Event Promotion

Baby, It’s Cold Outside! Heat Up Online Engagement to Attract Prospective Students This Winter Break

By Emily Haigis

It’s hard to believe that we’re already in the final month of 2015. On campuses everywhere, students flock home for the much anticipated winter break. Despite temperatures getting colder, this doesn’t mean your outreach and engagement efforts for prospective students should cool off as well.

Sure, there’s a lot of competition for your audience’s attention. With the holidays, vacations, seasonal jobs, reuniting with family and friends; school may not seem like a high priority. But fret not! This is the perfect time for getting the attention of prospective students.

We’ve got some tips to keep your engagement strategy warm, which means you can continue to increase your social media following, prospective student pipeline and online awareness.

Baby, It's Cold Outside! (2)

Turn your campus into a virtual wonderland.

With application deadlines creeping up in the next few months, now is the critical time to woo high school students. Most of your prospective students are on break, giving them time to virtually revisit their short (or long) list of potential schools and fill out applications. What better way to fill your winter break engagement void by sharing with them the wonders of your campus through digital marketing?

  • Put the content you created during last fall’s new student orientation to work. Did you have a big welcome ceremony, film any student testimonials, or capture move-in day? This group is curious about the student experience, help them visualize themselves on your campus by sharing this type of content across your social channels.


Duke’s Class of 2019 just participated in their first tradition — the class photo shoot. #Duke2019

A video posted by Duke University (@dukeuniversity) on Aug 19, 2015 at 5:36pm PDT

Duke University gives prospective students a taste of what it’s like to be a Blue Devil by documenting the first tradition students experience on campus: a class photo! It’s social media moments like these that enable high school students to picture themselves as a part of a campus community.  

  •  Create targeted email campaigns for students and their parents.
    • Be sure to include a mix of content such of videos and photos.
    • Send students recaps about homecoming, profile student leaders and invite them to any school sponsored events happening in their area.
    • Since parents tend to be interested in logistical information such as scholarships and travel, or academic based with their concerns, be sure to include that information as well.
  • Use Youtube, Vine or Periscope to share unique inside looks into the corners of campus or student life that aren’t often explored during a typical tour.

For students itching to get on someone’s campus this fall, your goal is to capture the wonder of your school so they’ll schedule a campus tour to see in person and/or apply.

Offer rewards and incentives for engagement.

Student generated content is crucial for attracting prospective students. But if they’ve flown the coop during break, how can you still get them to engage with you? There is no better way to increase engagement around your school than by offering an incentive. It’s just the little extra nudge your audience needs to go ahead with participating in conversations online. What college student isn’t looking for free money and gifts?

What would this look like over break, you ask?

Hold a contest for the best travel pictures, who travelled the farthest or visited the most cities. You could even throw in a twist and require that your school’s logo or mascot is present in the picture as well. As always, use a unique hashtag so that the word spreads and you can easily gather entries.

Tip: Tools like Offerpop and Zoomph can help you host hashtag contests without having to manually keep track of entries.

You can also select a few random students who engage with you over the break and offer them free paraphernalia, a gift certificate to the bookstore or whatever else students would find relevant.



Incentives don’t always have to be monetary. Recognition can also inspire engagement. Encourage recently admitted students to share their excitement on social media. Whether they post a picture of their acceptance letter, pose with the school mascot while wearing paraphernalia, or do all of these things at the same time, repost it. They’ll have the spotlight in front of their peers, encouraging other admitted students to share their stories on social media with you.


Leverage events for engagement gold.

Events are a perfect way to deepen relationships with your prospective students and involve your current student body. You can use your current students and alumni to help with your prospecting efforts and amplify the message via social media. Enroll current students and alumni to host local coffee chats in key cities. Ask them to share photos on social. You can also curate the photos for your own social channels or website. Be sure to include this information in your emails. Not all events have to be physical. Host a virtual Q&A with current students and alumni. To find volunteers, reach out to your student ambassadors or alumni chapter members.

Twitter Polls are a fun way activate your audience around big events they care about. Florida State University takes a creative approach on Twitter Polls by creating a March Madness style bracket that uses poll responses for each round. Besides adding a bit of friendly competition to their Twitter mix, this gives current students and prospective students alike a reason to engage.



What other tips do you have for heating up social media engagement over winter break?

Need a leg up on your competition for attracting prospective students to your school? We’ve got the latest tips. Download 15 Social Media Tips for Enrollment Marketing 2016today.



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