Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Social Media Recruitment & Engagement Tips for Universities

Being on social media sites for student enrolment/recruitment and then engaging students in your university services is not enough – you have to use the sites in the RIGHT way! I recently spoke at a conference (see the last post) on this topic and to prepare, I completed a quick and dirty audit of the 52 university/colleges that would be present. I found that though most were on social media sites, they weren’t using them the RIGHT way! Here are my quick tips on usage for student recruitment & engagement in student services with the 4 main social media sites: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube & FourSquare.

Everyone knows Facebook is important but few Universities are using it to create engagement & conversation. Instead, very PR messaging is used. Below are a few tips to make better use of your Facebook page:

Facebook Student Recruitment
-    GOAL: Help make my life on campus easier (calendars of events, tips/tricks, photos, etc)
-    Have a page with a Community Manager from career services
-    Get rid of the PR style messaging
-    Every message (even official) are conversational
-    Answer/create dialogue

Facebook Student Engagement:
-    GOAL: Adds to campus life. Making student life more fun & connecting me with other like    minded students
-    Separate pages based on interest/audience
-    Teams
-    Faculties
-    Not services – community management sits inside career or community services
-    Community Manager for each page but create a hierarchy of managers/auditing. (Create conversation, contests, photos, events etc)

Though twitter is still growing among the student population, it is important to have a presence on this medium. Get in now, make mistakes and learn while your students aren’t all on it! Here are some good tips for its use:

Twitter Student Recruitment:
-    GOAL: Have information available to help perspective students make important decisions & showcase student life on your campus
-    Have an account with a dedicated Community Manager
-    Be available to answer questions
-    Showcase “real” life at your campus
-    Tweet important information via a content calendar to highlight important events/deadlines etc

Twitter Student Engagement:
-    GOAL: Create conversation & showcase Q&A
-    Ask Us (twitter widget) on homepage of website to showcase Q&A from students
-    The vehicle for ongoing student support
-    Student says: “Where do I go to get my student card renewed?”
-    Manager tweets answer with link to YouTube video.
-    50% listening to students, 10-20% messages about University, 30-40% engaging
-    No PR style messaging; this is a conversational method

You Tube is an absolutely fantastic medium for having your current student population help you with recruitment. Give them a voice and answer WIIFT (What’s in it for me) by creating contesting on Why They Love XX school and give tuition credits. Then feature these videos on your Prospective Student/Admissions homepage so students can see why your current student’s love your campus.

YouTube Student Recruitment:
-    GOAL: Showcasing life at your campus
-    Have a YouTube Channel
-    Showcase videos on “admissions” home page
-    Contesting about why you love XXX campus or want to become a student at XXX
-    Give rewards that are inspiring & make them go viral; driving WOM
-    Video tours of campus
-    Engage influential students  & have them build “day in the life” videos that are unscripted

YouTube Student Engagement:
-    GOAL:  Create school pride & have the message go viral
-    Contesting
-    Challenges within relevant departments
-    Be comfortable with user generated content versus only professionally cut & scripted videos
-    Relevant prizes (ie: tuition credits!)
-    Interview style videos/vlogs

Very few universities are yet using location based services (LBS) – be one of the first! Foursquare or Facebook Places are great ways to build campus pride! The graphic above is big as this is the next BIG thing (LBS)!

Foursquare Student Recruitment:
-    GOAL: have information available  for potential students who are into location based sites
-    Check in for campus visits
-    Have reminders in prominent places for visitors to “check in”
-    Add tips to locations where perspective students might be (high schools, malls, transit etc)

Foursquare Student Engagement:
-    GOAL: Build campus pride & provide contextually aware advice
-    Tips at every location on campus from the university
-    Tips on where to eat, history of building, interesting info, profs etc
-    School pride badges
-    Earn badges for checking into multiple sports games etc
-    Encourage use of services & educate on services available
-    Tips at stores, malls etc nearby mall about discounts for students

Hopefully these tips help you understand a few quick and easy ways to use social media for recruitment and student engagement purposes! What universities do you think are doing a great job in using these sites?


  1. Informative post.Social media recruiting has added power to every organization’s recruiting process. These social media websites are getting more refined with the recruitment needs and requirements & constantly responding to them with new capabilities and more interesting part is that, companies are getting really creative in using these tools effectively.

  2. This is probably one of the most helpful things I have ever seen on the internet! Thank you! :)
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