Similar to any brand or company, universities have also joined the social media conversation. You may question why a university would need to be active on social media, especially since a university’s reputation is often based on what you read in brochures, hear from a guidance counselor and learn at college fairs. However, students want to choose a university where they will feel comfortable, and social media can convey the personality and value of your institution.
Part of my role at the Mount Sinai Health System includes developing a separate social media strategy and content creation for the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Based on my experience, here are six ways to use social media to increase a university’s online reputation and recruitment efforts:
1. Offer a behind-the-scenes look into student life.
Prospective students are often searching to find information on what a typical day for a student is like. That may range from campus life to university clubs and activities to classroom structure.
A successful way to give prospective students behind-the-scenes access is by having your social media team work with current students to capture photos and videos of their daily life. This may mean identifying a social media ambassador from the student body who can curate content for the academic center’s social media channels or having your social media team shadow different students.
2. Feature student testimonials.
Student testimonials will give current students the opportunity to share their personal experience. A really great way to capture a student’s experience is through video. By interviewing students, they can share why they chose to attend that particular school, what it’s like to be a part of the community and what opportunities are available. These interviews can give applicants insight into what aspects of the school appealed to its current students the most.
3. Give prospective students a chance to ‘meet’ the faculty.
An important part of the school community is its faculty and administration. Prospective students should be able to get to know the faculty, their unique teaching methods and the classroom setting in order to determine if they will feel confident while learning. One way to showcase faculty is through bio cards, which include their photo and a short blurb on their teaching method.
4. Provide details of the programs.
All the information that is in brochures should be converted to social media. It’s important to highlight how your university stands out from other universities. What makes your university’s programs more unique? What are the benefits of these programs for students? Are the programs good networking opportunities for students?
Giving prospective students an in-depth description of the school’s programs will help them determine if it is the right school for them. Another way to highlight the programs on social media, aside from providing written content, is through video interviews with program leaders and administration.
5. Showcase thought leadership.
It’s important to hear from university leaders, including deans and faculty members on trending events in academia. Thought leadership allows university leaders to be part of a larger conversation. It’s an additional way for prospective and current students to get to know their mentors and leaders.
6. Let your alumni stories do the talking.
Finally, students often want to know how alumni have succeeded after graduation and what opportunities attending that specific university have opened up for them. Sharing alumni success stories can give prospective students an idea of the type of careers that alumni have pursued and succeeded in with the help of their degree.
Social media is a great way to reach prospective and current students. For prospective students, it’s important to humanize the brand on social media, because deciding on where you attend school for higher education is a big decision.