What's Up With WhatsApp? How the App is Changing Campus Dynamics

Julia Sachs 05/10/21 08:48

WhatsApp, a digital communications app that allows people to instant message one another through the internet without text messaging, is becoming an increasingly popular way for universities to communicate with current and prospective students instantly. The app enables a person to person communication without worrying about things like content calendars or open rates that plague other platforms like social media or email. 

For current students, schools can use WhatsApp to communicate important information instantly in the same way they would use text messaging. Whether school-wide or in individual classes or departments, WhatsApp enables a style of communication that feels more natural to students and promotes real-time responses rather than the delayed open rates that you see on traditional email. 

In terms of communicating with prospective students, WhatsApp can be a powerful tool to help connect with students considering applying to your school. The app doesn't use cellular networks, so it can be used to communicate internationally. More and more schools are using the platform to send important reminders to prospective students, from application deadline reminders to alerts about other significant events that will help them in the recruitment and application process. 

Student communication has changed. 

The ways that students communicate have changed significantly in the last several years. Students were once loyal to their email inboxes; they may now expect to share through different platforms. This means that universities should learn to adapt to popular communication methods to meet their students and prospective students where they are already and teach them how to change their communication practices to meet industry standards. 

While email may be the primary way your university chooses to communicate with your students, platforms like WhatsApp can be powerful supplemental tools that enable better communication between your university and your current and future student body. Universities can and should study current communication trends to figure out how best to reach out to their students, whether it means utilizing popular social media platforms or adjusting communication methods to be more inclusive of media that are easily accessible to all. 

With over 2 billion monthly active users, WhatsApp is currently one of the most widely used communication apps in the global market. The app is often a primary communication tool for people sharing across international borders because it enables users to communicate internationally without worrying about data or overage fees. For universities and other organizations, using WhatsApp means that students can instantly access critical information regardless of where they are in the world. 

Student Resources

Universities can use WhatsApp as a student resource to offer real-time support to essential questions. Individual departments or services like student career counseling can use the platform to answer quick questions and check-in with students quickly and easily, making them feel more connected to your school and helping you stay in touch and get real-time feedback. 

Recruiters can use WhatsApp to send potential students reminders about essential deadlines like the application or scholarship deadlines and answer any likely questions about your school. This enables faster, more personalized communication between your prospective students and helps them feel their needs are being attended to during the recruitment process. 

Many parts of the college application process are time-sensitive, so this allows you to connect with and remind students without the risk of having the message go overlooked in their email inbox. It's also a bit more personal, making them feel more welcomed at your school. 

WhatsApp Broadcasting

One useful feature on the WhatsApp app is WhatsApp Broadcasting that allows you to send a message to several people within your contacts list at once. This tool can be used to broadcast important information within an entire department or within a whole group of your current and future student body. You can even use this feature to create group chats that let you and your students communicate together.

It's likely that if one student has a question, other students have the same question. WhatsApp Broadcasting allows you to create group discussions so that you can address concerns to entire groups of students, often solving multiple issues at a time. For educators, the tool can be used to create or continue meaningful discussions outside of the classroom—or to let students know that class is canceled or that a deadline is coming up. 

How To Use WhatsApp

The first and most important thing you'll need to understand is that each WhatsApp account needs to be tied to a phone number. Ensure that the faculty using the WhatsApp account can use a phone number that protects their privacy and is used solely for work purposes. This will help streamline things and enable you to quickly transfer ownership of the account if that faculty member ever leaves or changes positions. 

Set up your WhatsApp account and personalize the profile for the school or department you're connecting the account to. If you're creating a WhatsApp account for the counseling department, for example, be sure to specify that in the profile. The same would apply to the Registrar's office or office of Admissions, for example. This will help students easily identify the purpose of the conversation and keep track of who they're communicating with. 

Benefits

Unlike traditional social media platforms, WhatsApp doesn't require a content strategy to get the most out of it. Sites like Twitter and Instagram require an in-depth knowledge of each forum and how it can be best used, while WhatsApp is solely used to communicate directly or en-masse via WhatsApp Broadcasting. As long as your students are connected to the app, they'll be notified of the message. This makes it ideal for communicating must-know information and other important announcements. 

WhatsApp, a digital communications app that allows people to instant message one another through the internet without text messaging, is becoming an increasingly popular way for universities to instantly communicate with current and prospective students. The app enables person-to-person communication without worrying about things like content calendars or open rates that plague other platforms like social media or email. 

For current students, schools can use WhatsApp to communicate important information instantly in the same way they would use text messaging. Whether school-wide or in individual classes or departments, WhatsApp enables a style of communication that feels more natural to students and promotes real-time responses rather than the delayed open rates that you see on traditional email. 

In terms of communicating with prospective students, WhatsApp can be a powerful tool to help connect with students considering applying to your school. The app doesn't use cellular networks, so it can be used to communicate internationally. More and more schools are using the platform to send important reminders to prospective students, from application deadline reminders to alerts about other significant events that will help them in the recruitment and application process.