Every year, in mid-August, Universities across the UK ramp up their marketing to prepare for A Level Results Day. This year, A Level Results Day was on Thursday 18th August and UK universities did not disappoint on social media.
As expected, most universities focused on providing clearing information for those students who didn’t get the grades they were hoping for. According to the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), this year, 19% more 18 year olds gained a place at their firm or insurance choice compared to 2019. Yet, 20,360 students found out that they did not have a place at university so set to call the clearing hotlines of their chosen universities.
Social media intelligence platform, Pulsar, monitored the conversations on 18 August and reported 1.85K social media posts regarding clearing, with 2.37K engagements and 3.74M impressions across the UK. You can view the report, here.
Below we have focused on a handful of universities that stood out to us and some of our favourite posts.
Starting off with Newcastle University. They took to Instagram on Wednesday (the day before results day) to wish A Level students the best of luck with their results. This was done via a light-hearted and impressive dance performance from their mascot- Percy the Lion.
The university posted a video on Thursday (results day) morning with some information about their clearing hotline for potential students. Then, Percy returned for a celebratory dance outside on the campus to praise all upcoming students. Their feed posts contain a mix of fun and uplifting content, as well as informative posts for their clearing students.
Prior to results day, Newcastle University posted a question box on their Instagram Stories for all current students to provide some advice for upcoming students. Responses were a mix of informative and encouraging tips. At the start of results day, the University posted a variety of story posts of the campus with a wide variety of GIFs- including official Newcastle University GIFs. Not only did Newcastle University share their own GIFs, but they also promoted the use of the Newcastle University filter. Once they had officially celebrated results day, they began to share information about clearing and even showed the ‘behind-the-scenes’ people behind the phone. Finally, they finished off the Stories by posting another question box asking people how they are celebrating their results.
Newcastle University’s marketing was quite different on Facebook compared to Instagram. A day before results day, they shared a blog post regarding results day and specifically aimed it at parents, with tips on how to support their child through the clearing process. Then, they shared a video with all of their clearing information on the morning of results day.
Over on their TikTok page, Newcastle University posted the same light-hearted videos that were seen on their Instagram. This involved the pre-results day dancing video of Percy the Lion, along with the celebratory video and a snippet of the campus.
Similarly, Northumbria University posted the day before results day on their feed. They wished A Level students good luck with their results through an Instagram image post. The first three Instagram posts on results day were detailed posts about clearing, sharing numbers and information about the clearing process. A few hours after results were announced, a Q&A was posted on their Instagram feed for all Foundation Year courses. Finally, a congratulations post was sent out for clearing students who accepted an offer from the University.
On Instagram Stories, Northumbria mainly shared the stories of their Sabbatical Team from their Students Union and re-shared their feed posts. They did add a question box to ask students what course they will be starting in September, to continue that engagement throughout results day.
Northumbria used Facebook to share a lot of information about the clearing process. This was a mix of posts already shared on their Instagram, as well as some more in dept and specific posts. They also used the hashtag #IamNorthumbria and posted a giveaway. For all students that accepted their place at Northumbria University, they were in with the chance of winning Amazon vouchers by following their account and sharing their official GIF. They later shared some mindfulness activities to wind down on such a stressful day and then posted case studies from past students about their clearing experience.
Northumbria posted one video on results day, providing students with information regarding clearing. The video contained fun transitions and edits but was still largely informative.
The University of Salford
Just like other universities, The University of Salford prepared for results day by sharing some wisdom about what to expect and by providing general tips and advice on both Instagram and Facebook. However, they prepared very much in advance by advertising their ‘Early Access Club’. This provided potential students with priority phone numbers for clearing as well as further advice and guidance.
The main social media strategy for Salford was the ‘Student Takeover’. During results day, current students took over the Facebook and Instagram stories to show upcoming students around campus and answer any questions they may have. The takeover seemed to be extremely popular, with a lot of questions coming through and a lot of information being given out. They posted a mixture of reels and still clips to both platforms’ feeds, as well as sharing images of the people taking the clearing phone calls.
From the day before results day, Salford posted TikTok’s in a classic TikTok manner. They had staff lip-sync to viral sounds and ensured that they fit into the context of results day. Although their captions included help such as clearing phone numbers, the videos themselves were light-hearted and relatable.
Other social media posts that caught our eye…
The University of Gloucestershire posted a very warm and welcoming TikTok wishing all students good luck. University staff posing for a picture in some snazzy sunglasses for the current viral trend. This is definitely an uplifting video, which many students need on one of the most stressful days of their education.
Nottingham Trent University shared a wholesome text conversation on Facebook with some motivation and guidance. They shared information on how to access their clearing services but did it in a way that appeals to their target audience- students.
Anglia Ruskin University shared their social media timetable. With online events happening on TikTok, Instagram and Twitter, they wanted to make sure no student would miss an event- especially with most of them being live.
The University of South Wales stood out to us by providing a helpful mental-health-related article with tips for managing A Level Results Day. They promoted talking out loud to help ease the burden and advised students not to bottle up their feelings.
Here are our tips to help you deal with #ALevelResultsDay stress.— University of South Wales (@UniSouthWales) August 18, 2022
🗣Don’t bottle up your feelings. Sometimes just talking about your anxieties out loud can help ease the burden. Talk through options if your results aren’t what you wanted. #USWClearing #Clearing2022 pic.twitter.com/Tgs6oMaQU9
The University of East Anglia did not forget that parents may be overwhelmed and stressed out on Results Day and so they shared a helpful video from a mum of three post-18. This short video provided great information to parents and carers with advice on how to help their young person prepare for Results Day.
Overall, most universities took full advantage of social media this year to show who they are as a university but also insights into their clearing service and other tips for upcoming students. Clearly, the aim was to reduce the stress that many feel on Results Day. This was conducted in many ways, from funny videos, tips on how to de-stress or information about the university to answer questions that students may have.