On my first day as a college student, I walked out of my dorm and onto campus feeling terrified and desperately wanting to blend into the busy crowd. After sneaking a peak of my campus map, I headed toward my class, feeling pretty self-assured that I was just another person in the crowd. And then it happened. A missed stair, a slip of the foot, a hard thunk and a banshee-like shriek that escaped from my mouth. My blend-in plan was foiled and I was completely mortified.
Because of that small, but traumatizing, experience, I’ll never forget how overwhelming it felt to be a first-time student at a school with almost 20,000 students. I just wanted to feel at home. I suppose this is the case with most people…we like to feel like we’re part of the gang, so to speak, and universities have taken notice. Content marketing abounds in university recruitment, with social media outlets at every turn to make kids feel like this is where they belong. But how do universities get students to come to their school in the first place? I’ve outlined four creative content marketing ideas for schools looking to boost admissions.
Social Media – Keep it consistent and real.
I think at this point, we’re all aware that Twitter, Facebook and the like are all necessary marketing tools, especially when trying to reach the younger population. 87.2% of respondents to EVG’s survey on the Internet’s influence on college admissions stated that they used Facebook during their search for schools. Just being present on social media, however, is not enough. What a lot of schools should realize is that being consistent and keeping it real with these social media users is key. Relevant information about the campus, the students, university programs or extracurricular activities are all pieces of information that a potential student could use to make a more personalized choice.
Make it convenient with an app
Going back to my tragic slip down the stairs, remember how I mentioned I snuck a peak at my map? Yeah, an actual printed map. Do those even exist anymore? An app wouldn’t have helped me avoid my tragic fall, but it would have given me tools to feel more confident in where I was headed. Schools now are introducing campus apps where students can access maps, cafeteria menus, on-campus activities and a wealth of other pertinent information.
Focus on educational information
For many potential students, an accredited school with a good educational reputation is of utmost importance. 52.7% of respondents to EVG’s survey noted that academic reputation was was one of their Top 5 deciding factors in applying to their school of choice. As the number of “stealth applicants” (students who don’t actually inquire about the school before applying) is on a steady rise, schools are getting more creative with getting the word out about their programs. According to a case study used by streamingmedia.com, the University of Bridgeport released a series of specifically targeted YouTube videos for majors like psychology and computer engineering, which in turn, helped the school exceed their enrollment goals by 30%.
Keep the alumni in the loop
I get an alumni email from my alma mater every week. It typically highlights major university events, features an alum’s business success story each time, and lets me know how to give back. It’s nice to be kept in the know and it also has proven to be one of the best methods of keeping in touch with past grads, which helps to bolster monetary involvement. To save money, many schools have even made the jump from printed magazines and snail mail to online magazines and e-mail programs, which appears to be working well.
So to sum it all up, personalized and specific information seems to be the key with content marketing in university recruitment. From YouTube videos revolving around specialized programs to apps with information at the touch of a button, promoting an at-home feeling is a great place to start when adding to the student body. As I mentioned before, we all just want to be a part of the gang, right?
Caralee Culpepper – Message Board Specialist