4 Ways Colleges Can Create Engaging Social Media Content That Drives Enrollment

by Belfort Group | Higher Education , Thought Leadership
October 3, 2018


When writing social media content about your college or university’s academic programs, it’s important to remember—it’s all about the student experience. Knowing whom you want to reach—and figuring out how to reach them—is key. But the magic is in creating content that makes potential students want to learn more.

Too many colleges, universities and even college preparatory schools focus their content production efforts around program overviews, admissions deadlines and other process details. While this information is important, it should only be a fraction of what you promote on social media. Students want to understand what it will be like to attend your school—and the more you can tell them—especially about life beyond the classroom—the better your chances of getting them to enroll.

When developing social media editorial calendars, be sure to ask: What do prospective students really want to see from a college?

1. Faculty and staff that makes your school special

There’s one thing that is totally unique to your school: the people who shape the student experience. The faculty who bring their industry expertise into the classroom. The student life people who make the journey a memorable experience. The experts who help students find a way to finance their education or advisors who offer curriculum advice.

It’s important to showcase these special people, highlight their personalities, passions and expertise. Invest time and resources in capturing great photos and videos that explain why these people are a vital part of the student experience. Bring emotion into the content and demonstrate why these people are passionate about their jobs and helping students succeed.

2. Unique elements that make your programs stand out

No two college academic programs are the same. Sure, you may have similar courses but there are always things to highlight that are different. Like the faculty. What unique experiences are your faculty bringing into the classroom that fosters learning? How do professors who are experts in their field inform the learning environment?  In what ways are students applying what they’ve learned in internships to the classroom experience? Students want to know if they’ll be making presentations, working on group projects, going on trips, analyzing real-world case studies and other specific details that go beyond the course description. Creating digital scenarios that place applicants in the shoes of current students can excite, engage and activate prospects to take the next step in the enrollment process.

3. Your alumni and current students

Talk less about your college, university or school. Instead, tell stories about your alumni and current students. Prospects want to hear stories that inspire. If your program has a diverse student body, showcase the inclusionary experience and help incoming students imagine how they will fit in. Profile all types of students whether they’re the “work hard play hard” type or are parents juggling child care and a full-time job. Alumni stories are living proof that graduating your college brings huge benefits including return on investment.

MIT Sloan School of Management, an BG client for over 10 years, hosts Women’s Week every August – a series of admissions events geared toward women, featuring notable alumnae.  MIT tasked BG with increasing attendance for this event using social media.

To get the MIT community involved, we asked faculty, students, and alumni to nominate women in the MIT Sloan community who deserved recognition using the hashtag #MITSloanWomen.

In just a few weeks, BG coordinated more than 100 individual users to promote the video, pictures, graphics we created. Hundreds of posts and scores of personal stories appeared across various social media channels recognizing MIT women using the #MITSloanWomen hashtag. The campaign earned the school millions of impressions and even a write-up in Poets & Quants. As a result, several of the Women’s Week events had a waiting list for the first time ever.

4. What life is like outside the classroom

Student life goes beyond what happens in the college lecture hall or laboratory. Clubs, events, sports, food, community events and internships depict the student experience. Applicant decisions are often influenced by experiences that go beyond the campus tour. Students—and their parents–want to know what types of intellectual, cultural, athletic and fun opportunities are unique to your school. Short, creative content that tells a story supports the “it’s the right fit” factor.

The best part of digital storytelling campaigns about your college is the data they generate. Social networks—as well as your website—provide a treasure trove of metrics, showing you which types of content and story themes grab applicant attention. Follow the data and pivot to content that drives quality traffic to landing pages and other admissions-related channels and you’ll reach enrollment goals.

Belfort Group uses earned and paid media to increase enrollment for colleges like MIT Sloan, Northeastern University, Lehigh University, Bentley University, Landmark College and others. Find out more about our higher education marketing expertise.

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