It is vitally important to have a social media presence that supports your school’s brand through actively engaging and controlled content. For college-bound students, social media has become the number one activity on the web. Facebook alone represents 24 percent of all online word-of-mouth promotion, and any given school’s Facebook page is usually within the top five results for high school students’ and their parents’ search.

Each school is unique and has its own institutional social media challenges, so it is important to create a custom strategy for your particular social media outlets. We encourage you to build these three strategies into your overall admissions social media plan.

1. Create Private Groups on Facebook

Private Facebook groups are different than pages in that they allow members to talk directly with each other, instead of mainly allowing messages broadcast by the admin, as is the case with business pages. Simply create a private Facebook group under a name like “PGU Class of 2020” and include an invitation in your post-acceptance letters or emails. You can periodically post conversation starters (e.g. Does anyone have questions about move-in day?; Are you planning on majoring in the arts or sciences?), but students can also post questions of their own (e.g. I’ll be rooming in Mills Hall. Does anyone have a microwave I can use?).

From our case studies, we’ve seen that gathering accepted students into one cohesive group can make students twice as likely to matriculate. That a huge return from just a minimal amount of setup! Best of all, we’ve seen these groups continue well past the start of the school year. In fact, many students have continued to engage with them well into their school careers, meaning that the groups can also serve as great tools for retention.

2. Create a Class-Specific Hashtag

Hashtags began as a Twitter phenomenon, but are now widely used across social media, so why not make the most of them? Create a hashtag specific to your next incoming class and branded to your college or university (e.g. #PGUClassof2019 or #PGUTigers2020). Develop a few posts that are suitably sized for your Twitter, Instagram, or other social media feeds. Then be sure to include them regularly in your social media communications flow to boost engagement.

In addition to just encouraging brand loyalty, these hashtags could be revived periodically for fun or competitive purposes:

3. Encourage Photo and Video from Current Students and Alumni

It’s no secret that your school’s biggest supporters are your current students and alumni. They’ve made your campus a second home and built some of their most cherished memories there. When recruiting students, wouldn’t you want them to hear those stories? Ongoing calls or periodic contests for student video and photography can showcase parts of the student experience that you may not even be aware exist. Encouraging alumni to tweet or post their favorite memories (#Istill<3PGU) creates a legacy that prospective students will want to join.

These memories and snapshots could be passed along to prospects directly in your fulfillment publications, on your website, or throughout your social media feeds. But you don’t have to use them to make the hard sell. Students will do their research about your institution, and if you’re liking, favoriting, or sharing those photos and video, they will see them.

Need Help Building a Social Media Presence?

The Parish Group has a very successful history of partnering with schools’ social media managers to build robust, long-term social media strategies. Our direction better promotes your school’s brand, improves the size and engagement of your audience, and most importantly, increases the yield for your incoming freshman class. Our results have included:

  • Tripling the number of college Facebook fans within one year
  • Tripling the number of Twitter followers within one year
  • Boosting the number of engaged fans to 27 times the size of the student body within six 
months
  • Increasing fan story sharing by 3,000% in one year.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help build your social media presence. Together, we do BIG things.