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Why Do Universities Need Social Media?

When it comes to marketing your university or degree course, the ideal approach is always a multi-faceted one.

Marketing encompasses everything from traditional (but unquestionably effective) postal mailouts and advertising to public relations and social media.

While printed materials such as saddle stitch brochures and prospectuses will inevitably form the bedrock of your marketing, social media is a great tool for raising awareness among your target market.

Its key advantage it its immediacy. At the press of a button, you can flag up a new course, announce the appointment of a prestigious new professor, publicise university events, and even shout about funding or the achievements of a particular student or graduate.

Its other main attraction – for businesses in every sector – is that it enables you to target your content to the audience you want to attract.

It would be misguided to think that social media is the preserve of Gen Z or millennials – it’s not. People of all ages are active, it’s just a matter of identifying which platform your market is using.

Figures show Twitter and Facebook are used by an older demographic, whereas Instagram and TikTok are where you’ll be best placed to target students. Both the latter are image – rather than copy – led, focusing on pictures or videos rather than words. These platforms are also hugely interactive.

One of the most frequently asked questions is: how often should universities post on social media? The answer is straightforward – regularly.

Because social media is instantaneous and immediate, viewers move on quickly. Your post will be replaced on an online feed within seconds, so you have to ensure it is engaging enough to hold someone’s attention – however briefly – and that it is followed with another post.

The aim is that your university’s posts are memorable enough and frequent enough to lodge in the subconscious of the people who view them.

Content is key with social media. And, because platforms such as TikTok are entertainment-focused, you need to bear that in mind and produce content that is humorous, energetic, and dynamic if you’re to attract and hold attention.

The key is to avoid making your posts look or feel like promotions or adverts. Social media in this sense requires a far subtler and less heavy-handed approach.

So, on Instagram for example, don’t just post images of your university buildings or students listening attentively in lectures. Instead, post pictures of the wider city and its attractions and use its interactive tools to ask questions of your followers – even inane ones will encourage them to engage with your content.

You can even set competitions with giveaway prizes. Try asking users to follow your social media accounts for the chance to win a prize, for example. But, above all, keep it light and fun.

Increasingly, students see university as more than the chance to broaden their education and increase their career prospects. They see it as an experience in which living away from home, making friends, and socialising are just as important as the subject they are studying.

By showing them those aspects, making them laugh, and demonstrating you are welcoming and friendly, you will set your university ahead of the competition.

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