Social media has been tightly woven into the fabric of our lives, and for many of today’s digital natives, smartphones have become an extension of themselves.
Today’s students who are looking to enrol in university have Instagram and other social media channels to help them make a decision. They’re not only excellent forms of entertainment, but they also offer platforms for students to share their views, snippets of their lives and for educational purposes.
Naturally, this means universities will need to change the way they market themselves for student recruitment.
Therefore, many universities are turning to their students to generate creative content and share their stories about life on campus via social media to attract new students via social media ambassador programmes.
This doesn’t only humanise the university experience for high schoolers all over the world, but it also gives prospective students a glimpse into what could be, should they enrol in that particular institution.
Social media ambassador programmes
Hello! My name is Marin R. I am a Junior studying Communication Arts and Advertising. This Spring, I will be traveling around Europe through the DTW Program! I hope you’ll join me as I document and share my adventures!
Marin Ruelas 2019 Global Studies Social Media Ambassador pic.twitter.com/zlwoV9Jh0T
— St. John’s Global (@stjohnsglobal) January 8, 2019
Student ambassador programmes are not only becoming commonplace in many universities, but they act as a win-win situation for both institutions and students.
Universities leverage on social media savvy pupils to raise their profile to prospective students and to help with student recruitment, while student ambassadors gain a resume-building experience that can help them launch their future careers.
While some of these programmes are voluntary, others offer payment.
For instance, on their website, Kent State University in the US describes their Social Media Ambassador Program as “an exciting volunteer opportunity for current students to gain professional social media marketing experience.”
Thompson Rivers University in Canada looks for enthusiastic and creative students from around the world to promote the institution as an ideal study destination through their social media channels and blogs.
What can students gain from becoming social media ambassadors?
Applications are now being accepted from students interested in
joining the Social Media Ambassador program for the spring semester. Be a Social Media Ambassador https://t.co/fnjMMcIZ60
— ChristineKorenMotta (@KorenMotta) December 12, 2018
Depending on your institution, you may receive a monetary incentive for your work.
Even if your institution dictates that the role is purely voluntary, students can still benefit by gaining skills that may help them stand out from a pool of candidates in their future job hunt. Skills such as writing, marketing, video production, photography and vlogging and just some of the handful of things students stand to learn by becoming social media ambassadors.
Students will need to put their creativity to the test and come up with authentic content and captions for each post, identify the best time to post, answer questions that come in on social media by prospective students promptly in addition to managing one’s time and responsibilities as a student.
And the icing on the cake? Students may enjoy a popularity boost by sharing their insights into life on campus to prospective students.
But how do such programmes affect universities?
Following the launch of their social media ambassador programme, Angi Roberts of University of Guelph notes on higheredexperts.com: “In the first semester of our social media ambassador programme, Twitter engagement increased by 45 percent, Instagram saw a 560 percent increase in likes, and Tumblr saw a rise in submitted questions – more than double of the total from the previous semester.”
But it wasn’t merely about increasing their number of likes and retweets.
“Wherever possible, we link our social media content back to a web page. From there, we can track page views, the duration a user stayed on the page, and where they went from there. Tracking these metrics not only shows us that what we’re doing is working and catering to our prospects, but it also shows us the type of content the prospect is seeking more of.
“For example, according to Google Analytics, almost 40 percent of our users who visited a site linked from a social media post went to Student Housing’s site. This information made us realise we should create social media posts about student housing. Without our newly implemented social media measurement practice, this is something we wouldn’t have ever realised.”
These examples suggest that social media ambassador programmes can have a symbiotic relationship between students and universities when applied holistically.