Q. How can universities genuinely engage with prospective students digitally?
A digital presence is expected of universities but using technology to truly engage with prospective students is what leading institutions are now focusing on.
Almost all universities have some sort of online engagement tool, from basic chat widgets and virtual tours, to systems like our sophisticated iVent platform, which enables greater interaction via a range of options including course and faculty booths, networking areas, resource centres and a live auditorium for delivering presentations and sample lectures. But the key to ensuring genuine engagement is delivering powerful content that is relevant and that facilitates ongoing interaction.
Savvy universities are using technology to create targeted and personalised virtual events to showcase the university and student life. For example, instead of just delivering an event on a single day to only those people able to physically attend, technology allows institutions to run subject- and course-specific live chat discussions with students from across the world on any given day.
Maintaining the dialogue with subsequent mini-themed events, for example, engaging lucrative international students with events to help them apply for visas, source tuition funding and investigate accommodation options without leaving home, is an invaluable use of an online resource.
Facilitating an ongoing dialogue allows universities to develop a relationship with prospective students. Unlimited virtual sessions and responsive social media feeds enable universities to generate or join topical online discussions at a moment’s notice. The result is that students feel more in tune with the university, helping them reach a more informed decision about applying for a place. This ongoing interaction also helps the university to encourage offer holders into taking their places later down the line.
Finally, universities should keep in mind that before any student makes their final selection choices, both the students and their parents will want a full experience of what a university has to offer. A digital strategy should truly enable this, ideally through an integrated campaign comprising a dedicated social media channel and a series of highly personalised and relevant virtual events, which can be accessed at any time and from any place!