Successful Student Recruitment Strategy – Part 3 – Online Media

by smartamarketing


An Effective Website

Be Present on Social Channels

Tips on Using Social Media in Student Recruitment

Stand Out From the Crowd

Dare to be innovative and creative

Communicate from their point of view

Don’t be middle of the road.   Be different to attract interest

Draw on The Talent Around You

Resist the Urge To Sell

Make It Personal

Make provision for engagement. For prospects to ask questions

Keep It Real

Seek to Provide Value

Stay With the Curve

Get help from outside your Institution

Creative Ways Colleges Are Recruiting Students


How does one influence the mindset of prospective students to view the university as valuable?

How does one effectively highlight the unique features of a university, going beyond the act of plastering a generic message?

How can you win their trust and translate the marketing campaign into generating actual numbers?

What are the digital marketing must haves?

What is the expected impact of deregulation – what this means for student recruitment and how can you best respond?

Education is a very competitive marketplace, where standing out from the crowd can be hard. Here are some general guidelines, which can significantly improve your campaign to attract students.


Web and social media are crucial tools in student recruitment; they have forcibly sharpened the accuracy of university branding.


An Effective Website

Creating “a website that offers a picture of what the Institution is like and what it would be like to study here”.

A website is a primary communication channel, it is your image, and it is where people look for you.

Offer your visitors friendly user experience, a simple, comfortable design with easy to find information.

The information needs to be up to date and include new information.

Be sure you integrate contact information.

Website information should be readily accessed and read on pads and mobile phones


Be Present on Social Channels

Social means you can easily share information, advertise and communicate directly with potential candidates.

Be where your target segment(s)/audience(s) are. You need to be able to offer your own social media channels and to access others where you prospective students are active. Where they already know and are comfortable to share ideas and thoughts.

You should use several social networks. For example, there are institutions that make video testimonials with current students and post them on YouTube. You have a wide range of

Marketing teams need to talk to students in order to find out what makes them tick. By doing this regularly, your department will have its finger on the pulse of what trends, fashions and subcultures they can tap into in order to engage prospective applicants.


Tips on Using Social Media in Student Recruitment

Here are some tips on how institutions can optimise their social media presence to attract students.


Stand Out From the Crowd

Be clear about who you are and how you are different (in a way the target segments will want). This is the key to unlocking what makes your Institution and value offer(s) unique.

Offer what other institutions do not do and will not readily offer.


Create an identity that lends itself to creating stand out marketing communication campaigns that are relevant to and understood by your target market(s)/audience(s)


By getting your value offer right and communication it effectively to the right target(s) you will build a solid brand identity.


Dare to be innovative and creative.

Most providers will usually stick to the classic advertising methods because they are bureaucratic and bland and are afraid to use the unconventional. You have to remember that you have serious competition and standing out is necessary.


Communicate from their point of view

In a campaign to attract students, think and communicate from their point of view, and you are more likely send the right message and be perceived as open minded, modern and innovative. Imagine what an impact a flash mob would have on a university campus.


Don’t be middle of the road. Be different to attract interest.

Challenge the norms to discover what works best when trying to engage attract prospective students.


People with an interest in education tend to be inquisitive, curious. They will also want their information to be easily accessible and digestible. And often – fun.


Draw on The Talent Around You.

The advantage of working in higher education is that you are constantly in contact with talented individuals. For a university marketer this has huge advantages.


Resist the Urge To Sell.

People do not like being “sold to” Resist selling your brand to prospective students. What you need to do is engage them and find out what their interest is – and provide information that will help them make a decision. If you have your value offer correctly developed and they are your target market/audience, they will persuade themselves

Prospective students are suspicious and cynical about most of the marketing communication noise that surrounds them. Marketers need to have a promotional communication which allows potential students to get the information they need and to understand the institution’s


Make It Personal

Nobody likes talking to a logo. Show that there are real people behind your messages. At very least, include a line in content with the names and where possible feature their photos somewhere on the page.


Make provision for engagement. For prospects to ask questions


Give the people writing content some freedom to inject their own personality, quirks and observations into their updates. By humanising your organisation’s social media presence, students will be more likely to want to interact with you.


Keep It Real

Always Reflect Reality

Be sure you present the reality – what is real. Creating content that does not accurately reflect what you actually are and provide will bring you more harm than good. Students communicate between themselves.


Avoid using catchy but meaningless slogans. This will be hard if you do not really have a good, targeted value offer.


Avoid the self-congratulatory corporate press releases. Do not focus on sleek videos and digital cleverness (unless you are focusing on attracting students for digital courses). Social media usually works best when it utilises actual happy students and staff. Let students and staff show off what they like and why they enjoy studying or working at your institution in real, authentic ways.


Try being more human by having students walking around a camera (pad/smartphone), asking students and staff, “What’s your favourite thing while studying or working here?” Off-the-cuff content like this will probably resonate with prospective students more than a scripted recruitment piece. It will also likely appeal to Alumni and other potential influencers of student decision making. It will also yield much more interesting nuggets of information.


Seek to Provide Value

Students are flooded with information on a daily basis. To make your institution stand out, provide relevant and useful content through your social media platforms. When it comes to selecting a provider, students are often interested in knowing about the general environment, mentoring programs, and employment opportunities


Stay With the Curve

Not much point in fumbling about with Facebook while your competitor is developing a mobile careers app. You need to stay ahead of the technology curve.

Consider if it would makes sense to utilise location-based services


Clever branding and cool apps can beat traditional marketing as universities compete to


Get help from outside your Institution.

Enlist the help of alumni and other supporters to reinforce your positioning and messages




  • Use visual tools
  • Keep the presentation informative yet brief.
  • Make the presentation interactive.
  • Look to develop a ripple effect.”


Creative Ways To Recruit Students

  • A more tailored recruiting experience for non-traditional students.
  • Accelerated courses:
  • Appearing to be exclusive/selective
  • Business partnerships:
  • Courting Top students:
  • Email blasts and follow-up messages.
  • Facebook contests:
  • Facebook forums:
  • Free tuition:
  • Freebies – Would you choose a college based on getting a free iPad?
  • Going green:
  • Great facilities and accommodation
  • Highlighting alumni on social media:
  • Hosting Hangouts – Using Google+ Hangouts,
  • Incomplete application follow-ups:
  • Interactive video game tours:
  • Live chat sessions:
  • Mobile apps:
  • Mobile websites:
  • One-on-one connections:
  • Overseas agents:
  • Parent chat forums
  • Podcasts:
  • Promotions – Like daily deal promotions on Groupon.
  • Showcasing activities:
  • Social media date reminders:
  • Special market programs –
  • Sponsored search results:
  • Student blogs:
  • Student Facebook pages:
  • Student-led photos:
  • Text marketing Ads on radio, TV, and in theatres get students to connect with colleges using their cell phones, encouraging them to text their email address for more information.
  • Tuition fee freezes:
  • Unique clubs and activities:
  • Viral videos:
  • Virtual campus tours:
  • Virtual college fairs:
  • Webcasting:
  • YouTube applications:


Host a Twitter chat (and similar platforms) for prospective students to ask questions and receive real-time responses from current students and staff.

Giving students from other locations an opportunity to participate in the events remotely

Host a Facebook contest.

Announce an impromptu Tweetup for prospective and current students


If you are interested in this subject, you may be interested in this forthcoming event in Sydney in early December

Marketing and Communicating for
Student Recruitment and the
Australian Higher Education Sector

One-day connected forum with two half day workshops
3-4 December 2014, Rydges Sydney Central

Listen, network and learn from your peers:
Macquarie University
Australian National University
Charles Sturt University
University of Technology, Sydney
University of Southern Queensland
University of Melbourne
International College of Management Sydney
University of New England


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