Just because you’re on vacation for the holidays doesn’t mean that your student recruiting efforts should end. In fact, the holidays are a perfect opportunity to acquire new prospective students and nurture those already considering your school.
Why? Students have a few weeks off and college deadlines are piling up as the year turns over. Some will spend a lot of time doing in-depth research about colleges, in preparation to submit applications. Many more will spend their break casually looking at school information, as they make their final decisions about where to apply. It’s important that your institution is first and foremost in their minds — and social media, events, and PR will help with that effort.
You might decide to scale back your marketing spend, but that doesn’t mean you have to abandon recruitment entirely.
Here are four tips for getting in front of students:
Use social media
Showcase your institution’s brand in creative ways on social media during the holidays, not by releasing or rehashing the latest school data, but by running truly fun campaigns that will catch the eye of prospective students. Consider a holiday giveaway of your school gear on Facebook, a year-in-review video on Snapchat, or even a winter Twitter chat with well-known alumni. Your students are around, they have the time now that finals are over – all that’s left is for you to capture their attention!
Plan events with alumni and current students
Who is better at “selling” your school than the student body who have a self-professed love for it? Current students will be returning to their hometowns; you might consider opening up nationwide coffee chats where prospective students can interact with current students, to hear about what life is like on campus. Take advantage of the festive nature of the season, as well, by sponsoring holiday parties in key cities for alumni and prospective students so they can be wowed by alumni accomplishments and personalities.
Showcase your yearly school calendar
Make sure your events calendar is up-to-date, and then use it as content for getting students amped up. Consider creating a short teaser video with previews of certain stand-out events to get your current (and prospective students) excited about the year ahead. Not only will this get the student body on board and invested in campus life, you’ll also get the added bonus of increasing organic site traffic with an SEO-friendly calendar. It’s a win-win for your brand and your students.
Capitalize on the holiday “feel goods”
Winter break presents the perfect opportunity for tapping into collective goodwill. You might publish feel-good blog articles about your school and then pitch them to student publications. This is a good opportunity to be creative. Think about it – the holidays are a time of giving. What if you had a “Friendsgiving”-themed or year recap post about all of the work students on campus have done to give back to the community? This is an excellent opportunity to showcase not only campus life but the value in which you hold your students. Providing a glimpse of these things will make prospective students eager to join in the fun themselves in following years.
With a little effort on your part, and by capitalizing on the spirit of the holiday season, you’ll be able to attract prospective students in organic, holistic ways, even when your advertising spend may be lower and campus is empty. Don’t let winter break go to waste – use these four tips to optimize your university marketing well into the new year.
Krystal Putman-Garcia serves as Vice President of Marketing for Localist, an event marketing technology company that offers interactive calendars that help companies publish, manage and promote events. She is responsible for Localist’s marketing and partnership efforts, to ultimately help businesses make the most out of their events.