Staffordshire University make Clearing Social

It’s that time of year again, students are eagerly biting their nails and waiting to find out if they have been allocated a spot at their chosen universities. Students are sat by their front doors waiting for the postman, eagerly refreshing their inboxes or in a race to get through on the phone lines and chase up their clearing places. However, Staffordshire University is modernising how future students can find out if they’ve been awarded a place by using the latest social media technology.

Staffordshire University is reaching out to students concerned for their futures using social media – most notably using SnapChat – which no other university has done before. I spoke with Laura Allen, the Social Media Co-ordinator at Staffordshire University, to see how their innovative approach has been received so far and what inspired them to lead the way with a more social channel.

I caught up with Laura to find out why Staffordshire University has embraced social media to help with Clearing, and how their prospective students are reacting.

What was the reasoning behind embracing social media to assist with Clearing this year?

We know that many of our students would rather drop us a message on social media as it’s a simple and familiar outlet for them, and can be done on the move. We’ve heard that a lot of people are quite apprehensive about speaking on the phone too – so we’re just giving prospective students another way to contact us during what is already a very nerve-racking time for them.

Has social media played a big part in your communications in previous years?

Over the past few years, yes – massively! We have had great success with Facebook Live tours, social media support and student takeovers. Last year our Facebook accommodation tours reached more than 25,000 people and results-day Twitter posts were viewed by 60,000 people. This year we thought it was time to introduce offers in principle too. It makes sense to support them in as many ways as possible through the channels that they prefer.

Where did the inspiration come from to embrace SnapChat?

Following on from the increase in usage of SnapChat and its popularity with Gen-Z, it made perfect sense for the University to extend its communications during Clearing to encompass social media. We know that social media plays an important role in their lives and that’s why we are venturing further than just Facebook, Twitter and Instagram into other platforms that they engage with. It’s important that we are supporting them in a manner they are comfortable and confident with.  

What have you been doing so far to support potential students on social media?

Throughout July and August, our Clearing Experts and students who have previously been through the Clearing process, have been offering support and guidance. It’s a great way for potential students to become more familiar with our University and our procedures without needing to physically call us. We’ve had everything from Facebook Live Q&A’s to SnapChat stories with Jacob, our Clearing Ambassador, and top tips on Clearing from our academics. It’s been very exciting to implement and there’s been lots of activity.

How are potential students responding to your new social engagement strategy?

We’ve already had an influx in followers on SnapChat since the news was announced and overall we have had a really positive response to our student takeovers and advice. Our engagement and followers are increasing too. On “A Level Results Day”, we will be giving offers in principle on our social media channels and we hope it will be a great success.

So what will you be working on next?

We’ve been really busy but it’s very exciting to lead the way. After Clearing, we will be thoroughly reviewing the full scope of the campaign to ensure that we know what worked well and what we can improve on for next year. Continuously improving communications is our priority and this is just one of the steps on our very exciting adventure with social media.

Who knows what’s in store for the future of Clearing, but Staffordshire University are proving that social media has a key role to play!  

About the Writer:

Ben Findon is a Business Development Consultant at SocialSignIn. He loves helping businesses to harness the power of social media. He specialises in the Education and Non-Profit sectors. Outside of work, he enjoys all sports – particularly Rugby Union.

If you’d like to connect on LinkedIn click here or follow him on Twitter @BenF_SSI