For most universities, their strongest digital presence is via the social media giants of Facebook and Twitter. But an entire digital world exists beyond the ‘Twitbook bubble’ that universities are yet to tap into.
Instagram: With over half a billion users, universities have been quick to utilise Instagram as a student recruitment platform - and why not? Instagram gives universities the opportunity to unapologetically show off their swanky new builds and college grandeur. Eager to reveal your newly refurbished student accommodation? Take a sixty-second video. Or how about using a personalised hashtag to spread the word about your university? Glyndwr’s #choosewgu; Birmingham’s #hellobrum and Brighton’s #brightonforever are catchy hashtags that will certainly get your students sharing their snaps of university life all over Instagram.
Snapchat: With only 20 per cent of UK universities using Snapchat as a student recruitment tool, it’s fair to say that universities are still testing the waters. Snapchat offers all the perks of Instagram, but allows you to add that little bit of personality that’s missing from those infallible Instagram shots, by allowing you to edit your photos with text and emoticons. What’s more, Snapchat encourages followers to engage with universities by sending their own photos back for the university’s own Snapchat account. Who knows? If you receive a particularly imaginative or entertaining snap, why not screenshot it and upload it to your official Facebook, Twitter or Instagram page for the rest of your followers to see?
Tinder: The gap between social networking sites and online dating apps is wearing thin, thanks to the University of Salford (UoS), which amidst the chaos of Clearing, successfully created the Salford Clearing Match Maker app to use as a student recruitment tool. Using the Tinder-style recruitment app, UoS tempted students with the prospect of obtaining a degree from Salford by sending prospective students their digital-friendly prospectus and information on degree courses. Perhaps UoS was preying on students at a particularly opportune time, but with a record 33,000 students having used Clearing this year; the competition to attract the best and the brightest students is bigger than ever.
Pokemon Go? Ok, this is as weird as it gets. Last month, the University of Reading topped GKP’s Out of Left Field for targeting Pokemon hunters on campus; using it as an opportunity to inform them of the courses on offer at Reading – many of which included designing and developing apps - just like Pokemon Go. Perhaps Pokemon Go is slightly too left of left field, but an important lesson rings loud and clear: make sure your university is exploiting current trends.
Gerard Kelly & Partners (GKP) is a communications consultancy specialising in education PR, social media, marketing and communications management for UK schools, universities and business.