Since the boom of Facebook just a few years ago prospective college students have had to monitor their Facebook accounts for inappropriate photos and make sure all their tweets are tasteful to prove that they are an ideal student and worthy of college acceptance. But now students have begun to judge the colleges themselves on their social media outlets proving that the tables have turned and now it’s the colleges turn to update their Facebook and jazz up their Twitter accounts or risk losing these prospective students.
The Art and Science Group, a higher education consulting firm, has been trying to understand this jump to social media as a replacement to traditional research. The group conducted a survey in November and December of 2012 and found many shocking results about social media. The study found that 44% of prospective students use social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as an aide in their college searches; this is a 26% increase since 2008. These social media searches are not conducted to figure out the credentials of the school, but to learn about the students and the scene of the school. This jump in the use of social media as a means of research is proving that colleges and universities need to reevaluate how they market themselves to these prospective students.
Dartmouth College is arguably the best example of a college who is utilizing social media the most effectively. The college’s 13,000 Twitter followers get consistent updates of school activities, birthday shout outs and when prospective students get accepted to the school they get a congratulations for everyone to see. Dartmouth has also explored using Instagram in order to attract new students. The Dartmouth Instagram page features pictures of the campus, vintage shots of the grounds to feature on ‘throwback Thursday’ and often times current students make cameos in the shots. Dartmouth College has perfected the use of social media to attract future students and to continue to grow their brand.
The traditional idea of giving prospective students a glossy brochure or an informational packet on the university and its statistics is a thing of the past. Even a stellar website is now the bare minimum in order to attract students. These high school juniors and seniors are accustomed to scouring social media for information and crave the personal feel that social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram provide. Another aspect that some universities have begun to utilize is YouTube videos of campus tours and student life. Many schools also recruit current students to create blogs explaining why they love their university and also to document their day-to-day activities from classes to their social life.
The use of social media as a recruiting tool for colleges and universities is a revolutionary way to not only garner interest from prospective students, but to also engage them and make them feel as if they are already a part of the campus. Using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram provides students with insight to the student life and the vibe of a university. Social media gives college recruiting a more personal touch and proves to be necessary for both marketing and recruiting.
Author: Katie FitzGerald is our Fall Community Manager 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.