Rene Magritte’s 1929, Treachery of Images, surrealist work of art is a great reflection for some of the misunderstandings of the use of “brand” in today’s social media world.

A potential student may well appreciate that well crafted strapline or carefully edited video, but they will know that, “Ceci n’est pas une université.”; rather, it is merely a construct of how the university wishes to portray itself to students.

In an earlier post, I discussed how consumers have used the web and social media to change their process of interaction to advertising and marketing. The same rules apply for brand positioning. The traditional marketing methodology where an image of your University or College is portrayed in a staged environment across every platform is no longer relevant for today’s potential students.

According to Nielsen, 84% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know, they are far more likely to buy from a recommendation or when a connection has an affiliation to a brand.

And, because it is almost guaranteed that your next student will already be connected to someone at your institution, they are expecting to find (and respond to) the “real” brand.

So how can you be authentic when promoting your brand across social media? Well, here are just some of the learnings and solutions we have delivered for the 250 education institutions we have worked with since 2008…

  1. Always use the right creative and content that will work for that audience (remember that they will not be influenced by a perfect image of the university)
  2. Respect the context; creating the right marketing content and media that fits with the audience on each platform
  3. Empower your advocates to be there to “pose and answer questions” in your campaigns
  4. Create campaigns that utilise friends of existing connections with testimonial based messaging
  5. Use data to target directly and to create new audience clusters
  6. Video, video, video - a whole other post will be dedicated to the how to use video (and be authentic) in education marketing

Article by

Steve Evans