Colleges are now better able to engage past, current and prospective students through new social video trends like Vine and Instagram. Vine is a mobile application that gives users the capacity to create and share six-second looping video clips. Released in January 2013 and operated by Twitter, maven of micro—social media sharing, Vine “inspires creativity” through “the brevity of videos,” according to Twitter’s official blog post about the release. The new platform application occupies the gap in mobile apps between YouTube and Instagram, as a snapshot of sorts in video form.
Instagram is a nearly three-year-old app and site that acts as a one-stop shop for photo uploading, allowing users to capture and share images with the option of adding different editing filters. Not to be outdone, Instagram started letting users share 15-second videos in June, just a few months after Vine’s kickoff.
Many colleges use these and other social media outlets for managing their public relations face as well as recruiting tools for prospective students. With the developing social video trend, universities find themselves in a race to be the savviest competitor for youths increasingly inundated with technology.
As Colin Huber, writer and social media coordinator at Oregon State University, puts it, “When new platforms come out with social media, if it’s something that you think could be of use, it’s important to be one of the first ones on there.” About 40 schools are already using Vine to interact with students, alumni and prospective students, building an impressive array of brief shots of well-known campus buildings and activities.
Now students, too, are seeing the benefits of advertising themselves on social media, using new tools to showcase their talents, skills and even teacher recommendations. However, officials also have some advice: As always, be careful of what other content is on your public profile if you want to reach out to a school (or any institution, for that matter) via social media. Your old videos could show the college something they don’t want to see in a prospective student. Use hashtags used by the college and its students, not only to catch their attention, but also to keep up with current affairs. Finally, don’t call attention to a video that isn’t your best work.
Prospective students and colleges are learning to use social media tools in many innovative ways to produce exciting, compelling videos or images that market their best features. College officials are just as excited as students about the many possibilities for social media platforms, which are being explored every day.
Did You Know?
What do Princeton, Harvard and Yale have in common? Sure, they are all Ivy League universities, and they also grace the top three slots for best national universities based on a 2013 report by U.S. News & World Report. But beyond that, all three universities have their own Instagram and Twitter accounts. Instagram, being a newer technology, has data in the hundreds for number of posts and thousands for followers of each school. Princeton is at the middle of the pack as far as number of posts go, with substantially more posts than Harvard but less followers; Harvard has less posts than Princeton but many more followers; and Yale leads the way with more posts and more followers than both its rivals. However, when it comes to Twitter, Harvard blows their competition out of the water. The @Harvard account boasts that the university has tens of thousands of tweets and hundreds of thousands of followers. @Yale comes in second with number of tweets approaching ten thousand and number of followers close to a hundred thousand; and @Princeton trails close behind with tweets nearing ten thousand and number of followers between fifty thousand and a hundred thousand. But what does this mean for their students? Yale is constantly tweeting out information on campus upgrades and events, while Harvard leans on discussions about research and relevant news; Princeton is more of a combination of both. At the same time, students are utilizing their own accounts to get attention from the universities. One potential student added the @Princeton tag to a tweet that mentioned being nervous about applying to Princeton. The Princeton account replied with a link to the Undergraduate Admission page, which is full of information for new and incoming students. These types of interactions are becoming more and more popular and will only continue to increase as schools dive further into their social media accounts.