In the past, colleges seeking to recruit students spent a lot of money and time traveling to high schools, and sometimes conventions, all over their surrounding region. At the high schools or conventions, many were allowed to set up a table or a give a presentation promoting the college and interacting with potential recruits. Gas and planning expenses, as well as traveling salary for recruiters who often had other duties to fulfill at the office were extremely costly to colleges. There was also the expense of extensive promotional materials to catch the attention of students.
The Impact of Social Media
Social media created a new opportunity for colleges to save on money, time, and travel while connecting with potential students. Through social media, anyone can be anywhere at any time. More students can be reached. Promotional materials can be distributed for low prices and be accessible to any person seeking information. Interaction through social media allows for the asking and answering of questions at the convenience of both recruiter and student.
Ways of Use
Because of the extent to which youth, teenagers, and young adults use social media, many jobs fields and companies use social media like Facebook to learn about their potential employees as well as connect with them and diffuse information. Potential employees and students can follow colleges (or subsections like sports teams) through media like Facebook as well, keeping them connected.
Colleges can function in much the same way using social media as they recruit students. Potential students’ information is easily accessible if college admissions officers are interested in learning more about their potential target audience. If admissions are highly competitive, social media can provide further insight about students as well. Marketing and interactivity with potential students can be carried out cheaply and effectively using social media.
Tips for Using Social Media
First, being personal is essential. Potential students, like potential employees, will remember virtual relationships created just as they would best remember and be reached by a person traveling to their school instead of a brochure. Second, students want to know what happens at the colleges like they are considering and what it’s like to be a student, so, be real. Lastly, stay current. Youth are plugged into and on top of their social media, so if a college tries to do so and fails, that will be apparent.
Opportunities Related to Social Media
Another great aspect of using social media to recruit students is the opportunity to create convenient part time jobs or internships for current students. Often college recruiters will have a few current students working under them in communicating with potential students in order to make the college personality seem personal and to make potential students feel comfortable about whom they might meet if they attend that school. Because many teenagers use social media frequently to communicate with and build relationships with others, social media provides a comfortable setting for both current student recruiters and potential students to interact in.
All told, social media is a new context for interaction, promotion, and recruiting. Colleges must jump on board with their potential and current students in embracing this wide-reaching, cheap new method of creating relationships and communities.