How Student Influencers Can Impact Your Recruitment Strategy

Utilizing student influencers to boost recruitment strategies has become more widespread as schools opt to vacate campuses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With students and faculty shifting to online classrooms, higher education marketing teams are adapting and finding new recruitment strategies to increase their new student enrollment numbers.

Student Influencers Can Help Your Marketing Strategy

The key to this strategy is focused on a resource you already have in abundance – your students! 

Your current students and those who have graduated are some of the best marketing you could provide to new students, they can offer strong and compelling stories to tell about your institution.

Student influencers can impact your social media marketing strategy in the following ways:

Student Recruitment Strategies

Oftentimes the decision to enroll is influenced by interactions a prospective student has with other admitted/current students. Since newly accepted students often share their admissions on social media, focusing here is a great place to start.

Related Article: Why students are using social media to research schools. 

Encouraging your student influencers to share, while also engaging with them, is the best way to empower their social media usage. That means commenting, resharing/posting, and ensuring the students who do share get credit for their stories and images.

Sharing Success Stories 

Another way you can show your value to prospective students is by sharing success stories of both your current and graduate students across your social platforms and website. 

Testimonials of your best college influencers can help you showcase your school’s community and campus life. Prospective students can relate more to students around their age group, as they are more likely to interact with them on a day to day basis.

For example, the University of Oregon recently showcased prospective students Virtual Visits in their new student recruitment emails and on social media.

View this post on Instagram

Experience a recording of our Virtual Visit, designed for admitted students and their families. It includes a pre-show performance, a campus tour, a student panel, information about housing, academics, and next steps—and guest appearances from some well-known Ducks! See link in bio for more details. #oregonbound

A post shared by University of Oregon (@uoregon) on

Empower Your Current Students

You should always be encouraging the top college student influencers at your school to use a certain hashtag when they are posting content to social media.

Nowadays, college social media influencers have thousands of online followers attending your school. Give your best student influencers a hashtag to use so they can spread the word!

Hashtags will allow you to track what students are saying about your institution, good or bad, and are easily monitored using CRM and social tracking platforms. 

How to Find Social Media Influencers On Your Campus

Students who genuinely want to interact with your school are valuable partnerships to have when running awareness campaigns. Like any partnership, the best way to find influencers is by interacting with your student body. 

An example could be hosting on-campus events or giveaways that have specific social media qualifications in order to qualify. These can be as simple as commenting and liking the original post, using specific hashtags, or tagging a certain profile page in order to qualify.

These posts also fall under user-generated content, and it makes your life as a marketer much easier. You’ve got a huge team of students actively gathering the best photos and experiences across campus—and all you have to do is encourage them!

Run Experiments With Hashtags 

For tracking purposes using a hashtag is a helpful way to categorize your posts. You can feature aspects like your school mascot, examples of student life, different events on campus, or interviews with current students to make it more engaging. For example, see what the University of Kansas does below:

View this post on Instagram

This year, the Integrated Science Building will don a new name, one that honors the vision and leadership of the very person who made it a reality – Chancellor Emerita Bernadette Gray-Little. Link in bio!⁠⠀ .⁠⠀ .⁠⠀ .⁠⠀ .⁠⠀ #RockChalk⁠⠀ #exploreKU⁠⠀ #BeAJayhawk⁠⠀ #highered⁠⠀ #STEM⁠⠀ #scientists⁠⠀ #scienceiscool⁠⠀

A post shared by The University of Kansas (@universityofkansas) on

Specific activities are even better for hashtags like graduation, homecoming, orientation, finals week, or any event happening campus-wide. 

Do remember that using more than one hashtag could confuse your target audience. Be consistent when applying hashtags on your social feeds so students know which hashtags to follow.

Connecting with Alumni and Growing Your Alumni Base

Once a student graduates you shouldn’t lose all contact with them. Building a strong alumni network means going beyond asking them for money, you need to come up with creative ways to keep them engaged as an influencer.

Alumni can share their experiences and post-graduate successes to influence prospective new students. This is something that Ohio State University does very well with its Alumni Outcomes series.

These types of videos serve a few different purposes:

Alternatively, you can also have past alumni hold their own events to interact with students interested in learning about your school’s culture.

Utilizing Virtual Meeting Platforms

Gonzaga University has recently started utilizing platforms like Zoom to connect with students from home because of COVID-19. This is a creative way of connecting with the community while still teaching them about Gonzaga University.

It’s also noteworthy that you can track these types of campaigns with community hashtags like, “#KeepCalmZagOn” and “UnitedWeZag”, and you can share these meetings digitally to those who weren’t able to make the event.


Turning your students and alumni into influencers requires patience and an understanding of your student body.

Schools that are active in showcasing their community, whether it be campus life, on-campus activities, or success stories from current or former students will have a greater appeal to applicants heading into the recruitment season.

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