Updated January 2022 by Alessandra Falconer. Originally published January 17, 2020.
Admissions leaders are always looking for new strategies to keep students engaged throughout the enrollment process and prevent summer melt. But as colleges grow their applicant and admissions pools, it gets harder for admissions teams to remain responsive to incoming students and their parents.
That’s where social media comes in. The accessibility and familiarity of social media among prospective students makes it an ideal tool for large-scale interactive communication.
Here’s how you can engage admitted students on social media:
To increase student-to-student and student-to-faculty interaction…
Create groups for admitted students on Facebook or other platforms. These groups work best when they are set up by the institution and students are left mostly to their own devices. Too much intervention by the admissions team can discourage participation. But too little intervention means that admissions teams miss an opportunity to answer questions or provide information.
One of the most effective ways of making admitted-student groups more impactful for all involved is through student moderators. Student moderators are current or admitted students enlisted to manage interactions within the group and field questions from admitted students. Their presence in the group feels natural, but their contributions are still guided by the admissions office.
Admissions teams can still use Facebook groups as a channel for important messages. Just ensure your posts don’t overwhelm student-generated messages or throw off the tone of the group. And don’t post too often.
To field urgent questions…
Host live-cast events. Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram all have live-casting options for engaging and interacting with large audiences in real time. For instance, Drake University hosts three separate 30-minute events on Facebook Live during yield season to answer students’ and families’ financial aid questions. The event kicks off with an introductory video presentation, followed by a Q&A with participants.
Twitter is also a great tool to engage with students in real-time. Schools such as Ohio University use the platform to provide relevant and timely information, from providing updates on COVID protocols to highlighting up-and-coming events, clubs, and students who are making an impact on campus.
To increase student engagement…
Hold social-media takeovers. During these events, current students temporarily “take over” one of the school’s official social media accounts. These events allow your social media followers to occasionally engage with student-generated content. Another option for sharing student-generated content is to create a dedicated web page where you can showcase social media posts from students.
Many institutions have begun to include TikTok—which has exploded in popularity with Gen-Z—among their social media platforms. The University of Florida used the platform to do a quick tour of their campus, while the University of Limerick joined in on the platform’s then-trending hand clap challenge to celebrate the success of its graduating class.
Another way to get more likes, comments, and re-posts is to hold a contest through social media, like flash trivia contests or themed photo contests, with school-branded swag as the prize. These contests not only engage your followers, but also allow them to learn more about your institution.