Utilizing Social Media in Higher Education
Long gone are the days where high school students looked through pamphlets of regional colleges and universities to decide which school they wanted to attend. College recruitment has gone from a part-time job of a college counselor to a multi-million dollar component of university budgets. Tactics ranging from in-person visits to direct mailers are deployed in order to secure a freshman class, however; both are incredibly expensive. With collegiate state and federal funding drastically decreasing, new recruitment methods that are more cost effective are being used. The largest of which, is utilizing social media in higher education.
College students use social media more often than any other age group. 95% of students are active on Facebook daily, so it makes sense for colleges to go to their space to both recruit and retain them. In a recent Kaplan survey of college admission professionals, over 80% are using Facebook to recruit, while 25% are checking out student profiles. Colleges can use this platform to provide admissions advice, share news about events, direct students to articles and videos, and encourage current students to host discussions with potential students. The mere action of a current student “checking in” on campus allows for followers/potential students to gain a unique understanding of the campus culture.
It might seem difficult to really get interesting news across in 140 characters, but as long as universities keep the information relevant and use a service like bit.ly to shorten news links, messaging in this platform can be easily mastered. The most popular type of tweet for student recruitment and engagement is a post with a photo, followed closely by event information. Twitter is not the place to post information about academics, and videos in this market tend to do poorly. Tweets by a university should be as Stanford University states “little virtual gateways into the school’s incredible universe.” All social media in higher education should be about the conversation and about providing an experience to entice student involvement.