Summer melt is one of the most frustrating phenomena that face colleges in today’s competitive recruitment landscape. You accept students, they submit their deposits and supplemental paperwork—and then they don’t show up. Not at orientation, and not at the start of fall semester.
There are several factors that lead to summer melt, from cost to competition. Sometimes when students and their parents take a hard look at the numbers, they opt for a more affordable school, or delay enrollment altogether. Or as often is the case, students hedge their bets, placing deposits at more than one school, awaiting that much sought after yes from their first choice. And then there’s just the disconnect that sometimes occurs from senior year in high school to freshman year in college. Particularly common among lower income or first-year-in-college students, the follow through from acceptance to enrollment can fall off.
So how can social media help?
If you haven’t already embraced the notion that your future students stay super connected on social media, it’s time to get on board. Not only do Millennials and members of Generation Z communicate with one another on sites like Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook; they keep in touch with their favorite brands. And the schools they plan to attend.
An active social media presence makes you relevant among your target demographic and allows you to have direct conversations with future students. It keeps them engaged. Here are just a few ways to leverage social media to prevent summer melt:
Be the expert you are. Build a strong social media presence extolling the virtues of your institution but also answering the questions that matter most to your school’s stakeholders. Speak about the programs and majors you have and let future students and their parents know what they need to do to get in.
Have conversations. Social media gives you a great opportunity to speak directly to future students. Although you’ll want an institutional voice, be sure your tone matches the social media channel and your audience. And if anyone expresses concerns, take the conversation offline and address them head-on.
Be mobile. Most of your future students will be on your website before they come anywhere near your campus and more than 85 percent of them will be looking at your pages from a mobile device.1 If you want to stay on students’ radar, you need to be easy to access from wherever they are.
Build a team. The students who are most interested in what you offer aren’t going to stop at your website; they’re going to check out ALL of your social media channels. While you cannot control every hashtag and comment that connects to your brand, you can build a team that promotes all of the good you do. Find students who will serve as great role models, offer them some social media training, and let them paint a clear picture of what your school is all about. After all, you want your applicants to have the best chance at success and a good fit is where it all starts.
If you’d like to learn more about preventing summer melt through social media, contact us at ESM Digital. We’re specialists in postsecondary education.