Social media is changing the game in terms of colleges’ and universities’ visibility and recruiting efforts. Thanks to platforms like Facebook, YouTube and blogs, students no longer rely only on face-to-face events such as open houses and campus tours to learn more about prospective schools. In fact, most students’ presence at these events is usually due to a first online introduction with your school and its offerings. Yet, many colleges and universities continue to rely on Student Ambassadors to help them exclusively with these on-campus recruiting efforts. They keep students out of their online recruiting efforts, missing out on one of the most powerful engagement strategies available to them. Why a Social Media Student Ambassador Team? Social Media Student Ambassadors are an essential tool to implement your Social Media Strategy. They can help your college:
- Engage with fellow students on social media platforms: whether they are looking to transfer to your school or start a brand new program, prospects just want to know they will be a good fit for your school. Involving current students in your social media activities (replying to tweets, answering questions on Facebook, etc.) is one of the best ways to ensure your prospects and students get the most out of their interactions with your school.
- Create student-centered content: Who knows your school and its strengths better than your current students? Student blogs are the best way to offer complementary, student-focused information to prospects (as opposed to school-sponsored advertisement). First-year or graduate Ambassadors could be very helpful in providing information about the career services or the programs your school offers.
- Highlight your school’s specificity: Any successful social media strategy aims at making your school stand out. Creating a fun, engaging contest or viral video requires focusing on what makes your school special. Your students may be able to pinpoint elements that are not obvious to your marketing team and that you may be able to leverage to create successful, engaging campaigns.
- Watch your competition in terms of recruitment and retention: By the time they attend your school, students will have come across many other school’s campaigns. Your Ambassadors will be able to tell you why they were attracted by some, turned off by others and why they eventually chose your school.
Gather your Team
- Start by gathering 3-4 highly motivated students who are passionate about social media. Ask faculty to approach students about the program, see if your recruitment services have been approached by students who are interested in doing some work in social media. Make sure to choose natural leaders who are both proactive and passionate about the school.
- Think Diversity: your Social Media Student Ambassadors should be representative of the population attending your school: diversity of background, of gender, race, but also living situation (on-campus, off campus), and of year attended (freshman, senior, graduate).
- Establish clear rules:
- Will your Ambassadors be rewarded with money or credits? Your school may create a social media program through which students could apply for a position as a Social Media Student Ambassador.
- What type of content is expected? Will they have freedom of topic and tone? Are there any privacy issues that should be discussed before final approval?
- How often should your Ambassadors post? Are missed deadlines acceptable?
- How often will they meet? Who will they meet with? Marketing or recruitment?
- Provide training for your Social Media Student Ambassadors: help your Ambassadors meet the goals you will have created for them. Provide them with tools and skills to help you be successful in your recruiting efforts. This may include WordPress workshops, video editing classes, production tutorials, etc.
- Try and fail: don’t expect it to be perfect right away. Your team’s learning curve may be steep but you will gather paramount knowledge to attract and retain your targeted student audiences in the long term.
Here is a great presentation by Mallory Wood about the various stages through which a school can develop its Social Media Student Ambassador program.
What is your school doing to integrate students in its social media strategy?