As schools rely increasingly on social media to interact with prospects and students, blogs have taken the backseat in many schools’ online marketing strategy. Blogs are pivotal tools in building a strong social media presence: a blog improves SEO results, ensures ownership of the content they post elsewhere, and gives prospects an extensive and researchable database about the school.
Most schools are aware of these benefits and have launched “official blogs” to enjoy them. Schools’ “official blogs” are like any other corporate blog: they feature news about the institution, posts about programs and useful tips for all students, announcements, etc. These blogs focus on students, but their voice and content are neutral and controlled by the school. In fact, in most schools, Admissions or Marketing departments are in charge of developing the content of those blogs. This leads at best to generic blogging and, at worst, to blatant advertisement for the school, with little for students to take away.
This “official” approach to blogging may actually be hurting your marketing efforts and keep your blog from fulfilling its main goal: give insight into your students’ day-to-day life and stand out from competition. That is why some schools have decided to leverage their students’ expertise to tell prospects and current students about their programs and life on campus through blogs written exclusively by students for students. Why?
A mutually beneficial activity
As opposed to generic blogging, student blogging is a mutually beneficial activity for your school and the students taking part in it. For the school: – It offers an authentic presentation of what your school and campus are like and how your students feel about it. No one knows what type of information your prospects are looking for better than your students or graduates, so why not give them the opportunity to talk directly to your audience? – Many schools are reluctant to host student blogs as they feel they would be handing their school’s image over to people who do not have stakes in their school. But according to officials in schools using student blogs, the risk is limited and worth taking as it brings trust from prospects that are constantly solicited by advertisement. Indeed, “[students] may be more inclined to trust a school they think is willing to show them real campus life.” Students can also greatly benefit from such a blog: – Depending on the angle of the blog, students could have the opportunity to write about courses and subjects they feel passionate about, thus becoming experts in their subject matter. A blog will also give them an audience of peers and potential job-related contacts. – Being trusted with a blog will reinforce ownership in learning; encourage research skills as well as technology skills
A great tool to stand out from competition
A student blog is a great way to make your school stand out. You have a very active campus life? You offer a unique class in your region? You have a great apprenticeship program? These are all great themes for a student blog. Some schools share official and non-official news about the institution on the official blog and launch separate student blogs for foreign students, freshman, or students of a class. There is a student blog to be created for anything that makes your school special. Check out what some schools have chosen to do here, here and here. Whatever its theme may be, your student blog will have to have clear goals and be integrated into your global social media strategy: what is your strategy on each social media platform? How do you position yourself compared to your competition? How could your blog offer something your competition cannot offer? What would your student blog cover as opposed to your “official” blog or to your other social media presence (Facebook page, for instance)? You will need to answer precisely these questions to be able to create a relevant and effective student blog.
What are your experiences with student blogs?
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