. Use a section on your website or email newsletter for updated student news such as new projects, campus events, study tips and more. Include screenshots and short videos so that users can see students interacting with one another on your campus.
The purpose of doing this is to encourage readers to check back often to learn about new things taking place on campus. Tie these posts into your social media campaigns and email campaigns as well. This content is always-changing, so it provides substance to these channels.
There is no better resource that your school has than your very own students. They’re the ones who have already been down the route of researching schools and choosing yours, and they can pass down their wisdom to new students. Also, current students are living the life, so again, they can provide an authentic view of your school.
The more your institution fills this gap, the more people will trust what you have to offer. Students and their families often look to their gut feeling when selecting a college. Instilling trust and credibility encourages these positive associations and can land your school more qualified applicants.