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December 7

Using WhatsApp to Reach Hispanic Prospective Students


Is your private college or university seeking to reach first generation Hispanic students? WhatsApp marketing could help you do just that.

Today, there are all kinds of social media and communication apps you can use to reach your education marketing personas

For quick reference, here are recent articles I’ve published about social media marketing for higher education:

Chances are, you’re already familiar with these social media platforms…

But it’s highly unlikely that you’re familiar with WhatsApp.

That’s because the lion’s share of WhatsApp users are outside the United States. 

So first, let’s get acquainted with this messaging platform and then we’ll see how it can boost your education marketing efforts.

What is WhatsApp?

WhatsApp is a messaging platform like Facebook Messenger. In fact, in 2014 it was acquired by Facebook as they could see it quickly becoming Messenger’s biggest global competitor.

“WhatsApp started as an alternative to SMS. Our product now supports sending and receiving a variety of media: text, photos, videos, documents, and location, as well as voice calls. Some of your most personal moments are shared with WhatsApp, which is why we built end-to-end encryption into our app.” – WhatsApp About

Out of the “More than 2 billion people in over 180 countries” who use WhatsApp, only 22.5 million users reside in the United States.

But looking past the total number of users, it may be more insightful to look at the marketing penetration within several of the largest markets that use WhatsApp to understand just how important this tool can be.

  • Mexico: 91% 
  • India: 82%
  • Brazil: 66% 

In the United States, approximately 50% of users are Hispanic Americans, which just makes sense considering the market dominance it enjoys in Latin American countries like Mexico.

Just looking at the demographics of WhatsApp’s user base, you can probably already see just how helpful it could be for education marketers looking to cultivate more first-generation prospective students.

WhatsApp for Education Marketing

Some private colleges and universities have launched first-generation scholarship programs to help students from non-college educated families to pursue their higher education degree.

First-generation college students have unique challenges as their families are more likely to need substantial financial assistance. 

They are also more likely to belong to immigrant families who’re struggling to integrate and prosper in their new country. 

It’s in this multicultural background that you might find an opportunity to use WhatsApp for education marketing. 

Most multicultural first-generation students are from immigrant families, which means they’re probably using WhatsApp to keep up with family and friends back home. 

Whereas international texts and calls can bring hefty charges, WhatsApp provides international families a completely free way to call (video or audio), voice message, and text with users in any country.

Multicultural prospective students are largely familiar with WhatsApp. 

If they’re not using it themselves, their families almost certainly are, making the opportunity to use WhatsApp for education marketing something you should really think about.

1. Create a WhatsApp Business account.

WhatsApp Business accounts present a number of useful features for education marketers and enrollment officers to reach multicultural prospective students.

Using WhatsApp Business, you can create a WhatsApp Business profile for your college or university enrollment/marketing team. 

While it’s certainly designed for retail business (especially small businesses), it is possible to create a business profile with a “menu” or “catalogue” of your school’s programs, degrees, or other marketing distinctives.

Like Facebook Messenger chatbots, WhatsApp Business allows you to create automatic replies to inquiries to the business account.

Similarly, WhatsApp Business has a “Quick Replies” function, which suggests common replies to questions or inquiries to the business profile. 

Probably the most useful feature, though, is the ability to create labels on chats.

Using labels, you could tag chats as “College Fair,” “Application,” or “Deposit,” to help make tracking the relationship easy.

2. Create a WhatsApp group for parents.

Groups offer education marketers one of the richest spaces for prospective student interaction, especially those who’ve enrolled and made their deposit. 

For admitted students entering your institution soon, a WhatsApp group can be a secure, efficient place to share common information with them all.

For example, in a WhatsApp group for students entering in the coming fall, you could send timely notifications reminding them of deadlines for key decisions and updates on programs or upcoming orientation events. 

Perhaps an even bigger opportunity lies in creating a group for multicultural parents. 

If they are from Latin American countries, chances are they use WhatsApp groups for everything from support for autistic children to organizing community clean up projects.  

WhatsApp groups are familiar spaces for these parents to receive updates, notifications, and general information from your institution.

3. Consider multilingual messages.

If you have a Spanish professor, Spanish-speaking staff, or Spanish-speaking students, consider using them to assist you in your WhatsApp strategy.

While your prospective multicultural student speaks English, it’s likely that their parents will speak Spanish as their first language. 

Yet even multicultural students will appreciate an occasional sentence or phrase in their family’s home language. 

Use WhatsApp as an Investment in Your Future

The United States is going through a massive demographic shift as minority populations continue to grow at record pace.

In fact, the U.S. has the second highest number of Spanish-speaking people in the world.

Getting to know a brand new communication tool like WhatsApp can sometimes be frustrating, but keep your long-term goals in mind. 

Gen Z is more multicultural than any other generation in history.

Forward-thinking private colleges and universities should at least consider WhatsApp for education marketing, if not going so far as to test it out. 

And if you’re somewhere near the U.S. southern border, or your city has a large Hispanic population, I highly recommend you give this communication tool a little thought.

For more helpful advice and strategies on higher education marketing, contact us today!

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Featured image by Tashatuvango via Adobe Stock
Messenger image by Ico Maker via Adobe Stock

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