Connecting With Students Through Social Media
As a higher education professional, you know communicating with students is a key component in ensuring their success, as well as the success of your institution. You might also understand that the best way to communicate with students is to meet them where they’re comfortable having a conversation—and in today’s world, that means social media.
Social media is the younger generations’ preferred way of interacting with the world. Students are using social media more than ever, not only in their personal experience, but also to research and share opinions on everything in their lives, from products to politics, and even school selection.
Whether you’re already involved with students through social media or are looking for a way to dive in, we’ll take a closer look at some of the fundamental ways schools are using social media to connect with their student communities.
Social Media in Higher Education
While the limitless nature of social media allows users to get creative in their outreach efforts, there are a few common themes in how social media is used in higher ed.
When it comes to choosing a school, students have options—lots of them. In this highly-competitive environment, many institutions are turning to social media as a way to highlight what makes their school stand out from the crowd. From videos of campus life to photos of students participating in unique school events, there are many ways to showcase a school’s unique assets.
Schools in the know are taking an active interest in what students are looking for, and are using social media to share those things with prospective students and their parents. Colleges are sharing campus life in real time, using Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat, and more.
Imperial College London took their efforts one step further, and created an entire Student Life Meme Manual, featuring fun, relatable memes to help incoming students get acclimated. They even encouraged students to get in the game by using #OurImperial to add their own memes to the guide.
Sharing Student Experience
College can provide some of the most important and memorable experiences in students’ lives, and students are more than willing to share those experiences with others. Those experiences can help students connect with each other and create a more bonded campus community.
Schools can foster this engagement by encouraging students to use specific hashtags in their posts, or better yet, by providing a forum for students to share their stories in one centralized location. A student-run blog is a great place to start. By putting some control into students’ hands, it provides a safe, comfortable place for students to come forward with their thoughts, questions, and concerns.
Many schools already have crisis communication plans in place to help keep students faculty, and staff safe in the event of a crisis involving their campus. More and more, these plans include a strong social media element to get critical information out quickly.
Whether it’s sending out an alert via Facebook and Twitter through your existing channels, or utilizing an emergency channel that only posts when an event occurs, social media is an easy way to control the situation.
It’s no secret that maintaining strong, healthy relationships with alumni is a big factor for post-secondary institutions. In addition to cultivating a positive perception of your school, alumni donations can be an integral piece of vital external funding. While schools often relied on traditional methods of outreach to connect with alumni such as mail or phone calls in the past, many institutions are now turning to social media.
For example, some schools choose to create small regional groups via Facebook in order to make it easy for alumni to stay involved where they live. On these pages, members share personal live events such as career changes and marriages, and school representatives provide updates on campus happenings and donation or volunteer opportunities.
Connect With Us
How are you using social media to connect with students? We want to know! Share a comment below, or reach out through our MyScholarNet LinkedIn group.