GPRS Higher Education Marketing Agency


GPRS Higher Education Marketing Agency

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Insights from the Higher Ed Experts

BY Anthony Campisi | November 30th, 2020

Are the latest social platforms a fit for your school?

Are the latest social platforms a fit for your school?You may have heard your peers in higher ed or your digital agency talking about advertising on Spotify, Pandora, Reddit, Pinterest or even TikTok. These social platforms have become commonplace everyday “stops” for many people, especially as mobile usage has grown during the pandemic. And they can be extremely valuable for reaching a wide audience. But how do you know which platforms are right for your school, and whether or not they will help you achieve your recruiting and enrollment goals?

Brief definitions

Let’s start with a brief definition of each platform before we delve into their marketing benefits.

  • Spotify/Pandora: Digital streaming service for music, videos and podcasts. There are free versions with ads and monthly subscriptions that offer ad-free playtime and playlist customization.
  • Pinterest: A social network that allows users to search and share ideas for style, home and design inspiration. You “pin” your favorites to your board so you can access them later and easily share with others.
  • Reddit: A social news platform that encourages discussion and commenting on shared content through ratings and votes.
  • TikTok: A social media platform that allows people to create and share short videos set to music.

A note about social media usage

In a study published in August 2020, internet users (age 16-64) report using social media approximately 2 hours and 22 minutes per day. And since the start of the pandemic, at least 28% report increasing their usage.

The same study shows a shift in popularity of most-used social media platforms as it relates to monthly active users. While Facebook and YouTube remain in the top spots, TikTok, Reddit and Pinterest all rank higher than Twitter for those that are logging into their accounts vs. just searching the platform for general news.

Other interesting data points include:

Globally, social media is now the #2 most popular destination for brand research (behind search engines).

Among internet users in the age range of 18-55+, approximately 47-67% (depending on the age segment) are using social media as a main source of news.

When you are using social media to complement your marketing and communications plan, a high viewership is almost always guaranteed. However, with any marketing tactic the key is to make sure that your content is reaching the right age group with the right message at the right time.

How do I evaluate what social platforms are right for my school?

It starts with your strategy:

  • If it’s brand awareness, you want to cast a broad net. Spotify or Pandora could benefit you through contact with a wide range of demographics.
  • If it’s driving engagement, try out interactive content like a quiz (Reddit) or shareable content like a video (TikTok) or idea board (Pinterest).
  • If it’s lead generation, you’ll want a platform that allows users to fill out forms. While Facebook and LinkedIn, Twitter & Instagram have traditionally occupied this space, Reddit is now an option. Reddit has a sponsored headline campaign allowing advertisers to generate leads to their website (or landing page) to collect information.

Then, on to your audience:

  • Be sure that your demographics line up with the viewership of the platform.
  • Be sure that your content will resonate.
  • Think about how you want your content to influence the viewer.

How is higher ed using social platforms right now?

Spotify/Pandora – Schools may benefit from either audio ads, display ads or sponsored sessions that allow you to insert rich media like videos that can engage prospective students. Both platforms let you segment your advertising by behavioral categories in addition to traditional demographics.

Pinterest – Although Pinterest is used less frequently for higher ed institutions, you can find ways to have a presence for a low investment. Try posting existing digital assets that have a broad appeal, like student testimonials, admissions checklists, test prep tips and infographics on program benefits.

Reddit – You may be surprised to know that your brand is already circulating on Reddit. Why not listen to what’s being said and find ways to respond in an authentic, helpful and transparent way?

TikTok – Some schools are using this platform to engage prospects that are looking for a “day in the life” viewpoint. They may hire “talent” to create videos with the intent of showcasing the campus, student life or admissions.

Need help?

If you’re interested in learning more about how these and other social media platforms can fit into your school’s marketing and recruiting strategy, GPRS can help.


Insights from the Higher Ed Experts

BY Anthony Campisi | November 16th, 2020

The importance of personal connection during pandemic admissions

Has the recruiting during the pandemic dictated new admissions criteria for your school?By now, it is not new news that colleges have had to drastically alter their admissions process. In both undergrad and higher ed institutions alike, requirements have quickly shifted as a result of the pandemic limitations. Schools that never intended to veer from their admissions “rites of passage” have been forced to change their processes or risk being changed by the landscape.

While you’ve held certain criteria requirements, you may find that your program is trying to find alternative ways to determine students’ viability while your typical screening methods are being challenged.

Replacement criterion

A recent article in the New York Times examined how some undergrad schools are finding replacement criterion. The article suggests that for college admissions during COVID-19, “SATs are out, personal stories are in.” It seems that in light of the pandemic, many schools are beginning to favor a more personal approach that requires students to dig into and demonstrate their “sense of self” which may prove to become more valuable over time than test scores to predict success in higher education.

This is not to say that the importance of test scores should be diminished, especially in the higher ed space. They have been, and continue to be, solid gauges of the hard skills required to succeed in finance, economics and operations courses. But in a time when the soft skills are crucial to survival, resiliency and adaptability are starting to emerge as strong traits that exhibit a person’s propensity to perform under pressure, and can dictate how well they will do in a demanding MBA or higher ed program.

Using personal stories as a gauge of fitness

Because submitting a personal story isn’t something someone can “study for,” admissions staff can use data from responses to determine natural creativity and adaptability as key predictors of success. It’s possible for you to come up with an objective grading scale that examines and scores qualities on a scale, such as:

  • Creativity
  • Uniqueness
  • Authenticity
  • Empathy
  • Honesty
  • Resilience

Since your admissions process likely already includes several touchpoints that are aimed at getting to know someone — a personal interview, an essay, multiple conversations — the suggestion is not to add another requirement. It is simply that you may put more weight on their responses. And using a quantitative grading scale can help you assess prospects more objectively and place them with confidence.

What questions to ask when soliciting a personal story

Although we’re all ready for COVID-19 to make an exit from our lives, it’s unlikely that will happen anytime soon. It’s also unlikely that you will meet anyone that has not been impacted in some way by the pandemic. Whether emotionally, financially or physically, everyone has seen the side effects of what the virus has done to our communities, country and world. Rather than gloss over the topic, leaning into the narrative can actually benefit us in the way we relate to each other. And getting a prospect’s take on what they’ve lost, gained and taken away from this experience can shed light on how they react in the face of adversity.

Here are a few questions you could ask prospects during the admissions process. Whether in an essay or interview format, be sure to find ways to quantify the response. You don’t want to get too caught up in your emotional response to their response.

  • What limitations did the pandemic place on you personally and professionally?
  • How did you handle the stress of the pandemic?
  • What did you add or remove from your daily routine as a result of restrictions?
  • What is your daily life/routine like now?
  • In what ways have you shown leadership in your community, workplace and personal life during this time?
  • What are you looking forward to the most in a post-pandemic world?

Moving forward

While you will certainly be placing more weight on transcripts and references in the coming admissions cycles, finding ways to assess a prospect’s ability to overcome challenges could become a new mainstay in your process — and you might even find something new and helpful to take away from the pandemic, too.

Need help?

If you need help with altering or improving your admissions processes, GPRS can help. Think of us as your partner during the pandemic to help shape and meet your new enrollment goals.



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For over two decades, GPRS has been a trusted higher education marketing agency, offering custom solutions to institutions of all sizes and degree types. Admissions directors, marketing directors, deans, and presidents rely on GPRS to provide a depth of services, including strategy, lead generation, digital marketing, nurture communications, recruiting, and analytics.

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