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Could digital certificates unlock the growth power of social media?

Social media platforms are just a part of life for today’s students in Australian tertiary education and training. In fact, market research shows that almost 90% of Australia’s 18- to 29-year-olds are checking in daily on social media.


This means that, if you are in the business of providing vocational education, the chances are that your students are on there daily. If they are, then it’s highly likely that your prospective students are too. Are you capturing their attention?


Opening the digital door to your future students


Student recruitment is a continual challenge in vocational education. The challenge of student acquisition and sourcing new enrolments was named by RTOs as their biggest challenge in ReadyTech’s Voice of VET RTO Industry Report 2022, alongside rising costs and lack of funding.


It was the first time new enrolments was ahead of compliance since the report began in 2018.


With the bulk of student attention moving online, it makes sense for vocational providers to have a presence there, to ensure they are seen, known – and being considered. Ultimately, there’s a hope they go from the top of the digital funnel, to real enrolled and paying students.


Providers who don’t have a digital presence of some kind in today's market are likely to be outclassed by their competitors, who are finding ways to 'jump the queue', so to speak, by finding their way directly in front of student eyeballs in the digital space.


There are obviously different ways to go about this. For many providers, it will make sense to have a strong search presence through a good website, SEO and content, to ensure that students are finding their courses and business at the point of wanting to learn.


There’s also social media. For many, a social media strategy will involve curating and sharing the exciting things that are happening with your provider as well as your student cohorts through engaging business updates and images.


These can then be promoted to the audiences you are targeting - putting some investment behind select posts or content can be a good way to gain more viewers and engagement with course products, and ultimately boost your recruitment results or a brand’s following.


Unlocking social media power with digital certificates


There’s also a new innovative to boost your social media presence: digital certificates.


Digital certificates or credentials are digital, verifiable and compliant records of achievement issued by an education and training provider. In Australian VET for example, a digital certificate could be issued for the completion of a unit of competency or a qualification.


As well as replacing or supplementing paper certificates (which have their own form of admin burden!) digital certificates are built for sharing and promotion on social media– where your future students are spending time and paying attention to what their networks are doing.


For example, users of QVault, which is integrated with ReadyTech’s leading student management systems, are able to immediately share the digital certificates they receive on 170 platforms that students may currently be using.


That’s all of the usual platforms education and training providers know and use regularly – like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter – and many, many others that you probably aren’t using right now (but your students might very well be!).


This is essentially branding and marketing at no cost, courtesy of your students (aside from the investment in the digital certificates, which are your student's to keep then forever). Even better, it is marketing from a source that future students will trust – their social connections.


In a pilot study of vocational education and training providers using QVault in Australia, the statistics show that 20% of students share the digital certificate recognition they receive within 48 hours of receiving them, via social media platforms.


As this potential shareability becomes more widely known and promoted among student cohorts into the future, there is no reason why this percentage would not be boosted significantly over time, increasing the impact of the technology now available.


And digital networks get large really fast. So that can add up to a lot of new potential students seeing evidence of their social connection’s new qualification or achievement, which has been delivered by a brand that they can trust – your education and training provider.


A social (media) future


Education and training providers are living in a new world of digital media and social platform connection. While traditional marketing methods still have impact in a lot of contexts, there’s a reason why most brands are choosing to move online, and add more and more digital components into their new marketing mix – if not going all in on digital.


It’s because that’s where their student’s attention is - and where business opportunities reside.


The bottom line is that the new innovation of digital certificates have your current and past students doing the hard work of marketing for you. By issuing digital certificates that students can immediately begin posting to their social platforms and networks, providers get the power and extended reach of peer-to-peer marketing with a simple to use tool.


This can help ensure that a vocational education provider’s brand remains modern and relevant, in line with the expectations of a new generation of students. By embracing digital certificates, providers can align themselves with the latest technologies and environments students are now using, and find a place in the minds of future students.


Find out more about using digital certificates from QVault and ReadyTech here.