4 Tips for High-Ed Marketers to Engage Prospective Students
Be Positively Disruptive
Millennials have passed the social media-obsessed crown onto GenZ, who are quickly taking over the landscape with endless new socials at their fingertips. This usually leads Universities to think that they need to be everyone and anywhere their audiences are, but that is impractical and resource-constraining. This is where a well-thought-out strategy comes into play. Universities should take time to research where prospective students and their guardians are engaging and receptive to decision-driving content vs where they are going strictly for entertainment. This will ensure that you’re positively disruptive vs white noise. That might mean a “vintage” channel, such as Facebook or Instagram, which already has a large audience, is the place for you vs Twitch. According to Insider Intelligence, 33 million GenZ engage with Instagram monthly, and Facebook continues to steadily grow as Gen Z ages out of popular teen platforms. Between Spring 2021 and Spring 2022, Brunner’s client, Indiana University of Pennsylvania saw a 48% increase in engagement on Instagram and a 100% increase in engagement on Facebook! If you’re seeing low engagement, maybe the platforms aren’t the problem…
Let the Experts Handle the Questions
Around 80% of prospective students are using social media to research and compare Universities – and they have a lot of questions. As a Higher-Ed expert, Brunner knows that Universities have a wealth of knowledge on what prospective students should be asking, but it’s how Universities are answering questions that make it relatable, engaging, and memorable to drive consideration. One strategy is to let your current students do the talking through peer-to-peer Q&A sessions. Instagram takeovers are excellent for in-the-moment opportunities for prospective and current students to connect. Don’t lose out on the opportunity for that content to live past the Q&A session, Reels are beneficial to extend the reach of the content created during the takeovers. Giving current students a platform will allow them to share their experiences on topics such as financial aid, majors and minors, campus clubs and activities, or just the best place to get a burrito at 1 am. They’re the experts on the questions that will mean the most to prospective students.
Highlight Your Campus Community
Every student is looking to find a “home-away-from-home” for the next few years. Universities should share photos of real students at various school activities and events, in class, and in other settings that will give prospective students a glimpse of life on campus. This will help current students picture themselves at the University before they get there, making consideration easier. It’s especially important to showcase the diversity of your student body and the support you give those who are underrepresented beyond the standard brochure images. In the Fall of 2022, IUP painted a rainbow sidewalk, as suggested by students from the LGBTQIA+ community. It has become a visible symbol of IUP’s commitment to making students feel welcome and supported as part of the campus community. Multiple videos and photos of the sidewalk and student reactions were shared across their social media platforms to highlight the type of campus community that prospective students can look forward to.
Show Off Your Personality
College can be stressful, so use social media to highlight the lighter side of college life. Universities can show off their personality and culture with light-hearted, fun, and behind-the-scenes content to show prospective students the balance of “work hard/play hard.” Engaging with student content creators is the best way to show the unique perspectives and personalities of your student body. Jumping on the latest social trends can be an easy way to have fun and be relevant. This Fall, IUP handed over their content creation to current students who let their personalities shine in a Welcome Weekend Takeover series. Followers were treated to an insider’s view of the campus complete with dorm and dining hall tours, silly dances with Norm, and advice from real IUP students. The 7 top stories from the weekend reached over 17,000 total impressions!
Laura Kissinger is a Sr. Lead Marketing Communications planner at Brunner, partnering with clients to reach their core audiences through integrated and omnichannel marketing and communications plans. Laura has worked with companies of all sizes from Fortune 500’s to non-profits in a variety of industries including healthcare, higher-ed, and food retail service.