For incoming college students, the campus tour is a crucial component when it comes to getting a feel for potential schools. Nothing says “college” more than shuffling around campus with a crowd of overeager parents and their embarassed teenagers; but with the ever increasing reliance on the web and social media, students are supplementing this rite of passage with an online academic experience.
One indicator of the recruiting power of social media is in students who commit to a school without ever having set foot on campus, like the thousands of international students who flock to American universities or prospective students who live across the country. To figure out what each school has to offer, or to narrow down the schools they already know they like, they have to turn to the online presence of their potential alma maters. A Zinch survey of more than 7,000 high school students indicated that 68% of respondents used social media to research schools. Of those respondents, 38% said that they have used social media as a resource when deciding where to enroll.
Of the top 100 colleges and universities as ranked by U.S. News & World Report, 92 of them utilize social media on their websites. Prospective students are accessing these sites and using them as valuable resources in the recruitment process. The question for colleges isn't whether to use social media site, but how many and which ones.
The University of Wisconsin at Madison’s social media presence makes you want to be a part of their community. One of social media’s strong suits is its ability to communicate personality while maintaining that professional disposition expected of an institution of higher learning. At UW, they strike the balance perfectly. They frequently reply and retweet their current students while showing applicants the atmosphere that UW Madison can offer. And also the blanket forts.
With over 478,000 followers on Facebook, Gator Nation is a leader on the higher education social media scene. They engage students using flashy photos, infographics, links to tools like their scholarship search and more. The use of effective social media is one reason why so many students are interested in applying to UF: they make it appealing and accessible.
The University of Minnesota’s Carlson MBA program is a social media success story. The program employed Twitter to revive its failing admission goals. Twitter allowed admissions officers to connect directly with potential students online. Carlson now answers questions and discusses the school’s programs, making the program more visible and increasing applications. The MBA program’s success on social media is no surprise, considering it comes from a pretty impressive legacy: @umnews is in the top 10 most influential colleges on Twitter.
These schools provide just a few example of how social media can influence admissions decisions. A thriving Facebook page or Twitter rapport alone isn’t going to convince prospective students, but to the millennial generation, it’s an indicator of something bigger. It shows that a school is ready to adapt, learn, and grow alongside the student. That’s the college experience that we’re looking for.
And don’t worry: as universities are adapting their marketing strategy, we're confident you’ll still have the chance to watch your student recruiter narrowly avoid falling backwards down a set of stairs.
Author: Lane Jones is our Fall Editor & Word-Smith here at Verge Pipe Media. Verge Pipe Media assists public institutions, enterprises and the non-profit sector with Imaginative Inbound Marketing strategies + campaigns. We also have a development team chock full of Marvelous Mobile Migrators, poised to help transition our clients into a mobile + social world with custom software, iOS and Android mobile apps.