When the school year ends and the weather heats up, students across the country look forward to backyard barbecues, family vacations and sleeping way past noon during their summer break. For many, summer is all about fun in the sun and spending time with family and friends. But for today’s high school students and their parents, the summer before senior year becomes all about the college application process.
Ample free time in the three months off from school allows rising seniors to put more time and energy into gathering information about their prospective higher education goals, and now, more than ever, much of the college research process occurs via digital media.
According to a Pew Research study, 95% of teens (between the ages of 13 and 18 years old) are digital media users, many of which are on Facebook and Twitter. New data on the digital media habits of students from Genius Recruiter suggests that 72% of students followed or liked a prospective university’s Twitter feed or Facebook page and 97% visited the university’s website. The five most viewed features on a school’s website or digital media platform: majors and minors, photos of the campus, curriculum details, residence life and class information. The study also showed that YouTube is one of the top three digital media channels used in the college research process.
Now, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube (among others) offer native advertisements in the form of promoted posts, tweets, trends and video clips to advertise to what they call “tailored audiences.” These posts are targeted to users based on their interests and activities, and using data acquired from their conversations, profiles and behavior. The digital media users are the ones being sold, without even knowing it – reminding us of the old adage that nothing in life is really free. Digital media companies sell advertisers demographic information and browser data to show users ads that directly relate to the sites they've recently visited – in this case, universities.
Two-thirds of students say digital media engagement influences their college decisions. So, in order for universities to compete for prospective students’ attention, they have to play the marketing game the modern way. It is almost a prerequisite for higher ed. institutions to have a digital media presence and for their information to be a “like” or re-tweet (RT) away.
[For more information on higher education and its advertising possibilities, contact Jacki Friedman here at Furman Roth Advertising.]