Social media is a pivotal tool in amplifying your digital marketing strategy. It acts as a gateway of communication to bridge your online brand to your audience.

In higher education specifically, social media can help to reach a range of audiences, such as current and prospective students, parents, alumni, other institutions, and researchers. Your institution has the ability to engage and interact with diverse audiences, and potentially influence new prospects.

Related: 3 Key Tips for Social Media in Higher Education

In order to get the most out of social media marketing, you should establish a budget to structure your upcoming efforts, pinpoint the resources that are needed, and determine the amount to allocate to each platform.

We know getting a budget for new marketing initiatives is easier said than done. That’s why we’ve come up with some ways to justify your social media budget for long-term success.

Advertising

There’s no point in posting to social media if your target audience doesn’t see it. This is where advertising comes into play. Paid advertising can reach people who don’t currently follow your accounts, which could lead to new prospects. Therefore, it has become common practice for many companies and higher education institutions to pay for social media advertising.

In fact, 60% of marketers believe that paid social is more effective than organic, and 45% of them plan to increase their social media budgets to boost paid ads. 

Additionally, Snap Chat geo-filters are another advertising tool higher education marketers need to consider. Geo-filters allow users to display their location on their photo. While you have to pay for them ($30+), they make an impact, especially with the prospective student demographic. When someone posts a photo or story with your institution’s specific geo-filter, they reach an organic audience in an instant.

Advertising has a great potential to reach a variety of audiences and entice them to learn more about your institution.

Staff

Hire student staff to manage social media platforms. Whether they take Instagram stories, set up podcast interviews, post albums to Facebook, or create Twitter campaigns, they all contribute to your social media goals.

Your staff budget depends on a few factors, such as the hourly campus rate, the number of active accounts, and the extent of work expected from each student.

However, even a low-involvement social media post could have a high impact. Let’s say you have a prospective student looking at your recent Instagram story. The video displays a current student lying in a hammock on the campus quad, doing homework and relaxing in the sun. This gives the prospective student a peek into the life they would like to have for their own college experience, potentially leading to a new applicant.

To make your budget even more worthwhile, hire a Social Media Manager. It will give the student staff a reliable leader who designates the team responsibilities. Furthermore, they can be the point of contact for engagement on social media. An astounding 89% of social media messages to brands go ignored. This is poor customer service, and more importantly, gives viewers a bad image of your brand and its interest in consumers. Therefore, the manager could respond to comments and engage with followers, to avoid a potential negative perception of your institution.

With this core social media staff, your team will be able to collaborate together and communicate with more viewers, leading to a stronger social presence.

Tools

The staff is hired, and now they need the tools to execute effectively. Therefore, you should invest in valuable products.

Social media is almost entirely based on imagery. The correct tools can make visuals even more compelling and memorable. In fact, social media content will have 94% more views with visual elements throughout. Therefore, posting impactful imagery is crucial to gaining a visitor’s attention.

Rather than solely relying on smartphone photography, take it a step further. Invest in drones, Go Pros, and digital cameras. These tools are all feasible, enhance every image or video, and help your institution to produce impactful content. For example, a drone could take 360-degree snapshots of your campus to build a virtual campus tour. With compelling visuals, you will set your institution apart from the rest and create a unique experience for your audiences.

Conclusion

Social media is a powerful platform. You can grow a virtual following, and potentially reach new audiences with just a tweet, post, story, or hashtag. With promotional ads, ambitious staff, and high-quality content tools, your institution will be able to engage and attract many audiences.

Use social media to showcase your institution’s unique story and your investment will be justified.