Most educational institutions understand the importance of using social media to attract students. It seems everyone is on social media, and with smartphone penetration reaching 60%, they are using it wherever they are. But there is something else going on. Teens are leaving Facebook by the millions. Recent research indicates that between 2011 and 2014, the number of teens aged 13-17 who regularly use the popular social media platform has dropped nearly 25%. Of course, you should still keep in mind that Facebook’s own statistics still puts teen users at 10 million. That is not an insignificant number.
Does This Mean Social Media Is Not a Good Way to Recruit Young Students?
Absolutely not. What has happened is understandable when you realise that during the same three years that teen usage of Facebook was dropping by 25%, usage by those who were 55+ went up a whopping 80%. In fact, the largest demographic on Facebook today are those who are 35-54. No wonder why teens are leaving. Their parents and grandparents now own Facebook!
Acknowledging this, schools should keep a few things in mind. First, Facebook is still valuable, reaching some 10 million teens almost daily. Secondly, reaching these potential student’s parents can be valuable in getting your message across. Facebook is also a way to reach non-traditional students. Thirdly, just because teens are leaving Facebook doesn’t mean they are leaving social media. There are plenty of other social media sites, many of which have a higher “cool” factor.
Once again, there is a seismic shift happening. If you are prepared for it, you can take better advantage of it.
What is Going On?
There are multiple factors at play. They include:
- The shift of teens to other social media sites. Teens don’t want to hang with their parents and grandparents. It is part of the force behind the shift away from Facebook for them. But these young users aren’t leaving social media. There are just heading to other social media platforms like Instagram (owned by Facebook), Snapchat, Vine, Twitter, Pheed and others.
- The increase in mobile devices. Mobile devices are becoming the norm. They are not only changing the way we access the internet and social media, but how we use it.
- How we use social media. Largely due to these mobile devices, photos and videos are a much larger part of social media. Graphically entertaining content is more popular than ever on both ends (sending and receiving) of social media. You also should take into consideration that YouTube is the world’s largest search engine. Visual content gets shared quickly and is a potent form of marketing.
Using Visually Entertaining Content
All of this means that visually entertaining content will be a key part of marketing for every organisation moving forward, including those who are recruiting students. Attracting students with video content isn’t necessarily easy, but it is important in today’s changing social media landscape. Of course it is also important they get distributed on the appropriate social media channels. Creating entertaining, effective and perhaps even viral videos can pay big dividends in social media marketing.
So what type of videos work well?
While there is always a place for longer, informational videos, organisations who are looking for views, shares, and likes understand that shorter, well planned videos work best. Keep in mind viewers know how long your video is before clicking to view it. They may not be willing to invest in over two minutes to see what you have to say. You’ll want a video that draws the viewer in and ends with the unexpected. Having it look professional is particularly important for educational institutions, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be “edgy”. Make sure your video tells a story. Even short Vine videos can get a powerful point across. You also may consider getting your current student body involved. Ultimately you want a video that will leave the viewer thinking and/or smiling, and feeling good about your institution.
Overall, educational institutions that want to be ahead of the curve or just stay with the times are beginning to understand the importance of using video. As mentioned today, video is a great asset to incorporate within their social media campaigns to attract the best students. I hope that the suggestions and correlations I’ve made today will help you decide on whether to begin using video content.