Clearing generally is a worrying and disorientating time for college kids as they frantically seek for a college and a course that matches their aspirations. And through worrying occasions, it’s common to crave familiarity, and there’s little extra acquainted to the present technology of 16- to 18-year-olds than social media.

Immediately’s sixth-formers are consistently energetic on social media platforms, whether or not Snapchat, Fb, LinkedIn or Twitter, and are as used to speaking with their thumbs as they’re with their voices. Naturally, they need to make essential choices of their lives on social media, too. Mature college students usually are not far behind, and are simply as acquainted at utilizing expertise and social media for a lot of elements of on a regular basis life, from banking and paying their payments to speaking with mates and households.

Historically, clearing has concerned college students securing their place at college over the telephone, which signifies that they’ve to talk to universities that they’ve probably by no means been in contact with earlier than – a course of that they they’ll discover daunting.

With social media platforms turning into the norm and the dominant technique of communication, universities and different establishments have to take this into consideration when eager about learn how to interact potential college students. Ignoring such a major shift in scholar behaviour with regards to using social media may very well be a pricey mistake for universities throughout clearing. This explains our ambition, on the University of Bedfordshire, to deal with increasingly of our clearing functions on social media platforms. We first launched our personal stay chat to make provides throughout clearing in 2013, and this 12 months we intend to broaden the variety of social media channels by way of which we provide recommendation and make provides with the addition of Fb and LinkedIn.

More and more, increasingly enquiries from college students to our clearing crew are digital, and the variety of provides that we make by way of social media is rising steadily. Final 12 months noticed a 20 per cent improve within the variety of provides that we made by way of our web site’s stay chat in non-public messages. Fairly than utilizing the phone route, which may be cumbersome for a lot of, social media permits the method to happen throughout the college students’ consolation zones and ensures that they’re extra prone to take the time and ask the precise questions.

Trying ahead, we are able to see this development persevering with and increasing even additional. Partaking with new candidates by way of their favorite social media platforms has quite a few benefits; it’s responsive, in tune with the wants and expectations of our college students, and it permits us to supply a extra delicate and useful service, match for technology Z and past.

The comfort and pace of social media are additionally essential components to contemplate when offering potential and present college students with recommendation and steerage, particularly throughout essential occasions comparable to clearing. Platforms comparable to Fb, with its stay chat facility, can present a great means to speak very important details about scholar life to a lot of college students, all with the identical background and the identical questions, all of sudden. This not solely saves time, it’s also extra delicate; for instance, many candidates would possibly really feel uneasy or embarrassed about asking questions that might appear trivial, and it’s much more probably that they are going to be delay asking them on the telephone than in an inclusive and acquainted stay chat session.

Nonetheless, establishments eager about strengthening their recruitment initiatives by way of social media want to keep in mind that at this time’s potential college students are very conscious of on-line advertising and marketing and crave authenticity. An excessive amount of top-down advertising and marketing might be observed and perceived as sterile from the tech-savvy technology.  

College students need to see unfiltered and non-scripted experiences. Social media platforms are valued and thought to be reliable as a result of they permit people to have interaction peer to see and share their beliefs and experiences. That is why you will need to actively interact college students and potential college students within the course of of making social media materials about an establishment and its providing. Fostering a tradition that encourages college students to create content material that can be utilized on universities’ personal channels, with everyone within the scholar group contributing to social media actions, generally is a highly effective device for universities.

Social media is the best way of the long run after we’re speaking about partaking with potential college students. There aren’t any indicators that this can disappear and that tomorrow’s college students will revert to conventional telephone calls as their most popular methodology of communication. It’s, however, essential to maintain abreast of the most recent social and technological developments throughout the social media world, as the particular platforms that college students and candidates favour have a tendency to vary fairly shortly. Not too long ago, we now have seen indicators of far larger engagement with Instagram and Snapchat, and fewer with Twitter, for instance.

Universities and different establishments that need to interact present and potential college students should assume lengthy and onerous about learn how to broaden their social media presence in addition to learn how to maintain it updated and genuine. The race to vary and revisit how processes comparable to clearing work is on, and with the present stress that universities are going through to recruit college students, social media could make a distinction to who will cross the ending line first.

David Seaton is assistant director of selling, admissions, recruitment and communications on the University of Bedfordshire.

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