Army of tweeting students, alumni and staff to increase enrollment

Written by on January 9th, 2010

H&R Block provides example college admissions can adopt!

 The headline of this blog today was inspired by an article in Advertising Age written by Beth Snyder Bulik.

H&R Block as you know, prepares tax statements for millions of customers.  It’s a very seasonal business – but its big business!  There are nearly 13,000 retail shops around the country and the company has 100,000 employees.

H&R started to notice that behaviors of consumers were changing last year when they recognized that out of the 95 million tax returns that were filed electronically, nearly 1/3 of them were from home computers.  They realized they needed to offer a home computer tax program to not only build their brand, but offer a bridge to their retail shops.

To market their program they decided to incorporate both traditional advertising and social media marketing.  Their goal was to use social media to educate customers, answer questions, build brand awareness and leverage the conversations that develop into visits to their corporate page where the visitor could select a retail shop to help them prepare their taxes or purchase their software.

To accomplish that, H&R built a 1,000 employees social media army!   They provided this team an overview of their strategy, what they wanted to accomplish, outlined their goals and offered basic training on social media.  According to Bulik:

The social-media strategy includes a Twitter account, widgets, blogs, a YouTube channel and a Facebook fan page and apps — a recent one in the form of a quiz asks, “How deductible are you?”

Why did they do that?

If the average person on Twitter has 100 friends, 1,000 employees have an opportunity to reach not only 1,000,000 people but their tweets have the ability to reach the 100 people that each of the people they know are connected to.   That’s a big number!   And they don’t have to pay a marketing, PR or advertising channel to reach them.

This army could be on any of their social networks and respond when:

  • Someone mentions they have to do their taxes
  • A tax question is asked
  • Someone is interested in finding a place that provides loans based on taxes due to the person
  • Someone is looking for a person to do their tax
  • Someone shares an issue they have had with the IRS

While Social Media monitoring software catches this information, it’s people that respond.  Because even in this new online world, “people still do business with people”.

So how would your company unleash an army of Social Media?   Let’s take a look at this from the college recruitment angle.

Admissions offices could do the same thing.

Think about it, a college has thousands of students, tens of thousands of alumni (if not hundreds of thousands) and dozens of staff  that could form the core of the Social Media team.  This army of people could be create a variety of content in audio, video, text and or photographs to build the college brand, engage prospective students and maintain mindshare of prospective students.

  • Students could be sharing information about events, activities and courses.
  • Alumni could share experiences, career advice.
  • Faculty could offer min courses, answer questions.
  • Prospective students could be talking about their visits, sharing research and students, alumni and faculty they are meeting.

And of course all could be engaging prospective students in dialogue.

Why does this make sense? 

  1. It’s cheap! It’s repeatable and once you’ve built the system it runs by itself.
  2. Everyone I just mentioned has a vested interest in seeing the college succeed.
  3. This Social Media team represents authentic voices that prospective students will believe.

Experts today remind us that you no longer have control of your brand

Your brand exists in the people we’ve listed above.  Prospective students no longer pay attention to the “slogans and phrases” colleges work so hard to create and market. Students today pay just as much or more attention to what people they know say about the college.

So what are the steps to implement a social media strategy within a college admissions office?

We’ll cover that in upcoming blog articles.  ? leave a comment or call 800-805-9413.

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