Is social media relevant in college recruitment efforts? Absolutely! Lipschultz hit the nail on the head when he said, “Online interaction must be timely and relevant to avoid being ignored” (Lipschultz, p. 315). Trust me, recruiters do not like to be ignored.
The job of a college recruiter is to speak to potential students about the benefits of attending a particular college or university. They provide students with information about the application process, enrollment, and the selling points of the school (academics, athletics, study abroad, etc.). In addition, they also attend college fairs, conduct one on one meetings with parents and students, offer tours of the campus, presents in classrooms, and send occasional marketing promos via email. In essence, they are using a lot of their sales, presentation, and organizational skills to attract the best high school juniors and seniors to their colleges or universities.
The target demographics in college undergraduate recruitment includes high school juniors and seniors. Why juniors and seniors? Juniors are at the point where they begin to think about what school they want to attend; while seniors have to make that tough decision on where and if to pursue higher education.
This pretty much is the standard job description of what a recruiter does. However, let’s dig deeper into the subject.
Once information is provided to potential students, what’s next? And, how do we avoid being irrelevant or forgotten.
Social Media and College Recruitment: Staying Relevant with The Big Three
Facebook – It’s the largest social networking platform in the world, with over 2.2 billion active users. It found its way to every age group, gender, and ethnicity. With high user retention rate, it’s the perfect fertile ground to engage and keep track of prospective students, current students, and alumni.
Instagram – A picture’s worth a thousand words, but they’re also invaluable to recruiters who feel that Instagram is the breeding ground for potential students. There are currently over 800 million active users. Boasting the second highest penetration rate in social media, Instagram is a highly engaging way to promote your brand via pictures, videos and text captions while appealing to the more youthful generation.
Snapchat-Snapchat is primarily used for creating multimedia messages referred to as “snaps”; snaps can consist of a photo or a short video, and can be edited to include filters and effects, text captions, and drawings. There are over 300 million monthly users of which 45% are between the age of 18-24.
The presence of colleges on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, among other social media platforms, allows students to connect, network, form relationships, and join communities with their college before they even step on campus. As a result, students can determine if the school is a good fit and aid in the decision making process.
When engaging in different social media platforms, privacy control can become an issue if precautions are not taken. Along with the individual’s responsibility to manage their privacy settings, schools have also enacted online policies to ensure that students, faculty, and staff members are safely engaging in social media. A great example is IUPUI’s online safety & security policy.
Social Media Content Influence on IUPUI
Understanding the importance of engaging with potential students, current students, alumni, staff, and faculty members, has driven IUPUI to take initiatives to incorporating social media strategy into their operations. In regards to recruitment, it’s become a new way to provide customer service. While emailing and phone calls appear to be less effective in trying to engage and attract students, social media has taken the place of traditional methods.
IUPUI Official Social Media Accounts:
- Facebook– 46,881K followers
- Instagram– 16.4K followers
- Snapchat– 2.11M followers
- Twitter– 33.8K followers
IUPUI has taken some strides in encouraging its members (students and faculty) to develop their own social media presence to communicate with their audience. From student groups, learning communities, campus activities, recruitment, or just school pride, they have facilitated the use of social media as a communication and community building tool to connect with the campus population. It’s fun, informative, and engaging!
The Facebook post above reads, “IUPUI instructor talks superheroes, comic books”. This post is informing students of the fun lecture that’s taking place on campus; through text and a dynamic video.
“Indiana University Commencement 2018“! The Facebook post above captured IU students’ stories across different campuses. The video showed school pride and what it means to the students to graduate with an IU degree.
Chancellor Paydar @paydar demonstrated how being on twitter supports the faculty, student body, and campus initiatives through his feed.
Influence is Important
Allan H. Mogensen said, “Work smarter not harder”. Identifying key influencers is a smart way to use social media without working harder. Influencers in social media generate large followings of enthusiastic engaged people who pay attention to views and opinions. Nowadays, influencers are changing how companies should market their products and services by using social media’s word-of-mouth. In essence, we want the influencers to speak for our brand (IUPUI) and be an ambassador for the school.
A Recruiter’s Life
As a recruiter for IUPUI, keeping up with students and engaging them is a priority. Our department is responsible for events such as open houses, admitted student nights, orientations, and career fairs. To gain participation, we not only rely on follow-up emails, but different social media platforms to help spread event information. Additionally, for prospective students and new admittance, we regularly send reminders of deadlines, missing enrollment documents, and scholarships. In one instance, an incoming student was on the verge of not being qualified for a $6,000 scholarship, due to his failure to turn in the appropriate paperwork on time. After failed follow up emails and phone calls, we eventually were able to connect with the student via social media (Facebook).Happy to say, everything worked out.
IUPUI’s Campus Climate
Although IUPUI is a branch campus of IU and Purdue, it struggles to be respected and seen as its own university. However, social media has given the school an opportunity to reach a target audience in a very open way to promote and build the IUPUI brand. One way to build the brand is to grow the student population.
The school appears to being taking all the right social media steps to stay current and relevant. Nonetheless, social media is a real-time, continuous, 24-hour machine that cannot be ignored. Therefore, the small team of recruiters must find ways to engage potential students; along with updating content. Don’t get it wrong, implying that someone be glued to social media is not a solution.
The recommendation is just to be strategic and stay relevant. It’s sharing the workload to maintain or improve student engagement as well as updating online content. For example, posting new student employment opportunities, announcing upcoming campus events, answering student questions, and celebrating and sharing achievements on campus (just to name a few). Also, instead of being random, scheduling dedicated time during the day or week to engage in social media will ensure consistency. Keeping up with social media is not something that is casually done. However, having the access to the latest and greatest communications tools gives us the capability to expand our reach and move toward having effective recruitment effort. Social media is a great addition to our toolkit. As long as we are purposeful and strategic about social media use, it’s relevant to the growth of our campus and the IUPUI brand.
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