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Enrollment Insights Blog

Social Media for College Search in 2022

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This was the seventh year for the annual Niche Senior Enrollment Survey (releasing 9/6). We received responses from 21,866 students about their college search and decision-making process, as well as what social networks they used to view college accounts. The survey was sent to seniors who had registered a profile on the Niche platform, available on the site for unregistered users, and findable from searches. The survey was open from April 15 to June 12, 2022 to allow students time after the May 1 deadline that some institutions use.

Student Usage of Social Media for College Search

  • 76% of students reported that they viewed college accounts on a social network, up slightly from 73% in 2021.
  • Only one network increased in usage for college search: Instagram moved from 62% to 65% of students saying that they used it to view college accounts. 
  • YouTube saw the largest decline with 15 percentage points to 25% of students using it to view colleges. It was still the second most used platform.
  • Only 20% of students reported using TikTok to view college content, the same amount as Facebook.
  • Three private networks were included in the survey: Raftr, Wisr, and ZeeMee. Less than 1% of students reported using Raftr or Wisr, and 8% said that they used ZeeMee.
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Using Social Media Strategically to Recruit

  • Just because a student is on a platform does not mean that they want to view a college there. They are still looking for college advice and information, but from students and others rather than from official college accounts. 
  • Resources are thin, so investing in a strong and engaging Instagram account should be the top priority with other networks if time allows.
  • Student voices are critical to success. In addition to framing posts and valuable updates and information around student stories and reviews there should be easy to find ambassador profiles organically sharing their experiences on campus.
  • Students are most concerned about affordability, being socially and emotionally prepared for college, and making friends. All of these are ideal to highlight with student stories and content on social media. Reels and posts about finding connections, fitting it, and mental health services would fit well into Instagram’s format. Videos can be used across platforms and on YouTube. Don’t just say it, show it.
  • YouTube and Tiktok are used as search engines by students. While they might not always go to your official accounts for content, they will certainly search for terms important to them. Experiment with content creation as you would doing keyword research for SEO work. You also don’t have to do it all yourself; ambassadors may be better able to connect to prospective students with content that speaks to them.
  • The most common causes of anxiety are affordability, social/emotional preparation, and being able to fit in and make friends. These can all make great visual content to speak to students and solve problems for them before they ever have to speak up. Making students feel welcome and comfortable with support on campus can help in both yield and initial interest.
  • The most important campus features to students are safety, diversity (both students and faculty/staff), and arts or cultural opportunities. While the content doesn’t always have to speak to these head-on, think about how messages are framed and who is shown in your photos and videos.
Prior to coming to Niche in 2019 Will served 9 years at Manchester University in roles as an Admissions Counselor, Associate Director for Admissions Operations, Social Media Coordinator, and ultimately as Digital Strategist. Will surfaces tactical insights from user behavior and surveys to help higher ed build recruitment strategies. In addition to the Enrollment Insights blog, webinars, and podcast; Will is a frequent conference speaker and podcast guest. He has presented at NACAC, AACRAO-SEM, AMA Higher Ed, CASE V, EduWeb, and EMA. Will's work has been featured in Forbes, Inside Higher Ed, CNBC, CNN, the LA Times, and The New York Times among other outlets.