Although social media does not yet outrank traditional recruitment efforts like websites and viewbooks, you can’t argue the growing role that social media plays in the lives of today’s college applicants. A recent Pew survey found that of U.S. 13-17 year olds, 71% were active on Facebook, 52% on Instagram and 41% on Snapchat.
Time suggests that prospects are researching their top picks on Instagram, just not in the way one might expect. Social media savvy prospective students are taking advantage of the uncensored hashtags and geo-tagging systems. Instead of following a schools official highly curated viewbook style Instagram account, prospects can gain a real look inside their dream schools by using hashtags and geo-filters to see photos posted by real students in real time.
It’s clear that students want to see what’s really happening on campus when class is not in session. The challenge is to portray your college as a place that prospective students can see themselves attending through real student experiences, without compromising your institutional integrity. Some schools have already figured this out and are making the most of their Instagram footprint.
Our client, Assumption College frequently shares student photos on their official account. By sharing real student photos, Assumption gives prospects a peek into what it’s really like to be a hound. If that’s not enough, they also have an account specifically for students, where you’ll find a more candid representation of campus life outside the classroom.
Similarly, my alma mater, Susquehanna University, frequently hands their official Instagram account over to real students to add a more unique, real life experience to their account. With the #susnapshots series, prospects can follow students through a full day of classes, sports, clubs and campus events.
Georgetown University is another school that’s sharing photos taken by students. Students who geo-tag Georgetown may find their photos appear in the University’s official feed. Georgetown also hosts Instagram contests for current students. They can enter by tagging their photos with a specific hashtag, like #GeorgetownStories or #HomeSweetHilltop. Intercollegiate Instagram contests are a good way to gather great student photos in one place.