As the cost of higher education continues to increase, prospective college students and their families have become extremely selective in their decision-making process. So how did Rowan University do it when we were tasked to use social media and a shoestring budget to increase undergraduate prospective students leads by five percent?
On January 1, 2014, we released our #RowanPROUD social media campaign and finalized website with built-in application functionality. The campaign aimed to digitize pride, increase undergraduate prospective student leads, and engage current students, alumni, faculty and staff, family and friends in a two-way conversation.
To build momentum, we first launched the #RowanPROUD website and began using the #RowanPROUD hashtag across our social media platforms to provide our audiences with a way to both submit and read uncensored testimonials about the Rowan experience. Historically, the campus community was not actively sought out for its level of pride. However, using a combination of t-shirt giveaways, email campaigns, in-store promotions, Twitter-a-Thons and a strong interactive use of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using the #RowanPROUD hashtag, and some great prize incentives, they now had the opportunity to associate themselves with a positive movement on-campus. Whether it was students expressing their decision to attend Rowan, alumni reflecting on how Rowan impacted their careers, or faculty members talking about how Rowan has weaved within several generations of their family, we were able to cultivate a strong sense of community across campus and beyond.
The #RowanPROUD campaign surpassed its core goal and many other related and unexpected objectives. Since launching the campaign, our constituencies engaged in the #RowanPROUD conversation in groundbreaking numbers.
Not only did validated undergraduate admissions leads increase 25% from the previous year, Rowan's overall site visit acquisition from a social network increased by 70%. The website saw over 80 submissions and 1,400+ votes with overall unique sub-website visits totaling over 17,000. Almost 80 applications to attend Rowan were submitted from click-throughs from the #RowanPROUD campaign to the undergraduate application page. Not to mention, all of this was achieved under budget.
Additionally, by positioning the University as more responsive and accessible to our audiences' needs, we imparted a sense of transparency and trust, enriching our campus community. We were able to extend the reach of our message and spread brand awareness without additional incurred costs by capitalizing on the viral nature of social media and promoting visits to the site by those who may not have known about the University otherwise.
Finally, by creating this online community of Rowan's proudest students, alumni, faculty, staff, families and friends, we were able to open a new window for prospective students that wasn't accessible by simply reviewing a brochure or speaking with an admissions counselor. Rather, we were providing them with uncensored pride points to aid in their decision-making.