As we near the halfway point of 2022, the popularity of social media shows no signs of slowing down. Yet, these digital watering holes are constantly shifting as different demographics flock to specific platforms (or start to abandon others).
Here are five trends your marketing team needs to keep an eye on for the upcoming school year!
1) TikTok: The Next ‘Mom-and-Pop’ App?
TikTok has been the most downloaded mobile app for the last three years. In fact, it is the first non-Facebook app in history to reach 3 billion downloads. It also recently passed Google as the world’s most visited website.
With 656 million downloads in 2021 alone, TikTok sure seems like a no-brainer for higher ed recruiting, right? But consider this: In 2020, Americans ages 10-19 made up 32.5% of TikTok’s user base. By late 2021, that number dropped to 25%.
So, are Gen Z kids running away from TikTok? No, not yet.
However, the most significant contributor to this demographic swing is that millennials have been hopping on the platform in droves – and its young user base is not amused.
I know many millennials reading this will remember Facebook’s toddler years. As an exclusive service for college students, it exploded among young millennials in the mid-2000s. But now, the largest social media platform in the world is facing a mass exodus in its Gen Z subscriber base, being derided by many as ‘a boomer app.’
While TikTok’s reputation with Gen Z and Gen Alpha is a far cry from ‘boomer’ appeal, its popularity with potential college recruits may have peaked. With the rise of competing features like Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts, it’s evident that other platforms are trying to catch a ride on the TikTok wave.
Is this social media sensation holding the door for the ‘next big thing’ targeted at a young demographic? Time will tell, but I’d advise anyone to be on the lookout for up-and-coming platforms.
2) Is Facebook Still Viable for Higher Ed Marketing?
I answered this question back in 2020 when I addressed the Gen Z Facebook issue, and I will give the same answer now as I did then.
As of February, 82% of college graduates were active on Facebook. It is also the most popular social network for men and women ages 35 to 44. Your potential recruits may not use the service anymore, but their parents, and your alumni, do.
So, how much influence do parents have on their children pursuing a college education? According to a study by the folks at American Student Assistance, 61% of the parents who responded said ‘they would consider themselves parental failures’ if their children did not pursue some form of higher education.
I can guarantee that most of those same parents use Facebook, which is still a top platform for engagement through event publishing and story-telling. Those posts will, in turn, help drive SEO for your school.
Of course, simply establishing a Facebook presence isn’t enough to warrant the attention of your target audience. The key to any influencer marketing strategy is providing consistent, original content.
But any concerns over Facebook’s role in higher ed marketing are premature. With the rise of the Metaverse, the platform may not have even scratched the surface of possibilities for enrollment marketing.
(Curious to learn more about the role the Metaverse could play in your higher ed marketing strategy? Click here!)
3) LinkedIn’s Reach in the Higher Ed Market is Growing
Did you know that education is now one of the top 10 topics of engagement on LinkedIn?
I’ve mentioned how important LinkedIn is for higher ed marketing solutions. With 58 percent of college students on LinkedIn, it’s the top social media platform for current and post-grad students focused on career advancement.
TikTok and Instagram may still be the Gen Z darlings of social media. But with college-aged users comprising over 20 percent of its members, LinkedIn presents a golden opportunity for recruiting non-traditional students.
LinkedIn Marketing Solutions is a great tool to help you generate recruiting leads from a sizeable pool of talented individuals. LinkedIn helped generate over 608 thousand leads for U.S. schools last year through this program.
Is the pool as large as Facebook or Instagram? No – but LinkedIn has surpassed Twitter in monthly average users, and I believe that gap will only widen.
(Looking to up your LinkedIn game? Check out these tips for video content creation!)
4) Instagram is Still a Hit With the Older Gen Z Crowd
I’ve seen plenty of universities have success marketing on Instagram. Second only to Facebook in monthly active users, your presence on this visual media-centric platform is vital to spreading brand awareness.Click to tweet
Considering recent download history, TikTok may be catching up to its Meta-owned sibling. However, while only 8.5 percent of its subscribers are below the age of 18, Instagram still dominates the 18-34 crowd with a whopping 61 percent of its user base.
And with the launch of Instagram Reels last year, users can now post and scroll through videos up to 60 seconds long. As an alternative to TikTok, Reels has opened up many possibilities for higher ed advertising.
Instagram is showing no signs of slowing down in 2022. If your school doesn’t have an active account, then it definitely should.
5) The Jury is Out on Twitter and Snapchat
Do I think higher ed marketing on these pillars of social media is dead on arrival? Not quite, but the numbers speak for themselves.
For the first time, Twitter has started to see a decline in monthly average users in the U.S. While it was the third-most actively used social media platform ten years ago, it barely cracks the top 10 today.
Video content consumption has taken over social media. So, given Twitter’s reputation as a written word vehicle, it’s lost some of its luster in the crowded short-form video space.
What’s Next for Higher Ed Marketing and Social Media?
Titans like Facebook and Instagram will likely be reliable platforms for higher ed marketing for the foreseeable future.
But who are some of the other new kids on the block in social media worth keeping an eye on?
As I alluded to earlier, I believe the Metaverse has the potential to be a big player in marketing, especially in virtual and augmented reality.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has a grand vision of bringing every corner of the internet together under a giant digital umbrella – or ‘metaverse’ – as he stated last year:
The metaverse is a bold undertaking, but it has the potential to change the landscape of higher ed marketing if pulled off successfully.
‘The metaverse is a vision that spans many companies — the whole industry. You can think about it as the successor to the mobile internet… But you can [also] think about the metaverse as an embodied internet, where instead of just viewing content — you are in it.’ – Mark Zuckerberg
With 140 million monthly active users, Twitch is an intriguing hybrid of social interaction and entertainment. Created in 2011 as a gaming streaming platform, Twitch has expanded into a media powerhouse since its purchase by Amazon in 2014.
Why is that important?
The chances are that your future recruits (and their dads!) have more than a passing interest in gaming, which means you have an audience on Twitch.
As a platform dedicated to connecting college students seeking engagement with their peers, Zeemee is exploding among the Gen Z crowd.
It’s the perfect watering hole for student ambassadors seeking to connect with potential recruits and incoming first-year students.
As a top-25 downloaded social media app on Google Play and the Apple Store, Zeemee is a great relationship-building tool with a bright future.
Finding Your Social Media Footing in 2022
A winning social media game plan should be a part of any higher ed enrollment marketing strategy.
Take a peek at your school’s social media accounts and ask yourself if something is missing.
If you need help putting any of these social media platforms to work for your school or university, feel free to reach out.
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