Here at EVG, we’ve been talking a lot about marketing tips for higher education. How can universities reach and engage prospective students in today’s marketing world? Obviously, old-school brochures aren’t cutting it anymore. Today’s students expect fresh, creative, modern, interesting content. They want to experience your university so thoroughly and honestly that they can practically taste the dining hall cookies, hear the cheering at the football games and feel the nervous excitement of the first day of class. How can you offer them this experience? Blogging.
When I was a senior in high school, I wasn’t able to visit many college campuses. The only way I could experience potential schools was by watching the cheesy, uninspiring VHS video tours sent in the mail. Needless to say, I was not thrilled by any of them. Now, eight years later, university marketing campaigns have already progressed by leaps and bounds. A quick Google search for university blogs pulled up lots of great results, from a Boston University blog written by professors to a series of Vanderbilt University blogs titled “From the Students.” Even online schools are jumping on the blogging bandwagon.
Besides the obvious benefits—drawing traffic to your site and converting prospective students into enrolled students—blogging also helps universities avoid “selling” to students. More than ever, today’s students are wary of marketing that comes across as “sales-y” and dishonest. The Vanderbilt “From the Students” blog is a prime example of how to avoid this. The university marketing team is essentially saying, “Don’t take it from us—listen to the students!” The blog posts feature students’ answers to questions such as “If you could give one piece of advice to a high school senior choosing a college, what would it be?” and “What is your favorite thing about living in Nashville?” A cool music scene, Christmas at Opryland and Vandy baseball games in the spring? Sign me up!
In addition, and perhaps most importantly, blogging creates an experience for the reader. My own alma mater, Furman University, has a team of freshmen bloggers who blog about everything from marching band and kickball tournaments to sorority initiations and Friday night dinners at restaurants downtown. A recent blog post even mentioned a stage combat expert visiting to teach the theater majors how to stage a fake fight. Prospective students get a very clear and engaging glimpse into life as a freshman at Furman. (Can I please go back?)
Student blogging is also ideal because students are more in touch with their peers than older generations, meaning the content they produce will be relevant and appropriate. A couple years ago, Furman’s former president sent out a Harry Potter-themed video to potential students. Let’s just say it didn’t go over so well. Rely on your students to create content that speaks to their generation.
So what’s the bottom line? If your university isn’t blogging, now is the time to start. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Post regularly. Students want up-to-date content, and if you continue adding fresh posts, they’ll keep coming back.
- Focus on a wide variety of topics. Sports, courses, clubs, Greek life, special events—different students want to know about different features of your university. Don’t leave them hanging.
- Include photos and videos in your blog posts. We all know the Internet is a visual place, so let students see what your campus is all about!
- Include calls to action and related posts somewhere on the page to encourage students to continue interacting.
- Make the blog easy to find on your website. High school students aren’t going to waste time clicking through five pages to find it.
- Consider creating a recruitment app that includes your blog posts, along with photos, videos, application tips, etc.
What other blogging and marketing tips do you have for schools? Share them in the comments!
Learn more about EVG’s content marketing services for higher education.
Laurel Reese – Project Manager