Reddit is one of the most popular social platforms in the world, with around 234 million unique users. Topics and discussions are divided into subreddits and users are referred to as redditors.
Reddit may seem like a risky or confusing bet for higher ed marketers. Still, its popularity – especially among millennials – warrants some consideration. And there are ways to ease into the opportunity.
Marketers, among other higher ed professionals, search constantly to learn as much as possible about their students, prospective students, alumni and stakeholders in general. Their concerns, questions, likes, dislikes, what they are missing, what they search for and can’t find, thoughts on the school/program/certificate/initiative, the list goes on and on.
When it comes to your audience and students, no amount of information is too large. Reddit has a wealth of this information. A busy subreddit can serve as a real-time, ongoing focus group and discussion board from which marketers can pull crucial info, program directors can receive feedback and admissions teams can provide assistance.
Still, Reddit is not a one size fits all solution. Certain programs are built for a stronger online community, think fully online cohorts where students can only speak with one another through email or online learning, this offers another medium for them to meet “outside of the classroom.” Remember to always consider your target audience.
Ignite Social Media compiled a study about social media user demographics, showing that the bulk of Reddit users are bachelor educated men between the ages of 25 – 44 from the U.S. This shows that graduate programs are more likely to have users in the targeted age range active on Reddit, but searching through the subreddits you’ll see that many universities and colleges have their individual, dedicated subreddits (albeit not as hyper focused as a program-specific subreddit).
Students (prospective students and alumni included) use subreddits to talk about acceptance into the program and discuss their admissions process. You will find subreddits that talk about what happens after a student gets accepted, or an alumni giving tips to a prospective student on their resume and chances of getting into the program. Redditors are asking each other (current students, alumni, other prospective students, interested students) the same questions they might ask you.
We know that prospective students often drop out of the funnel after starting their application. This could be due to lack of interest or it could be a small, easily solvable issue like confusion with the application process. Confusions and questions frequent the subreddits surrounding programs. Use this information to potentially make tweaks about the process, or provide different information that you now know applicants find helpful. Better yet—make yourself known and available on the subreddit and walk applicants through questions and processes, bolstering your claim to personalized attention.
Some colleges and universities are already taking advantage of Reddit engagement. One of the most popular forms of university engagement is the AMA – Ask Me Anything. This is an opportunity for redditors to ask any and everything to the representative that hosts the AMA. A great chance to field questions straight from your university stakeholders online.
We’ve seen Dr. Michael Lovell, President at Marquette University, host an AMA. The Vice Provost and Dean of Admission at University of Rochester hosted an AMA as well. And finally, Georgia Tech’s Online MS in Analytics’ Program Director Dr. Joel Sokol hosted an AMA to answer questions about their brand new program.
While not all of it is verifiable, the Reddit community is largely anonymous after all, it is still worth considering. You see frank, unfiltered discussion about your program – the good and the bad. So use Reddit for engagement and community building, not necessarily advertising.
Provide details on your programs. See questions from prospective and admitted students in threads. Gather information on students and alumni–what they like, what they don’t – and use the feedback to strengthen your offerings.
Keep in mind, there is certain etiquette expected if you do decide to be active. Enter the conversation when appropriate, answer questions that your audience has and make sure not to come across as spammy or intrusive.
If you made it this far and haven’t already, check out your subreddit and see what you find. Interested in exploring Reddit further? Contact us to discuss your ideas.