How to convert more Applicants into enrolled Students

    Five social media trends for higher ed

    Here's how universities will have to adjust their social media strategy to engage students in 2017
    Last updated:
    February 14, 2024

    2016 was another year of change for social media marketing. Major platforms Facebook, LinkedIn and Snapchat all introduced new features, phased out unpopular ones and adjusted their strategies to gain an edge over competitors. Here's an outline of how universities will have to adjust their social media strategy in 2017.

    Instagram Stories versus Snapchat

    I can’t seem to lower myself into the dark depths of the ‘basic internet’ with its Snapchat deer faces and stories that are automatically deleted shortly after they’ve been published. But it's essential for your university ot have a presence on these platforms. In 2016 alone, Snapchat and Instagram alone had 250 million active daily users.

    As an example, you could post a series of photos or videos portraying what a typical day in the life of a first-year student would look like. Or you could dedicate posts to different courses, focusing on a particular detail of what makes that course interesting to study.

    Additionally, Facebook has ripped Instagram Stories; just months after the Facebook-owned photo-sharing site copied the feature from Snapchat. This feature will be increasingly developed and foregrounded in the coming months.

    Augmented reality

    Augmented reality wasn’t just a Pokémon Go! fad. Yes, every episode of Black Mirror is coming true.

    Instead of hiding under the bed and pretending that technology is not taking over the world, higher ed marketers must embrace AR. As an example, you could create your own image filters consistent with your branding. See below an example from Loughborough University.

    Our @Snapchat filters will be gone at 6pm! Get your photos in before then 😁📸 #LboroGrad2016

    — Loughborough Uni (@lborouniversity) July 15, 2016

    Since AR is a growing trend, it’s vital for marketing and recruitment professionals to think outside the box and watch it closely.

    Instant gratification

    User’s preoccupation with FOMO has resulted in Facebook’s new live video feature. Universities are using Facebook Live to beam footage of sporting events, campus tours and other activities related to student life.

    This feature allows universities to connect with prospective applicants in real-time. Viewers can respond with comments and emojis, and you can answer questions and respond to comments as they’re posted.

    It’s reachpocalypse! or: the endless chatbot debate

    Using bots to communicate with prospects is something student recruiters should approach with caution. It’s difficult to tell how a specific target audience will respond to this type of communication. A bot that delivers a poor, impersonal user experience could discourage potential applicants.

    That being said, the option to chat to a live admissions professional or leave an offline message is gaining popularity within higher education. Many universities have also started using WhatsApp, text messages and these Chinese social media platforms to great effect.

    Influence marketing or: the emotional Hunger Games continues

    As much as the Sarah McLaughlin BCSPCA animal cruelty commercials pull on my heartstrings, prospective applicants do most of their research while they are on the go. HE marketers should note that today’s consumers, especially young consumers, are increasingly wary of branded content.

    One way to achieve an authenticity is to allow trusted students and alumni to post on your behalf. Let them post snapshots or short videos of what they are doing on campus, during an exchange programme or in their professional life after graduation. They have first-hand experience of
    student life and can lend an authentic voice to your brand.


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    Justin Pace

    I work for ISM and contribute to FULL FABRIC as a guest blogger. I am a digital marketing and communications professional focusing on higher education. My passion is for data and entrepreneurship. I am originally from the United States and have recently relocated to London after living in France for six years. I enjoy travelling, baseball, social enterprises, and cold weather.

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