Introduction to College Social Networking
College social networking is becoming one of the key avenues to increased application and enrollment at traditional and online colleges and universities. As more and more “guerilla marketing” becomes the standard for getting messages out, it is critical for traditional institutions of higher learning to look at non-traditional lead generation.
Some of the basics for college social networking are the same as those for any business, be it brick and mortar or web-based. These include:
· creating a web presence with genuinely useful information· making that web presence social-networking friendly·
Creating a Web Presence
College social networking is still very Facebook centric. While there was a period of time when Twitter appeared to be overtaking Facebook as the social media of choice, the greater flexibility from the “page” formats makes an institutional Facebook page as a feed to the school website is the formula of choice for successful college social networking.
One way to enhance the success of your site for the purposes of college social networking is to ensure a high organic search ranking for prospective college student search topics, integrate share tools for those topics into the site, and allow individual subscriptions when topics update. Some of the subjects to include are: college financial aid, selecting the right college program, succeeding in your freshman year, work-study programs, college sports opportunities, Greek Life, student government, and adapting to campus life.
Content should be pertinent and varied. While text and photos are the easiest and cheapest, video is the communication media of choice with the college social networking crowd. YouTube allows everyone to have a channel. Your college or university needs to have it as well to allow proper college social networking.
Making Your Web Presence Social-Networking Friendly
This allows users to share your college and university information in the manner they choose. It is critical that you allow that freedom of choice when leveraging college social networking. Most users will have more than one affiliation – generally accessed through a smart phone. Your site should be mobile friendly, to ensure that the college social networking crowd can get the full effect on their preferred devices.
Most content management software suites have applications you can integrate into your site called “widgets” which allow for college social networking to spread person by person. These allow for articles to be shared via a number of social media sites or even via direct email. By monitoring activity on these widgets, you can monitor the success of particular articles for attracting interest and potential students to your organization.
Merging Organic On-line Advertising with Pay Per Click
Pay per click can help pre-screen your website visitors. On a fairly small marketing budget, sources such as GoogleAds and other sponsored search ads can help feed high-quality leads to your site. While you generally do not want to “hit” people with a survey up-front, for fear of giving a used-car salesman feel to your site, there are methods of appropriately asking for feedback on the site or the information provided there.
Search engine ads are useful in that the web user has “pre-screened” his or herself as interested in some of your web content or in your institution in particular. This increases the likelihood of converting this web-site visitor to a campus dweller at your institution. The budget for a search engine campaign can be less than the cost of a single print ad and yield ten times the qualified leads.