Updated on October 2nd, 2018
In the age of technology and advancement, universities exist in countries around the globe and there are even options for students who want to earn their degrees online.
The problem is that the wide availability of higher education makes it hard for students to find what you want them to see. Think about the millions of results you would get typing in something like ‘apply for college’ or ‘writing jobs online’.
Most students aren’t going to spend hours poring over the results. While appearing in search results can help, using social media has proven much more effective for university branding. Here’s how you can make it work for you.
1. Know What Works on Different Social Media Platforms
One of the biggest mistakes that companies make is failing to understand their audience. For example, adolescents are the largest group on social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat.
For something like Instagram, younger people are turning to artful shots—not filters—to find aesthetic beauty. For example, behind-the-scenes photos can be useful.
For a platform like Snapchat, short videos that take a look at the life of the average student can help the younger audience see where they fit in on campus.
Humor has also been effective at making that connection. By creating a similar and consistent theme, you are making a brand for your university.
On a platform like Facebook, however, the content would be completely different. This might be a good platform to market articles with the intent of helping students.
For example, ‘X Jobs That You Can Get Into with X Degree’ or ‘How to Choose Your Major’. When you share content, it is important to share a photo associated with the article as well—the rate of sharing and response increase when photos are used.
2. Stay Consistent
Even when you are using different content and marketing strategies on different social media platforms, you must stay consistent to create a university brand.
Use the same handles/usernames across different platforms and stay consistent with the message you are trying to send.
Think about what stands out about your university—the protection of your students, the freedom for students to be themselves, or perhaps the academics or sports that you offer.
Find the part of your message that makes you stand out the most and find different ways to deliver that message across various social media platforms.
3. Use Images to Create a Visual Picture
The research shows that you connect most with the audience when they can produce a visual image of what you are talking about.
This visual image triggers the emotional and memory areas of the brain. The first way to use images is to paint a picture of your university and what it has to offer.
Tell stories about students that have succeeded in a unique way and how your university helps students achieve their dreams.
Your profile pictures are also important. Authenticity is a major factor when people follow online accounts.
By choosing a photo that aligns with your school colors, you can better represent your brand and present your university as an authority.
For example, if you share a photo of a science lab being done or a science homework helper tutoring a student, your message is going to be unclear if you are a music school.
4. Use Emotional Appeal
College life comes with a whole new list of struggles. For some students, they must try to balance going to college with maintaining a job or a home life.
For others, it is the responsibility of learning to be alone and take care of themselves. When you connect with the average student, you let them know that you understand their struggles.
By appealing to struggles and showing where you can help, you can help set your university apart and brand it as a place of higher education that cares about its students.
5. Don’t Forget the Outliers
Even though many universities use their brand to appeal to younger students, don’t forget that adult education is a large, less targeted market.
The people that have waited to go to college should be addressed as well. Don’t leave them out of your social media marketing strategy—especially when you are creating content on sites like Facebook and LinkedIn.
It is not uncommon for people in their 20s, 30s, and even up to their 60s or 70s to visit these types of sites.
Students have many options to further their education, from apprenticeships and internships to attending a university, either on campus or online.
In a world with so many options, making your university’s brand stand out is one way to stick out in a large pool of options.
By creating consistency and sending a clear message, you can create a brand across social media and ensure your university’s brand is memorable.