There are only a few weeks left before we turn the corner into 2018. Does anyone else feel like this year has flown by?! It seems like September was just yesterday and we were welcoming a new group of students to campus. Within a few short months, we’ll be seeing another group graduate as newly minted alumni. And then the whole cycle will start all over again!
In the meantime, there’s still a lot of work to do. It’s easy to get caught up in sticking with the “old standby” because you know it works, it’s safe, and it will produce results. But it’s almost 2018. Isn’t it time to shake things up a bit?
We often hear from our colleagues in higher education that they want to dip their toes into the social media marketing world, but they feel there are too many reasons not to. Well, I’m here to tell you otherwise. Forget what you’ve heard, what you’re worried about, or what you think you can’t accomplish—it’s time to address some common social media marketing misconceptions. Stick with me and you’ll be kicking off 2018 with some fresh ideas and a couple of new strategies in your back pocket.
1. You need to be everywhere on social media
One of the biggest misconceptions I hear is that it’s all or nothing on social media. As a school, you think you need to have an account on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and LinkedIn. The list keeps on growing, doesn’t it? But I’m a firm believer that if you don’t have the resources to do all of those platforms really well, then don’t! Figure out the top one or two places your target audience is spending most of their time, and start building your brand there. It’s much better to have a strong presence on a limited number of platforms than have a really bad presence on all of them.
Not sure where or how to get started? Hello, student interns! One of my favorite things about working on a college campus is that there will always be someone who can help show you the ropes, even if you aren’t a frequent user of social media. These students are often an untapped resource—they’re not only instructors who can show you the mechanics of a specific platform, but get a small group together and you’ve got yourself an informal focus group. Learn which platforms played the biggest role in their college decision. Ask them for feedback on the current state of your school’s social media presence. You have your real target audience right at your fingertips, so take advantage of the opportunity!
2. Facebook is dead
You’ve heard this one before, right? Despite popular opinion, teens aren’t actually leaving Facebook in droves. While growth of this population on Facebook may have slowed compared to Snapchat, Instagram, and others, this tried-and-true platform is still one of our best resources for targeting and engaging with students. There are more than two billion monthly active users on Facebook, and of those two billion, an estimated 14.5 million are teens 12–17 years old. By comparison, Instagram has roughly 800 million monthly active users, and Snapchat only has roughly 350 million monthly users.
You know who else is on Facebook? Parents. By having a multi-pronged approach on Facebook, you can get your school’s name in front of not only the students, but their other half of the decision-making puzzle. And don’t forget that Facebook owns Instagram, so all of those extensive targeting parameters that are found on Facebook can be repurposed seamlessly for your Instagram campaigns. That sounds like a win-win to me.
3. Social media targeting is invading a user’s privacy
Okay—I get it. Targeting on social media can be eerie at times, but it’s also incredibly useful in getting in front of your specific target audience and having your brand be top of mind. There has been some negative publicity in recent months about social media targeting, but it’s not new and it’s certainly not going away anytime soon. Students are growing up surrounded by the Internet and social media, and being served up targeted content has become engrained into their daily lives. No one wants to be bombarded with content that is completely irrelevant to their interests, lifestyle, or life stage. Targeting prevents this from becoming a problem. With e-mail inboxes becoming more cluttered and print budgets for college brochures decreasing exponentially, don’t let a few naysayers convince you this tactic isn’t ethical or effective.
4. Social media will solve all of my problems
As much as we want to believe that social media is the key to solving our enrollment problems, it’s not going to be a silver bullet. Like all other digital marketing strategies, social media is just one small piece of the puzzle. Not everyone consumes information the same way, so it’s important to make sure you aren’t putting all your eggs into one digital basket. Add to the fact that each social media platform might have a slightly different user base, which means you can’t just “write it once and post it everywhere.” Find where your target audience is active, and make sure your content is crafted for the specific platform it will be shared on to ensure the highest return on investment.
Now…you’ll need to excuse me while I go buy that great pair of shoes that has been showing up in my Facebook newsfeed since Black Friday.
Want to learn more about how to get started with these or any other digital marketing strategies in 2018? We can help. Contact us to start the conversation!