Craft the Perfect Social Media Strategy for Universities

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Effective marketing in any industry boils down to delivering the right message to the ideal audience where they spend the most time. Social media for colleges and universities provides the perfect platform to attract, inform and entertain the next generation of scholars.

Social media is also an excellent way for universities to build strong social connections in a world where online and remote learning is a vital part of meeting students’ needs and preferences.

How Universities Use Social Media for Marketing

Roughly half of all Internet users 16 – 24 years old use social networks for brand research, outpacing the 46% that use traditional search engines like Google. And to be clear, universities are certainly brands.

Higher ed relies on digital media to accomplish several digital marketing priorities, including:

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Highlight life on campus and student experiences
  • Connect with alumni
  • Showcase specific educational programs
  • Support events, sports teams and lecturers
  • Promote student activities, such as clubs or intramural sports

Using social media helps colleges and universities distribute all of this content to several audiences. While most university social media managers focus on current and prospective students, it’s important to include the wider community and alumni as a part of their messaging and content creation.

Related: Higher Ed Paid Media Case Study – Boston College

Social Media Marketing Strategy for Universities: Student Life and Recruiting

Colleges and universities rely on all forms of digital marketing to inform and entertain current students and to recruit new students. While there’s plenty of crossover between these types of posts, there are a few differences that successful managers keep in mind.

How to Use Social Media for College Recruiting: 3 Ways

Whether it’s academics, sports, a stunning campus or a remote-first approach to learning, effective college recruiting depends on defining and communicating the differentiating aspects of your school. Use your accounts to answer some of the most pressing questions students and parents have while choosing a college. These include big-picture questions, such as location, class size, the cost of attendance, financial aid, program availability and a range of other important factors.

There are countless other personal factors as well – students may check to see if there are free intramural sports or an active student club they’re passionate about. 

Of course, there’s also the most elemental consideration of all: How does that college make you feel? Whether it’s an on-campus visit or the vibe of their social media, prospective students need to establish a positive impression of being a part of a university before committing.

Delivering a strong and inviting message to new students isn’t as easy as it sounds. Start by following a few tips to ensure you’re reaching the right audience.

1. Use the right social media platforms

Your messaging will be exponentially more impactful if you’re investing time and energy on the right platforms. Teens and college-aged adults have strong preferences for social.

Here’s a breakdown of young adults’ favorite social platforms:

  • 95% are on YouTube
  • 67% use TikTok
  • 62% are on Instagram
  • 59% use Snapchat

You’ll note that one social media titan, Facebook, doesn’t make the list. Since 2014, teen usage of Facebook has fallen from 71% to 32%, largely due to an increase in alternative apps – apps that their parents don’t have. Posting on Facebook is more likely to reach prospective parents, so focus those posts to address issues like campus safety, financial aid and transportation.

2. Feature students

Nothing establishes an honest portrayal of student life like actual students. Some of the most relatable and engaging college content is created by students. Recruit on-campus personalities to help tell the story of life at your school. You’ll definitely need to set some guidelines, but don’t box those student-creators in; they know what your target audience cares about.

3. Video first

Video marketing is social media these days – and with good reasons. Viewers retain information from videos 85% more effectively than text. 50% of social media users prefer video, which certainly makes sense given the short-form video platforms teens and college students use most often.

a college student walks through the campus while scrolling social media

How to Use Social Media to Enhance Campus Life: 3 Ways

Remember newspapers? Most college kids today use social media as their primary news source and most have never sat down and read a newspaper. Social media a key part of delivering useful information to on-campus and remote learners.

1. You heard it here first

Social media is often the very first thing students check each morning and what keeps their eyes glued to screens throughout the day. That makes it important to serve consistent, informational content about campus events, sports, clubs and campus safety. Use a mix of content types, including video, graphics and long-form content to give students the information they need in the format that best suits their learning style.

2. Provide resources

College isn’t easy. Social media is a vital tool for universities to connect students with mental health resources, financial aid information, learning support and other programs that help make higher ed easier and more enjoyable for everyone.

3. School spirit

Even remote learners want to feel a part of something. Use social media to build camaraderie, identity and community by highlighting school sports and campus landmarks and acknowledging the hard work and achievements of distance learners. Make sure to include the wider community by featuring supportive businesses and can’t-miss destinations nearby.

Social Media to Serve Students, Not Sell to Them

Remember that the best social media marketing for universities focuses on what the audience wants – and needs – to see, hear and feel. Working with an agency could help you create a comprehensive social media marketing plan for your university that improves results and streamlines your efforts.

School Is Back in Session with Oneupweb

Educators (when they’re in a good mood) like to say they learned a lot from the students, as well. At Oneupweb, we love nothing more than learning what makes your college or university different. We bring a fully integrated team of marketing professionals to every project, elevating your content and guiding your social media strategy. Ready to get started? Get in touch or call (231) 922-9977 today.

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