When writing short form content about your college or university’s academic programs for social media channels, it’s easy to lose focus on audience engagement and shift towards what you want to promote.
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 ultimately important, it should only be a small fraction of what is promoted on social media channels.
When developing editorial calendars, the question to ask is: what do prospective students really want to see?
1. The faculty, staff and admins that make up your school
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 student journey a memorable experience. The experts who help students find a way to finance their education or advisors who offer curiculum advice.
It’s important for your social media channels to showcase these special people, highlight their personalities, passions and expertise. Invest time and resources in capturing photos and videos that display why these people are important and 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. The elements that make your programs stand out
No two academic or social programs are the same. Sure, you might have the same subject matter, but there are always differences. What context does your faculty bring into the classroom to aid the learning experience? What’s the format of your classes? If they’re online, what is the platform experience like? How does the real-world enter into the learning environment and how are students applying it to their experience? What creative ways are your faculty members engaging with students? Who’s going above and beyond and most importantly, why? How will students envision ROI from their academic experience? All of these aspects about life at your school are attractive to prospective students. 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. These are digital scenarios that should put your applicants in the shoes of your students and designed in a way that excites and entices them to engage.
3. Your alumni and current students
Talk less about the college, university or school. Rather, 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 feel welcome. Students want to know they’ll fit in, whether they’re the type-A, “work hard play hard” student type or are concerned they will be the only students juggling child care or a full time job. Alumni can tell their careers success stories, and are living proof of the ROI graduating college can bring.
4. What life is like outside the classroom
There is more to the student experience that what transpires in the lecture hall or laboratory. Clubs, events, sports, food, community events and internships depict the student experience. Often times, applicant decisions hang on the experiences they may be exposed to outside of class. They’ll want to know if there are opportunities for learning that blend with meeting new people, learning about different cultures and other details that extend beyond the classroom. An added benefit to producing content that focuses on these subjects is that they should be incredibly visual. Short form, creative content that tells a story supports the “it was a right fit” factor.
In our work with colleges, universities and college preparatory schools in Greater Boston and in other parts of country, we find that the biggest barrier they face to developing purposeful content is time and resources. Marketing teams are stretched super-thin and budgets must stretch further than they ever have.
Those in charge of marketing campaigns and their partners in admissions must prioritize storytelling content in a way that supports enrollment lead goals. The best part of digital storytelling campaigns is the data. The social networks you use as part of this effort—as well as your website—will provide treasure troves of data, showing you which types of content and story themes that grab applicant attention. Follow the data and pivot to content that drives quality traffic to landing pages and other admissions-related channels.
If you would like to learn how Schneider Associates uses our SA Newsroom process to develop and manage programs such as this for the likes of MIT Sloan, Northeastern University, Lehigh University, Bentley University, Landmark College and others, give us a call.