The results are in! For thousands of A-level students, today is the moment of truth, when they discover the grades that could shape their futures.
But after receiving those all-important results, what do you do next? Phone around your chosen universities? Scramble for a uni place through clearing?
Or do you log into Facebook?
The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) has taken to social media in a big way and is utilising both Facebook and Twitter to answer the queries of teens throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
UCAS won the ‘Most Effective Use of Social Media’ award at the 2011 Customer Contact Association (CCA) Excellence Awards, and it will doubtless be in the running to retain that award, given the high level of engagement and activity on its channels this year.
Last year’s award came after the launch of the UCAS Connect website, which brings together all the service’s social media platforms as well as rich, informative media such as embedded YouTube videos on what prospective students should do in different circumstances.
The National Union of Students (NUS) President Liam Burns told the UCAS website: “It is unusual for organisations to engage with social media in such a proactive way and to genuinely change procedures off the back of their social media interaction.
“This is exactly where UCAS should be and we look forward to working with them closely in the future to give applicants the best information and guidance possible.”
UCAS has gone a little further this year with the launch of a mobile app which refines the services offered by the Connect website.
To prove the UCAS team are not only users of social media but also thought-leaders in their field, UCAS has produced its own study, highlighting the importance of social media and the relevance of particular channels to the international higher education sphere.
The study, named ‘Social Media and The International Applicant Journey’ can be viewed online.
While social media channels like Facebook and Twitter are an obvious point of contact between UCAS and its target audience, can advice on a life-changing decision really be expressed in a status update, or a 140-character tweet?
Recent UCAS activity on the channels suggests there is an effective dialogue being held. Unsociable working hours are being embraced in order to deliver key information to students:
UCAS has taken a personal approach by adding an introductory image of the social media advisors on both their Facebook and Twitter pages:
Twitter advisors have also been adding their initials after tweets, so that users know who they have been talking to.
UCAS are making good use of social platforms, proving themselves to be fast and concise in answering questions.
On a day when the phone lines will be ringing off the hook and users can experience hours of waiting times for a one-word answer to a question; social media has picked up the slack and UCAS has turned a challenging, difficult day into a slick operation.