Five lessons for speaking to postgraduate students on social media
When talking about tips for student social media, often these ideas have undergraduate students in mind. So instead, here are a few lessons for speaking to postgraduate students on social media.
1. Remember their investment
Postgraduate studies are a big commitment of both time and money. Some students will move across the world to study, even potentially uprooting their families. This is important to remember and reflect in your social media content - that their emotional and financial investment will be worth it. Think about focusing on alumni success stories. Demonstrate the businesses that have been founded, the careers launched, and the relationships that students have carried on after they graduate. Are there opportunities to travel, and widen their network? Fill your Instagram with photos of networking events and students taking the opportunities that are on offer.
This is a great chance to utilise user generated content. Your students can create content that reflects their current journey, and demonstrate perfectly the sorts of things that would entice prospective students to your university.
2. Postgraduate students are unique…
Career advancement, academic growth, business acumen...there are lots of different reasons that people decide to take on a postgraduate degree. Some students could be coming straight from their undergraduate studies, others may be taking a career break and last went to university decades ago.
You know what your university offers and what students attend for - so use that knowledge to make sure your social media reflects the uniqueness of the students you are trying to attract. This is actually a huge plus point to marketing to postgraduates: the more streamlined offering of postgraduate degrees makes it a little easier to laser focus on what your audience wants.
3. ...But not too different to undergraduates
Whilst lesson number two is true, there’s also something to be said for not treating postgraduates too differently. They are, after all, still people who are looking to learn in an enriching experience. They still want to have fun, meet new people, learn a lot, experience a new environment, and make sure that their time is well spent. Try not to think of them as too alien to other student audiences.
4. Don’t be afraid of certain social media channels
You may feel cautious about using certain ‘younger’ social media channels to talk to postgraduates. But remember that social network demographics are constantly being blurred, and the age of a person does not always dictate their online behaviours. Whilst LinkedIn is the dedicated ‘careers and business’ social media channel, there are lots of entrepreneurs out there trying to get their business off the ground and make connections on Instagram. Speaking to prospective MBA students, for example, via Instagram could therefore be a really good move.
And remember that the undergraduate students who are on the likes of Snapchat today will be the postgraduate students of tomorrow. Yes some of their online behaviours may change, but that doesn’t mean that they will completely abandon where they once chatted with friends and communicated with their favourite brands. See where potential audiences are spending their time online now, and extend your reach into that channel to begin the recruitment process early.
5. Create a sense of belonging: fast!
Sometimes it can feel like postgraduate students are gone in a blink of an eye, especially compared to a three year undergraduate cycle. These small time frames can make it a challenge to create a sense of belonging, but a challenge that’s worth tackling head on. Get postgrads onto your social media channels early, by including all relevant social media handles on information sent out to students in the run up to their arrival. This means that once they arrive they already know where to go to for great photos of campus, interesting blogs on alumni stories, and the chance to speak to one another. Encourage students to use the right hashtags, and make sure to take the time to photograph or promote student-led events. This will give a real sense that the marketing of the university involves them, and not just a standard
Another reason it’s important to create a sense of belonging? Alumni fundraising! If students feel like they can identify strongly with your university, no matter the length of time they attended.
Sophie Camp is a freelance social media consultant over 7 years experience working in social media marketing for organisations large and small. This blog is based on a talk she gave at the CASE Europe Social Media and Community conference in 2017, whilst working as Web and Social Media Manager at London Business School.