Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Students hoping to pursue an MBA may use social media to connect with friends, explore interests and even keep up with current events. But they can also use it as a tool in the business school selection process.

Like other organizations, colleges use social media channels to share work, promote achievements and highlight outstanding individuals. Business schools keep potential applicants in mind when creating content, experts say.

Social media “is a really great way for schools to give prospective students a look into their brand or look into the everyday happenings of the school,” says Joanna Zisis of Stacy Blackman Consulting, an MBA admissions consulting firm, and a former senior associate director of MBA admissions at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.

Engagement for business schools and prospective students is a two-way street, say experts, who encourage MBA applicants to explore the social media channels offered by schools of interest.

“Social media is a tool of connectivity, so it is actually important for a student to use social media channels as a means of getting in touch with a business school,” Caryn Beck-Dudley, president and CEO of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International, wrote in an email.

The pictures and videos that business schools post on apps like Snapchat, Facebook and TikTok can give applicants a glimpse of campus life and a sense of student values and interests to evaluate fit, which is the “magic word” in the college selection process, says Tracy Couto, an assistant professor of practice at the Le Moyne College Madden School of Business in New York and co-founder of IgnitEd, a web platform that connects faculty with teaching resources and research opportunities with emphasis on values-based business education.

Prospective students can also use social media channels to see which business schools are adapting to changes in the business world, Beck-Dudley says.

“It’s important for students to see their schools are up-to-date in the latest research, news, and ideas in the industry,” she says. “Students want to go to a school that best prepares them for working in the business world, so schools must be prepared to show their connectivity to business.”

B-school hopefuls can get the most out of social media by being creative. Here are four tips for connecting with business schools on social media:

  • Explore different platforms.
  • Look for student group channels.
  • Reach out to individuals.
  • Be presentable.

Explore Different Platforms

While apps like Facebook have been mainstays in the social media world for years, others, like TikTok, are newer. Business schools cast a wide net by using many different channels.

“We’ve seen schools use Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Tik Tok, Snapchat, and We Chat, as well as YouTube and Vimeo for video marketing,” Beck-Dudley says.

Prospective students can benefit from checking out lots of channels, since different channels serve different functions for schools. For example, the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas—Austin uses Twitter to share the work of its alumni and professors, whereas the business school’s YouTube page features a virtual tour.

Look for Student Group Channels

Prospective students looking to learn more about a business school through its social media channels should not limit themselves to looking at only the school’s primary accounts. Student groups often make their own pages, which offer insights into student interests, Zisis says.

This is the case with the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. The school’s Instagram account, @michiganross, posts pictures and clips of alumni, student events and campus locations. That account follows student group accounts that highlight student interests, such as the Alternative Investment Club (@umichaic), the Africa Business Club (@abc.ross) and the Maize and Brew club (@ross_maizeandbrew), which is “devoted to the enjoyment and appreciation of beer,” per the club’s campus group webpage.

Reach Out to Individuals

While a school’s social media manager may not have answers for some of the questions that a prospective applicant may have, other school personnel active on social media might.

“If a prospective student was to reach out to me on LinkedIn or some other social media site, I would for sure respond and answer any questions that they may have” about the Madden School of Business, Couto says.

Since student group accounts tend to be run by students, prospective applicants could use messaging to learn more about a group directly from a member, Zisis notes.

Be Presentable

Just as business schools need to ensure they are portraying themselves authentically to prospective applicants, the reverse is also true.

“It sort of goes both ways,” Zisis says. “Be mindful of your own social media channel usage and how you are branding yourself.”

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