One might think that creating brand awareness has no place in the education sector but this would be to underestimate the far reaching effects that developing brand equity – the value that a consumer attaches to a particular brand – can have for any chosen institution of higher education.
In fact, brand awareness is not a new concept in the education sector. There is a reason such universities as Oxford and Harvard have achieved global recognition as the crème de la crème of higher learning that they enjoy to this day. Over time their indisputable reputations have been strategically constructed and consequently they have been sought out as centres of elite education.
As a result, they have enjoyed huge funding grants and access to resources, and been able to attract top staff and students. This prowess has only served to further reinforce their positioning as top institutions in the education sector; evidence that brand awareness is vital to this sector in an increasingly competitive world.
What has changed over time is the manner in which colleges, universities, sports science institutes, and centres for art and recreation create brand awareness in a society governed by instant online communication and snappy social media tools. Following are three social commerce strategies the education sector can utilize to effectively generate brand awareness.
1. Boost traffic to your website and acquire brand ambassadors:
Students just love to make their opinions known whether in person or online. Even more, students like to be valued for their input on a wide variety of topics. Why not put their passion to good use by encouraging them to be the spokespersons for your institution. Who better to promote your brand, after all?
This can be achieved by introducing a referral program and offering incentives to motivate existing students to refer your courses to their friends. This has the added bonus of reducing your spend on advertisements and promotions as your brand ambassadors will be advocating your institution on your behalf. Furthermore, research has shown that a recommendation from a friend is seven times more effective than straight up advertising.
One such available option is the referral program offered by ShopSocially. ShopSocially’s referral program allows you to leverage the passion of your students, converting it into a powerful word-of-mouth marketing mechanism for your institution. With ShopSocially’s referral program you can expect a marked increase in student enrolment and up to 15% increase in traffic to your official website.
What’s more, the referral program can be customized to suit your institution’s image and target market, and encourage engagement by offering relevant incentives. Central to the success of the program is the mobile friendly Refer-a-Friend app which can be embedded on your website, allowing for easy, one-click sharing on popular social media channels like email, Twitter and Facebook. The program also enables you to monitor engagement, conversions and referrals by delivering regular detailed reports and analytics.
2. Grow your email newsletter subscriber base:
Even with the prevalence of Twitter and Facebook, email remains a potent communication tool for disseminating news on a large scale. In order for it to function effectively though, you need to actively build and maintain a current subscriber base. The goal is to get your students and site visitors to share their email addresses and subscribe to your newsletters. This can be achieved by strategically placing a pop-up on your official website so that it gets maximum exposure and optimizes your ROI rate.
Take for instance ShopSocially’s Social Connect app. It leverages Facebook connect to acquire genuine email addresses and rich user profile data such as gender, birth dates, location, likes and more. Additionally, each Facebook connect is accompanied by a Facebook post which in turn grows your subscriber base virally. Furthermore, it encourages your website visitors to sign up as email subscribers.
With ShopSocially’s Social Connect app, you can expect to convert 2-5% of your website visitors into subscribers. And the flexible gamification option to earn appropriate incentives further motivates immediate action and has the capacity to increase your conversion rate by 5-7 times. These incentives can be tailored to suit your particular institution’s target market. ShopSocially’s Social Connect app also allows for personalized messages based on the user profile data you have garnered via Facebook connect.
3. Increase engagement on your institution’s website:
User engagement denotes active participation on behalf of your target market, in this case your current and future students, with your brand, in this case your institution. It has been hailed as one of the essential building blocks of successful brand awareness. And is a great platform for highlighting the culture, events and seminars that are unique to your institution.
Increased user engagement can be attained by motivating your students to share their photos of special events organized by your institution on social media, using a hashtag defined by you. Photos are a powerful visual endorsement of your institution’s brand. By showcasing them on your official website you can harness this power to increase conversion by up to 21% and engagement by up to 15%.
The Photomonials app from ShopSocially is one such program that enables you to convert your students’ selfies into sales. The app allows you to harvest photo testimonials using selected hashtags from Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and display them on your website. With ShopSocially’s Photomonials app you can assemble a gallery with a slider view option in less than two minutes. And most importantly, you can implement moderation criteria to reject or approve the photos you want to display.
As you can see, there are a number of powerful social commerce strategies that can be employed to expand your institution’s brand awareness not only locally but globally, and elevate it into the realm of elite educational centres.