Universities and colleges are feeling the same pressure as companies in recruiting students & even further pressure to keep them engaged throughout a 4 year degree. It’s about targeting the RIGHT students & engaging them in student services to create a loyalty to the campus. I spoke at the SEMM conference last week put on by Brainstorm Consulting (Strategic Enrolment Marketing & Management) with an audience full of University & College enrolment directors, student service managers etc. It was a fantastic audience here in Toronto & I’m looking forward to presenting in Calgary on May 6th in just a few weeks. I spoke on the topic of using social media to recruit & create connections with students. This blog post will be a 1 of 2 series as the below outlines what universities are currently doing in the social media space and post 2 will outline what they SHOULD be doing.
As this was a new topic for me (I typically speak on how to use social media for company student/new grad recruiting vs college recruitment/engagement), I spent a full day doing an audit of the 52 schools in attendance. I looked at the following things:
- Did they have social media links on their home page (Were they “above the fold” – meaning, did I have to scroll down the page to find them?)
- Where there social media links on the admissions page where prospective students can learn about university life on that campus?
- Did the school use widgets to feature Twitter feeds, Facebook updates or YouTube videos?
- Was the school present on social media sites (even if not listed on their website) in terms of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare, did they have a Blog?
- If present, what where they doing right & what were they doing not so right?
- Did I get a sense of the uniqueness of this campus via their social media efforts?
This was truly a quick & dirty audit as I spent about 10 minutes per school to understand what they are doing in the social media space. Here is a quick summary of my findings:
- 77% of the schools had social media links on their home page or admissions page
o Note: Most of these links opened in the same window (losing the audience) versus opening in a new browser
- Though most schools were on the main social media sites (Facebook, Twitter), not all were listed on their sites
- Only 1 school was on Foursquare (a location based platform)
- Most of the schools did not use widgets to showcase social media efforts & most links were “below the fold” meaning I had to scroll & look for them
o Ie: Did not have a twitter feed or have videos with campus or dorm tours right in their website but instead I had to go into YouTube to see them (risk of losing your audience to YouTube recommended videos is very high!)
- Over 90% of the messaging on social media sites was PR orientated, which is against the nature of these platforms
- At the conference, I polled the room and though 100% of the attendee schools were on social media only 10% of the attendees actually had a social media policy (SCARY!)
So, what do universities need to do? Stay posted for my blog post on Wednesday with Tips & Tricks for how universities/colleges should be using social media for recruiting & engagement purposes.
Are you involved with your University or Campus Enrolment or Student Engagement? Join me at the SEMM Calgary May 6th conference: http://www.semmforum.ca/home.htm