Jumping on the bandwagon can be daunting - who knows where a given marketing trend will go, if anywhere? But waiting too long, particularly when your target demographic is constantly on the cusp of the next social platform or digital trend, can be a big detriment to your marketing strategy. Colleges and universities need to stay on top of (and ahead of) the avenues by which they can deliver quality, useful content to their end consumers.

Here are five trends in the realm of higher education marketing that are definitely worth looking into.

Burgeoning Social Platforms

One of the most important areas in which higher education marketers will need to engage in some trial and error in order to stay ahead is in the world of new and rising social platforms. Having engaging Facebook, Twitter and Instagram presences is now simply par for the course for colleges and universities. In order to excel and drive even more interest, you'll need to take a chance on some newer platforms, such as Snapchat. According to the platform, 60 percent of its users are 13-to-24-year-olds. And with 150 million daily users, that's a lot of eyeballs to get on your institution through regular snaps and targeted geofilters.

Thought Leadership

Most colleges or universities now have some sort of marketing strategy in place based around creating original content in the form of a blog or news page. But one area in which many could improve the number of viewers of said content is by engaging as a thought leader outside the confines of your .edu website. Seek out opportunities to guest blog on sites with a lot of young viewership - or try producing native, sponsored content on high-traffic sites like BuzzFeed. A full 50 percent of its users are 18-to-34-year-olds, with a total readership of more than 200 million unique site visitors monthly.

Embracing Video

Nothing engages a web lead, particularly a millennial one, as much as video content. It's no longer a "nice-to-have" in your marketing plan - it's a necessity for all higher education institutions to make use of original video. Taking advantage of the surge in live video viewership is something more budget-friendly, skeptical colleges and universities can give a try (i.e., Facebook Live, Periscope, etc.), while those who want long-term results can invest in native video content on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and countless others, whether organic or paid. Facebook estimates that people spend three times as long watching live video as they do pre-recorded video - the next time your campus hosts a high-profile event, it might be worth getting your stream on.

Authentic Messaging

It’s one thing to maintain a blog or news section on your college or university website. It’s quite another to develop engaging content with which potential student recruits actually want to interact. Most importantly, speak their language – solve and address problems they’re facing openly and honestly (and with good humor). And limit the straight news, PR-sounding content you include in this student-focused space. They’ll see through any disjointed or disingenuous messaging. A recent study found that among the younger population, authenticity is valued in importance second only to loyalty discounts when it comes to picking a brand or company.


No two potential student recruits are built exactly alike. In fact, the idea of personalization in your communications has become expected among the youngest generation (and your target audience). Drip campaigns and marketing automation tools are a gold mine for nurturing student leads with highly applicable material that avoids blanket sales pitches and embraces segmented, hyper-valuable material useful to the individual (without ulterior motives). A recent consumer study found that as many as 73 percent of consumers prefer brands that personalize experiences to make them more relevant

Source: Boston Consulting Group, Accenture

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