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Posted by Emma Mulder on 27 October 2016

Some best practices to spark your imagination

With an estimated 75 million active secondary school students on Facebook, social media is an increasingly influential marketing tool for universities trying to recruit new students. So much so, that a comparative ranking tool measuring the success and reach of UK universities’ social media strategies has now been developed to track different universities social performance.

As competition to recruit students increases, universities need to find new ways to stand out. One way to do this is by developing social media campaigns that attract attention and speak directly to their target audiences. In a previous blog we explored the different benefits of using social media to recruit students. And in this post we're going to take it a step further and highlight some great examples of university social media campaigns. Hopefully they will spark your imagination and inspire your university to up your social media game!

1. #LboroughOpenDay Snapchat Geofilter

With the increasing popularity of Snapchat it's no surprise that many universities now include Snapchat in their social media strategy - with some even enlisting their current students to create content. Snapchat is a great platform for universities as it can provide prospective students with a really valuable insight into so many different aspects of campus life.

A perfect example of this in action is by Loughborough University who with the aim of promoting its campus during special events, decided to make use of the Snapchat feature Geofilters, which provide special graphic overlays that can only be accessed in certain locations - positioned by Snapchat as "dynamic art for different places".


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The university used a selection of their own branded Geofilters during it’s Open Day and Graduation – therefore providing prospective students with the opportunity to share their first and last university experiences with their friends and family.

Snapchat filters are a great way for universities to extend the reach of their brand through social sharing. They allow universities to encourage current and prospective students to share their brand message in a fun and easy way, and instantly create user generated content that is shared widely online - with exactly the audience that universities are targeting.

2. University of Salford #Salfie Campaign

Another great user generated content campaign was created by the University of Salford, who were looking to build awareness and engagement around Clearing Day and decided to launch a highly visual social media campaign. The campaign was based around Polaroid-style #SALFIE frames hanging around their campus.
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Students were encouraged to take a picture of themselves in the frame and tweet it using the #SALFIE hashtag. All pictures were then collected and shared in the university’s Instagram feed. At the start of the semester the university even included a small version of the #SALFIE frame in students welcome packages and added a contest for best photo. Hundreds of #SALFIES were uploaded to social media – expanding the reach of the universities brand and helping them engage with their students in a quick and fun way.

This creative campaign was not only fun and engaging - it also turned potential and current students into active brand ambassadors, helping to spread positive messages about the university. 

3. Leeds Beckett University – 100 Days To Go Freshers Countdown

Getting ready for university can often be a scary and stressful process – so it's important that universities make their students-to-be feel welcome and comfortable. Leeds Beckett University took steps to help their future students by making sure they had all the information they needed to adjust to university life.

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For 100 consecutive days prior to the start of their freshers journey, the university provided new applicants with valuable tips and reassuring messages – whilst at the same time promoting their own platforms and services. The “A 100 Days To Go Freshers Countdown” campaign put the prospective students at the heart of the journey and met their diverse needs while ensuring Leeds Beckett remained their first choice (and also accounted for 9,785 new page views!).

4. “Match Made in Salford”: Tinder inspired University Course Finder

During Clearing students can often be faced with lengthy lists of available courses, making the selection procedure a time consuming and at times, frustrating experience. That’s why the University of Salford decided to launch “Match Made in Salford” - an app enabling prospective students to swipe left or right when presented with a potential course.
The courses provmatchmade.pngided in the app are all personalised recommendations based on the students grades, course and career of interest – making the selection process a lot quicker and easier. The app, available on tablet, computer and mobile, helped the school differentiate their clearing process and communicate with students through a highly engaging experience.

Using the popular dating app Tinder as an inspiration, the university managed to make the journey of selecting university courses a fun, quick and easy process. And with success - according to the University’s Marketing Director over 10,000 potential students found their match on results day! The reach of the campaign was subsequently increased by students sharing their ‘matches’ on social media using #MatchMadeInSalford.

5. University of Michigan Pinterest presence

Content sharing platform Pinterest might not be the first platform you think about when developing your universities’ social media strategy. However, Pinterest is becoming increasingly popular with universities for engaging with prospective and current students. According to the platform itself, there are over 500,000 education-related pins added every day. Universities all over the world are already using Pinterest to promote their campus, city, events and achievements, share their school spirit and information about student life.

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Michigan University’s Pinterest page is a great example of how universities can use social media to promote their school spirit and give prospective and current students some insight into life on campus. The university pins an average of 40 times a week and the page has a selection of 45 different boards all focused around different aspects of student life - helping current and prospective students make the best of their time on campus. 

Location based Pinterest place pins

The University also uses Pinterests’ location based feature Place Pins to showcase focal points of their campus. Using this feature new enrollees and prospective students can map out their campus visit before they even take one step on the grounds. Every Place Pin directs you to a corresponding FourSquare page where the prospective student can check in, find out whom of their friends has visited the location before and gain some valuable tips about the school and surrounding area. Making it a quick and easy guide for new and prospective students wanting to explore campus!

Conclusion

It's clear that how students behave when they are selecting a university is changing, as are their expectations of the digital experience they will receive (meaning they expect a great one!).  Their selection decision is now informed by gathering information from an ever growing list of channels, and social media plays an important part in this process.

Universities need to ensure that they are carefully considering the role that social plays within their recruitment and student engagement strategy, understanding which channels they should be building a presence on, exactly what objectives they are looking to achieve, and how this can be done creatively and innovatively. 

Need some help? 

Hopefully the examples provided in this post will have inspired you to start thinking about ways your university can start to engage closer with both prospective and current students through an effective social media strategy.

If you would like to chat with the Status team about how your university can improve it's social media strategy then please do get in touch. We work with several clients within the Higher Education sector and would love to share our knowledge.

If you would like to stay updated on our digital marketing content for the education sector, subscribe to our blog on the top of this page, or download our FREE student recruitment eBook - in which you'll find many more tips and examples!

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