Higher Ed Marketing: Students Are Key to Your Success

Sep 15, 2017 | 3  min
author Pyxl Development
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Higher education often presents some unique marketing challenges. Aside from a heavy focus on social media content, plenty of attention needs to be directed toward promoting campus events, maintaining an ever-changing website and keeping key audiences, like parents and alumni, in the know. And because it’s higher ed, there’s not always a hefty budget and big marketing team to carry out those efforts. That’s where students come in. Enlisting the help of students can be mutually beneficial because they’re looking to gain experience and college credit and you’re needing their keen insight and knack for delivering authentic content. With the right approach for higher ed marketing, students can become effective content generators, strategic partners in identifying digital trends and the ideal focus groups for reaching your target audiences.

Social Media Partners

Students are natural content generators and that content can be used to benefit your brand. The best way to do this is by getting students involved with your social media initiatives.

Street teams

Asking students to represent your department at college events and community gatherings can be a great way of collecting photos and video. Consider student-created blogs and vlogs (video) to capture experiences from a student’s perspective and have valuable content that can be shared with Admissions as they correspond with prospective students.

Social Media Takeovers

Takeovers go a long way in giving your content digital authenticity. Whether it’s through Snapchat, Instagram or Twitter, handing your college’s account to a (trusted) student can increase engagement with other students, parents and alumni. Trust us, high schoolers who are still deciding on a college will be watching your social media pages closely to see if it’s a right fit and they want to see what the campus is like from a current student’s point of view.

Brand Ambassadors

And as your college’s social media accounts grow, you’ll likely need some help responding back to comments and promoting events. “Class of” Facebook pages is where current students can get involved by sharing your main page’s content and answering incoming students’ questions. Kind in mind, if you enlist student ambassadors, you’ll need to fill them in on how to respond on social and stay within brand guidelines.

Focus groups

A campus focus group needs to consist of demographically diverse students who are brought together to discuss a specific initiative before it’s launched. These discussions will be free flowing, but also guided, to give you valuable information and input from your target audience. They can be about a new website design, campaign initiatives or just identifying digital trends. Who better to provide honest feedback than the demographics you’re trying to reach? Keep in mind, you may need to have some free pizza handy to sweeten the deal.

The Internal Agency

As mentioned earlier, students are often eager to gain valuable experience and course credits. Offering internships for graphic design, English, communications and technology students can be a great way maximize output and efficiency. Many higher ed marketing departments with a team of student interns set their office up like an internal advertising agency, taking on everything from brochures and signage to website design and development for departments throughout the college. The production process, collaboration and pride seeing their work across official campus collateral can provide valuable career skills.

These are just a few ideas for involving students in your higher ed marketing efforts. Because the world of marketing is ever-changing, it is vital to continue adapting strategies to fit the wants and needs of students. As campus culture changes, so will campus marketing efforts.

Want more handy higher ed tips? Download our free webinar, Managing Digital Media in Higher Education. We cover everything from building a team from scratch to implementing a crisis communication plan.

Updated: Oct 30, 2020

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