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.