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Social Media Strategies for Colleges [Are They Worth It?]

Social Media Strategies for Colleges [Are They Worth It?]

Make no mistake. When it comes to marketing, social media has fundamentally changed over the last decades. And while a single blog article would not nearly be enough to describe all of these changes, from new networks to different ways users now consume their information and interact with each other, one thing is certain:

Social media is now a pay-to-play game.

Gone are the days of creating a social media channel and watching your audience flock to you. Instead, a social media strategy for schools almost necessarily has to include a budget. And that isn't changing anytime soon, if at all. Given that advertisers spend more than $50 billion combined on paid social media campaigns, networks have realized how profitable these campaigns can be.

Of course, that doesn't make social media irrelevant to your audience. Quite the opposite, in fact. Combined with other elements in your marketing strategy, social media paid campaigns can still be a vital piece in your overall admissions funnel

This blog post will detail how social media can still be instrumental in your education-based marketing campaigns.

Table of Contents:

The Continued Importance of Social Media for Today's Prospective Student

Social media might be changing for colleges and universities. Still, it remains prominent for prospective students as they move through their college search. Research continues to show social channels at or near the top of the methods students use to browse through school options, with Instagram and YouTube leading the pack. 

But here's the key: no matter the channel, students aren't looking for promotional content on these channels. Instead, they're looking for a more authentic look at campus life and academics, helping them to form a picture of what being a student would be like. Keep that in mind as you build your school's social media presence.

5 Social Media Ideas for Colleges and Universities

A changing social media environment means new ideas and campaigns are both necessary and beneficial as you look to recruit your next incoming class. These five ideas can help you get started in that direction, building a more comprehensive strategy designed to attract potential students and maximizing the return on your investment.

1) Put Budget Behind Building Your Followers

Because students are looking for authentic content, your social media profile still matters. The content you post here, from visuals of students enjoying campus life to faculty news, still makes an impact. At the same time, you must ensure that your audience can easily find your pages in an age where most non-paid content gets suppressed in your audience's newsfeed.

The solution: so-called follower campaigns, in which general ads specifically ask your audience to follow you. The messaging of these ads can be general value propositions of your school with a powerful visual.

2) Strategically Boost Organic Posts

In addition to boosting your general presence, most social media networks also allow you to promote individual posts that might be particularly relevant to prospective students and their parents. That means adding some budget behind a post to ensure it will be seen by a specifically targeted audience (like high school students in your core recruitment areas) even if they don't follow your accounts.

Within this strategy, finding the right content to boost is crucial. Videos of your campus can be impactful, as can important news like a new national ranking (in which your school is positioned well). The guaranteed reach from boosting the post can be beneficial for spreading the message.

3) Create a Paid Social Media Campaign

Let's talk about dedicated paid social media. These dedicated paid campaigns can last weeks and even months, promoting your school or an individual program. Ads can be immensely targeted; look at the hundreds of targeting options available on Facebook alone. 

Dedicated paid campaigns work best when they have a singular goal. That might be spreading brand awareness about your university or building applications for a specific program. They typically require two to four ad variations that can rotate for this audience and a dedicated landing page on your website that provides a natural next step after the call-to-action.

4) Consider a Custom Audience Yield Campaign

Paid social media continues beyond the early stages of the enrollment funnel. It can work throughout your recruitment cycle, including yield – thanks to a targeting feature called "custom audiences."

Simply put, it's the ability to upload a list of specific contacts to the ad platform, which then matches to social media accounts using the same contact information. You can now run dedicated ads only to this audience, making it a perfect option for later-funnel campaigns like yield, where you can upload a list of only admitted students and their parents for targeting.

5) Leverage User-Generated Content

Finally, never underestimate the potential power of your students being able to create social media content on your behalf. They're likely already doing it, posting stories and visuals about their acceptance to your school, campus life, and more. Now, all you have to do is use the best content to support your campaigns.

For example, consider a hashtag that admitted students could use to celebrate their admittance to your school. Now, you can use any submissions for an ad campaign - in which you also build excitement for other students. 

Ready to Build Your College’s Social Media Strategy?

Of course, these are just some of the many social media marketing ideas schools can pursue to reach prospective students and parents. The key is finding the strategies that work for you and integrating those strategies into your larger marketing plan and enrollment funnel.

That sounds complex. The good news is that you don't have to do it alone. 

With a dedicated enrollment marketing agency on your side, you can build social media strategies designed to reach and engage your audience effectively. Ready to get started? Let's chat!

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