Social Media Marketing for Colleges and Universities

It makes sense that colleges and universities would market themselves on social media – their target demographics can practically tweet in their sleep! Whether you’re trying to connect with prospective students or alumni, online marketing now plays a bigger role than ever. Below, we highlight three of our favorite examples from the higher education community.

The University of Dayton’s video scholarship contest

The University of Dayton is currently in the middle of their second annual video scholarship contest for incoming freshmen. The contest is based around the topic of “What does servant leadership mean to you?”, which UD featured in a 46-second video clip. The contest’s 46 entries are currently open to popular voting, and the top 10 videos with the most votes will be referred to a judging panel. The first place winner receives a $40,000 scholarship, with second and third place finishers also winning smaller financial aid awards. According to the University of Dayton, last year’s contest drew 36 entries and more than 13,000 votes.

Why it’s cool: UD is allowing students to submit this video with their application instead of the traditional written essay. As the University of Dayton writes, “It’s both a nod to the way the YouTube generation communicates — and a novel opportunity for prospective students to stand out from thousands of other applicants.” Popular voting on the current entries ends March 31.

The University of Denver’s new media infographic

If you’ve been paying attention, you may have noticed that consumers really enjoy getting their information in the form of colorful infographics. It makes sense – why read a wall of black and white text when you can check out a bright, visually pleasing informational graphic instead? They can serve a wide variety of purposes – for example, a Stanford professor proposed to Mashable’s VP of Marketing and Communications via infographic on Valentine’s Day.

The University of Denver recently created an infographic to promote their new media and Internet marketing graduate degree programs. The graphic is fairly simple, containing important data about industry trends and salary ranges by job title.

Why it’s cool: It goes without saying that a degree program in Internet marketing should have a pretty good online marketing strategy. It’s great to see the University of Denver practicing what they preach (or teach) by communicating potentially dry information in an easily digestible format.

Stanford University’s virtual walking tour

Say you’re a prospective student living on the East Coast, and you want to go on a campus visit to Stanford. You have to get across the country and back – and work that around your high school academic schedule. It’s not totally impossible, but it’s definitely a major hassle. If only there were some way to tour the Stanford campus from the comfort of your own home…

How about just hopping on Facebook and checking out the Summertime at the Farm: A Walking Tour photo album? Stanford’s not alone – other colleges have hopped on the bandwagon of providing “walking tour” photo albums for prospective students or alumni.

Why it’s cool: Although a photo or video tour could never fully replace the campus tour experience, it’s a great option for prospective students who just can’t manage a campus visit. It’s also a nice treat for alumni to see how the campus has evolved and changed over the years.

These are just a few of the many cool social media marketing trends happening in higher education. From live-tweeting relevant historical events to creating a self-guided campus tour on Foursquare, the possibilities are really only limited by the scope of your imagination.

Have you seen any innovative uses of social media marketing by colleges or universities? Leave us a comment and tell us about them!

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She is the founder & CEO of Zen Media. She has been named the “Zen Master of Marketing” by Entrepreneur Magazine and the “Millennial Master of the Universe” by Forbes, Businessweek, and Inc have all recognized her as one of the Top 30 under 30 entrepreneurs in the field of marketing. Shama has built a global audience and is known for helping brands succeed in the digital age. She is a bestselling author, an international keynote speaker, and has been named one of LinkedIn’s Top 10 Voices in Marketing for four years in a row.



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