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5 Social Media Strategies for Increased School Enrollment

5 Social Media Strategies for Increased School Enrollment

For today's college-bound students, choices have never been more plentiful. Students can choose a university that is public or private, in or out of state, urban or rural, diverse or homogenous. 

But increasingly, as soon-to-be graduates weigh the relative pros and cons of this college, they're thinking about more than cost, location, campus size and the quality of student life.  

Today, more students want to know that the colleges and universities they pick are on the right side of the social issues they care about. And, given how high the stakes are, they're willing to do the requisite research to find out whether their first or second choice school is committed to social good. Unsurprisingly, they're finding these answers on social media platforms.

Learn How Inbound Marketing Can Improve Your Student Enrollment

The Power of Social Media to Effect Social Change

As the wildfires raged, destroying more than 25 million acres of Australian bush, forest and parks, citizens across the continent felt helpless to do anything to stop the unfolding crisis. They knew their government, first responders and aid organizations were doing everything possible to help. But they also knew those organizations would need to raise awareness and money to do the work that needed to be done.

That's when 4 Australian college students got a whale of an idea. What if they launched a "cause marketing" campaign on social media? They knew that cause marketing had helped businesses like Toms Shoes and Starbucks raise money for a variety of worthy causes. They also knew they would need to find a "hook," something that would entice viewers to personally participate—and to donate to a Go Fund Me link.

As with all marketing efforts, execution is critical—and theirs was flawless. They each created a LinkedIn video where they did a dance move to Men at Work's "Down Under." It went viral, getting more than 350,000 views in 7 countries—and raising tens of thousands of dollars which went directly to the Australian Red Cross. 

That's a winning marketing campaign, and that's the power of using social media for good.

Social Media Strategies: From Killer Idea to Effective Execution

As these successful, young Australians quickly discovered, when it comes to effectively using social media to do good, a great idea is just the first step. That's because social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram are full of great ideas and sharable content. 

Said differently, no matter how engaging the concept that fuels your school's social media campaign, you're going to be competing with a flood of other great ideas and emerging stories in people's news feeds. And that means you need to create a sustainable strategy that keeps your cause front of mind. 

As Georgetown's Center for Social Impact Communication correctly notes, when something you post is quickly embraced, there is no guarantee it will hold your audience's attention for the long haul:

"How can we effectively use social media for good? That is a brilliant question we are about to answer. It's not a cinch to create a post that goes viral and thereby creates a movement. Very often, the most informative and useful posts get buried in an avalanche of so many other "news" items on people's feeds. 

Even if it does make an impact, you'll have to keep preserving and upholding the message before it starts to slip out of the public's awareness and get replaced with another hot new topic."

Using Social Media for Good: Best Practice Strategies

Every social media marketing plan—whether it's from a business trying to ramp up sales or a college attempting to increase freshman enrollment—is different, with different audiences, different competitors and different marketing challenges. 

But the strategies that have worked for both nonprofit and for-profit organizations tend to be the same, including the following 5:

1) Get Creative

If your concept doesn't resonate with your target audience, your social media campaign is going to fall flat—period. Above all, you need a compelling "hook" that draws people in and encourages their participation. 

That's what Toms Shoes did with their "One Day Without Shoes" campaign. The idea was simple and compelling—for each pair of shoes its customers bought, Toms would donate a pair to a needy child. But Toms understood that gaining traction would require a hook, so they asked participants to post pictures of their bare feet on Instagram. This led to big success, taking their campaign viral.

2) Find Strength in Numbers

Whatever social cause you're promoting, odds are there are other organizations and individuals with similar goals. For example, if your college is committed to a more diverse campus community, you can join forces with any number of organizations similarly dedicated to social justice and racial equality. 

Take the time to seek out other groups on your social media platform whose goals are like your own. Join their groups and follow their hashtags and encourage them to reciprocate. 

In joining forces, you exponentially increase your social media reach and impact.

3) Define Your Cause with Key Metrics

It can be difficult for people to understand the extent of a problem without context. You can provide that context by sharing relevant data. 

For example, if your cause is homelessness, you could tell prospective students (and their parents) how prevalent homelessness is in a specific geographic area.

If your solution is placing the homeless in affordable housing units, you could provide regular updates, detailing how many homeless your college (perhaps in partnership with a group like Habitat for Humanity) has housed—and how the efforts of your supporters have made this positive change possible.

4) Embrace Storytelling

Your audience needs to grasp the extent of a social problem through the data you provide. But it's equally important that they understand the human dimension of that problem. 

One of the best ways to create an emotional connection with your social media campaign is to share stories about some of the people you've helped. 

For example, if you're trying to help the homeless, you could highlight the stories of 4 or 5 people you've placed in housing. Make sure your stories resonate by including relevant details, like the personal struggles these people have faced, and how having a place to sleep is the first step on the road to a more productive and meaningful life.

5) Be Clear About What You Want People to Do

Your campaign for social good should include key actions you want members of your audience to take, like sharing a post, clicking on a link, or planning to join a campus organization dedicated to a shared cause. 

Make sure these calls to action (CTAs) are as simple and clear as possible. The easier it is for people to understand what it is you want them to do, the more likely they'll be to do it.

In Conclusion

Those 4 Australians probably didn't know much about the best ways to use social media to advance their cause at the start. They probably made a lot of mistakes before they got their game on—but they used those mistakes to improve performance because they were determined to succeed—not for themselves, but for the thousands of countrymen they wanted to help.

Embracing social media marketing to increase engagement among your accepted student pool, is a powerful inbound marketing strategy to boost enrollment, but it's not the only one. 

Collectively, inbound strategies like social media and email marketing, content marketing, SEO and sponsored ads can be a game-changer for your enrollment process. But they can also be both complicated and confusing. That's where Sonority Group can help.

To learn more about the ways our inbound and higher education marketing services can help you achieve your digital marketing goals contact us today.

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