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Blog5 Tips for Using Social Media for College Recruiting and Admissions

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Social media Snapchat filter for Kirkwood College.

5 Tips for Using Social Media for College Recruiting and Admissions

With student enrollment in higher education institutions remaining flat, successfully connecting with teen and young adult audiences is more important than ever for college recruiting and admissions. Social media remains a key factor in reaching these potential students where they are.

We know that social media trends last about as long as a dinner rush in the dining hall, but capitalizing on those trends is a way to make this content serve you and your goals. When done well, it can catapult engagement with potential students and showcase your college’s smart approach to the world at large. If your college could use a boost in this area, we have five social media marketing tips to help.

AMPERAGE Social Media Marketing Tips:

Higher Education audience social media usage. Chart shows that 95% of teens are using YouTube, 67% use TikTok, 62% use Instagram, 59% use Snapchat.1. Choose the right social media platforms.

Short answer: You want to be on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat. A Pew Research Center study found these platforms are currently tops with your audience by a wide margin:

  • 95% of teens are using YouTube
  • 67% use TikTok
  • 62% use Instagram
  • 59% use Snapchat

Facebook isn’t by any means dead to young people, but Pew found it has a much smaller share of the teen audience than it used to (32% vs. 71%). College recruitment teams may find that Facebook is a better way to reach parents of potential students.

2.  Put user-generated content to work for you.

Monitor the college’s hashtags and mentions on social media, and share the posts that strategically help tell your story. Share the wins, successes and joys of current students, faculty, staff, alumni and visitors.

Show potential students the wonderful experience to be had at your institute of higher education. These posts serve as freely given, authentic testimonials, and they are powerful motivators.

3. Embed social media throughout your recruitment and admissions process.

Plan for social media throughout the recruitment and admissions funnel. Make it a regular, consistent part of what you do.

Some examples:

  • Create a hashtag for campus visits and encourage potential students and their families to use it while on campus.
  • While giving potential students a campus tour, point out all the best spots for photos — and remind them of the visit hashtag.
  • Acceptance letters get posted to social media often. Provide a hashtag in the admissions packet just for those.
  • Then monitor, collect and share the best of these posts. (See Tip No. 2.)

Social media Snapchat filter for Kirkwood College.4. Create a virtual video tour.

Video is an incredibly effective marketing tool. In fact, according to, viewers actually retain more of a video message (95% vs. 10% text). The same research found 50% of social media users prefer video over other types of content, especially short-form video.

Remember, Tip No. 1 encourages colleges to use YouTube, TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat to reach potential students. All of those platforms are video or video-friendly channels. And you can use cutdowns of a longer video tour as short-form social teasers that drive traffic to the full tour on your website.

5. Let a student take over for a day.

Before you give students the keys to your social accounts, do your planning, explore best practices from other colleges’ experiences and set firm guardrails. Your student workers in admissions could be good candidates for this role. In addition, pairing an adult guide with the student is one way to ensure the day is successful. And when the takeover ends, change the password.

A student takeover of social media can be a great piece of day-in-the-life storytelling. Behavioral science teaches us that people respond to social proof from people like them. So an enthusiastic student showing what their day is like can build a good connection with a potential student who may be wondering if the college is right for them.

With these strategies and tactics from AMPERAGE higher ed marketing specialists, organic social media can be an invaluable tool in your recruiting and admissions toolbox.

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Written by:

Rachael is a relationship builder, a keen listener and a strategic thinker with a proven track record of driving business growth. Here is how one client described Rachael. "She is smart, respectful, and listens to our direction and ideas. She uses her expertise to enhance plans by drawing on her knowledge and experience and communicating our vision to the rest of the AMPERAGE team." With an extensive background in higher education business development as well as earning her MBA, Rachael utilizes her growth mindset to formulate and implement growth strategies that drive expansion. She also oversees and optimizes marketing strategies for enhanced brand visibility. She has worked with many clients but has worked most closely with the Eastern Iowa Airport - CID, Kirkwood Community College, Cowley College, Southeastern Community College, Heartland Express and Iowa Health+. She has also presented at numerous conferences, including the National Council for Marketing & Public Relations (NCMPR), The Way Up and UNI PRSSA. Rachael is also a community leader including volunteering for the United Way, serving on the board for the Iowa Giving Crew and fundraising as part of the Leadership for Five Seasons class of 2023. Her role on the local Executive Leadership Team for the American Heart Association in Linn County grew out of personal experience. According to Rachael, "My mother survived a stroke 15 years ago, so I naturally became passionate about fundraising and educating communities about warning signs/symptoms of stroke and heart disease in women." Because of these kinds of personal passions, philanthropy and nonprofit work have become hallmarks of AMPERAGE's work and volunteerism. If you want a sample of Rachael’s thinking, click on the AMPERAGE Marketing AMPcast or an AMP Blog.