Think about the 238 million members of LinkedIn, most of whose profiles include their job description and where they went to school. Just imagine the data that could be mined for value – for potential students, for alumni, and for educational institutions themselves.
In fact, the company’s data scientists have spent years combing through member profiles, gathering and standardizing data about 23,000 colleges and universities. The result are new university LinkedIn pages. They are billed as a way to help students explore possible career paths and to build a support network. These university LinkedIn pages offer aggregated alumni career data, general university information, and a public news feed. Notable alumni and relevant LinkedIn groups feature on a sidebar.
To ensure one of the most important target audiences can take advantage of this social media tool’s new feature, LinkedIn is set to lower the age for participation from 18 to 14 on September 12. More than 200 universities were invited to work with LinkedIn to develop the first university profile pages, and thousands more pages will appear soon. Along with the obvious benefits to potential students (and their parents, for whom some universities create special groups), the marketing potential for universities is BIG.
LinkedIn created a resource for higher education personnel to make the most of the social media tools on their university LinkedIn pages. These include an Alumni Tool and the Student Jobs Portal. The site provides a wealth of useful information on how universities can help their students and help themselves, but here are a few starting points:
Reel in prospective students. Form groups to reach out via LinkedIn email to interested students, and refer them back to your school’s website for pertinent information. Ask them for a name and email address via pop-up while they’re there. Studies show this generation of students expects to connect with your school this way.
Round up current students. Create groups and monitor discussions for insights to improve the student experience. Use their testimonials to promote your campus. Ask them to reach out to prospective students. Encourage them to create good LinkedIn profiles and to search the tens of thousands of postings on LinkedIn’s portal for internships and entry-level jobs.
Rope in alumni. University pages offer a new way to reconnect with students who’ve moved on. Keep them intrigued with updates on school accomplishments and on other alumni. Cultivate pride in their old school – it can mean better fundraising.
Remember the analytics. With this new platform come new data for university recruiters, student life professionals, and higher education marketers. More activity on your university LinkedIn pages will mean more information on who’s interested and in what. Use it to continually fine-tune your LinkedIn efforts.
These tips fall into high-level strategy. The devil, as usual, is in the details. Content marketing and social media firms like EnVeritas Group live and breathe these details, so consider if outsourcing makes sense for your school.
Learn more about EVG’s content marketing services for higher education.
Emily Smith – Writer and Editor