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social media through the enrollment journey

We had an amazing response to this week’s webinar Social Media Through the Enrolment Journey! Hundreds of education professionals from all over the world joined us to gain a deeper insight into how social media can be used to attract and engage prospects from initial inquiry right up to enrollment.

Over the course of two sessions, many participants weighed in with questions, adding their own valuable perspectives and helping to further enrich the experience for everyone involved. Keep reading for a full account of the Q&A.

Missed the webinar? Register to view the recording here! And be sure to keep an eye on your emails for details on our next session. 

Planning Your School’s Social Media Strategy

social media marketing for education

Q – What is the most useful tool for beginning to create personas?

A – Honestly, we recommend you ask an independent professional to create your school’s personas because there’s less chance of any bias in the data and the strategy. (As we mentioned, HEM provides this service). It will also provide you a great opportunity to weigh in (internally) on the work done by the outside firm. The final combination is typically a very useful persona. Plus, at this crucial stage, it’s important to have a comprehensive process take place outside your day-to-day operations because it holds great importance.

Q – Regarding personas, how do you accommodate marketing directly to students but also to the parents/agencies that are sending them in the case of juniors? When they’re with us we currently have most interaction from the students, but it’s the parents we ultimately should be advertising to.

A – We suggest you create a persona for the Deciding Parent. This will identify their unique pain points, concerns, and needs of information as they are distinctly different from the prospective students’. Then target blog and social posts on those topics to social platforms where the age demographic is higher.

Q – For a university, should we also talk to young kids in order to bring awareness to the field (for example bring awareness to science for an engineering university)? And should this be a separate persona?

A – If you’re promoting a university-level course, you’re likely safe to target Grade 11 or 12s.  Any younger than that, and you’re better off interacting with their parents. And for both groups, we encourage you to create separate personas.

Q – I work in a College that has a team of 1 in the marketing department, we have a budget per year of less than 50k – what would you advise as our top priorities?

A – We recommend that the first steps, or priorities, for any school be determined by your existing data. Review your Google Analytics and the demographic data of your social media community to identify what needs the most help. We offer this in a free Digital Assessment of your school’s web presence. We review your data with you and then provide our recommendations of what we would prioritize. This is offered at no charge and no obligation, so you can choose to proceed within your own team to address the top priority we identify.

Q – What recommendations would you have for an online school that does not have a campus, everything being online with students from all over the world?

A – Focus the topics of your social and blog posts to address the concerns and needs identified in their personas (different from a campus seeker). You may not have a “live campus tour” to share, but instead you could offer a live Q&A session which shares and demonstrates the digital platform you use for teaching. This will help them see what it’s like to take classes with you.

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Q – Our Facebook page has current students and prospective students. Do you have any tips as to how we can balance the content? Should we prioritize one audience ? 

A – An easy way to manage this is by sharing campus life with pictures and events on Facebook to keep your current students motivated. However, ultimately the goal of your Facebook page should be to convert prospective students. Therefore, make the content as relevant to them as possible. Create strategic social media posts which focus on fictional personas. Look not just at what your school is doing, but also the area surrounding your school why might a student want to come and study in X city? Create and manage effective posts which look at these areas.

Q – Can you remind me what tools you mentioned to manage the post schedule?

A – HubSpot and Hootsuite where the two tools mentioned in the webinar.  Both are available in free or paid versions. There are so many more, so take a few minutes to research what best fits your needs.

Mapping the Enrollment Journey

social media for schools

Q – We have multiple enrollments in the year, can you have multiple journeys in the year too? 

A – Absolutely!  You should be creating content directed at the “Decision” stage throughout the year, not just in the weeks before enrollment. Keep in mind, your prospects come up with the idea to attend a course or get a certificate or degree based on their life’s timeline, not your enrollment calendar. So you want messages for all stages to appear throughout the year.

Q – We are running a study abroad program, and the deadline is in February, what is your advice to keep the momentum, or make them apply right away and not wait until February?

A – The word choice of your campaigns is always important highlighting that spaces are filling up quickly, etc. However, a landing page would help you with this as well, as it would guide a potential lead to enter their contact details into a contact form, so you can move them through the admissions pipeline by following up at your own pace.

Q – With social media, do you follow the application “calendar” to coincide with the 4 stages of recruitment?

A – Yes and no 😉 Yes, you can increase the number of posts that target the Decision stage as you get closer to an enrollment deadline. But you should work to include Decision-focused content year-round, every week (you should include content across all stages year-round).  Remember, their personal calendar of when they wish to begin their research will not necessarily coincide with your application calendar.

Q – Twitter – what part of the student journey would this be most useful?

A – When considering if Twitter is the right platform, you should judge that by your audience, rather than by their stage in the enrollment journey. If your Google Analytics show that Twitter drives a lot of traffic to your website, utilize it across all stages.  

Social Media Best Practices for Schools

social media marketing for schools

Q – Can we also engage with local media, or be presented in partners’ social media?

A – Yes! Your digital marketing should be one piece of a larger marketing strategy that can include events, tours, print ads, brochures, direct mail, etc.  And if you’re able to partner with local media to increase exposure via radio, TV, or online, that’s a great addition.

Q – Do you think it is a good idea to add social media posts in other languages for an English language school? E.g. blog posts in Spanish or German testimonials.

A – We recommend you communicate in another language if that is the first language of your audience. For example, if you are promoting “Learn English in Leeds” in social ads visible in Asia, you would consider placing those ads in their native language because they may not yet be proficient enough in English to understand the ad. If you’re a business school in Leeds (taught in English) and you’re targeting prospects in Spain or Germany, we would recommend you advertise in the language your course is taught in, English.

Q – Why do you prefer landing pages to not link to other parts of the website? Why it is important they can’t go anywhere else?

A – A landing page is a more focused and transparent way to track the success of your campaigns once you have linked it to your google analytics. As well as this, distractions are always an issue in today’s online world. Somebody having a look through your website may be distracted before they can enter their details in a contact form elsewhere. Also, a separate landing page is categorized as ‘useful content’ by Google, so it will improve the overall visibility of your brand on Google if utilized properly. One of our free digital assessments would show you how this would work with regards to tracking this data in Google Analytics.

Q – Do you have any feedback regarding the use of emojis in posts?

A – Emojis can add flair social media posts, but they have a time and place. Before adding emojis, consider the platform you’re posting on. Since LinkedIn has a more professional tone, you may not want to use emojis in your LinkedIn posts, for example. People on Twitter and Instagram, on the other hand, tend to use more casual language, so emojis could work well there. Additionally, think about the kind of content you’re posting and make sure the emojis add something to the post instead of detracting or contradicting it.

Q – How in advance should you start advertising an event and how many reminders about it should you post?

A – Start getting word out 4 weeks in advance (3 at the latest).  Mention it at least twice each week on each platform, and encourage people to share the invite and/or bring a friend. Don’t forget to send out email campaigns announcing your event as well.

Converting Prospects from Social Media

social media for higher ed

Q – How do you convert and assure that after being accepted to a program prospects actually enroll?

A – Follow up. Call them after acceptance and prior to the enrolment deadline and ask directly, “Will you be enrolling this term?  We’re trying to get a count for class size … because demand is high.” Just as we’re increasing the sense of urgency in social media posts at these later stages, your staff needs to do the same with in-person action.

Q – The biggest issue that we have are individuals filling our forms and then never answering, calling back or hearing from them again … is this an issue that many are having?

A – The one thing that increases your chance of connecting with people who fill out the form is calling them ASAP after that lead comes in. Certainly within 24 hours. But your chances to connect with them and to continue with them through the stages increase the closer you call them to the time they filled it out. We build workflows for schools that lay out a plan of action of how many calls, emails, or SMS messages are sent on day 1, 2, 3, etc. And we prescribe which actions could be automated and which should be done manually. We encourage you to build a similar workflow. Continuous attempts are the only way to improve your chances of hearing from prospects again.

Q – What is the best way for social media inquiries to get into a school’s system from the landing page?

A – We recommend your use a CRM as a database to receive those leads that come in through the landing page. These CRM systems (there are free versions and more robust paid versions) allow you to segment and prioritize your leads. They also help you automate communications with email templates, or example, and also track your communication with a lead through the stages so you know who’s close to enrolling, and who’s not interested. Here’s a link to HEM’s CRM, Mautic, which is built to serve educational institutions.

Q – Is it wise to use contact info from our CRM in order to target and serve our specific social media ads to specific contacts?

Yes, contact lists from your CRM can be imported into Facebook Ads to create remarketing campaigns, and this can be a great way to target leads further on down the enrollment journey and give them the final push they need to apply.

Do you have any burning questions about higher ed social media that aren’t addressed here? If so, feel free to contact us, and we’ll do our best to help. Alternatively, you could schedule a free social media consultation to address your school’s social media efforts in greater depth. 

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