As spring break rolls around it is time to start thinking about our yield activities. I know most of you already have activities in place, but are you using social media to help with your engagement with admitted and deposited students? If not you should be. Here are some quick tips to help you get started with your incoming class.
1) Choose Your Tools
Select your social tool of choice, I like Facebook Groups, include your social site in all of your admissions and orientation program materials. Begin promoting it via your main website, admissions counselors and other staff members. Don’t spend time stressing about the site too much. I don’t know of any students who declined admission because of the college’s social media strategy. The point is to get started and tweak your strategy as you learn.
2) Be Fun!
The 80/20 rule applies: 80% of the time the postings should be fun and casual to engage student and 20% should be institutional information. Too much institutional information will not help engage, and possibly disengage your students.
3) Dedicate a Responder
Use designated responders to help communicate your messages. Find people who are comfortable communicating with student in the social arena. I suggest using staff from all incoming touch points if you can find them, admissions, financial aid, housing, academic advising, orientation, and faculty. The key here is to respond to a posting within 24 hours.
4) Make Friends
Use the site to encourage your admits to meet the incoming class and make friends. Send this message immediately following their acceptance (and if it is too late this year, use the financial aid award packaging notification). You can do this via email and calls to action in your admitted student portal and the sites on your website that incoming students frequently visit.
5) Be Relevant to Students
Create your discussions around common topics that incoming students think about, housing choices, roommates, orientation, etc. Again, the key here is to establish your social site as a hub of activity and resource for students looking for campus engagement. Promote off-line events to create face to face relationships.
6) Have Student’s Facilitate
Recruit current students to help facilitate the discussions. It is best not to have staff dominate the discussions. Empower your students to drive the comments and interactions. View this as a social opportunity not just another communication channel. Let your students try to talk to each other first and answer each other’s questions. My rule of thumb is to try and wait 24 hours before jumping in with official information. By allowing the students to answer, you are enabling them to bond and make friends.
I hope these few tips help you create a casual and comfortable online community engagement for your students. Best wishes for a successful Class of 2016 and begin working on 2017!