Editor's Note (The View from Here)

Social Recruitment

How important is social media to your institution as a tool in your student recruitment toolbox? I expect your answer is “very important.” People of all ages engage with social media daily. According to Hootsuite, 69 percent of U.S. adults use at least one social media site, and the average American internet user has 7.1 social media accounts. Across most industries, marketers use social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to promote their businesses. Colleges and universities are doing so as well, knowing that today’s students (or potential students) are digital natives and expect to look at schools online before stepping foot on campus. Social media also allows institutions to easily reach international candidates, as it carries your message across the globe.

Because social media and its impact are constantly evolving, following the followers—that is, keeping on top of which of the popular outlets have the most or growing number of users—is an essential aspect of where to focus your message for your recruitment efforts. At the moment, the place to be is Instagram.

There are more than a billion active Instagram users worldwide; 60 percent of those users access the platform every day. According to Hootsuite, Instagram became the top platform for teenagers in Fall 2018, when it surpassed Snapchat for the first time: 72 percent of U.S. teens now use Instagram. An active and informative Instagram presence will involve not only official posts from your Marketing staff, but will also include content from your students. More than 80 percent of current higher-ed students report that they regularly use Instagram. Posts from students provide insight to their peers and potential peers on your campus, student life, and the surrounding community.

If you aren’t currently integrating a strong social media component into your recruitment efforts and are seeking inspiration, there are websites that offer examples of “the best university Instagram accounts” active today for you to explore. These lists include accounts from institutions both in and outside of the U.S. Some that make these lists include (within the U.S.) the University of Michigan, Colorado State University, Dartmouth College, West Virginia University, the University of Rochester, and Boston University. Outside of the U.S., top mentions include the University of Nottingham (England), Adolfo Ibáñez University (Chile), Sydney University (Australia), and the University of Alberta (Canada).

Social media is here to stay. Use it to your benefit.

This article originally appeared in the College Planning & Management October 2019 issue of Spaces4Learning.