Some of the most prestigious universities in the world have caught on to the fact that the people they would like to target spend an awful lot of their time online. Sociagility, a consulting company that emphasizes social media, recently released the results of a study that determined which schools are best at using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to get the attention of the world’s most promising students.
It’s no surprise that eight of the top 10 schools on Sociagility’s social media honor roll are in the United States, with Harvard leading the way. Here’s what the top 10 looks like:
2. University of Pennsylvania;
3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology;
4. University of Michigan;
5. Stanford University;
6. University of California, Berkeley;
7. University of Oxford;
8. University of Sheffield;
9. University of Wisconsin, Madison;
10. University of Texas at Austin.
When the study was completed early in 2012, Harvard had more than 1.6 million Facebook fans and 107,000 or so Twitter followers. In an effort to attract the best and the brightest, the oldest college in the country turned to the newest technology, posting a wide range of information about the school, from news about its research efforts to shots of its men’s basketball team putting the finishing touches on the Ivy League championship.
Can businesses in the real world, the one that exists outside the walls of academia, borrow some of these same techniques to reach potential customers? Of course they can learn from institutions whose job it is to teach. After all, according to the Office for National Statistics, no age group in history has been more connected online than today’s 16- to 24-year-olds. Before long, they will provide a major source of profit for small business owners, Internet entrepreneurs and online marketers alike.
A Similar Sales Pitch
Convincing top-quality students to attend your school isn’t all that different from persuading customers to buy your products or services. Regardless of your line of business, the general idea of marketing is to get the attention of as many potential customers as you can without spending more than you can afford.
Keep in mind that when you use social media to sell your products and services, you are reaching more than just the 16-to-24 crowd. More than a billion smartphones are currently in use throughout the world, and better than half of the 337 million cellphones in the United States are smartphones. And though their numbers might be dropping, millions of people still connect to the online world via desktop and laptop computers. In other words, your marketing efforts to customers through Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have an excellent chance of bearing fruit among people who haven’t been in college in decades.
Some Internet Marketing Tips
Use a regular schedule – You can stay in touch with your customers by posting to Facebook once a day, tweeting a few times daily and writing a LinkedIn post or two each week.
Be casual and be personal – Don’t use terms or language your customers might not understand. Instead, try to develop a bond with the people who will be purchasing your products and services.
Offer deals available only to the people you reach through social media – This will give your customers and potential customers a reason to follow you on Facebook or Twitter.
Blog and blog some more – You can establish a company blog on your website and use the content for Facebook and Twitter posts.
Let the world know how much you know – As a business owner, you should be able to provide valuable information about your industry. You should join conversations on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook and make a concerted effort to establish yourself as an expert in your field.
Consider YouTube – YouTube isn’t just for funny videos. If you are not using it as a marketing tool, maybe you should give it a shot. Be certain to put your videos in a playlist so you will get to choose which of them will play sequentially, which should keep visitors on your channel longer.
Don’t ignore your competition – It’s possible that you can mimic some of the things your competitors are doing with social media. Which social networks do they use? Do they have many followers? How are they marketing their products and services? It’s perfectly acceptable to check out what others in your industry are doing and learn from their process: emulate what they are doing right and don’t waste your time with things that aren’t working for them.
As you can see, the tools you use to attract potential customers through social media are similar to the tools the best colleges in the world are using to attract the students with the most potential. In this case, your goal should be to become the Harvard of the business world.
What kinds of marketing and advertising efforts – the good, the bad, and the ugly – have you seen on social media outlets that strike a chord with you?