College Recruiting Gets Smart with Texting and Snapchat

Organizations and universities turn to social media and digital tools to engage with future students.

Large numbers of teenagers own smartphones and the majority of them use apps such as Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter regularly. So, if you want to reach a teenager, going through their smartphone is your best bet.

With two teens of her own, former first lady Michelle Obama likely knows this all too well. That is why the latest part of her college recruitment initiative, Reach Higher, is targeting teens where they are.

“Mrs. Obama said the White House press release won’t reach kids,” says Don Yu, a former advisor to the secretary of education, in an EdSurge article. “We needed a strategy that could reach kids and look fun.”

The campaign, called Better Make Room, uses Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat to connect with students during the college application process. Since millennials prefer to communicate via text, EdSurge also reports that Better Make Room is using a texting Q&A platform to advise students on everything from applications to financial aid.

Through a text messaging campaign, Better Make Room reached more than 96,000 students and saw a 50 percent response rate from students who received the messages.

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College Recruiters See Social Media as Cost-Effective Solution

With cuts to federal education funding, Yu, the director of Better Make Room, tells EdSurge that organizations like his are looking for creative and cost-effective ways to connect with students.

“Social media is free,” he says.

University recruiting departments have found that they must go digital to reach out to tech-savvy students. In a University Business article, Maryville University’s Shani Lenore-Jenkins recommends at the very least that colleges make sure their websites are mobile-friendly, since students will likely use their smartphones to research colleges.

Lenore-Jenkins also touts the benefits of engaging with students on social media platforms and tailoring each message.

“It’s also important to segment messages depending on the social media platform — knowing when to use text, photo or video content,” she writes. “As social media platforms and trends develop, look for opportunities to stand out.”

Largely, experts agree that for colleges to reach the students of today, they’ll need to embrace mobile opportunities. A study from Marketo found that 73 percent of students would like to text with universities as a way of communicating.

Another survey found that as many as 35 percent of students have submitted an application with their mobile device.

In the next few years, it's likely more universities will embrace mobile technology to recruit and retain students.

Jane_Kelly/Getty Images
Oct 23 2017

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