by Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
If you just looked at that picture and have no idea who that guy is, I think student recruitment is probably harder for you than it needs to be…especially if you happen to be an admissions counselor who is under the age of 30.
During my client visits in the month of August, I had admissions counselors refer to him as “Major Key”, “That Rapper”, and “Oh that’s the Fan Luv Guy”. His name is Khaled Mohamed Khaled, also known as DJ Khaled. He’s an American record producer, radio personality, DJ, and record label executive. And he’s also been referred to as the “King of Snapchat” having racked up over 6 million Snapchat followers in just under a year.
If his name still doesn’t ring a bell and now you’re thinking you don’t need to read the rest of this article, I’m here to tell you that you’re going to miss out on some major lessons about effective recruiting.
I started referencing DJ Khaled during our On-Campus Workshops earlier this summer after speaking with different groups of high school students during my travels who told me that, in their opinion, too many admissions counselors couldn’t relate to this generation of students. Therein lies the first of eight valuable lessons for those of you that want to become (or want your admissions team to become) more dominant recruiters:
- Be current on pop culture. In the focus group research surveys we do on campuses across the country, I’m beginning to see more quotes like, “This generation wants to be related to”, and “Don’t try and sound like you know what we’re into when you don’t. We want to be taken seriously and we can tell when you’re just saying something you just read on the internet.” Knowing trends and being current on pop culture isn’t an option anymore if you truly want to connect with teenagers and those in their early 20’s. In addition to being familiar with people like DJ Khaled, how much do you know about what’s popular right now on Netflix and Spotify? Have you ever heard of After School or WhatsApp? It’s hard to be relatable if you don’t know what your clientele is into. And just in case you were wondering how popular DJ Khaled is among viewers ages 12-34, according to a recent article, his videos attract 3 million to 4 million viewers from that age range. To put this in perspective, Nielson reports that roughly 3 million people age 12–34 watch The Big Bang Theory. Yes, on an average video, DJ Khaled has more views than an acclaimed television show.
- Keep your recruiting message consistent. If you knew who DJ Khaled was before you read this article then you’re probably familiar with themes like “We the Best” and “They don’t want you to (insert whatever verb you want) …” People know what DJ Khaled represents because it’s the same all the time. Consistency is such an important part of any effective recruiting plan. You must have consistent weekly content that’s interesting, focused on your prospect, and demands interaction. Those three aspects of an effective recruiting plan have helped our clients grow enrollment over the years.
- Always tell a compelling story. In last week’s newsletter I walked you through how to begin telling your school’s story. Storytelling will help you achieve emotional engagement which is a critical part in your student’s decision-making process. DJ Khaled tells compelling stories every single day on Snapchat. Here’s the key though — his stories, or snaps, consistently get and keep people’s attention. They keep coming back day after day, and they spread the word to the masses. Khaled gives his viewers a behind the scenes look into an average day of his life. His stories have recurring themes and include a variety of celebrities and other characters. They include things like breakfast with his personal chef, taking care of his flowers, and inviting his fans to meet him at various locations across the country. His stories create curiosity, they engage, and they help create feelings. Do your admissions recruiting communications do that right now for your prospects?
- Make sure you’re providing value. After watching a few of DJ Khaled’s snaps on Snapchat, it quickly becomes clear there’s a lot of branding/selling taking place. Here’s the thing. It doesn’t feel like he’s forcing product on you every second because his content provides value at every turn. By providing content that his viewers value, he quickly builds credibility and rapport with them. If you do the same thing with your prospects when you finally ask them to take action on something they’ll be more likely to do so. Khaled understands this. Do you?
- Social Media is extremely powerful with this generation (and most colleges don’t use it effectively). That’s not me telling you that, that’s your students. The biggest piece of advice your students continue to offer in terms of what they think college admissions needs to do better or differently as you communicate with this next class is…use more social media. Your students want real and raw, and right now most of them think the content you provide on social media is forced and fake. Here’s a great, detailed student quote from a recent survey, “I think it would be neat to see more social media things…Showing something like a Snapchat story of the school and how beautiful and interesting it would get more people interested. Two other things would be telling what things normal students do on a daily basis for classes or just living up there.” I’ll say it again – real and raw, not forced and fake. The content you provide also needs to appeal to the heart and be shareable if you want to get a maximum return on your investment.
- Genuine wins. How many of you are comfortable showing your real side? If you’re trying to cultivate trust and become the go-to person for your prospects and their parents, being genuine is a must. DJ Khaled is not afraid to be himself – a hilarious and honest guy. For example, he doesn’t hide the fact that he needs to be in better shape. He talks about it and uses it as motivation. He’s also more than happy to show what kind of lifestyle his hard work has afforded him, like hanging out with celebrities and swimming in pools and riding jet-skis in exotic locations around the world. He even goes out of his way to connect with his fans during his travels often times including them in his snaps. It’s just Khaled being Khaled. That honesty is a big reason why his audience feels they can relate to him and why his fans are constantly coming back to see more.
- Your recruiting messages need to feature repetition. Repetition is one of the least used and most effective strategies that you can utilize in your recruiting message. DJ Khaled uses repetition just about every single day. Whenever he’s getting ready to release an album, highlight a product, or encourage “Fan Luv” to come out and meet him, he’ll post multiple snaps on Snapchat with the same message done in a variety of ways and locations. He even gets help from his celebrity friends and his fans in many instances. Today’s generation of students counts on repetition.
- Passion will make you stand out. I’ve talked about it many times before. Those who have passion will create meaningful long-term relationships with prospects, parents, and virtually everyone else they come in contact with. You can’t buy it, it’s hard to teach, and most counselors don’t use it to their advantage. DJ Khaled puts so much passion and excitement into every aspect of his life, it becomes infectious. For you, the college admissions professional, it’s the same thing. It’s about how you say what you say. Have you put in the hard work that it takes to truly get to know your prospects’ wants and needs? When you do that, it’s much easier to be excited about a particular aspect of your college because you know it matters to your prospect…instead of just assuming, guessing, or hoping.
For some of you these eight bullet points may have been timely reminders. That’s great! For everyone else, I encourage you to take one or more of them and consider how it or they can help you become a better recruiter.