Tag Archives: higher ed recruiting

You Don’t Have to Use it Yet; Just Be Open to Social Media

I was at the Social Media Club – Boston event last night where the topic of conversation was “Change dot Gov”.  The panel included Brad Blake, the Director of New Media Strategy for the commonwealth of Massachusetts, Matt Viser, a political reporter for the Globe, Brian Reich, a consultant, author, blogger and State Senator Jennifer L. Flanagan.

While listening to the panel, I was struck by how similar the rhetoric used by State Senator  Jennifer Flanagan was to some of the admissions offices I talk to.  Senator Flanagan, while having a constituency that includes an older demographic argued that she receives enough e-mails, talks to enough people while out and about in her community and through the use of her website and blog views Social Media as yet another tool that requires too much time without providing enough benefit for her constituents.

I think her argument can transition well into the international student recruiting space.  Like Senator Flanagan some of our offices may be concentrating our recruiting efforts in countries where students don’t have the same kind of access to the internet or high bandwidth as the developed nations.  This means we don’t need to start using certain tools of social media  just yet because let’s face it, we will be wasting our time.  However this barrier to using social media by developing nations will soon be knocked down.

So how should this affect the way our offices embrace social media?  We need to stay on top of what’s available and how it works. Our prospective students are only becoming more knowledgeable digital natives meaning they have grown up using all this great Internet technology, especially web 2.0 technology.   While next year and the year after prospective students may not require you to engage them exclusively through social media there will come a time where that will be the only way to effectively recruit.

Twitter for example may in fact be the worst tool to recruit international students right now but as it’s global popularity grows, agents in developing nations will begin to pick it up, potential university partners will pick it up, prospective students and so on.  So jump on Twitter and get used to how it works.  Understand how it can be used as a viral tool.  Understand how you can meet new people and develop relationships using it.

My recommendation to admissions offices is not to worry too much about using all the tools right now but to keep up with what’s out there and more importantly how these tools work!

Photo by David Ohmer

Create Effective Recruiting Media On The Fringes

In my conversation with Paula David of Clark University, she talked about hiring a ‘Director of Wow’. Her idea is to create content that will draw some sense of shock or emotion from her target audience.

Seth Godin, marketing guru, constantly preaches the idea of creating at the fringes.  Being safe is boring, those who push the envelope are the ones who draw attention and create remarkable content.

While visiting several admissions and marketing personnel this past week there seemed to be a common theme when talking about creating rich media… If we create rich media our target audience will undoubtedly want to watch it and will be enamored with it.

While this train of thought may have worked a few years ago I am of the mind that our target audience is no longer ooh’ed and ahh’ed simply by seeing a school’s rich media content.  The fact of the matter is that we not only need to ooh and ahh our target audience, we now need them to talk about it with their friends.

So what does it take to create on the fringes?  Here is a flow chart from Wired Magazine on our typical thought process when deciding whether or not to forward an e-mail.  If you look at what it takes, just to get someone to forward an e-mail you will realize why creating rich media for the sake of having it on your school’s admissions website is a waste of your time.

Click to see full size

To find inspiration on what works, look at some of the most talked about shows on television, Family Guy, Colbert Report, Saturday Night Live.  These shows might not be the most popular but they are definitely some of the most talked about.  The material that these shows use is controversial, it isn’t safe and therefore we are more likely to remark about it.

Here are a few examples of what I mean:

Saturday Night’s Wii Guys

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Hulu – Saturday Night Live: Wii Guys“, posted with vodpod

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Now you might disagree with some of the content but this is what it takes to get generation y to share with their friends.  So be creative and find shocking ways to stimulate your target audience.

Photo by Hizonic