In collaboration with Brandwatch, these are the top insights we found on how students use digital channels to help guide their university decisions.
The student recruitment landscape has transformed completely over the past year. The pandemic has shifted the entire higher education community online, taking with it traditional recruitment activities like on-campus events, tours, and high school visits.
However, a pivot toward a more hybrid recruitment and learning approach now indicates the lasting impact of these amendments to the status quo.
This has meant the role of social media as a source of information has exploded, with 83% of students now relying on social channels to help them pick their college.
Marketing leaders in higher education have adapted their strategies to suit the new landscape.
A study by Singular showed that almost a third of marketing budgets have been reallocated to digital marketing due to COVID-19, 12% of which is for social media activities. But to make these activities count, a better understanding of how students are using social media to make their decisions is needed.
We’ve analyzed Brandwatch data alongside Unibuddy data to get a full view of what students are discussing when researching universities.
Brandwatch is able to analyze 10 years of historical data across over 100 million sources, while Unibuddy provides a unique lens on anonymous direct messages sent between prospective students and college ambassadors.
Without further ado, let’s jump in!
1. Using forums as a key social platform
After analyzing online sources, Reddit came out on top for the platform where students discuss college applications most frequently.
As this is not a traditional channel for university-owned social accounts, there’s a potential disconnect between the channels universities are targeting to attract prospective students and the channels in which those students are actually engaging.
This highlights the importance of listening to intent to apply conversations and where they’re taking place in order to create content and activities that resonate with this audience, and meet them where they are.
As you can see, Reddit accounts for 44% and Twitter for 28% as for social channels that students look to for guidance along their journey.
The Twitter figure presents a promising opportunity for universities to gain some semblance of control over their own narrative. Reddit, however, is entirely based on student sentiment and conversation alone as more of a community channel for input and discussion, leaving no room for intervention.