Social Selling: How Higher Education institutions can leverage social selling

Earlier this week I attended a social selling workshop designed to help marketers and sales people adopt a social selling mindset and to arm us with techniques to sell effectively through social channels. The workshop was tremendously insightful and it really got me thinking about how social selling best-practices could easily be applied to higher education. 

Social selling isn’t about selling a product or service through social channels; instead it’s about developing relationships as part of the sales process. It’s highly unlikely that prospective students will decide what college or university they want to attend based solely on their experience online but research shows that it does form an integral part of their decision making process.

For higher education marketers social selling needs to ultimately be about increasing the number of quality students that apply for programs. So how do you get to this point and how exactly do you harness social media channels to increase conversions?

Social selling is about building your brand, developing a following and becoming a thought leader in your field. In order to do this, institutions need to create, share and promote content that offers value to their intended audience. Content should be considered as currency when it comes to social selling; it’s what you bring to the table in exchange for the chance to develop a hopefully long-lasting relationship with a potential student.

The Golden Rule of Content

Content should be original and above all valuable. Content should always have a purpose and a reason for being. Also great content is never salvaged from the dark and murky corners of the internet and reproduced as a dodgy counterfeit version. Content that is created from scratch with a unique perspective and with some genuine thought is what is going to win your audience over and help you along on your social selling journey.

Below I have listed 4 of the most important steps to help you build your winning social selling strategy:

Have a plan

It sounds obvious but before you can call yourself a social selling guru you need to have a plan of attack. What do you want to achieve? What are your KPIs? Do you want to increase student applications for a particular program? Knowing the end game and having measurable objectives will help you develop a strategy specific to you.


You have probably heard of social listening but are you doing it? Finding out what your audience is saying about you, your competing colleges and topics relating to higher education will increase your chances of creating content that suits their needs.

Interact with potential students and donors

Again this might seem like an obvious one the personal touch can be a powerful weapon in your social selling armor. A personalized email or even just replying to their query on social media can go a long way in winning trust!

Video content

Never underestimate the power of video marketing when it comes to social selling. Again, the rule when it comes to video is to ‘help not sell’. A video that is too salesy in tone won’t win you any favors. Remember instead, video content doesn’t have to promote anything. It’s about building trust and making connections.

Social selling isn’t a quick fix but rather a long-term strategy that if nurtured can be vastly rewarding for your institution. Have you adopted a social selling strategy in your institution? Let us know in the comments below.