Social Media Marketing

Students are on social media.  These days, that’s a given.  From the start of the college search process to daily interactions with friends and family, platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and more are a regular part of their lives.  In 2012, 72 percent of incoming high school seniors reportedly researched prospective colleges on social media, a number that has doubtless gone up in the intervening time as social networks have become more ubiquitous.

But how can you engage with students on social media once they’re already enrolled?  Believe it or not, events represent the perfect opportunity to not only speak to your current students, but attract prospective ones, in addition to furthering the goals of your event itself and boosting event attendance.

Why is social media such a good fit for university event marketing?

It’s mobile-friendly

Overall internet traffic is more than 56 percent mobile-based.  Most popular social media platforms, by their very nature, are mobile-friendly, already optimized in apps and other responsive formats.  This means that while your students are at your event, they will already have the means to share and discuss on them, since they’re likely to have their mobile phones at their sides or in their hands at all time.  Want to connect with them and promote your event at the same time?  Today’s mobile-friendly social media platforms are the place to be.

It’s primed for virality

Whether in academia, industry or the corporate world, event managers dream of making their event go viral.  Social media offers the perfect opportunity for this – where else are your customers and students continually checking and resharing content publicly, including your own? With the right hashtag and images (more on these later), your social media content can also reach a larger audience than you initially intended.  Make sure the content is relevant, timely and on topic.  Your attendees will thank you, and be much more likely to share.

It’s already a part of your event calendar

The right online event calendar will come to you already integrated with social media platforms.  With Localist, for example, you can track discussions on Twitter or export your event information to Facebook, in addition to allowing audiences to share their event plans with friends on social networks.  Calendar users can also log in to many Localist calendars using their existing social media identities, via social sign-on.  This means that the students RSVPing to your event online will already be primed and ready to share on social – and that means everything when it comes to reaching others who might not know your event is happening.

It’s visual

You’ve heard the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words.”  The human brain process images 60,000 times faster than it processes text.  Social media companies have realized this, prioritizing the posting of images in their feeds.  At this point, 78 percent of social media posts during events feature images.  There’s a reason for this: it works!  Tweets with images get 150 percent more retweets than those without, returning to the “thousand words” value proposition.  The medium is highly visual, and it pays off.

It lasts and lasts

Think you’ve missed your chance because of lackluster social conversation during an event?  Turns out, 40 percent of online conversation about an event occurs after an event, the largest share of the conversation pie by far.  In turn, 40 percent of that post-event conversation is comprised of positive feedback and reflections.   

So, how can you optimize social media for a student-focused event at your university?

  1. Include images in a majority of your posts for better rates of social engagement
  2. Establish a hashtag for the event, and make sure students are aware of what it is
  3. Encourage social check-ins via your event calendar
  4. Ensure event landing pages are mobile-responsive to reach the largest swath of your audience

The bottom line

Don’t try to reach students with a medium they’re not already using – make the work easier for yourself and your team by meeting them online. Students are already on social media, and it’s a natural fit for your event to be as well.  By including images, the appropriate hashtag, encouraging social check-ins and making your event mobile responsive, you’ll seamlessly bring your offline event online and reap the benefits in both modalities.