The Scholarly Guide to Higher Education Marketing

The Scholarly Guide to Higher Education Marketing

This data shows that it isn’t a matter of whether or not the traditional college crowd is connected to social media, but rather how much. Student. Higher education marketing is about more than just creating content for these audiences, though. As noted by Sprout Social’s own experience working with Marquette University, one of the most overlooked aspects of higher education marketing is alignment. Speaking of which, there’s a big-picture need for schools to bring their students, faculty and respective communities together via social, and doing so requires marketers in education to tackle a specific set of challenges. Overcoming the Challenges of Higher Education Marketing For schools of all shapes and sizes, social media in higher education has its hurdles. Diverse Audiences Again, one of the biggest challenges of higher education marketing is keeping students engaged from their applicant to alumni. User-Generated Content Oftentimes the most-loved and share-worthy content of any given college come from students themselves. A good way to find user-generated content to share on social is by monitoring brand mentions or specific hashtags. Through collaboration and the right tools aligning the goals of departments, universities can come up with a concrete social strategy that works for everyone.

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It’s no secret that the world of social media has become integral to the college experience.

After all, today’s top universities both big and small are scrambling to the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to boast what their campuses are all about.

We’re getting ready for Housing Day!⠀ ⠀ In their first year at Harvard, freshmen live in and around the Yard. On Housing Day – Thursday, March 8 – freshmen will be sorted into one of Harvard’s 12 upperclass Houses. They’ll find out their House assignment by the residents of their new Houses, who will storm their dorm rooms early in the morning with the good news. The day is a celebration, complete with House colors, shields, pennants, and costumes 🎉 #harvard #housingday2018

But higher education marketing isn’t just about having the most “school spirit,” nor is it a competition to post the most epic collegiate content.

It’s about creating an experience for the members of your school’s community, both on-campus and off.

Consider the responsibilities on the plates of any given school’s marketing team, including:

  • Wowing prospective students contemplating where they should apply
  • Keeping campus in the loop about the million things going on a day-to-day basis, including university deadlines and major events
  • Encouraging higher morale and positive relationships between students, educators and the school community at large

That only scratches the surface, by the way.

Juggling the many pieces of higher education marketing might seem like an uphill battle, but becomes less daunting when you understand just how schools today are expected to use social media.

And in this guide, we’ll break down the big picture expectations and tactics of higher education marketing and how schools can better connect to their campuses.

With that, let’s dive right in!

Higher Education Marketing Trends & Insights

In the early days of social media for college and universities, a school’s Twitter feed or Facebook page might have been more akin to a bulletin board for current students.

Fast forward to present day and it’s clear that times have changed in terms of tactics and expectations.

For starters, prospective students are overwhelmingly using social media to research potential campuses to eventually call “home.” No longer flipping through clunky college guidebooks, students and parents primarily rely on digital communication with colleges in the form of email, text or messengers to stay in touch with schools.

Of course, social media is a key component of that research and communication.

Approximately 18% of high school students check out a prospective university’s Instagram account multiple times per day. This young, yet increasingly tech-savvy demographic, looks at a school’s social feed as a window into campus life.

Snow globe studies ❄️📚 – 📸: @robertgillphoto – #Dartmouth #DartmouthCollege #18winterwonderland

A post shared by Dartmouth College (@dartmouthcollege) on Feb 2, 2018 at 3:31pm PST

Meanwhile, the majority of any student body is already connected to social media in some way, shape or form. Data from Pew Research Center notes the rise in social usage among those under 30, with 88% plugged into at least one platform.

This data shows that it isn’t a matter of whether or not the traditional college crowd is connected to social media, but rather how much. Schools are therefore expected to work between multiple social accounts to speak to all students at every point of the university lifecycle.

Applicant. Student. Alumni.

There’s a distinct need to keep all of these audiences in the loop on a consistent basis.

Higher education marketing is about more than just creating content for these audiences, though.

As noted by Sprout Social’s own experience working with Marquette University, one of the most overlooked aspects of higher education marketing is alignment.

In the case of Marquette, Sprout saw firsthand the challenges of creating a consistent message across dozens of social accounts speaking to dozens of different audiences and departments at once.

Speaking of which, there’s a big-picture need for schools to bring their students, faculty and respective communities together via social, and doing so requires marketers in education to tackle a specific…

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