Marketing for Colleges in 2014 – Part 1

The strange thing about technology is the way it simultaneously makes the world smaller and bigger at the same time. Colleges and Institutions around the world are finding themselves confronted by new challenges as a consequence. On the one hand, new technologies and forms of social media give colleges the means to reach many more potential students than ever before. On the other hand, limited budgets mean that marketing departments must work carefully and with proper focus.

The good news is that a savvy college can take advantage of a wide range of options to approach new students affordably and directly. Here’s a selection of the methods available to modern institutions that are being used by colleges to raise interest amongst potential students.

Here are the first five marketing suggestions, check back for the next two instalments.

YouTube

You TubeThe largest video sharing website in the world and a household name, YouTube allows any college or institution a platform to reach out across the Internet. By creating their own channel a college is able to draw attention to and promote themselves, their courses of education and to sell the college as a way of life as well as an experience.

Before the advent of video sharing in general, the nearest comparable option was the TV advert campaign. However, even in their heyday these were expensive and horrendously limited in what could be presented. A commercial might have a typical runtime of 30 seconds, which is very little time to engage the viewer in making an important life choice like choosing a college.

Now, as TV audience shares across networks and channels worldwide dwindles, it’s harder and harder to execute a successful television campaign and harder still to learn if it is doing any good for the college. Contrast this to YouTube, which provides a full suite of analytics, allowing marketers to build up a full picture of who is viewing their videos and how well their marketing campaigns are working to drive interest in their channel.

The holy grail of videos, of course, is creating a viral video which gets exposure far beyond its intended audience. Whether through comedy, explosions, controversy or otherwise, such a video, should it take off, has the potential to raise awareness of your colleges around the entire world. However, the Internet is a fickle thing and going viral is a difficult thing to undertake for any marketer. Nevertheless, doing something a little different from a campus tour or speech from the chancellor is always a good start in making a video people will want to watch.

Blogs and Blogging

While Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and the rest get most of the social media attention, the humble blog still remains a potent tool in a college’s attempt to engage directly with current and potential students. Blogs provide a human voice, an open diary of sorts, which allow the author, and colleges using them, a space to inform and educate, much like an opinion column in a traditional newspaper.

Blogs are a fantastic central base from which social media efforts can be promoted from. Not only can attention be drawn to interesting findings by the college, but they provide content that can feed all of a college’s other social media feeds. A blog post becomes a twitter or Facebook link reaching out to raise awareness on other media. They’re also fantastically low cost, requiring relatively little skill or practice to get into and allowing a quick turnaround of content and offer utilities allowing the user to get a picture of who is reading their blog and what they’re reading.

A further option is guest blogging, which is when a representative of one blog writes an article on another blog. For example, you might have the person writing the blogs for your college post an article on a student website’s blog. This arrangement works two ways – the receiving blog gets content, which is what all blogs need, and the writer gets exposure and attention for themselves, potentially introducing the college to a brand new audience and thus reaching out to potential students.

QR Codes

qrcodePacking a great deal of information into a little square, QR codes are a quick way to get key information into the hands of students who, almost to the last one, come equipped with smartphones as standard. This is a fantastic way to get students interacting with your college, with the least possible effort, on behalf of the potential candidate. As any advertiser knows, knocking down the barriers between your customer and a potential sale is always the way to go.

With a QR code placed on promotional material, adverts in the press or on the Internet, you can communicate far more information than you could otherwise. Send your potential students directly to your college’s website without trying to get them to remember long, unwieldy URL’s.

Flickr

flickrAs they say when telling a story – show, don’t tell. Flickr is a photo sharing service that allows you to show real images about your college to the world. Specifically, you can show potential students just what life really is like in your college, swaying their opinion and interest by giving them the impression of what their life might be like if they were to apply to study with you.

Providing a photo platform allows you to quickly and easily provide material for your viewers. From solemn events, like graduation ceremonies, to students engaging in thrilling parties to community outreach from your college, you can catalogue it all, spreading the word of your college a thousand fold with every picture. And with its social media ties and analytics, you can see just how well your image campaign is working to spread awareness of your and your institution.

Being Visible Online

“Googling it” is the instinctive way of searching for knowledge throughout the last decade and shows no sign of abating. When a potential student, or their family, wishes to find out more about your college, they will go online to look for it, and when they do, you best make sure they find something that looks great. A well-built site that advertises all the things that make your college great is a must.

It’s a further worthwhile step to build your website so that they can apply online directly to your academy, without having to take the restrictive step of filling in an offline paper application. The more applications you can get, the better your chances of getting the right enrolments for your institution.

Part two will be published on Friday, make sure to check back.