Social networks are now considered ‘essential’ to prospective students doing their university research, says the latest Students Online global trends report from TopUniversities.com. From the responses given by more than 5,400 prospective students in 33 countries across Europe, Asia, North America, Latin America and Africa, social media was found to be a valuable way to gain an alternative perspective on university life. It was used to complement official sources such as the universities’ own websites and league tables.
Potential students are using social networks, in particular Facebook, to gain inspiration and ideas about which universities to choose to study at. Many young people are abandoning traditional search in favour of social media to get their information, preferring to gain insights from their peers, who are more likely to give an unfiltered view of university life.
Many universities are capitalising on this growing trend, believing that their students and alumni are their most valuable marketing tool. The User Generated Content (UGC) created by their students and staff is seen as invaluable content for universities, many of which are using it to promote their wider community, not just their academic courses.
Flockler’s platform has enabled many universities to build a social hub, without having to rebuild or alter their existing website, to showcase the talents, achievements and help to build an online community with their staff, students and alumni. Using the social hub universities have opened up new lines of communication with those they want to engage most with.
University of East London
The University of East London has created a lovely social news hub rounding up the best of what’s happening on and off campus. From video snippets, to highlights of campaigns that have reached the national news as well as fun things to do on campus, this social hub is a great one-stop-shop and go-to resource for current students to keep abreast of what’s happening at their university, as well as acting as an insight into life at this busy London university.
The University of Chichester
The University of Chichester’s social hub carries a great mix of selected content from student blogger antics alongside its official Twitter and Facebook feeds, as well as host a collection of students Instagram images of life on campus. It gives a great snap shot of what it would be like to study there.
The University of Helsinki
The University of Helsinki has used Flockler’s platform twice in the last 18 months to support two of its major events.
Thinkfest, the urban festival of thought and science, was designed to engage with the wider public. The University wanted its city residents to experience science in a new way. During the pilot festival, which ran in September 2014, the University encouraged its students, staff, performers and event audiences to use a #thinkfesthy hashtag to post pictures and other content on social, which they used (the Flockler platform automatically ‘pulled in’ content by using a pre-programmed hashtag) to promote what was going on. They particularly received a lot of positive content and feedback on social as a result of their ‘science saunas’ (the public were invited to take saunas with key thinkers and academics to discuss key issues in the field), which enabled them to create stories on the back of these posts. They have since been able to reuse the content to market the now annual event. Helsinki University’s communications and community relations officers Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta and Johanna Mäenpää said:
The Flockler platform enabled us to give our audiences a voice and them the power to give feedback to us. It helped them to create authentic content for us.
Flockler was used in a second separate project, 375 Humanists, which marked the Humanities department’s 375th anniversary by profiling a leading light from within the humanities field every day for a year in 2015. They used Flockler’s platform to create a site that was “mind blowing” and “something that people would not have seen in a university context”. The site was used to promote the Humanities Faculty both nationally and internationally and make their leading academics more accessible. In addition to promoting its research, it was used to support the Faculty’s students, staff and alumni. The Flockler platform increased engagement with students, staff and alumni – they had a record number of likes, shares and tweets about the content, which Hurmerinta and Mäenpää said:
It would not have been possible without the Flockler platform.
The University of Law
Students at the University of Law love studying there so much they’ve made a video prospectus for their social hub. Pinned proudly as the first entry on the social site, the students speak to camera about why they chose to study Law at this university. This social hub plays host to an eclectic mix of content – from informative videos to selfies to glimpses of life on campus. It’s a great example of how to use a social hub to attract new students and engage with those already studying with you.