ESM Digital's Higher Ed Marketing Blog

Engagement is Key When Recruiting Prospective Students

Pretty brochures and a glamorous website no longer do the trick in getting students to enroll at your school. To stand out above the competition, your college needs to make sure it’s engaging with prospective students via social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and a blog. In today’s world students are no longer making their decision on where to attend school based on your college’s website. They are checking out the Facebook page to see what content is being posted, such as videos from events on campus, blog posts written about student and/or graduate experience, and what students and graduates are saying overall about the school. It’s not uncommon for prospective students to turn to a college’s Facebook wall to ask questions either. According to a recent study by the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, 100% of universities surveyed use social media to communicate with students, up from 61% in 2007-08. The study also found that 98% of the responding colleges have a Facebook page and 84% have a Twitter account.

By opening up the dialog on your college’s Facebook page you’re showing off its unique personality for the outside world to see. Having students and graduates write blog posts about their experiences encourages engagement (having your school’s marketing department and/or marketing agency interview these students and graduates and write the posts for them is great, too).

Here’s why this is all important: Let’s say Sally is debating between school X and school Y to become a Medical Assistant. School X has an interactive Facebook page, with a lot of student and graduate engagement. School Y has a Facebook presence, but that’s about it. Sally just cannot make up her mind about which school to attend, so she decides to go to Facebook for help.

Sally goes to School X’s Facebook page first. There she sees all the photos and videos from around campus, student spotlight stories, and graduate success stories. She comes across a Medical Assistant’s student spotlight story and decides to leave a comment, asking the student about her experience in the Medical Assistant program. The student responds within minutes letting Sally know how wonderful the teachers are and how much she is learning. Other happy students also chime in and encourage Sally to enroll! Sally even gets a private message from a staff member at the school offering to assist her with anything regarding enrollment.

To be fair, Sally then visits School Y’s Facebook page. She scrolls through the content and can’t really find anything worth commenting on, so she leaves a general wall post asking Medical Assistant students about their experiences. Sally waits… and waits… and never actually receives an answer.

Which school do you think Sally enrolled in? Yes, that’s right – School X! School X posted content that portrayed its personality. This content was real and engaged everyone on the page. Like I stated above, it’s not enough to have pretty brochures and a glamorous website. You must be attempting to interact with students, graduates, and prospects with every Facebook post, Tweet, YouTube video, and blog post. Engagement is what sells your school to prospective students.

Does your school have unique ways for engaging students, graduates, and prospects? Let us know!