7 quick tips for moving student recruitment events online

Producing 'binge-worthy' events—live and prerecorded—is key for attracting prospects now and in the future
Sujoy Roy is the founder and CEO VisitDays.
Sujoy Roy is the founder and CEO VisitDays.

At this time of the year, when most higher education institutions are preparing for accepted student events, campus leaders are scrambling to determine the best course of action to keep up enrollments through the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 40% of admitted students never step foot on campus before April, and of those students, more than 75% choose their institution based on the experience they have in the next few months, according to our visit data and research. Historically, these experiences have been on campus. Now that they won’t be, college leaders are faced with new challenges.

Read: Updated: 78 free higher ed resources during coronavirus pandemic

Event management vs. production mindset

On-campus experiences require an event management mindset, while online requires a production mindset. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has said: “so we actually compete with sleep” of his biggest competitor. People are online for a large part of the day, and the only way to catch their attention is to ensure you create an experience that is well timed and highly engaging.

Entertaining and educational online experiences are attainable with the right mindset and tools.

“I firmly believe that online education will never truly replace all of the experiences a young adult will have on a university campus,” E. Gordon Gee, president of West Virginia University told me. “But I know that the young adult today is vastly different from the one five years ago, so we as educators must always strive to implement the best tools and services that meet our students where they are. And as we can see within the past few weeks, the need has never been so critically important.”

Producing binge-worthy events online is critical to meeting the needs of your students. It is important to produce your most important recruitment events online without compromising the experience. Institutions that bring on-campus events online will undoubtedly lose some engagement with students who were looking forward to breathing campus air and meeting campus ambassadors. However, entertaining and educational online experiences are attainable with the right mindset and tools.

Read: How this university website continually engages admitted students during COVID-19

Delivering events, content

Using digital tools, such as YouTube, Zoom, Facebook and Instagram, to build cohesive experiences for your audience helps deliver binge-worthy content. You can manage the process from A to Z, including production, scheduling, two-way 24/7/365 communication and surveys. This shift is not easy, but using these modern engagement tools ensures that your message will be well-received by this current prospect pool—and the next.

These tools have benefits for administrators who need to create content and for students who will be interacting with that content. It’s key to create both live events and an archive of prerecorded material. Here are seven strategies for implementation.

For live online experiences:

  1. Consider using Zoom, Facebook Live, Instagram TV and YouTube Live to bring interactive and live experiences to students.
  2. Keep live video experiences to 30 minutes or less to engage students throughout.
  3. Create events that focus on specific majors and topics, such as financial aid or housing, to ensure maximum engagement.

Read: Virtual college tours need storytelling component now

For prerecorded experiences:

  1. Have your tour guides, resident assistants, student-athletes and other students create quick testimonial videos of why they love your institution, which you can upload to your social media pages, for instance. The more authentic, the better!
  2. You’ve created a great campus tour, so record parts of it or the tour as a whole, and upload videos to YouTube, Facebook and Instagram TV, for instance, so students can view them at their leisure.
  3. Using Google Drive or Dropbox, upload your content so that it can easily be shared with prospective students and families.
  4. Prerecorded content will also help create an archive of on-demand content for future marketing campaigns.

These strategies and tools can be implemented quickly by any institution to help meet enrollment goals, especially during this current crisis.

Sujoy Roy is the founder and CEO VisitDays.

UB’s coronavirus page offers complete coverage of the impacts on higher ed.

Sujoy Roy
Sujoy Roy
Sujoy Roy is the founder and CEO VisitDays.

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