4 social messaging trends HigherEd leaders need to know about — and why they’re relevant

The world is growing more mobile first by the day. A whole generation is starting to live their lives on their phones, through social media platforms and multiple messaging channels. They’re using phones to manage travel, banking, eating and even the environment they live in. Social messaging is one area that has exploded in the last two years with messaging apps boasting more users than traditional social media platforms.

What’s driving the move to messaging?
A popular theory is that messaging meets people’s growing demand for increasing personalization and faster, more convenient experiences — especially when dealing with issues of customer service, or from a HigherEd perspective, getting access to information about the admissions process. People have made a shift from publicly posting news and content on social media sites such as Facebook to more private social messaging platforms such as WhatsApp and WeChat because they can be less filtered, more authentic, more personal and in some cases, less distracted by ads.

“By 2022, 72% of customer interactions will involve an emerging technology such as machine learning applications, chatbots or mobile messaging, up from 11% in 2017.”
Gartner, 2017

Why is this important to HigherEd?
With an increasingly challenging admissions landscape, universities need to find new ways to stand out from the competition in order to convince students they are worth the investment. By capitalizing on the popularity of social messaging institutions can provide a differentiated, enriched, and more convenient experience for their students.

With that in mind, here are our top social messaging trends and why you need to know about them:

1. Social messaging is the channel of choice

  • 90% would like to use messaging to communicate with an organization.
  • Only 48% of organizations are equipped to be able to communicate with their customers via text.
  • Millennials prefer messaging vs. email to speak to businesses. Source
  • 51% of people say messaging has replaced other forms of communication. Source

Why this matters: Universities and colleges largely cater to demographics that now prefer social messaging as their channel of communication versus more traditional channels such as email or phone. The increasing appetite for social messaging gives institutions the opportunity to start communicating with their students through a medium they prefer, offering students greater convenience and a better experience, and giving you the edge on competing schools.

2. Students want important information by text or social messaging

  • More than 75% of seniors and juniors were open to some form of text communications with colleges and universities.
  • 69% of seniors and 74% of juniors wanted to be sent acceptance notifications.
  • 76% of seniors and 72% of juniors wanted to be sent deadline reminders.
  • 61% of seniors and 64% of juniors wanted to be sent application details.
  • Source

Why this matters: The majority of both seniors and juniors would like specific information sent to them via text or social messaging. This is a chance for you to engage with students and form a more meaningful relationship with them using the channel of their choice. For example, following an acceptance notification, you can follow up with a student about orientation details.

3. Communicating with customers through social messaging changes their perception of your brand — for the better.

  • More than 65% say being able to message an organization helps them feel more confident about their brand.
  • More then 50% consider messaging the modern way to communicate.
  • Source

Why this matters: The HigherEd sector can use social messaging to not just communicate with students, but also engage them. The natural, humanistic, conversational nature of social messaging allows students to feel that they’re getting a more personal, valuable experience versus an impersonal blanket mailer to possibly thousands of students. Engaging students through social messaging will drive confidence in your institution and strengthen their perception of you as a modern, digitally-savvy organization and one that puts its students’ experience first.

4. Organizations are supercharging their social messaging with chatbots

  • 25% of customer service and support operations will use virtual customer assistants or chatbot tech by 2020. Source
  • Organizations are seeing improved levels of customer satisfaction and a 70% reduction in call, chat and/or email inquiries after implementing chatbot. Source
  • After launching bot support on Facebook Messenger, there are now over 300,000 bots on the platform. Source

Why this matters: Communicating with students using social messaging is one thing, but what about scale? Is this just not one more channel for your teams to manage? Not when you start integrating chatbots. These little pieces of software are able to imitate human conversations through text chats and can provide automated, intelligent responses to some of your student’s most common questions such as ‘Where can I find fee information?’ ‘Can I reserve a space at your open day?’ ‘Can you send me a prospectus?’ ‘When does registration close?’ and so on. The immediate, automated 24/7 nature of chatbots means students have access to information when they need it and it takes the strain off your staff who don’t need to field the same questions over and over again.

The meteoric rise of social messaging opens up exciting new opportunities for universities from both a student and staff perspective. By capitalizing on these social platforms and taking steps to enrich and properly manage them – through the use of chat bots for example – institutions can edge themselves away from the competition and realise tangible bottom line benefits along the way.

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