Education marketing is undergoing major changes with UK universities coming round to the idea that social media can be effectively used to contact potential University applicants.
As a result, more and more institutions are looking to integrate the use of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter into their education marketing campaigns.
It has been reliably proven through extensive research that social networking sites can be an effective means of communication for universities as it can help them to make direct contact with potential students and therefore increase the number of applications.
The main target market for higher education institutions is students that are between the ages of 16 and 21 and it has been demonstrated that 75% of this market use some form of social media on a regular basis.
A practical example of a university that is putting social media at the forefront of its education marketing campaign is the University of Salford who have been posting videos on YouTube and maintaining their own Twitter, Facebook, Bebo and LinkedIn pages.
It is important to note that these sorts of education marketing campaigns are only useful to communicate to potential students and not to communicate to existing students.
Digital marketing plans are having a greater impact
The latest research conducted into digital education marketing has found that adopting this type of approach is completely different from that of a more traditional approach to communication.
The importance of using this form of communication is that it helps to encourage active participation and engagement on social media and should be a given part of any digital marketing strategy. Far too many universities allow all sorts of people to use a variety of different tools to reach the same target market.
Social media can be adapted to higher education’s changing environment and is the new way by which the target market chooses to communicate. Therefore, it is fundamentally important that universities adjust their digital marketing strategies but also adjust the way that social media is used.
From this, it becomes apparently clear that the main purpose of education marketing is to encourage more university applications. Education marketing needs to focus its efforts on the requirements of the applicants and the most effective way of communicating to them through digital marketing.
The golden rules for using social media for digital marketing in higher education would then be:
- Listen and engage with your applicants; it is important to understand the social media channels that your applicants use.
- Ensure that you have a logical approach in place for education marketing and make sure that you make the most of social media. Don’t just keep an eye on your Facebook and Twitter profiles, ensure that they are all functioning together.
- Remember social media is a two-way conversation, make sure that you respond to any requests quickly and check the sites on a regular basis.
- Differentiate yourself; using social media is only the beginning, decisions to come to your university are not made based on liking a Facebook page or Twitter profile. You have to make sure that you deliver great content, videos and images through these channels to keep the interest of those potential students.
- Produce some guidelines about what is allowed to be communicated through the university’s social media channels to help ensure that good practice is followed.
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