It’s long been known that the social connections students make, especially in their first year, are critical to increasing retention rates. Social media is providing colleges and universities the opportunity to reach students to better understand their needs and enhance their educational experience.
To seize the social opportunity, higher ed institutions need a social media strategy to differentiate their organization from the other 20,000 colleges and universities around the world vying for student attention through blogs, Foursquare, Facebook, Twitter and other channels.
That’s why we put together Social Media Strategy for Higher Education — to help colleges and universities craft a plan that will lead to increased admissions, better student retention, and a flourishing faculty culture.
Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 5 to give you a few ideas on ways a college or university can use social media to engage students, faculty and the broader community.
Give a Glimpse of Campus Life
What’s the classroom experience? What’s special about the student union? What are some of the other students like? What makes you different from all the other schools mailing your potential student a pamphlet? Use video to emulate the campus tour to give prospective students an idea of what to expect after enrollment or create excitement about the football team’s Friday night game.
Spread the Good News
As long as you tie news back to a value statement for your community, social media can be a great conduit for sharing university accolades, stories about award-winning faculty, and university research accomplishments.
Ask and Answer Questions
Provide a medium for students, faculty, parents and alumni to provide feedback, and let them know they’ve been heard. The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania invites their community to shape their Lifelong Learning Program by submitting and upvoting suggestions about pressing business topics and societal challenges they’d like Wharton to address.
Tell Stories about Student Success
When comparing colleges or head-down in a textbook preparing for finals with no chance of getting any sleep in the near future, a compelling and true success story about an alum landing a dream job can inspire and rejuvenate.
You have students and alumni who are die-hard fans. They couldn’t be more proud of their school, and they make a point to show it on Facebook and Twitter. Often this rubs off on their peers, and may ultimately influence others’ perceptions. Give these advocates a virtual pat on the back by featuring them on the blog or Facebook page.
Foster Student-to-Student or Faculty-to-Faculty Discussion
Every person’s experience at your college or university is unique, but everyone could benefit from easier ways to find and connect with classmates, peers, extracurricular organizations, or study and interest groups. Consider creating a custom on-site message board, social network or Facebook application to help students and faculty to branch out or share ideas.
Help Students Make Connections
DeVry University is using social media channels like Facebook and Twitter to facilitate conversations between students and experts in their field of study. They also started using LinkedIn groups to help alumni connect with professionals in their field and hosted networking events to help bring these engagements full circle.
Read the whole ebook to glean all the information you need to create or augment a social media plan for your college or university.
Already part of a social school? Share some of your social media marketing insights with us in the comments.