No inbound marketing strategy is complete without a robust social media presence. If you’re not using social media to the fullest, there’s simply no way that prospective students will see the great content you’re putting out there.
But there’s more to building a sturdy foundation in social media than setting up accounts with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and just pushing content out there. That’s not social media marketing, and it’s not going to help you attain your goals.
To successfully leverage social media as part of inbound marketing methodology, here are some of the things you’ve got to know.
1. Be Patient
It’s hard -- especially when you feel like all your competitors are already all over the social media landscape -- but as you start out, it’s helpful to realize that social media success takes time. Sure, sometimes people hit jackpot and their content goes viral the moment they hit publish, but that’s rare.
For most of us, establishing a reputation for highest-quality content takes time. Consistency -- establishing a regular schedule for posting (and automating it with tools like HubSpot) -- helps a lot, and remember: inbound marketing methodology doesn’t trade in overnight success, but it goes on indefinitely. Each little investment you make now will continue to serve you in the future.
2. Be Available
Though we love marketing automation platforms like HubSpot, we know that it simply doesn’t work to produce your content, schedule your tweets and posts, and leave it at that. After all, it’s social media. Followers want to know that there’s a real person behind those social media profiles, and today’s prospective students are savvy enough to know a bot from a person without trying too hard.
What this means for you? Be present to your audience. Yes, consistently publish, but also take part in conversations -- follow people, answer their questions, “like” and “favorite” other people’s material. If someone comments -- positive or negative -- follow up swiftly and politely. If spam-bots are filling up your feed or comments section, take care of that, too.
Millennials are incredibly good at knowing when no one’s at the digital desk. Make sure you’re there and available.
3. Be Generous
We’ve all been there: you’re at a party or on a plane, and you get caught in a one-sided conversation with someone who mistakenly believes you want to know absolutely everything there is to know about him. Not fun!
The digital equivalent is the company or institution that uses every post or tweet to drum up applicants or hawk their products and services -- a very quick way to get ignored or unfollowed, particularly by the advertising-averse millennials you’re trying to reach!
Instead, you’ve got to be generous: give something of value to the people you’re trying to reach. It’s important that you don’t focus too much on the message you’re trying to plug. Spend your time listening, creating and offering valuable content, and making fruitful connections on social media with the right influencers.
And remember: in inbound marketing methodology, everyone you interact with (well, apart from those pesky bots!) is a potential influencer.
4. Be Responsive
It bears repeating that a social media platform is not a bully pulpit. You don’t get to stand on it and shout your message all day long.
Pay attention to who is following you, “liking” or “favoriting” your posts, and retweeting or quoting your tweets. Follow them back and/or respond, as appropriate. This is a good way to build a solid base of followers.
Responsiveness also serves you well in inbound marketing methodology when it comes to finding what works. Which tweets and CTAs generated the most leads? You need to know -- and respond accordingly.
5. Be Focused
If you’re using social media as part of inbound marketing methodology, you’ve got to think strategically about what you’re sharing, when, and why. We’re not saying that you can’t ever share something (appropriate) and whimsical now and then, but we do think you should have a clear focus for what your social media and content marketing strategy is attempting to do -- and post accordingly. For college recruitment, your focus would be on producing, aggregating and promoting content that relates to the needs, concerns, and interests of rising juniors and seniors who fit the profile of your ideal applicant.
Hopefully you’ve got some personas to work with -- if you don’t, that’s your next step! When you produce, post, and share, do so with those personas in mind: what would they think of this? What need does this alert them to? What problem does it solve? If you don’t know, they won’t know.
6. Be Goal-Oriented
And make sure you’ve got the right goals in mind!
According to inbound marketing methodology, quality pretty much always trumps quantity. What’s important is not how many pageviews or retweets or shares a post gets -- what’s important is how many high-quality leads it generates. We’re less interested in seeing that you’ve got ten thousand minimally engaged Twitter followers than in seeing one thousand responsive and enthusiastic followers.
With inbound marketing in higher education, your goal is to convert visitors and followers, ultimately, into leads -- applicants and then students! Try not to get overly caught up in the numbers that don’t matter and focus on the ones that do.
Summing it up:
Social media recruiting strategy is a vital part of inbound marketing methodology. Best practices include knowing for whom you’re posting and why, interacting promptly and effectively, offering high-quality content, and exhibiting a spirit of positivity and generosity online.
How can you better leverage social media to reach prospective students? Our free social media guide will give you a plan.