When you run a blog about the digital side of higher education, it's easy to think that you might one day run out of new ideas to write about. But, here we are, years later still writing about new and exciting ways to recruit and engage students through digital marketing and technology. In fact, one of the main reasons we write this blog is to help our clients find easier ways to do their job.
We know clearing is behind us and students across the UK and Ireland now have their boxes unpacked and are now navigating how to survive on noodles and make it on time to nine am lectures. But we couldn’t not mention, this simple idea from DeMontfort University.
Universities have taken note of the fact that students are a digitally savvy bunch. They’ve moved away from phone calls and emails towards chat and text functions. They’ve also realized that clearing can be a daunting experience for many students and picking up the phone could be an unnecessary obstacle.
With this in mind, DeMontfort University decided to use WhatsApp Messaging to make offers to students. This allowed students from around the world to contact DMU, where a team of staff were on hand to give information, advice and guidance on securing a place through clearing.
They’re not the first university to get creative with their clearing communications. Southampton Solent University and Staffordshire University both used Instagram and snapchat to make offers to students this year. Staff at Southampton Solent were encouraged to use emojis and send selfies to congratulate students who were accepted through clearing.
This is such a simple idea but it is one that could make a real impact on application numbers while also improving a student’s clearing experience.
It also begs the question, in what other ways could WhatsApp be used for universities?
One of the main benefits of instant messaging tools like WhatsApp is they’re instant. Instant messages are typically read within 90 seconds of being sent. This gives your university the chance to communicate with students in real time – this is especially useful when dealing with events that are time sensitive. You could use WhatsApp to send out reminders about application deadlines, open days or upcoming events. WhatsApp also has a web based service which allows you to access your dedicated number through an internet browser, making it easier to use for large scale messaging.
Another function that’s useful for universities is the ability to create specific groups meaning you can carefully segment your audience and decide what personalized messages to send.
Is your university using WhatsApp? We would love to know just how inventive you are!