Increase Registration, Attendance, Brand Awareness & Buzz

This guide will teach you how to amplify your recruiting events by making them shareable on social media, allowing you to leverage your attendees to build buzz, increase reach and attendance for future events, increasing your prospective student pipeline.

On a college campus, there are no shortages of events. You host open houses, college tours, webinars, Twitter chats, admitted students day, and the list goes on. These events serve as a great source of lead generation for fall enrollment because they foster personal connections that other marketing tactics can’t replicate.

With 73 percent of teens having access to a smartphone, there is a huge opportunity for prospective and current students to create and share user-generated content for your school on social media. Students can not only expand the reach of your events to their prospective student peers, they can evoke FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) for anyone unlucky enough to miss out on your event. This creates a larger sense of urgency for those on the sidelines to not miss out on future events.

How can you get started? Follow these seven ways below to get more out of your recruiting events.

#1 Use simple, brand-consistent hashtags

Hashtags are great for helping people discover all types of content, including your events, on social media. When selecting a hashtag, make sure it’s branded, consistent, and won’t be confused with another event. For example, all of your open houses should share the same hashtag but you can slightly modify the hashtag for your recruiting events that take place in different cities to reflect the location.

Emory University keeps things simple on their Instagram account. When they’re on the road, they use #EUAdmissionTravel2015. This hashtag groups one type of event together and can easily be changed for the following year. Students in other cities can be influenced to attend Emory’s event when they come to their city, by following Emory’s hashtag.

If you wanted to customize your hashtag when your admissions team on the road, you can make it state or location specific. For example, if Emory went to New York, their hashtag could be #EUAdmissionNY2016.

→ TIP: When creating your hashtag, you can use acronyms, but use them sparingly. Keep in mind, a bunch of letters or an acronym can be confusing or easily misspelled by attendees if the hashtag is too long.

Hampton University’s #GalaofHope2015 was so straightforward, Pharrell Williams was able to help spread the word through his Twitter account.  

When selecting your hashtag, don’t operate in a vacuum. See what hashtags your students use and if appropriate, use that or a similar hashtag. If you’re not sure the meaning of the hashtag, ask a student ambassador. You don’t want to inadvertently have a crisis on your hands because you’re on the wrong side of a campus joke.

#2 Make events simple to share

We recommend having an event calendar that syncs up all of your events into one place, to make finding all events easy. Make sure all event details are listed in your event description, and that you have share links to all of your social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.

Before your event launches, include the hashtag on your website, in all of your invitations/emails, your promotional social media posts and even in the description of your events calendar. Get it in the minds of your attendees early, but don’t stop there.

Localist customer Cuyahoga Community College makes sure everyone knows their hashtags for upcoming events. In addition to including it in its own field, they add it to the description.

At your event’s check-in desk, clearly display the hashtag and all other relevant information on your table. This is not the time to be shy, you can put it on napkins, name tags, step-and-repeats, posters, and have any speakers mention the hashtag during the welcome portion of your event.

Use social media during the event too. Let people see the hashtag in action. Don’t limit yourself to just Twitter, Instagram is another great social network for spreading content with hashtags. Whether your event is big or small, you can easily curate a hashtag on the screen at your venue. People who want their posts to be featured will make a greater effort to share your event across social with your branded hashtag. There are plenty of tools you can use to pull this off.

  • Zoomph is a paid tool allowing you moderate content before it’s displayed and it pulls content from both Instagram and Twitter.
  • Eventstag has free and paid plans for curating hashtags from Instagram.
  • Visible Tweets is a free tool, but it only curates hashtags from Twitter.

#3 Leverage a social media correspondent

Just like a DJ at a club, you may need some help getting the party started on social media. Go behind the scenes prior to your event to get people excited and ready to engage for your main event.

Berklee College of Music built anticipation online for Berklee Onsite, a three day event for students in their online program to meet in real life, by showing the preparation of the dorm rooms, photo booth and a map of where attendees were coming from. You can use these same ideas for you for your prospective students.

Don’t be afraid to recruit your student ambassadors or communication majors to serve as social media correspondents. They can tap into their own networks and help spread the word about your events to their friends who are still in high school or college students looking to transfer.

Reward the person who brought the most attendees to your events by giving them some school swag or a gift card to your school’s bookstore. You can track this by creating a Bitly link or specialized link inside your favorite ticketing tool like Eventbrite.

#4 Embrace Snapchat

Snapchat is a mobile messaging app designed where users can must hold down their finger over a snap (an image or video) for 10 seconds until it disappears forever. Because content moves fast, Snapchat users are highly engaged. With 41 percent of teens ages 13 to 17 using Snapchat, it’s definitely a social network your institution needs to invest in.  

At your next event, create quick stories and highlights that can be shared across your network, increasing engagement at your event. Snapchat’s Story feature allows you to post pictures and videos in chronological order that are viewable to followers for 24 hours. Keep in mind the fun doesn’t have to stop there.

To preserve the life of your event on Snapchat beyond 24 hours, you can save it to your phone and post on other social networks.

When former Twitter CEO and University of Michigan alum Dick Costolo came to his alma mater’s campus, students could find a Snapchat recap of the event on Facebook.

You can also create a Snapchat contest. Reward a few lucky attendees whose snaps of your events that include your hashtag with some school paraphernalia, and award one ultimate prize like a gift certificate.

Make sure they send the snap to your school’s account so you can view all of the entries. To make sure contestants are amplifying your event, give bonus points to people who include their entry in their public stories.

#5 Keep the party going

In today’s connected society, your event doesn’t have a finite ending point. Before your event ends, promote the next one by posting the information with a link on social media so those who aren’t in attendance can register. This will engage those not only attending events, but also those who couldn’t attend who don’t want to miss out again. This can apply to both physical and virtual events.

Take a page from New York University’s playbook and create a Facebook photo album of your events. Follow up and let attendees know to check out the photos and encourage them to tag themselves. That way your event can show up in their friends’ newsfeeds.

Remember, the fun doesn’t have to stop just because your event is over. Create a cool recap of your events and post to your website, blog, social media and more. This doesn’t have to be a standard blog post, you can let your audience do the talking for you by using Storify and Rebelmouse. With these tools, you can search your hashtag and select your favorite tweets and create a story.

Dickinson College used Storify to capture its Day of Giving event. Although they kicked off the social conversation in the story, they didn’t have to create tons of new content. They used the student body’s voice on Twitter to capture the essence of the occasion for Dickinson. You can create a story around virtually any event occasion from move-in day, homecoming to graduation.

#6 Say yes to photo booths and props

Who doesn’t love a photo booth? They just scream “take a picture with me” and people always look like they’re having a ball. You can have your school logo on the printed photo or template so they can easily share it on social media, complete with your branding. Have fun props like your school mascot, hashtag, event name, or anything else related to the theme of the event.

Many photo booths will let users simply sign in with their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account, allowing them to publish their photos with your hashtag already populated. It doesn’t get much better than your attendees not only promoting your event, but looking like they’re have a blast while doing it.

Eastern Illinois University created a backdrop of their school, had paw prints and fun signs for the newly admitted Panthers.  

Don’t have the budget for a fancy photo booth? No worries. Get some cool props and sprinkle some selfie sticks around your venue. You can still have your school and event’s branding. You may want to have someone working the event standing around, encouraging people to use your hashtag when they post their picture.

When it comes to props, feel free to get a little creative. If your props are larger than life, they can entice people to share photos just as well as any photo booth or selfie stick.

Spelman College had a giant “YES” sign, decked out with their school color, for admitted students during their Spelbound weekend.

#7 Get Feedback, Analyze, Tweak, Repeat!

How will you know if your event was a success without measuring it? People won’t sing your praises on social media if your events are lackluster. You need to continually improve your events and keep your audience’s interests. Remember, there’s always a fresh crop of high school seniors watching so you can’t afford not to actively optimize your events. Use social media to analyze attendee conversations about your events. Search keywords such as your hashtag, event and school name and do a qualitative analysis.

Here are some free tools to help you get started.

Did it take too long for people to check into your events? Did your event inspire students to register for the fall semester? These are a few examples of the type of information you’re looking for during your analysis. If there are any problems that you can fix in real-time, address them to enhance the attendee experience. If not, be sure to iron out problems for the next event.

Another great way to get feedback is to send attendees a survey. You can easily use free tools like SurveyMonkey or TypeForm to collect attendee responses.

Surveys provide valuable information, but many times people need a little coaxing. How? Provide an incentive.

After Ragan Communications’ PR conferences, they have all their presentation slides and video recordings of the session emailed to attendees, only if they unlock the content by taking their survey. If you don’t have any gated content to entice your attendees to take your survey, offer a raffle to one lucky respondent. Whether it’s an Amazon gift card, iPad or swag from your bookstore, find out what your audience likes and give them a chance to win it.

No matter how large or small your events are, if you’re not making them shareable on social media, you’re limiting their reach and losing out on a huge opportunity. Make your hard work, work even harder for you by setting the foundation for shareable events so you can reach your unique recruiting goals.