Do's and Don'ts of social media for higher ed. enrollment


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Do's and Don'ts of social media for higher ed. enrollment

  1. 1. ==== ====Become part of the naxt big thing for free and get paid forever. Its called wazzub! ====Social media has become the buzz-phrase of the marketing world; the must-have solution to allmarketing challenges. Its cheap, fast and has reached near saturation in some age groups.But leveraging social media marketing - the art and science of getting your message out using thisonline ecosystem - isnt as easy as setting up a Facebook page. The ability to shape opinions ofprospective students, current students, and alumni in this online world is largely determined by thesocial authority that your message carries. In other words, successful social media marketingcampaigns depend on the trust the market places inyour messenger.This should come as no surprise. Its the same trust process we, as admissions professionals, usewhen we visit high schools, engage college counselors and have alumni-sponsored events indistant cities. The differences are simply the delivery channel and the types of trusted sources. Forsocial media, the delivery channel is web-based (via a social media site) and the trusted sourcestend to be students and peers, rather than adult authority figures.In this playbook we outline how colleges can leverage their existing resources to build an effectivesocial media marketing strategy. We will also give some guidance on "dos" and "donts" forinsuring that your message is heard, while also enhancing your brand identity.Why should you care?So why should college admissions officers care about all of this social media business? Becauseyour prospects care - a lot!According to a recent EDUCAUSE study[1], social media use has reached near saturation levels,with 95 percent of 18 to 19-year-old college students using social media sites regularly. Facebookstill leads the way with 80 percent of 18-24 year-olds checking in several times a day. Socialmedia touches virtually every facet of these students lives. It has become the primary way thattodays students stay in touch with each other and the world. It is where their attention is focusedand where they first look for information, including details about colleges.These trends have a direct impact on college admissions because high school students areincreasingly turning to social media, rather than a college website, as they begin looking for aschool. Todays college searches begin on sites such as or Facebook (withenhancements such as Campus Buddy). Mash-up sites with titles like "Ten ways to use socialmedia to pick a college"[2] are the new equivalent of the college section at the local bookstore.In a recent study by Noel Levitz[3], 74 percent of college-bound high school seniors said they thinkcolleges should have a presence on social media sites. Eighty-one percent of these students
  2. 2. admitted that they rely on official and unofficial online content about colleges during their searchprocess.Yet, despite this obvious shift to social media content, college marketers have failed to keep up.The study also showed that only 26 percent of private four-year institutions were intentionallyusing social media resources in their marketing efforts.Marketing must reach its target audience to make a difference. To be heard you need to meet yourprospects on their turf. Social media is the foundation and future of modern college recruitmentand marketing precisely because it is their turf. The ultimate goal is to have your messagespicked-up by the marketplace and passed on spontaneously - and often exponentially - by trustedsources. You want your message to go viral! ("Going Viral" refers to when an image, video or linkspreads rapidly through a population by being frequently shared with a number of individuals;social media makes this sharing easy to do.)So now, a little background.3 Parts of Social MediaFrom the earliest days of the Internet, folks have looked to online communities as a source oftrusted peer-based information. It started with the original dial-up systems of the 1970s -remember "moderators"? - and then evolved into web-based communities in the 1980s and 1990sthat were packed with "collaborative filtering" websites. Although the tools and technology toengage in online conversations have certainly evolved, the underlying process is much the sameas it was 30 years ago. Similarly, its effectiveness and ability to shape opinion are still based onthe credibility of the people who serve as online key opinion leaders (KOLs).Fast forward to today.Modern online communities have exploded into an ecosystem bursting with millions and millions offan pages, blogs and tweets. Facebook alone claims more than 700 million users, with more than50 percent of those people logging in every day. This growth has turned an Internet niche ofobscure hobbyists into a marketers dream - a vast audience of consumers that can be reached innear real-time at a very low cost.Social media is a particular form of online conversation held among a group of people with ashared interest and is mediated by a "reputable" source. (But remember, on Facebook a"reputable" source might be a 17-year-old college freshman!) To successfully capitalize on thisbusy world of social media, admissions officers must understand its three core components:channel, reach and credibility.Teenage experts aside, these three components determine the ability of a particular social mediaoutlet to impact the market and influence the opinions of its participants.More Than Just FacebookAlthough Facebook is the most popular social media site in the history of the world, the bulk ofsocial media marketing efforts dont have to be focused there. Now, thats not to say that every
  3. 3. admissions office should not have a Facebook page - they should. But your Facebook page iswhere prospects will go after they are already interested in you (probably after they decided toapply). Once students are admitted, they will likely become daily visitors.A Facebook page isnt ideally suited to be a recruiting device, its meant to be a yield device, bestused after admission offers go out.In this playbook, however, we are more concerned with social media marketing as a means ofbuilding your brand identity - and building your prospect pool. So were going to focus on recruitinghigh school juniors who are just starting to think about college. Facebook is great for keeping"friends" - but how do you find new ones?4 Steps To Making New FriendsThe first step to making new friends on social media is to think like a digitally connected highschool junior - minus the gossip and other baggage, that is. Todays students are much moreactive seekers of information. Remember, todays students:Use their social media network to stay connected to friendsUse search engines to find relevant blogs, mash-ups and helpful websitesVisit college websites and college content on social media sites such as Facebook, YouTube andothers.Want the "inside" story right now!The second step is to do some research.Before attempting to directly enter any social media conversation or friendship, survey the "buzz"thats out there about your institution. This can be an onerous and time consuming task but itsworth it. You will learn quite a bit about how your school and its culture are being portrayed andperceived. You are also likely to come across a range of misperceptions and falsehoods that youcan begin to alter as you move forward in the process.The third step is to use social media aggregator services and analytical tools such as Radian6,HubSpot and Twitalyzer to help you monitor the ongoing conversation and make adjustments toyour messaging as your market perceptions change. While there are definite costs involved withthis monitoring, its the only way to really know whats working for you and what isnt.Finally, and this is only after you understand the lay of the land, move on to step four: enter intothe conversations and begin to disseminate your own content in ways that make sense to youryoung, connected audience.Colleges can send their content directly, which means content is "produced" by official offices orpersonnel of the school, or indirectly, which means content comes from people familiar with yourcampus, but who are not acting in an official capacity. These indirect senders of content areusually current students, former students and "fans." Both types of content - direct and indirect -
  4. 4. are useful and can be complementary. But remember, both should be monitored and guided (if notquite controlled) by your designated "Social Media Ninja." Your Social Media Ninja is responsiblefor monitoring the messaging and the content as well as any reactions or questions from yourfollowers. Well talk more about this role in a subsequent playbook.A Few RemindersDifferent social media channels work for different folks. Think about the kinds of content you wouldlike to make available and where it makes the most sense to post it. Setting up a YouTubechannel is a great way to offer a "virtual campus tour" or share video of a special event, like aconcert. Student-generated videos can provide a more informal look at campus life and can oftenbe more effective than professionally produced marketing pieces - as long as they are thoroughlyvetted and carefully selected. If you are lucky (or unlucky, depending on the content), one of thesevideos may go viral and expose your campus to millions of potential prospects.Facebook, blogging and tweeting are other ways to get your message out and provide a range ofoptions for sharing information and influencing the perceptions of various constituencies. You canencourage current students to participate in the conversation and maintain topical Facebookpages devoted to different aspects of your school. (But be sure to stay involved and activelymonitor the content.) Twitter gives you the ability to update prospective students on approachingdeadlines, send reminders and engage people in conversations about timely topics. Blogs canprovide insight into the admission process from a counselor or student perspective and create aforum for exchanging thoughts about admission related topics, like writing a personal essay, theuse of test scores or things to do on campus.As you enter into these conversations, there are a few very important rules to keep in mind.Social Media DosBe authentic. Make your blogs and posts real and honest. Authenticity builds credibility slowly, butshameless promotion can destroy it quickly.Be responsive. If comments are posted, make sure to follow up with clarifications and additionalcontent. Take feedback seriously; dont dismiss criticism out of hand.Contribute to the broader conversation. Not everything needs to be a marketing message. Engageprospects on relevant topics and provide them with useful information on financial aid resources,testing strategies and personal essay writing. Help them navigate the admission process; dontjust try to recruit them.Be consistent, build your brand. Think carefully about your image. Who are you? Whatdifferentiates your college? Be consistent in your messaging. Your online identity can take on a lifeof its own, so you want to be consistent across channels and accurately portray the campusculture.Leverage your human resources. Social media, as we have said, is really an online conversationbetween groups of people with a shared interest. The more participants you involve, the livelierand more engaging the conversation will be. Admissions officers, administrators, faculty, staff,
  5. 5. parents, students, alumni and friends all have a role to play.Social Media DontsDont be a one-way bullhorn.Dont turn the conversation into a one-way broadcast that fails toengage participants in a conversation.Dont translate your view book into a series of blog posts. Its not just about you; its aboutengaging in conversations with your audience about topics that are relevant to them.Dont be rude. Remember that your audience can be easily put off if you inadvertently snub aquestion or topic thats relevant to them.Dont neglect your content. Stale content is worse than no content at all. Admissions officeshistorically have been on a multi-year content cycle. Every couple of years, we hire a marketingconsultant and "update" our materials. That approach no longer works. Social media is a real-timeconversation and your content must reflect real-time interests and events.Dont allow graffiti. Social media channels by their very nature are open communication forumsand inevitably someone will post some offensive content or a gratuitously critical comment. Deleteit immediately. You own your outlet and are responsible for whats on it, even if you werent theone who put it there. The goal is not censorship, but to demonstrate that you are on top of thingsand pay attention to your followers.Download the full playbook here: 10 Social Media Dos and Donts for Higher EducationEnrollment SuccessHow Enrollment Manager Can HelpEnrollment Manager provides the essential tools and services needed to support an effectivesocial media strategy. From the ability to post content to Facebook, tweet messages toprospective students and monitor the effectiveness of your social media presence, EnrollmentManagers toolset helps you leverage social networking channels to make friends - and keepthem.In addition, your dedicated Virtual Enrollment Coordinator™can help you post and monitor socialmedia content, provide "best practices" recommendations related to social media integration anduse Enrollment Manager Web Intelligence tools to help you evaluate the health of your overall webpresence and automate interaction with web visitors based on page views, session length and/orreferral source (e.g., Facebook, search engine, Etc.).[1]Smith, Shannon D. and Caruso, Judith Borreson. (Oct 2010) The ECAR Study ofUndergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2010.[2]Catone, Josh. (July 2009) Ten Ways To Use Social Media To Pick A College, 2009[3]Noel-Levitz. (March 2010) 2010 E-Recruiting Practices Report, 2010
  6. 6. Greg Perfetto, Ph.D.Vice President, Research & DevelopmentJeff ArnoldVice President & CFOhttp://www.admissionslab.comArticle Source: ====Become part of the naxt big thing for free and get paid forever. Its called wazzub! ====