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Social media marketing: Show your true colors to MBA prospects

We call it “social” media, but make no mistake.  It’s business.  And that’s certainly the case for 87% of Fortune 100 companies who use social media to engage with customers.

An essential part of an inbound marketing strategy, social media enables marketers to attract prospects where they are online.  And for potential MBA students, that means on top social media sites.

In fact, 83% of 18-29 year olds and 77% of 30-49 year olds are actively using social networking sites, according to statistics from Pew Research.

While these numbers demonstrate that social media is a “must have” for business schools today, the challenge is crafting persuasive content to propel prospects further along in the buying cycle.  In other words, how can you establish an emotional connection through social media messaging to influence a purchasing decision?

As part of your business school social media strategy, it’s also important to think about what emotional signals are being sent through your social media branding.  Remember, prospective students who have opted-in to your social media channels are seeing your brand all the time (we hope) whenever they read their Facebook or Twitter feed.  What message are you sending over and over again (reinforcing)?

I recently came across an intriguing article on how colors effect purchasing decisions that UNC Kenan-Flager posted on Facebook.  In the article, the author mentions that 90% of an assessment for trying out a product is made by color alone and shows how different colors send different emotional signals.

This cool infographic from the article illustrates the point by mapping out the logos of prominent companies by color.  Look at what emotional triggers are being conveyed by each logo.

blog branding color guide

It got us thinking about how the infographic would look with business school brands instead of corporate logos, so we created an identical template and populated it with business school brands found on Facebook.  (For multi-colored logos we picked one of the colors).

Here’s the “business school” version.

blog branding color guide MBA

Of note, it didn’t take long to fill up the blue column and there were many more logos that we could have added if we had more room.  Likewise, the red column filled up very quickly and we had plenty of red logos left over.  Clearly, many business schools are sending out emotional messages of excitement (red) and trust (blue) as you would expect.

With our colorful rainbow in mind, here are some things to think about to strengthen your social media presence to attract more MBA candidates.

1) Look at Your Social Media Branding from a Prospect’s Perspective

Think about how your b-school logo stands out, say, on a Facebook or Twitter feed as a thumbnail.  Bright logos, like red ones, are eye-catching as readers scroll down their screens, but what if your brand’s colors are more subtle?  To draw attention to your posts, consider adding bright images in your posts to capture attention.

2) Know That You’re Not Their Only Friend

If a MBA prospective student has connected with your school on Facebook, chances are they have “friended” your competitors as well.  How do your colors in your social media branding compare?  Identify ways to make it stand out.

3) Segment Your Social Media

Each MBA program attracts a different audience.  Make sure the emotional signals that you are sending through your social media branding are speaking to your distinct audiences.  For example, you may want to have separate social media branding for each of your MBA programs.  The messages you are sending to experienced executive MBA prospects are different than to less-experienced full-time MBA candidates.

4) Color Your Social Media Content 

Craft messaging to support your brand’s color emotions.  For example, green is associated with growth so include posts that show how students and alums achieved personal and professional growth.  If your brand is orange, use stories to show how students boosted their confidence as a result of your MBA program.  If it is grey, play on words to show how a part-time or executive MBA program helps students achieve balance with work, study, and personal commitments.

Above all, post frequently.  Get your brand out there again and again in front of prospects where they congregate online.  From a prospect’s perspective, think how it looks when a competitor has postings on a regular basis and you do not.  Build content that’s engaging to entice them to share with their friends to get new connections.  After all, we can never have too many friends.

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