How Universities Are Using Advocacy Marketing To Increase Student Enrollment

 

Attention universities, this one is for you!

We know it gets harder and harder to meet enrollment targets each year. In fact, 50% of public colleges and more than 66% of private colleges failed to meet their 2016 enrollment targets. The collegiate landscape is shifting; your enrollment marketing strategy must evolve to match.

At SocialToaster, we assist dozens of universities with their advocacy marketing efforts (Florida State University, University of Virginia, Augusta University, to name a few). Through our SocialToaster platform, these universities fully leverage the social reach and trust equity of their alumni, faculty, and current students to help achieve their marketing, fundraising, and yes, enrollment goals.

 

Why Does Advocacy Marketing Work So Well For Universities?

When it comes to advertising to prospective students, digital is key. 60% of seniors and 55% of juniors were more likely to consider institutions that utilized email, text, and social media to communicate. It makes sense: prospective students want to select a university that will help prepare them for the future. It’s hard to come across as future-forward if you’re relying on outdated methods to market your message.

Prospective students also say that they rely on recommendations from a number of outside influencers when making their university decision. Chief among those influencers are parents, current students, and alumni. Prospective students want to hear first-hand accounts from students on what matriculating at the university is “really” like. They also want to check that these accounts match with what the university is saying in its marketing messages.

Enter advocacy marketing. Advocacy marketing combines the student’s preference to receive their marketing communication digitally with their desire to hear endorsements from trusted sources.

Here are just a few ways advocacy marketing can help your university meet their new class target numbers.

 

How To Use Advocacy Marketing To Bolster Your Admissions

Share The Latest School News
Win that big game? Celebrating a newly tenured professor? Receive a Nobel prize? Finally get a Bojangles on campus?

Whatever the big news, when you have an advocacy marketing program, you have a ready-to-go amplification system. Use your advocates to share this news with their social networks! Prospective students want to be proud of the school they choose to attend. Showcase your wins (both on the field and in the cafeteria) to help communicate that your university is one to brag about.

Advertise Your Scholarships
$46 billion in grants and scholarship money is awarded to our nation’s college and university students every year; however, sometimes those scholarships are buried deep in department-specific web pages. You know what they say, “Out of sight, out of consideration for current high school seniors!”

Use your advocates to bring attention and awareness to your scholarships. Whether they’re based on raw talent, academic achievement, volunteer hours, or just because, having the opportunity to receive even the tiniest “discount” on their education can go a long way to convincing a prospective student to apply to your university.

Create Videos That Showcase Your Student Life
For many incoming students, heading to college represents a rite of passage. It’s the first time many of them will be away from their support networks. And while there’s a bit of fun to be had, this new experience can be daunting for many-a Freshman. Incoming students want to know that they’re coming into a warm and welcoming environment. They need to be reassured that current students are enjoying their time on campus.

Video is a fantastic tool for showcasing student life. In fact, 60% of millennials prefer to watch a video than read a company newsletter. Your video doesn’t have to be a huge production number - what matters is that the video is genuine and communicates an aspect of student life that would excite a prospective student.

Once the video is created, it’s a breeze to use your advocacy marketing program to share that video on their Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter feeds, ensuring that the video is seen by the advocate’s social network of peers and family.

Tap Your Advocates To Create UGC
We’ve written about the magic of user-generated content over and over (and over and over and over).

Simply put, user-generated content (UGC) is one of the most powerful forms of content your university can utilize. On social media channels, UGC posts on average receive a 28% higher engagement rate than standard posts; websites that feature UGC see a 20% increase in return visitors; and from an admissions standpoint, 93% of consumers find UGC to be helpful when making a decision.

The best part of user-generated content is you get to enlist your biggest fans (students, faculty, alumni) to produce the content vs your internal brand resources. SocialToaster makes it simple for you to run a variety of UGC generating initiatives and fun for your users to create content. We support UGC-generating activities like:

  • Hashtag-supported Instagram contests
  • Survey current students and alumni about favorite campus spots, memories, etc. to generate user stories
  • Create fun, interactive quizzes

Share the content generated by your users directly through your advocacy program or use it to support your other marketing strategies.

 

Ready to harness the power of advocacy marketing to  your enrollment numbers skyrocket your enrollment with ? Schedule a free consultation with one of our advocacy experts today!