Jun 6, 2023

The What, Why & How of Social Media for Higher Education

A large part of our daily internet use revolves around social media. This is especially true for the younger generations and provides a great opportunity for higher education institutions that are hoping to attract new students.

A solid social media strategy can help drive enrollments and many colleges and universities already use these networks to boost traffic and leads.

Social media marketing has a lot of potential, in this blog we're going to show you how to get started and leverage the channel. 

What are the benefits of social media (and how are others doing it)?

Some educational institutions have already found ways to implement successful social media for higher education, using it to connect with students using relatable voices on the platforms they use every day.

But what are the key ways that social media can help your college, university, or training company reap the rewards of a great social media strategy?

1. Increase Student Engagement using Social Media - Columbia University

Columbia University holds an annual fundraiser every year coined the Giving Day Campaign to bring together Columbians everywhere to make a big impact on the students, faculty, and researchers who will change the world.

Using various social media platforms, they mobilized their fundraising efforts with the help of some social media ambassadors and engaged alumni, and broadcast live video streams to a wide audience on their social media channels.

In 2022, the fundraiser raked in nearly $30 million from over 19,229 donors all over the U.S., plus more than 50 other countries, and created a video shared on YouTube to express its thanks

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Tip: Fundraising initiatives are a great way to get students or alumni involved and engage an audience on social media. If you don't have an advertising budget to target specific cohorts then set up a group on Facebook or LinkedIn or create a branded hashtag to use on Twitter and TikTok. 

2. Boost Brand Awareness using Social Media - University of British Columbia

Prospective students use social media sites to research learning options and say that social posts influenced their course selection and the institution they select, according to an article in the European Journal of Management Studies

This means that colleges and universities can start communicating with prospects long before an official campus visit.

The University of British Columbia uses social media to showcase innovation in the sciences by using Twitter to shine the spotlight on the accomplishments of its faculty and students, establishing itself as a thought leader in those areas.

University of British Columbia tweets
University of British Columbia tweets

By sharing content that's both relevant and interesting, UBC drives engagement on Twitter and boosts brand awareness.  

Tip: Make sure to mix up the content you share on social media. Don't make it all about your institution. Include posts that talk about interesting subjects that are relevant to your university or college. For example, if you have an engineering department, share news about the latest innovations such as solar-powered cars from a third-party to show you have your finger on the pulse. 

3. Drive Enrollment Numbers by Using Social Media

As the digital landscape makes online learning more appealing to many college-age students, there is increasing pressure for higher ed institutions to up the ante with student recruitment.

University College London leverages social media as part of its outreach strategy to promote its curriculum, school faculty, career opportunities, and campus culture. 

The tweets below are a sample of the type of content they post from promoting a Housing Week event to help find flatmates for the upcoming year to launching a career in data science or artificial intelligence. It's this regularity and quality of content that showcases the university as a place to find support and build toward a successful career.  

UCL student recrtuiment strategy
UCL student recrtuiment strategy

This is a great way to reach more people and can exert a major influence on students who are torn between several college options.

Which platforms can prove effective for higher education?

It’s clear that social media is a big part of people’s lives today, and that influence extends to their research for colleges and schools.

Every platform has unique benefits.

  • LinkedIn and Facebook are great for building professional networks with both current students and alumni.
  • Twitter is great for posting trending content or posting in real time. It's also great for news or announcements. 
  • Visual platforms are a great way to engage and higher education providers can use Pinterest or Instagram to build their brand image.
  • TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat are perfect for short video content while YouTube enables institutions to build a fanbase around a dedicated video channel.

By focusing on social media stories, which combine short videos, good photos, quirky captions, and popular filters, educators can publish engaging content that prospective students find relatable and easy to access.

Social media is now a key part of any educator's digital marketing strategy in order to raise brand awareness, drive student engagement and be an authority that students go to when they require assistance, reassurance, or answers.

The key is to create great content that resonates and curate imagery that showcases your institution best. Also, don't underestimate the power of blogs - from faculty and user-generated from students and alumni - using simple platforms such as WordPress and Medium which can be used to grow your brand through content marketing.

This boosts organic search rankings, which may make a big difference when students are researching different college options.

Use social media to boost brand awareness & drive enrollments

Social media is a powerful tool for any university or college looking to stand out from competitors and engage with prospective and current students. We offer a unique range of industry-validated course content and certification and work with over 40 of the world's leading brands including Google, Facebook & Twitter through our Global Industry Advisory Champions. Learn more to see how we can help you drive enrollments.

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