What are the Best Social Media Platforms for Colleges?

students using social media platforms

You already have a social media presence, but even if your college is staffed up to handle multiple social media platforms, are you on the right channels? More importantly, are you doing social media marketing for colleges well?

Colleges first began to see the benefits of social media marketing a decade ago. But back then, it was likely an aside. One person, as part of his or her other job responsibilities, offered an occasional post or tweet. There was neither an overarching mission, nor a well-defined strategy.

Fast forward to 2019, and you need to be on social media for student recruitment. Students often use social media to research which schools they will consider. In fact, in the 2017 Survey of Admitted Students conducted by Eduventures, more than two-thirds of students polled said that social media were useful or extremely useful in the college search process.

Best Social Media Platforms for College Students

The real answer is easy: it depends. Okay, so maybe that’s the exact opposite of an easy answer. But it’s accurate. Social media platforms continually evolve and so do the preferences of your potential students.

Just three years ago, more than 70 percent of teens were on Facebook. Now it’s down to 51 percent. They’ve opted for YouTube and Instagram and Snapchat instead. But before you ditch Facebook advertising, it’s important to remember that those teens’ parents are still on the platform. Nearly 80 percent of 30-49 year olds use Facebook and 55 percent of those older than 50 use it.

And when you break down the numbers further, the “it depends” message becomes even clearer. Lower-income teens are more likely to be on Facebook than their higher income peers and the platform is most popular among Hispanic users. The where you should be from a channel perspective really depends on who you hope to enroll at your school.

More Data on Social Media Platforms

  • More women (74%) than men (62%) use Facebook.
  • Snapchat is hugely popular among teens (13-17) and young adults (18-24), with 69 and 78 percent, respectively, using the platform.
  • Girls use Snapchat more than boys (42% vs. 29%), but boys use YouTube more than girls (39% vs.25%).
  • White teens cite Snapchat as their most-used platform (41%), more than Hispanics (29%) or blacks (23%).
  • Both girls and boys play video games, but 97 percent of boys do.
  • Pinterest is more popular with women (41%) than men (16%).
  • LinkedIn is more popular among the college-educated (50%) than non-college-educated (9%).
  • LinkedIn is also used more by men (56%) than women (44%).
  • Only 13 percent of Millennials use LinkedIn.
  • Students use a variety of short message services (SMS) like text messaging, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

What About Email Marketing for Colleges?

Although technically not a social media platform, email remains an important delivery channel and student engagement and recruitment tool. Especially when it comes to attracting high school juniors and seniors to your school, email is still one of the top three most influential resources students rely upon.

According the Ruffalo Noel Levitz 2018 E-Expectations survey, email is the preferred channel for students to interact with college admissions once they’ve made that initial contact. More than 90 percent share their email when filling out a request info form.

Social Media Marketing for Your College Depends On Goals

If you want to recruit a kid right out of high school, take a chance on Snapchat. If you hope to find students for an online MBA program, get on LinkedIn.  And if you want to attract teachers to your continuing ed programs, check out Pinterest.

The most important component to a successful social media strategy is to start with the end goal in mind. Then you can build on the social media platforms that make the most sense for your school and its programs.

Do you want to build an awesome social media strategy? Let us know. At ESM Digital, we specialize in higher ed marketing and we’re experts at social media.

~Linda Emma