January 6, 2014 debbie.m

New Year, New Marketing Ideas

With the new year in full swing, we are rethinking digital marketing strategies for our higher ed clients. One exciting option is marrying social media marketing with more traditional marketing pursuits. One campaign can deliver twice the rewards!

Most higher ed institutions are already active on social media, and engaging with prospective and current students, faculty and alumni. You have connections, networks and followers. So how can you use those social media platforms to help marketing your institutions? You can do so by rethinking what you’re already doing on social media networks like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

For example, if you’re planning a major event, recruit your social media networks to help promote and market the event. Solicit comments, videos and submissions from your network. Planning a reunion or conference? Reach out to your networks and ask them for their thoughts, videos and photos. Actively share those posts and comments with other groups in your school’s network. Drive the content around social media networks to broaden the exposure. When the time comes for another event, dig into the archives and repost some of the best content from the previous year.

When marketing to prospective students, turn to your current students and alumni for inspiration. What do they love about your institution? Why did they select your school? Ask for their comments, photos and even record videos of these explanations. Then share the results across social media. Social media marketing can live on in other ways too. A successful digital campaign can inspire print materials. It is also a great way to connect prospective students with current students and alumni to provide more information about your school.

Sometimes, digital marketing opportunities occur organically. One remarkable example comes from Georgia Tech University. A rousing welcome speech for incoming freshman last fall by engineering student Nick Selby about the power of the university that has received more than 3 million hits on You Tube. Selby has become a digital ambassador for Georgia Tech, extending the school’s reputation and reach online.  A well-organized social media marketing team will monitor networks for these kinds of events and be sure to archive and share the news.

Social media can also help rethink fundraising and giving campaigns. Crowdfunding is an excellent way to garner donations from your networks. Facebook now offers a direct donation option, so a school can create a page for a campaign and remove an obstacle to giving.

Institutions can go a step further and use social media to solicit fundraising suggestions, such as building funds, scholarships or new programs. Go directly to your students, alumni and faculty and ask what they would like to give to. From there, you can establish the campaign and engage with the users who told you they’d support this action. Share their suggestions and their posts. Ask them to contribute videos and photos. Make the experience interactive and rich with multimedia.

What social media marketing opportunities is your school trying? What have you seen other institutions do successfully?

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