How to Reach Students on Social Media
Prospectuses, brochures, newspaper adverts. Gone are the days when students were inundated with leaflets advertising everything under the sun to do with university. The redundancy of physical paperwork has paved the way for the necessity of a strong digital marketing presence. It’s no secret that social media is crucial to your content marketing strategy in attracting and actively engaging students. Promoting and sharing your university’s culture and achievements is not the only aspect you should publicise. You can also provide new and flexible ways of incorporating e-learning into your teaching methods. The following 12 tips will help inspire your social media campaigns and make your university inviting both online and offline.
1. Campus Grounds
The first thing parents and students will see of your university is the campus grounds. A university’s appearance has a huge effect on its atmosphere and how students respond to its energy. Parents also need to be impressed, confident in the knowledge that their children are studying somewhere serious about their achievements.
Why not encourage students to participate in photography challenges accompanied with a recognisable and shareable hashtag on Instagram? This will promote your university’s grounds and scenery, making students proud of its aesthetic. With a plethora of buildings to choose from, students can photograph their favourite spaces on campus. Captioning descriptions and opinions will enforce these genuine perspectives. Ranging from libraries to cafes, prospective students will see how your university welcomes everyone and be impressed by your facilities.
If your university boasts specific wildlife, make an extra effort to promote its biodiversity. Highlighting the natural aspects of your campus will show students your commitment to environmental welfare. This is growing in importance as more students are choosing their universities based on their active stance on climate change.
2. Basic How-To Guides
Inspiring future students to enrol is one hurdle; the other is keeping successful applicants interested. Videos of basic how-to guides addressing administrative concerns will show your university’s dedication to supporting them every step of the way.
From registering for accommodation to applying for student finance, prospective students will be feeling overwhelmed by the amount of bureaucracy. Short, clear videos of current students explaining various processes and answering FAQs will ease the pressure and reassure future students that they’re in safe hands.
Promoting links to these clips on your main website and YouTube and TikTok will make your university more accessible. These extra but simple efforts will show that your university is committed to supporting students even before the day they arrive.
Check out our video for the University of Middlesex on how they support international students. International students clearly explaining how they were welcomed by the university will have a significant impact on convincing prospective students.
3. Live Stream Lectures
Utilising social media platforms to publicise your professors brilliantly shows your dedication to both academia and accessibility. Live streaming lectures on Facebook and Instagram enable students to involve themselves in online discourse. Commenting on thoughts and inputting ideas allows the lecturer to respond to queries and points of discussion. Students unable to physically attend lectures can easily access academic material, incorporating a fun approach to studying at their convenience.
Our A-Level Physics lecture for the University of Cambridge is a great starting point to see the potential of video.
A similar method can be used for broadcasting updates and announcements. A Twitter class message board is perfect for this purpose. Tutors can alert students to news about a particular field of study and add links to resources. As Tweets are limited to 140 characters, students can answer concisely and coherently, developing necessary critical thinking skills. Tweeting fun facts and relevant hashtags also work effectively in this speedy and shareable format.
4. Clubs and Societies
Students are not just excited about course content and living away from home. They want to meet new people at events a world away from what their hometowns have to offer. They want to know what extra-curricular activities are available to them and how your university supports those interests.
Clubs and societies frequently promoting themselves sheds light on the sheer variety of non-academic pursuits. Volunteering programmes, sports teams and arts societies should have a dominant social media presence. Utilising mainly Instagram, Facebook and TikTok to promote their achievements and social calendars have the most impact. Students can virtually explore those that stand out to them and advertise the kind of university life they’re searching for. There are opportunities to take charge of one of these societies, motivating students to get involved. This in turn results in a much more welcoming environment, because celebrating students’ passions outside the academic sphere boosts self-development. Students are also motivated to discover skills and abilities outside of their coursework.
5. Uni App
Having an app specifically about your university’s culture is incredibly useful to students. This app not only informs students about updates, but students can access their timetable, deadlines, and library loans. Other features can include searching for upcoming events on the university’s social calendar and booking sports classes and study spaces. There can also be a link to the coursework submission portal whereby students can check their academic performance.
Promoting this app on social media proves that you are eager to keep them in the loop about university news. Students can top up university discount cards, and check the university map and availability of study spaces. The possibilities are endless.
The most important thing is keeping students up to date with any emergencies. Universities need a highly effective social media crisis plan so that all students are aware of incidents. As students constantly check social media for updates, it makes sense to notify students via this uni app as well. This reassures students that they are receiving correct information and the university is doing everything to address concerns.
6. Campus Culture
Advertising campus culture is key to attracting students. By showing the environment you are actively trying to cultivate, you are proving to those from underrepresented communities that you are working in their best interests in making your campus as welcoming as possible.
Publicising articles on social media of LGBTQI+ parades and climate change challenges will demonstrate how appealing your campus culture is. This article of the University of Brighton’s successful Pride Parade is an excellent example of inclusive campus culture.
Students will want to know what your university’s values are, therefore promoting videos of these on social media will demonstrate an exemplary campus culture.
7. Active Engagement with Social Issues
Tying in with the previous point, it’s important to show how your university is actively engaging with social issues. Demonstrating your dedication to inclusivity will further prove to students that you are doing everything to make campus safe.
Instagram infographics on social issues are a very popular way of broadcasting and receiving information. These creatively engaging, data-rich images help students visualize important information in an aesthetically pleasing, shareable format. They effectively show students ways you are making a campus a safe space for everyone by providing statistical analysis in a short and snappy layout.
You can use these infographics to advertise LGBTQI+ events and explaining how to normalise the use of preferred pronouns, subsequently promoting an inclusive environment. By showing that efforts are continuously being made to address historical prejudices, nobody is excluded, and everyone is educated on the plight of other communities they might not have considered before.
These infographics can detail certain strategies for safety your university has implemented. For instance, promoting ‘Ask for Angela’ initiatives in university bars and clubs will reassure students that staff members are fully trained in dealing with uncomfortable and potentially dangerous situations intent on helping students feel safe. This in turn will encourage students to report incidents, as they will know that they are being listened to.
Have a browse through the University of Leeds Instagram page. In utilising the Reels feature, they have successfully managed to organize their infographics into specific social issues, as a result making relevant information easy to find and accessible.
8. Mental Health and Pastoral Care
With the number of students requiring counselling services increasing, the availability of mental health and pastoral care facilities is a highly important conversation regarding university life. Balancing challenging academic work with a part-time job, a social life, and anything extra-curricular can often take its toll on young adults navigating their way through their independence. Consequently, students constantly need to know what support is available should their psychological well-being take a downward turn.
Promoting clear strategies in place for supporting struggling students through Instagram stories and Facebook posts will show your university’s approach to tackling mental health crises. These can be in the form of Instagram infographics or videos of student testimonials who have used the university’s pastoral care facilities. They should include counselling services, anonymous claims, and a 24-hour hotline. For example, the University of York has advertised their Mentally Fit York campaign on their main Facebook page, optimizing student awareness of the support available to them.
9. Uni Mascot
A very simple method of attracting students is having a university mascot, otherwise known as a pet. Take for example the University of Warwick’s Rolf the Campus Cat. Social media accounts for pets and other animals are incredibly popular, proven by Rolf who has amassed a total of 36.3k followers on Twitter.
People engage with animal-based content, therefore this will add to your university’s virtual vibe by showing a soft side. Ironically, pet videos have the power to humanise a university, contributing significantly to a university’s personality accordingly.
10. Using Trends to Optimise Your Social Media Engagement
If you don’t follow Humans of New York on Facebook and Instagram, see how you can use inspirational and sentimental photo stories to boost student engagement. For over a decade, the photographer Brandon Stanton has created a photoblog of street portraits of passers-by in New York City, accompanying them with various stories and anecdotes his subjects choose to disclose. Likewise, you can use this touching approach to feature students who want to inspire prospective students from similar backgrounds.
Your current students want to celebrate the wealth of university experience to encourage engagement with your university. These weekly instalments on Facebook and Instagram can include their courses, hobbies, societies, internships, showcasing the abundance of opportunities your university can provide, for instance. Above all, the most important part of these stories should be what inspired them to study with you in the first place. This method of storytelling realizes your university, as prospective students can see the faces that make your university and consequently visualize themselves there.
The University of Warwick has made excellent use of this trend. It is also a student-led project, therefore adding more to the authenticity of Warwick student life.
11. Celebrating Alumni and Achievements
Every university has a fair few success stories up its sleeve. From notable alumni to recent achievements in research, students want to know what their potential is at your university, so they can see what their future can shape out to be.
Similar to the previous point, you can post a series of weekly instalments on Facebook and Instagram featuring alumni doing important work or a roundup of achievements, both academic and extra-curricular. Videos of awards ceremonies will add weight to your national and international rankings, therefore displaying motivation for students to attain such a huge sense of fulfilment. The University of Durham has a regularly updated Twitter thread celebrating students’ achievements, both current and alumni.
Additionally, Facebook and Instagram alumni can host live discussions, so current students can better picture their future and have a clearer idea of what career path they want to work towards. Widely publicising University Challenge appearances students will boost a sense of pride in the student community as a result of seeing their peers compete on national television.
12. Student Newspapers and Blogs
For students to express their voice, student newspapers and blogs are an excellent way to incorporate and support student journalism. Most universities in the UK have their version of The Tab, a witty online newspaper featuring articles similar to those found on Buzzfeed. They are readable, shareable and relatable, so they show your university’s specific character and sense of humour via the types of students who attend.
Award-winning student newspapers, for example, the University of Durham’s The Palatinate, should also feature prominently on your social media platforms. Although normally student newspapers tend to have their own social media team, a simple share or retweet of recent articles will significantly help with engagement, as university social media platforms have bigger followings than university societies. These articles have a much more serious stance to those of The Tab, therefore they present a more versatile picture of the topics your students are at liberty to discuss in a non-academic environment. Promoting your student newspaper with videos and pictures of awards ceremonies or a Twitter thread of most-read articles will demonstrate how your university supports student journalism. As a result, students from all academic backgrounds can see how to write and publish topics of interest for the student community.
When it comes to reaching students on social media, there are many ways you can be flexible and creative in your self-promotion. Celebrating your students, facilities, and achievements will display a commitment to personal growth and student support. Therefore, your social media branding should encompass all that you have to offer in a warm and welcoming environment
For more content marketing tips or if you just fancy meeting for a coffee, drop us a line.