Specifics of VKontakte for Higher Ed Marketing
This is the second part of our interview with Tatiana and Yana, marketing specialist in Higher Education. Yana will tell us more about VKontakte, it’s trends and how it’s better to promote your institution.
VKontakte is the largest social network for reaching users in Russia. In the second place in use are Kazakhstan, Central Asia and Belarus.
Vkontakte community management of a foreign university is a very good brand promotion strategy in the Russian market and also a great opportunity to form a favorable attitude towards potential students. Today, it is important for young people to constantly have their favourite brand in their lives, especially if it is a foreign brand.
Why? When a student sees that the university is actively developing, uploads useful information, publishes videos and photos in the community, his loyalty to the university grows. Moreover - an important point - the student begins communication with the university through comments, reposts, messages in the group.
What content do users prefer? What are the trends?
Yana: First, the university must determine the audience pain. This can be done by answering several questions: What do people who read the content need? What do they want to see? What problems do they have and how can the community help solve them?
When the university focuses on this, the reaction and participation of users will be much more active than simply copying their posts from other social networks. Therefore, in our work, we try to immediately respond to messages from students, prepare development of university marketing strategies and a media plan in accordance with the needs and unresolved problems of the audience.
Students are always interested in the practical side of interaction with the university. They want to know what kind of university it is, what programs it has, what their duration and cost are. The process of admission at different universities is very different from each other, so the task is to clearly explain and show all the stages: submitting documents, rules for admission, the timing of these stages, inform about the availability of scholarships and the possibility of obtaining grants. The basic need of students is the most useful practical content that should be presented in a very simple and interesting form as much as possible.
Another area is the university’s interactive content. At that moment, when the student already has a small idea of what kind of educational institution it is, how much education costs here and decided to consider this option, he becomes curious in more detail what the university has to offer. And at this stage it is necessary to provide the most colorful information about the campus itself, current events, people. Visual content comes into play: videos, reviews, short films about the university, its photos, stories about it, its history. All this should help the student feel comfortable and get an unforgettable experience of student life abroad.
The third area is the entertainment aspect. Many VKontakte communities are moving from educational content to entertainment. And universities must integrate into this global trend. It is important to keep a balance between serious entry texts and fun posts. It can be humor, funny stories or videos. The most important thing here is the consistency and careful selection of content.
Another trendy feature is creating polls. VKontakte has updated the polls interface and communities are trying to find out the audience’s opinion on a specific issue in order to understand what their readers really think. This is a great feedback tool.
The recent trend is live broadcasts. An administrator or other person can connect and start broadcasting on a specific topic. If the audience is active and the community is highly developed, then the reaction to the broadcast can be very powerful.
Work with statistics
Yana: An important rule of working in social networks is to constantly monitor statistics. Working with it should be a habit. A review of all indicators should be analyzed daily, as well as for every 7 or 10 days, in order to conduct a more detailed screening. As a reporting period, it is better to take a length of a month. This is optimal, as VKontakte statistics are updated once a month. All statistics are important for higher education marketing because you need to know why there is a growth or decline in users, and conduct a continuous improvement process.
The main elements of statistics to look at:
- Growth of subscribers. You need to understand whether or not there is profit and for what reason.
- Number of reviews in the form of likes, comments and reposts; they became important with the advent of smart news feeds.
- Audience reach. How many people are viewing your posts in the feed.
- The number of unique users (that is, non-repeating visitors to the resource) who enter the community. This forms traffic: what is the number of unique visitors per month and per day and whether this number is decreasing or growing.
- Socio-demographic statistics. Allows you to understand what kind of audience you have. Content is important to adapt to the age and gender of the audience.
- Geography. This knowledge will help focus on the right content. For example, by looking at which cities users come from, you can use this for targeted advertising. Or, if you decide to hold a meeting, it will be clear where to organize it.
- Devices: computer or smartphone. Further, you can track narrower indicators, such as browser types or phone models.
The main ways to promote in VKontakte
Yana: We need to use an integrated approach, carefully develop development strategies and maximize advertising formats.
The first option is targeted advertising on VKontakte. Based on the collected statistics, you can configure targeted advertising through a separate department of VKontakte. Advertising is created with a call to action, with attractive content and with all the necessary buttons, links and a subscription. The format can be any: banner, longride, a series of photos. The more options are used, the better.
The second option is promotion through the exchange. This is a post in other communities. It’s important to understand in which communities you can find the right audience and publish messages on their behalf through the stock exchange in order to attract new subscribers and increase brand awareness.
The third strategy is partnership, for example, barter. If the promoted university has connections with some other communities, then try to make the most of it. Also, don’t forget to establish contacts with potentially interesting communities and keep in touch with their administrators. In the future, they can repost or publish on their platform, perhaps for free or on the basis of partnership or other types of agreements.
In general, it is important to strive for staying natural and viral. The more interesting the content, the more people go to the page and subscribe and share, because they want to become part of this community.
Regardless of how well the advertising is done or how productive partnerships are, a person won’t join the community if he does not see fresh content or the main idea does not attract him. For this reason, it is important to think carefully about the content, media plan and then think about the rest.