Top 5 Social Media Marketing Tips to Boost College Enrollment on a Budget

Admissions October 16, 2020

A man looking through binoculars with the Facebook logo over both eyes, just showing that everywhere you look, social media marketing is there! Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash

The Skinny on Social Media Stats

If you want to find and engage potential students to boost college enrollment, embrace the power of social media. After all, fully 58% of future students will consider your school’s social media feeds before deciding to apply, according to a recent study by TargetX.  

Social media is also the place where college-aged students have spent a considerable chunk of their time even before the pandemic, according to a 2018 study by the Pew Research Center

  • 78% of 18-to-24-year-olds are on Snapchat, with most visiting the platform multiple times a day.
  • 71% of those young adults are also on Instagram, and close to half are on Twitter.
  • But it’s not just young folks. About two-thirds of adults in the U.S. are using Facebook, with three-quarters logging on daily. That makes it a prime platform to reach students of all ages and parents alike.
  • And trends seem to be increasing during the pandemic. A +10% rise in social media usage overall in recent months was seen compared to last year, according to Business.com

Making a Social Media Strategy

With dozens of platforms to choose from and so many options to post paid and organic content, we know social media marketing can be a bit dizzying. That’s why we’ve sorted out some simple, inexpensive tips to help build your college enrollment. 

In part one of this blog (below), we’ll cover some easy-to-implement strategies. And in part two, we’ll share some budget-friendly ideas for organic content to help build engagement and market your school to future students.

Let’s dive in!

Social Media Marketing Tips: Simple Strategies for Big College Enrollment Wins

1. Get Admissions on Your Social Media Team

Invite your social-savvy admissions staff to create content for your social media platforms. Your admissions team knows first-hand what incoming first-years need. From creating five-minute how-to videos on common application obstacles to friendly reminders for deadlines, get your admissions team talking to your social media mavens.

A Facebook post from Cañada College on their Promise Scholars Program, where students can earn degrees for free. Not a bad way to tempt students to apply and boost college enrollment!
@canadacollegeRWC
A friendly Facebook reminder from Cañada College to get in on that free college Promise can’t hurt, especially with such a great photo of happy grads.

Separate Social Media Pages for College Admissions

Even better, some schools even have dedicated social media pages just for their admissions aficionados. Separate pages give future students a direct channel to all the pertinent info and help they need to enroll:

Delaware County Community College has a separate Facebook page for their Admissions Office.
Showcase your virtual tours and reach students where they are at on Facebook with a separate page for your admissions. @DCCCADMISSIONS

Keep in mind that 64% of folks of all ages would rather send a message on social media than email or call, according to a recent Facebook article. That preference makes an admissions page on social media a fantastic outreach strategy. Just make sure someone behind the scenes fields messages and comments promptly. 

2. Channel Your Social Media Marketing

Create new pages and groups to attract students based on their interests. Most community colleges don’t have the resources to maintain the 450 social media channels the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) boasts. But you can still leverage the power of channels to create a healthy social media hub:

A screenshot of Allan Hancock College's social media index with over 35 social media channels.
Allan Hancock College has 35+ social media channels, all indexed on their website to help students find their preferred channel by subject… including an awesome Instagram account for the Official Rodeo Team!

Like Allan Hancock College, you could index all of your social media channels on your website. List channels by category or subject so that potential students can follow their interests. 

Picture it: a future Einstein can check out your physics department’s latest science fair posters on a unique Pinterest board. Aspiring prima ballerinas can peruse the dance department’s recitals on a dedicated YouTube channel. 

With customized channels, you can provide an up-close-and-personal experience of your school, all on a virtual platform.

3. Harness Hashtag Power

Ready to put the microphone right in students’ hands? Create a branded hashtag for your school and encourage students to post to it. Not only will your users generate content for you, but they’ll also share their genuine success stories with future students.

Santiago Canyon College's #santiagocanyoncollege hashtag page.
Santiago Canyon College harnesses the power of the #SantiagoCanyonCollege hashtag!

For example, Santiago Canyon College has done an excellent job encouraging students to use the #SantiagoCanyonCollege hashtag. Pictured here are screenshots of the hashtag’s page on Instagram, where both official school posts and students’ experiences live side by side:

Some regularly scan the socials to find mentions of their schools, even when they haven’t been tagged…and then add their hashtag in a friendly comment so that the post will be added to their hashtag page or search. You can also reshare the post on your feed and add your school’s hashtag to boot. (You can even do this on Instagram using the Repost app.)

And of course, make sure to use other relevant hashtags across your posts. Doing so will help categorize your content so new viewers (and students!) can find you. 

Some Choice Community College Hashtags: 

  • #communitycollege
  • #collegelife
  • #educationforall
  • #instacollege (Instagram only)

4. Visualize College Enrollment

Visual content consistently outperforms text-only posts. In one study by HubSpot, tweets with images enjoyed a 36% increase in clicks and a 55% increase in overall leads. Meanwhile, a video is 10X more likely to be retweeted.

OCC
@OCCollege wrote: 
Yesterday the #OCCollege Culinary students used their talents to give back, preparing and donating meals for local shelters. Thank you for your kindness and hard work!
Oakland Community College shows off its Culinary program and big heart for the community with engaging pictures of student chef volunteers preparing food for local shelters. On Twitter @OCCollege

Creating creative and visually engaging images, videos, and animations nudge algorithms to share your post on more feeds. By tagging people in your videos, you show that your content demonstrates meaningful connections with other users. And those users will hopefully like and share your posts, which will further your reach. Plus, Twitter will automatically favor rich media tweets. 

University of Hawaii System
@UHawaiiNews wrote: In an effort to fill the growing employment gap on #Oahu, 
@uhcc
 will be offering FREE job skills courses this fall. The initiative, #OahuBackToWork, is backed by the 
@HonoluluGov
 CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Funds.
The University of Hawai’i says aloha to over 900 views with a well-crafted video showcasing meaningful content. On Twitter: @uhawaiinews

To extend your influence, make videos and images a regular staple in your content strategy.

5. Keep Your College Enrollment Real

When potential students check out colleges on social media, they are craving connection with real people, particularly current students, according to a Uversity survey

A man holds a phone with a social media feed. Put social media into the hands of your student ambassadors for a big college enrollment payoff. Photo by Katka Pavlickova on Unsplash
Get your social media feeds in the hands of your students.

Be Innovative About Using Student Ambassadors on Social Media: 

  • Recruit student ambassadors to respond to comments on the appropriate channels.
  • Put them in the driver’s seat with a student social media takeover. That means they get to post content on your channel(s) for a set amount of time. Usually, takeovers have a list of rules students agree to before they post. 
  • Designate them as moderators on a special Facebook group for new and potential students. (And remember to promote that group using hashtags!)
  • Have them host a live event on Instagram to answer new student questions.
A screenshot of Orange Coast College's Facebook group, where one student posts her "Pirate" pride. Showing off school spirit and having a place where potential students can ask for help from current students is a huge boost for college enrollment.
Check out Orange Coast College’s Facebook group, where students post their community college pride and answer each other’s questions. Over 5,000 members demonstrate a welcoming community for students new and old!

Key Takeaways to Boost College Enrollment:

  1. Students are using social media, so meet them where they’re at!
  2. Get your admissions team in on your social media game. Consider making a separate page or group for admissions to streamline access to your outreach professionals.
  3. Create individual social media channels based on interest to attract new students and showcase your exceptional departments.
  4. Harness those hashtags by creating your own and using existing ones to index your information. Doing so will extend your influence and promote user-generated content.
  5. Regularly use videos and images to boost your reach.
  6. Keep it real: give prospective students real ways to interact with current students on your social channels.

Now that you have some simple strategies, we bet you’re raring to go! Stay tuned for our next blog, where you’ll find easy and inexpensive content ideas to enrich your social media feeds and boost your college enrollment.

Don’t want to wait for more ideas? Check out some of our past blogs:

Do you have a social media tip or campaign you’d like to share? Let us know on our Facebook or LinkedIn page, and show off your social media smarts.

Do you have a question about social media? You can also drop us a line anytime—we’re always happy to help.


Written by “word nerd” and Interact copywriter Rachel Rosen-Carroll. For fun, Rachel reads style guides and the dictionary. (She prefers The American Heritage Dictionary… We wouldn’t make this up.) 

When she isn’t writing feature stories about inspiring community college alums, she’s working on her YA novel, short stories, and poetry, and she has been published by various lit journals. Ask her questions or suggest word nerd blog ideas at rachel.rosencarroll@interactcom.com.  


A man looking through binoculars with the Facebook logo over both eyes, just showing that everywhere you look, social media marketing is there! Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash
Admissions
October 16, 2020

If you want to find and engage potential students to boost college enrollment, embrace the power of social media. After all, fully 58% of future students will consider your school’s social media feeds before deciding to apply.

We know social media marketing can be a bit dizzying. That’s why we’ve sorted out some simple, inexpensive tips to help build your college enrollment.

Read More – Top 5 Social Media Marketing Tips to Boost College Enrollment on a Budget