Leveraging Social Media for College Recruiters

Video storytelling gives the 61 million Gen Zers all the information they’re looking for or need in order to feel like they’re making an informed consumer decision. They’ll do their research this way on anything from new makeup techniques, to trending music groups, to how to fix a flat tire. So why would selecting a college be any different? Social media for college recruiters is crucial, and here’s why.

social media for college recruiters

Traditional Enrollment Marketing Is A Thing Of The Past

Meet my daughter, Jenn, a high school senior and a living, breathing member of Gen Z. More importantly, she is unlike any student I’ve recruited (or child I’ve parented) in the past. As a digital native, she turns to YouTube when wants to learn about something.

This past summer, as she started to narrow the choice of colleges she planned apply to, I decided to start spending some time on college websites. This time, instead of analyzing each page as ‘the competition’, I was looking at them as prospective college student’s parent. I dutifully followed the “journey map” laid out for me. Watched the 12-minute video campus tours and professor interviews. Scrolled through carefully manicured photos of logo-wearing college students enjoying the “approved” parts of on-campus living. And of course, I went to the tuition and fees pages to see just how much I was going to be set back. 

At this point, I was feeling pretty confident that I had a good handle of college-life at Jenn’s top choice schools, so I called her over. After trying relentlessly – mostly in vain – to peel her away from her phone and her social media, she finally joined me at the computer so we could explore schools together. Within about 10 seconds, she was already bored and fed up with the videos and pictures that I had spent so much time reviewing earlier. 

     “I don’t understand what I’m supposed to be looking at.” 

     “They’re so boring.” 

     “It’s obviously fake!” 

social media for college recruiters

Videos From Students Are The Best Way to Understand Student Life

The criticisms continued as she flipped at warp speed through photos. I sat, aghast, thinking about the hours (and oh, so much money!) I had been wasting as an admission professional on these tools that she simply was dismissing. Finally, with a patented teenage sigh, she pulled out her phone and started showing me student-generated, short-form videos. 

That afternoon, she and I watched dozens of jumpy, off-center, dizzying 1-minute windows into the world of real-life students. First, she opened YouTube, then Snap Chat, and finally Instagram. With each new platform, within seconds, she had a new cache of videos and captioned photos of students and prospective students just like her, walking around campus, eating in cafeterias, drinking out of red Solo cups, and more, narrating the real-life ins and outs of campus life. 

Social Media for College Recruiters

Digital and social media natives grew up in a world defined by the blurry lines between their real lives and their identities on social media. As such, they are ingrained with the understanding of how social media can provide a unique and authentic glimpse into the real lives of others. So naturally, when Gen Zers are looking for a college, they’re going to want to understand what real students are experiencing at that college.

As we’ve explained, Gen Z consumers aren’t interested in traditional branded messages and videos. They are looking for authentic content. That’s why it’s so important to understand how the power of social media for college recruiters. By utilizing video storytelling on social media, you are tapping into your audience’s most trusted news source and decision-making tool.

Photo Credit: Josh Rose on Unsplash, Joel Mott on Unsplash

Timothy Gerstmyer

Tim has a 25+ year track record of conceiving and implementing innovative digital and multi-platform lead-generation strategies. He joined Refuel Agency in 2014 to build its Digital Media division with responsibility for developing digital solutions that dynamically and effectively target audiences and achieve substantial ROI for our clients. Tim’s impact on the Education category has now carried over to the launch of Thinking Cap Agency in 2019 with the introduction of new, cutting edge multi-platform and data driven lead generation strategies that dramatically increase student enrollments goals.