School attendance has been dropping in recent years. In fact, one school was recently shut down as a result. Considering that competition is fierce, and students are less inclined to go to “lesser” schools, it’s important for smaller schools to develop strategies to market themselves and attract more students. Here are ten tips on how smaller schools can create an online presence that attracts today’s wired-in students.
10 Online Tips to Market a Smaller School
1. Create an online school presence.
The first step is to create an online presence for your school. By putting up a website and creating social media accounts for your school, you present yourself as a viable option for students considering which schools to attend. Additionally, having a website allows students and alumni to access information about the school, like faculty bios, class schedules, and upcoming events.
In addition to providing information about the institution, websites should also have pages on Facebook and Twitter that allow current students to post photos from their latest events and interact with other college students in general—giving prospective students a sneak peek of campus life while promoting your institution’s programs.
3. Collaborate with other institutions
One of the best aspects of social media is being able to connect with other colleges, universities, and schools in general. By tweeting, posting things on Facebook, or creating a group on LinkedIn that is related to your institution, you create connections between your school and other schools—which can help expose potential students to yourself.
One problem that seems to crop up with smaller schools is that potential students might not know how long the institution has been around or what distinguishes it as unique from other institutions.
By creating an online version of your institution’s history, you can highlight the achievements of the school and its notable alumni. By sharing these stories online with students, you are also able to connect your current students to past students and alumni—which is important for creating a sense of school spirit.
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5. Educate prospective students about your degree programs
Most schools have at least an undergraduate program with a few graduate programs as well. By featuring degree programs on your website and providing information about graduation rates, loan default rates, and job placement rates, you can educate prospective students about a particular degree program. By including this information, it allows students to see if this education is valuable in the market when they are deciding if they should attend your institution.
6. Find out what prospective students are saying about you
One way to find out what current and future students have to say about your school is by listening in on conversations that other schools are having about your own. By monitoring the conversations that other schools have about similar institutions, you can glean insight into what others think of your school and its strengths and weaknesses. This situation also allows you to respond as necessary when another institution talks negatively of your school—which can be beneficial for public relations.
7. Go where the students are
One of the best ways that you can reach students is to get them to actively seek you out. By engaging in social media, you can quickly find out what your students want and need, which makes it easier for them to find you—and lessens the chances of them ending up at another school that they like just as much.
By starting a conversation with competitors and current students, you can create a buzz within the campus community about your institution—making it more likely that other students will begin to seek you out for information about your school.
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8. Give students the chance to interact with your faculty
In an age when students are more and more interested in their school’s programs, having a social presence is essential for reaching them. By creating an online version of your institution that allows current students to interact with professors and staff members, you are allowing current students to share their experiences with prospective students—which helps to build rapport between the two groups. By increasing the amount of interaction between current and prospective students, you also begin to decrease the risk of attrition—which helps retain your students.
You can find out a lot about how other schools are using social media by looking at their online presence and also by monitoring what students are saying online about their own institutions after they have either attended or decided to attend.
Also, by seeing what students are saying on the Internet while they’re in school, it allows you to spot any problems with student retention and prevent them from happening again.
10. Give students a reason to connect with your institutions
One of the best ways to connect with students is by having an online presence on campus—which allows current students to connect with each other and the school’s admissions counselors. By creating a social media presence on your school’s website or on its Facebook or Twitter, you are creating an online profile that allows prospective students to see what they can expect from the institution itself—and not just based on a brochure.
The Final Word
Social media can be a powerful tool in reaching out to current and prospective students. By using social media as a means of reaching out to potential students, you can use the information gleaned from current students to build rapport between your institution and prospective students. In addition, by monitoring how other institutions are marketing themselves on social media, you can determine what kinds of things work and what kinds of things don’t.
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