6 top tips for using social media to attract students and graduates

Mar 15, 2022 | Attraction & marketing, How-to

Social media should be embedded into your wider strategy. We share some top tips for using social media to attract students and graduates.

Social media is central to the way in which young people (and indeed many of us) engage with the world around us. If you are trying to build your employer brand and attract students and graduates you need to be using these channels.

From Twitter and LinkedIn to TikTok and Discord, you don’t necessarily have be active in all of the different social media channels available, but you should at least have investigated all of them and thought about why you are engaging or not engaging. Popularity of social media channels are explored more in ISE’s Complete Guide to Student Recruitment and Development.

Social media is not an add-on – it should be embedded into your wide branding, marketing and attraction strategy. Many of the top tips below for using social media to attract students and graduates are essentially restatements of existing principles that you should be applying across your whole campaign.

It is also important to recognise that social media recruiting requires time, expertise and often financial resources.

1. Think about what platforms to engage with

Social media covers a vast and growing array of different platforms. You need to think about which are worth engaging with.

You don’t necessarily want to always follow the most popular. For example, building a TikTok campaign might create a tension with your brand and is probably not where your candidates are expecting to hear from you. But it may also offer an opportunity as just targeting people on career specific platforms like Linkedin might make it more difficult to distinguish yourself.

2. Create great content

Social media speaks for itself. Whether it is a Tweet, a YouTube video or a Linkedin job advert, it needs to be carefully designed to be engaging to your target audience.

Remember you are generally not trying to create a viral meme, but produce content that is informative about your organisation and why people should apply for it. If you can also include career top tips and guides on getting hired you are really providing people with something useful.

An effective social media content strategy is making use of your current employees to talk directly to candidates and potential applicants. This kind of authentic content is much more effective than corporate puff pieces.

3. Use tools to target your audience

Most social media tools allow you (for a price) to target the kind of people you want to engage with. Make use of these tools and evaluate their effectiveness.

Firing stuff out into the darkness is unlikely to work – even if you manage to get an audience for your content (which is difficult) it may not be the right one.

4. Be willing to pay (when it adds value)

There is a tendency to see social media as open, democratic and free. This may lead some organisations into thinking of social media student marketing as a low-cost alternative to going on campus, and result in a reluctance to pay.

While you can achieve much through organic (free) social media marketing, a willingness to pay can allow you to target specific groups of students, acquire new follows and ensure that the content you offer is relevant.

There are many different business models and approaches to paid-for social media marketing and so it is worth talking to the different platforms, to the marketing and branding agency you are working with and to other employers through ISE  to get some information that can help you to decide what offers value for money.

5. Think long term

Social media is a good way to build up a long-term relationship with your candidates.

If you take the long view you will gradually build up your connections with students over several years. This means that when you are trying to recruit, you have a ready-made warm audience who you can target directly.

6. Use the data you gather

Social media tools give you rapid feedback on what you are doing. You can see how many people have viewed and responded over a 24-hour period.

Monitor this data in real time and make sure that your social media strategy is sufficiently responsive to be able to rethink things that don’t work and do more of what does work.

This is an excerpt from ISE’s Complete Guide to Student Recruitment and Development

Read more insight and know how from ISE’s Guide


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