SPEAKING UP OR STAYING SILENT: With a rising call for racial justice amid massive protests around the nation, a controversial election, and the recent attack on the U.S. Capitol, there have been plenty of events that could solicit commentary from brands, especially higher ed institutions. Over the summer, college presidents faced backlash for their statements on race, and brands dealt with the decision whether or not to join the #StopHateForProfit Facebook boycott. As we enter a new presidential administration during an ongoing pandemic, now is the time for enrollment marketers to crystallize a plan for how to respond to public conflicts.
Why you should care: What your program or institution says matters (as you probably well know). Regardless of how you choose to spend your ad dollars (a statement all on its own), the way you communicate with current and prospective students is under a microscope during high-intensity situations. Beyond official university commentary, how will your program’s social media pages address cultural crises of today? Enrollment marketers may be wise to draft a guide specifically for how to approach messaging and ad spend surrounding these events, with their target audiences front of mind. This Inside Higher Ed post has pointers for university presidents about when to speak up and how, but they can also prove valuable for central or program-specific marketing and communications teams.
MOVE OVER, INFLUENCERS: In our last edition, we discussed the impact and projected growth of influencer marketing. Now we want to move the spotlight over to user-generated content (UGC). While paid partnerships with influencers can certainly be a worthwhile tactic, UGC comes in at the pandemic-friendly budget of $0. Soliciting and curating user-generated content has grown exponentially in the last year with positive responses, as people sought connectivity and relatability in the advent of community lockdowns. One survey found that 70% of consumers have more trust in UGC than they do in branded content. Check out TINT's State of UGC Report for survey results of marketing professionals’ experiences with UGC in 2020.
Why you should care: Who knows what 2021 will bring, but we can be sure that this social media marketing trend isn’t going anywhere fast. Tap into your current resources, including your students, faculty and administration. A hallmark example of popular higher ed UGC is sharing admitted student videos and pictures of the moment they learn of their acceptance. This type of pull-at-your-heartstrings content is so effective precisely because it connects the brand with the consumer in a way that feels organic and authentic. “UGC helps bring like-minded people together, inject a sense of community, and create more “human” campaigns instead of polished, branded offerings,” wrote Jose Angelo Gallegos in SocialMediaToday.
LET'S TALK TIKTOK: We’ve chatted about TikTok before and now we have a few new stats for you. In 2020, the platform beat out Facebook to become the most downloaded mobile app of 2020. (Notably, Zoom was fourth.) Plus, the time spent on the app is up 325% year-over-year and it’s on track to hit 1.2 billion active users this year. Safe to say, the platform has been exploding right up there with homemade sourdough. With over half of users between the ages of 16 and 24 (Reuters), this could be a golden ticket for reaching prospective undergraduate and potentially graduate students on a channel where they spend a lot of time.
Why you should care: Aside from family dance videos, TikTok holds significant promise for enrollment marketers. From alumni stories, campus tours, ‘day in the life’ videos, and news announcements, the app has boundless opportunities for attracting, engaging, and delighting your audience. And, speaking of user-generated content, TikTok is an excellent avenue to incorporate current and prospective students and share videos that mention your brand. For a little TikTok inspiration, check out this directory of university accounts that also has advice from fellow higher ed marketers.
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Each week, The Enrollify Podcast equips you with insights into how the latest trends in marketing and technology are affecting enrollment managers. Every episode is designed to inspire new, creative ideas for how to optimize the resources you have to generate the results you need.