Use Digital Signage for Student Recruitment
It’s important for universities and colleges to attract students who will not only thrive in the environment provided, but who will also go on to enhance their school’s reputation. As such, you spend a lot of efforts on outreach and marketing. Through a variety of channels, you’ve enticed various prospects to come to the campus and see what it’s like on the ground. Now you can use your school’s digital signage to really show off your campus and give your institution an edge over the competition. (After all, you’re already doing it for your current students.)
Today’s undergraduates are the children of millennials – Generation Z. They are extremely tech-savvy, having grown up with the internet, smartphones, social media and all the elements that make Web 2.0 the Participatory Web (or Social Web). They routinely get information of all kinds using digital devices, and multitask as a matter of course. They are the most diverse generation ever, with very open and fluid ideas as to what constitutes identity (ethnically, economically, gender, etc.). They are also highly socially responsible and demand the same from the institutions in their lives.
If you want them to choose you, you need to show them that you are in sync with the way they view things, and can give them what they want in the way they want it. Get them interested and engaged the very first time they step foot on campus, and there’s a good chance your institution will become theirs. Digital signage is a great modern communications tool to add to your student recruitment strategy to show off what you have to offer.
Who We Are
What is it that makes your school different? Create a narrative through concise, linked digital signage messages that tells the story of what’s on offer. What are your mission and values? Do you have award-winning departments and faculty? Are there online learning, MOOCs or blended learning programs? Do you have study abroad programs? Show these off on screens.
And don’t be afraid to be yourself – bland corporatized language will not appeal to this age group. Try some personality and humor, while also conveying useful information and exciting opportunities. You want prospects to see your messages and think there are unlimited possibilities available to them. Get across an impression of what it might be like to study at this campus on a day-to-day basis. And be sure to highlight daily communications on the screens, so they see that they’ll have access to information on a regular basis.
When it comes to imagery, try to use pictures of actual students at your facility. Generation Z doesn’t respond well to stale clichés and stock imagery (which they will probably recognize from websites and advertising). But make sure your images are high quality – low-res or pixelated pictures will give the impression that you are either inept when it comes to tech, or so out of touch with the modern world that you don’t see a problem.
Data visualizations and graphs can be a great way to get across information in a way that’s fast to process and visually appealing. If your school outperforms competitors or ranks higher than the national average in certain categories (graduate employment, international student mix, etc.), show that using comparative stats in dynamic visuals.
Highlight noteworthy faculty, both past and present – but especially present. These are people the students will actually get to talk with and learn from. Tout their awards and achievements to excite prospective students and their parents.
We Welcome You
In the lobby, start with welcome messages to specific prospects or groups when they visit your facility – and make sure to tailor it to each visitor. They’ll appreciate that someone took the time to learn who they are.
Let them know that you know who they are and what’s important to them. Their priorities are also your priorities. Show your recycling initiatives, opportunities for volunteerism and charity work, donations the school makes to the community and worthy causes. You can also display energy dashboards on digital signs to show your conservation efforts in real time.
Show them potential futures. Spotlight successful alumni and students currently enrolled who have achieved recognition in their fields. This can be very inspiring to prospects, as they see what people have done there and they think “I can do that.” Show off internships, career services, research and leadership opportunities to communicate not just what’s happening now, but a vision of the future that they can aspire to.
Dialogue is very important to this generation – they don’t appreciate top-down communications, but expect to have a say in things. Having a consistent feedback system in place is sure to impress. Showing messages with a friendly URL or QR code to submit suggestions regularly in your digital signage playlist helps create a culture of two-way communication and gets across that your institution cares about what students have to say.
According to a survey from Ellucian, nearly nine in 10 college students (87%) said it was important to them that the institutions they applied for were technologically savvy. Advertise your school app, social networks and collaboration platforms. Highlight hardware and software available to them on site, BYOD policies, digital literacy, digital equity and other tech topics so they know your campus embraces the digital age and is constantly evolving to meet trends and expectations.
When prospective students come to visit, consider using your digital signs to create a fun scavenger hunt that helps orient potential newcomers to the campus, as well as meet current and prospective students. You can also highlight support organizations, housing options, meal plans, scholarships, financial aid, and other topics likely to be on the minds of new students and parents.
Your digital signage system not only shows off the advantages of your school – it’s an advantage in itself. It shows prospective students that you have a modern, dynamic communications strategy in place. Be sure to point out how you’re using your screens to enhance campus life and the student experience.
Touchscreens with interactive wayfinding maps and directories make getting around campus easy and efficient. You can include a QR code on screens so students can download the design to their phones, taking it with them for turn-by-turn directions to wherever they need to go.
Near cafés, food trucks and other dining services areas, menu boards can display current specials and menus, nutritional information, and even integrate with a web-based ordering system so people can choose what they want at the screen and then go pick it up when their order is ready, reducing queuing times and congestion.
Libraries can have digital signs that display policies and procedures, new titles and available work stations. Combining with various systems can also allow interactive screens to reserve computers and even check out books right at the sign itself.
Your bookstore can advertise books, branded gear and supplies. You can even include a special coupon code on screens, or ask students to snap a photo of an item on screen to claim a discount – adding a little gamification to your promotions.
Highlight your campus athletics with team and player bios, game schedules, current standings, past achievements, recruitment incentives, gear and more promoted on digital signs. Add wayfinding to make navigating the stadium easy, and even stream away games on your screens.
If your campus has shuttles or students use local public transportation to get around, placing digital signs in lobbies near exits showing current schedules and real-time route info allows them to wait safely inside out of the weather. You can also show local traffic routes and statuses for commuters.
Be sure to brief prospective students and their parents on all the ways you work to keep students healthy and safe. Show health and wellness tips and highlight your campus wellness facilities. As part of your campus safety plan, your digital signage system’s alert mode lets you override scheduled messages on the entire system or on specific screens in the event of an emergency. You can also use your screens to promote safety by showing policies and tips, and providing emergency contact info.
By using your digital signage for student recruitment in a truly integrated way, touching on all aspects of campus life, you’ll show prospective students that yours is a forward-thinking institution that values the benefits of technology and understands the times we live in.
For a young person about to embark on one of the greatest adventures of their life, you can get them excited to start. Use your screens to engage them with a vision of their future, and all of the ways you can help them get there.