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Social media outlets can be super powerful tools for businesses and higher education institutions alike.

Social media seems to have a hand in everything these days, and it can be a powerful tool for businesses or academic institutions. Most companies now have at least one person solely dedicated to managing their social media in order to create new leads, drive sales, answer customer inquiries or promote new products. Schools can also take advantage of social media in much the same way. Many schools do utilize social media, while others seem to be slow on the uptake.

What can your school do with social media? Here are four ways a school can use social media to its advantage:

Start a student-run social media website – Johns Hopkins University is a great example of an institution of higher education that is using social media to empower current students while helping prospective ones. Hopkins Interactive is a website with “student-produced videos and blog entries, along with posts in a Facebook group for accepted students,” according to CNN. Daniel Creasy, Johns Hopkins’ associate director of admissions, believes that “it provides an uncensored look at the school.”

Reach more students who otherwise would not know about the school – Many underrepresented minorities do not have their parents or siblings to depend on when looking at schools, or they may not have the resources to take a tour of a prospective school in person. A new EAB study found that “27% of first-generation students, 25% of Hispanic students, 24% of African-American students, and 24% of students from households with $60K or lower income report they first discovered a college on social media.”

Have real interactions with students – Institutions or professors can get the raw truth from students’ opinions, what they like or dislike, etc., on platforms like Twitter or Facebook. They can then use that information to make any necessary changes or do more of what students love. As explained in Education Dive, “any strategy that does not incorporate two-way interaction will be less effective,” and it should “be a tool through which leaders stay abreast of student experiences and sentiments.” In this way, an institution can also quickly transfer any negative conversations offline. Being proactive and staying on top of anything students are saying is a good way to hear feedback and also answer so students feel they are being heard.

Host virtual tours for students or parents – Education Dive says that this can “increase the general public’s exposure to and familiarity with the brand.” Increasing familiarity and exposure can drive more people to attend a school.

Bringing more students in and then maintaining healthy relationships with them is really what using social media can be all about for campuses. Most of this generation’s students frequent social media anyway, so it really makes good sense for institutions to take advantage of this medium.

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